All responsible pet owners know the nuisance flea infestations can have on even the cleanliest of homes, but fewer know the danger these parasites can have on our pet’s health.
As well as acting as conduits for diseases such as Lyme disease, Tularemia and Ehrlichiosis, flea infestations can cause serious irritation and scratching fits in dogs and cats. Furthermore, if a pet is hyper-sensitive to flea bites they may suffer an allergic reaction.
If you suspect your cat or dog to have fleas, it is important to act fast. Female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs in one day and thousands over the span of their short life cycle.
While it is important to treat your pet as soon as possible, it is also vital to remember that fleas spend a large portion of their lives living in the cracks and crevices of furniture, floorboards or carpets. This means that if you don’t tackle the problem at its source, you can expect them to be back, again and again.
Flea shampoos can be used on pets with large numbers of visible fleas on its body. As an added benefit, many of these shampoos, by their nature, are organic solutions. Owners may find they have an easier time shampooing their dogs than their cats, as cats don’t traditionally enjoy water or being anywhere near it. Owners may also find that the effectiveness of the shampoo solution will only last for a few days if the fleas have already infested your home. Flea shampoos are not meant for lasting control.
It is a far better investment to use flea shampoo if you and your pet find yourselves away from home in an area where you suspect fleas to be. That way, you can protect your pet and enjoy your weekend away without worrying about infection.
Topical, also called, “spot-on” medications work by simply applying the solution between the pet’s shoulder blades where they can’t lick it off. They are a very popular and effective method of flea control and require very little heavy-lifting on behalf of the owner. Better still, some of these spot on solutions not only kill fleas but repeal them too.
Some spot-ons work differently to others, either by killing the fleas directly or interrupting their development cycle, some even do both. Like Flea Shampoos, owners who prefer all-natural products can find in some brands organic compounds to tackle the infestation.
Oral treatments come as either chewables or pills, they are usually mixed up with your pet’s food and ingested, rather than applied. Some parents may prefer this alternative to applying spot-on, as they won’t have to worry about small children coming into contact with recently applied solution.
Another reason why someone might prefer oral prescriptions is that most treatments contain both an insecticide, to kill the adult fleas, and a hormone growth regulator, to target the eggs and larvae. The hormone growth works by disrupting the flea’s exoskeletal development, preventing the eggs from hatching. It is important to note that hormone doesn’t kill the fleas by itself, it only works in conjunction with its insecticide counterpart.
Flea collars are an option for dogs and cats not currently suffering from fleas, they work most effectively as a preventative measure.
The two basic functions are to repel fleas and other pests by emitting a non-odours gas, or by releasing medication that seeps into the fat layers of the dog.
As well as treating your pet, owners also need to treat their home, furniture and carpets with an aerosol spray at the earliest opportunity in conjunction with thorough hoovering to eliminate all traces of fleas.
There are a variety of sprays on the market, your choice should be based on the level of infestation in your home. Similarly, foggers are pressurized cans of pesticide that release nearby insect killing aerosol into the atmosphere. Leaving a fogger next to your pet’s bed side will work to deal with the fleas in the infected area, just be sure to evacuate the area for a few hours while the fogger fumigates.
Fleas are not just inconvenient, their dangerous. If not treated quickly, fleas will reproduce by the thousands over their short life cycle.
Responsible owners should seek a multi-pronged approach. If travelling with your dog to an area you suspect may be infested, take with you a bottle of flea shampoo as a precautionary measure. Topical and oral solutions are among the most popular with owners, the latter especially with parents whose children may try to rub the pet before the applied spot-on solution.
Collars, sprays and foggers are another great preventative measure against fleas and ticks but are not suitable for complete removal. For that, a multi-pronged approach using a variety of sprays, and repellents may be necessary.