Fleas

HELP!! My pets have fleas. What should I do???

Fleas are the most common external parasite of dogs and cats. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disease of dogs and cats! The ideal flea control program utilizes products that target the various stages of the flea life cycle, not only the adult fleas on the pet. In order to help you select the most appropriate products to achieve a flea-free existence for an allergic pet, we will start by telling you about the life cycle of the flea.

THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE FLEA

Eggs: are laid in the hair coat and are designed to fall off your pet. They are resistant to insecticides, but susceptible to various Insect Growth Regulators.

Larvae: develop in the pet’s environment. They like areas with low light and high moisture. Larvae are susceptible to traditional insecticides and insect growth regulators. Larvae eventually spin cocoons and become pupa.

Pupae: are resistant to freezing, desiccation (drying), and insecticides. Pupae can lie dormant for up to 9 months; they are stimulated to hatch as young adults by vibration (walking on the carpet), warm temperatures and increased CO2 (carbon dioxide) form your pet’s breath. Normally, hatching occurs when a dog or cat is near and the new flea finds the pet within seconds.

Adults: only account for 3-5 % of the of the flea population. This is why treating the environment is so important. Completion of the life cycle from egg to adult often varies from 2-4 weeks. Adult cat fleas cannot survive or lay eggs without a blood meal, but once it is feeding on a DOG or CAT, the female can lay 40-50 eggs per day and up to 3,000 in their 3-week lifetime. Newly hatched fleas need to start feeding within 2 days. They start to lay eggs 2 days after their first blood meal. The optimum temperature for flea survival is 70F to 85F and at an optimum humidity of 80%.

FLEA CONTROL RECOMMENDATIONS:

For the flea allergic patient 100% flea control is required to remain itch free. Even very minimal exposure may be sufficient to perpetuate itching in an allergic patient (one or 2 bites per week is enough!).

THE MOST IMPORTANT RULES FOR FLEA CONTROL ARE:

1) ALL pets must be treated
2) Both the pets and the indoor and outdoor environment must be treated

FLEA CONTROL PRODUCTS AND PROCEDURES:

Flea populations and treatment protocols can be monitored quite simply using a flea comb. Record the number of fleas caught each day to determine if the population is increasing or decreasing.

Treating the House: Vacuum the floors thoroughly in the corners, along the wall edges, under the furniture and other low traffic areas. Flea larvae survive best in low light low traffic areas. Vacuum the floors, carpets and furniture frequently using a vacuum with good suction and discard the bag after each time. Flea eggs and pupae can survive and hatch in a vacuum bag. Discard or frequently wash your pet’s bedding. Steam clean the carpets possible, which will slow down flea development and allow flea larvae to dry up. Regularly wash your pets bedding and rugs that they lay on. Use KNOCK KNOCK OUT Premise Spray to treat the carpet after everything has been cleaned.

Treating the Yard: Use Virbac® Yard Spray once a month in the shady areas of the yard. Apply in the evening and allow to dry overnight before allowing your pets to back into the treated areas.

Treating the Pets: There are products that are designed to kill the adult fleas, sterilize the eggs that are laid, prevent the growth of the larvae or a combination of these. Some products have a long lasting residual effect and some have a quick acting but short lasting effect. Some even have an effect on ticks and heartworms. There are products for your pet and some for the house and yard.

CAPSTAR® NITENPYRAM from Novartis: This is an oral tablet for dogs and cats as young as 4 weeks of age and at least 2 pounds in weight. Capstar® should be used in combination with an insect growth regulator to knock out fleas when these slower products are being used for long-term control. It can also be used when the pet has visited a flea-infested environment for rapid protection. It starts to kill fleas in 30 minutes and will kill 90% of the fleas in 4-6 hours. This helps to keep new fleas from starting to lay eggs.

FRONTLINE PLUS® (FIPRONIL and S-Methoprene) from Merial: It is labeled for puppies and kittens 8 weeks of age and 2 pounds. It must be applied 2 days before or 2 days after bathing. It is not washed off after it has been on for 2 days. It is also effective against ticks. Frontline stimulates the flea’s nervous system to cause death. You may notice an increase in flea activity and your pet’s twitching after applying Frontline due to the stimulant effect of the drug. It also contains a growth regulator that prevents flea eggs from hatching.

REVOLUTION® (SELAMECTIN) from Pfizer: Revolution is a topical medication that is absorbed into the cat’s system. It is safe for cats 8 weeks of age and older. It kills adult fleas and keeps eggs from hatching. It also prevents heartworms, ear mites and two intestinal parasites (round worms and hook worms). This is a very good product for cats!

SENTINEL® (LUFENURON) from Novartis: This is available as a once a month pill to be given with a full meal. This is a prescription drug. Adult fleas that feed on animals treated with lufenuron produce sterile eggs. The product does not kill adult fleas. It is a very easy way to break the life cycle but pets remain fully susceptible to the hatching of any fleas from pupa already present in the environment. Therefore, 4 -7 months may pass before the flea-free state is reached. In order to stop the life cycle, every animal in the patient’s environment must receive lufenuron. An adulticide should be used during the first few weeks of starting SENTINEL®. SENTINEL® also contains Interceptor for heart worm prevention.

WHAT TO DO

How do I treat a flea problem?

DOGS and CATS: Treat ALL PETS!!
1. Give 1 Capstar tablet orally every 2 days for 12 days (6 doses)
2. Use Front Line Plus once a month in dogs for the entire flea season.
3. Use Revolution once a month in cats for the rest of the cat’s life (this works as heart worm prevention in cats in addition to flea control)
4. Treat the house with KNOCK OUT after thoroughly vacuuming and cleaning the house.
5. Treat the yard with Virbac YARD SPRAY once a month. Treat the low light moist areas of the yard.
6. Use a flea comb every 2 days to see if this is working

How do I prevent or control a flea problem?

DOGS: Treat ALL PETS!!
1. Use Front Line Plus once a month
2. Spray the Yard once a month with Virbac Yard Spray
3. Sentinel can be used in addition to Front Line Plus in flea allergic dogs

CATS: Treat ALL PETS!!
1. Use Revolution once a month
2. For outdoor cats, treat the yard once a months with Virbac Yard Spray

Ref: Scott Vaughan, DVM via VIN