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Flea control

Flea guide

Fleas cause allergic skin disease

It can be a daunting task to decide on the best method of flea control for your pet. This section is intended to help you find your way through the maze of flea preparations on the market. Proprietary products found in pet shops and supermarkets generally have limited effectiveness and need to be re-applied every few days. Products from The Veterinary Hospital and clinics have been carefully chosen for their effectiveness and safety, and with our help the right combination can successfully control even the worst flea problem. Please feel free to ask advice from any of our pet healthcare team - vets, receptionists and nurses. We are here to help you!

Most of the products sold in this practice are prescription medicines, which can only be supplied for pets registered with us and under our care, but some items are available on general sale. Some of the more powerful flea products are potentially toxic to the animal, the owner and the environment, and it is important that the instructions are carefully followed.

The adult female flea can lay up to 500 tiny white eggs on the animal. These eggs then fall off and develop in floor and wall crevices, bedding and upholstery. In about a week they develop into whitish-yellow larvae. The larvae spin cocoons, inside which the pupae develop over the next 3 to 4 weeks into adults. The pupae can remain dormant for many months, waiting for vibrations from a prospective host, or for the temperature and humidity to rise.

If you find fleas on your animals a few weeks after treatment, this does not necessarily mean your flea control product did not work; these may be a new generation of fleas. For this reason, flea killers must be long lasting on the animal, and the problem in the animal's environment also needs to be addressed.

Did you know?

  • The female flea can consume 15 times her own bodyweight of blood daily.
  • Female fleas begin to lay eggs 36 to 48 hours after their first blood feed.
  • If not treated adult fleas live and breed for well over 100 days on your pet.
  • The female flea can lay about 50 eggs a day on your pet.
  • One female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime.
  • Once fleas begin breeding on your pet they need a constant supply of blood.
  • The flea cannot tolerate freezing temperatures for long periods.
  • During the winter fleas are most likely to survive as adults on untreated pets.
  • Fleas can cause tapeworm infestations in both dogs and cats.

Products for eliminating fleas from the environment

Program halts the flea's lifecycle by preventing flea eggs from hatching. Program can be used to prevent a flea infestation in your animals, or to help get rid of an existing flea problem. To be effective it has to be given to all dogs and cats sharing the household. Program should be given all year round on a permanent basis to keep your pets free of fleas. It is available as a monthly tablet for dogs, or liquid medicine for cats. For cats only it is also available as a six-monthly injection, given by one of our vets. Program has no adverse effect on the dog or cat and no known toxicity. Program can be used in combination with any other flea product when treating severe flea infestations.

Staykil, Acclaim and Indorex are non organophosphate-based insecticides for use on the animal's bedding and around the home. They must never be applied directly to an animal. One application to the house lasts up to six months.

Flea Ban is a powder for brushing onto carpets. It works by drying out flea eggs, larvae and pupae and is not toxic to animals or people. One application lasts for one year. One or two packs treats an average sized house.

Products for killing fleas on the animal

Frontline which is now available in pet stores, used to be one of the mainstays of flea treatment. However, we have noted that there seems to be a problem with resistance in our area, so generally we are now not recommending this product. In our opinion, better products are available.

Stronghold is a very effective liquid treatment which protects dogs and cats against most external, and some internal parasites, including fleas. It is administered as a low-volume dose applied to the skin on the back of the neck and is effective against fleas for 30 days. The product can be used from 6 weeks of age and provides protection against key external and internal parasites.

In dogs: Adult fleas, flea eggs, adult roundworm, sarcoptic mange and heartworm. It is licensed for use in those animals that suffer from flea allergic dermatitis.

In cats: Adult fleas, flea eggs, ear mites, adult roundworm, hookworm and heartworm. Likewise it is licensed for use in flea allergic dermatitis.

Stronghold has been found to be safe to use on both cats and dogs and can be used in pregnant animals. One dose is administered monthly and the formulation dries quickly allowing owners to hug their pets after 30 minutes. Bathing is possible from 2 hours after treatment. There are six different colour coded pack sizes so that we can match the dose to your pet's weight. There are 3 doses in each pack providing three months protection for your pet. 6-packs of treatment are also available for cats.

It should be noted that there is no activity against tapeworm, the other common internal parasite of dogs and cats.

Endectrid is generally our most recommended product, because of its broad spectrum of activity against both internal and external parasites. It is particularly beneficial in the prevention of lungworm and heartworm in dogs, conditions which we are seeing with increasing frequency in the south of England. It is highly effective against fleas and mange when applied every 30 days. In dogs and cats, it kills fleas and ear mites, and prevents heartworm disease. Additionally, its spectrum of activity is as follows:

In dogs: Biting lice, sarcoptic mange, demodectic mange, Angiostrongylus, and several intestinal roundworms (Toxocara canis, Ancylostoma canis, Uncinaria stenocephala, Toxascaris leonina and Trichuris vulpis)

In cats: Intestinal roundworms (Toxocara cati and Ancylostoma tubaeforme)

Advantix is made by the same company as Advocate, and is a complementary product that has a slightly different spectrum of activity. It is used as part of a comprehensive parasite control protocol for dogs travelling overseas. It is extremely toxic to cats and therefore is only available for use on dogs. It kills fleas, and kills and repels ticks, requiring repeat dosages every 4 weeks. Additionally it repels sandflies, mosquitoes and stable flies.

Comfortis is a new product for dogs which is completely different from all of the above liquid applications. It is a beef-flavoured tablet, administered once a month. It has become hugely popular in the USA, largely due to its rapid onset of activity. It starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing, and kills 100% of fleas within 4 hours. Because it is in tablet form, there is no concern with the product being washed off by bathing or swimming, and likewise no concern about handling, or other pets licking off the product. Unlike Advocate, Stronghold and Advantix mentioned above, it only treats fleas and no other parasites, but it can be used very effectively to tackle the worst flea problem.

Other Products: The products mentioned above are the mainstay of effective flea control. It is very rare that we would need to discuss the use of other products. However for owners taking dogs overseas, particularly to southern Europe, other methods of control are occasionally advised, which we are happy to discuss in a pet travel consultation.

Animed Veterinary Group is part of CVS (UK) Limited, a company which owns over 300 veterinary practices in the UK. Company Registration Number 03777473. Registered Office CVS House, Owen Road, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4ER