Flea Prevention & Treatment

Fleas are prevalent all year around in the Cherrybrook area, but particularly flourish during the warmer months of the year. It can be extremely frustrating trying to eradicate fleas from your pet and the environment. This is because fleas have evolved to be one of the toughest parasites around.

A lot of people use flea treatments only during spring and summer or treat their pet when fleas can be observed on their pet. Unfortunately this can lead to inadequate control and the impression that flea products are not working, when in fact it is usually just a lapse of a single treatment that has led to the outbreak in the first place.

So why can’t I just use a flea treatment when I can see a flea?
A female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day and more than 500 fleas can hatch from a 40cm2 area of carpet. They are microscopic, meaning you can not see the eggs or larvae in the environment, but they are there! The eggs hatch within 1 to 10 days of being laid, develop into larvae, and then pupate.

Young adult fleas in cocoons can take up to 6 months to emerge, so the life cycle can take up to 6 months to complete. This means that if a single flea treatment is missed, you have the potential for an outbreak in your environment for 6 months.

How do I treat a flea infestation in my pet?
If you see fleas in the coat of your pet, or in your house, then treating your pet alone is not enough. You need to use flea treatment for your pet AND something to kill the fleas in the environment.

1)    Treating your pet for fleas
In the 1980’s flea powders, flea shampoos and flea collars were very useful against fleas but unfortunately due to resistance to these products, they are now virtually useless. These days, there are some very effective preventatives for controlling and treating fleas as discussed below:

  • Topical flea products
    There are a variety of topical flea products available at Cherrybrook Veterinary Hospital, with the most effective being either Activyl or Advantage for dogs and cats. It is recommended for these to be applied monthly but they can be used fortnightly during bad flea infestations. It is a good idea to avoid cheaper brands of flea treatments found in supermarkets as they are less reliable and may have adverse side effects.
  • Comfortis flea tablets in dogs
    There is now a very effective monthly flavoured flea tablet available for dogs and cats. The chewable tablets must be given with food. They may occasionally cause vomiting (especially if not given with food). Comfortis is currently the most effective flea adulticide for dogs and cats on the market  
  • Bravecto flea and tick tablet for dog - Released in 2015, this product is every effective against fleas and is probably without peer for effective prevention against paralysis ticks. It is administered as an oral chewable tablet and only has to be given once every 3 months for flea control or once every 4 months for tick control. There is a very similar product available called Nexguard which seems to be equally effective but is given monthly
  • Capstar flea tablets
    Capstar tablets twice weekly can be used in addition to topical treatments for a ‘fast knockdown’ effect. This treatment will only kill the fleas that are on the dog or cat at the time and have no lasting effect, providing no protection from fleas in the environment that may arrive after treatment. They are useful for when your pet has just visited a boarding facility or dog park and you are concerned they may have picked up a flea or if your pet is on a monthly preventative that is not quite due to be given and a flea is seen or suspected.
  • Flea Injection
    The flea injection called Program is available for cats only and can be given every 6 months. The injection renders any eggs laid sterile. This is effective when used in conjunction with topical products or tablets and is highly recommended if your cat has a flea allergy or for multi-cat households.

2)    Environmental Decontamination

  • Wash all your pet’s bedding and any bed covers they sleep on in hot water (>60 degrees) or put through a hot dryer for at least 10 minutes
  • Vacuum pet areas twice weekly for 2 months
  • Use flea bombs in the house once every 6 months for pet areas (we stock Fido’s flea bombs - one bomb will cover the space of 2 average sized rooms).
  • Use Fleatrol plus spray in areas not vacuumed and on the pet’s bedding (this product can be used safely around pets)

Interesting Flea Facts

  • Once on a dog, cat or human, fleas begin to feed within a minute
  • Female fleas increase their body weight by 40% during first hour
  • It takes less than a second for a flea to emerge from its cocoon and jump onto a host
  • Fleas can leap a distance of 48cm and as high as 17 cm (or 150 times their body length!)
  • Flea dirt can remain in the coat for a long time (up to 6 months) and therefore it is not indicative of an active infection
  • It is very difficult to treat the environment outside as the pupae can bury themselves up to 10cm below the ground which are not touched by environmental sprays