Three Step Flea Prevention Plan
Last updated: July 26, 2016
Does My Pet Have Fleas?
Fleas pose a serious threat to your pet's health. Besides causing skin irritation, scratching, lesions and hair loss, fleas can also cause anemia, especially in puppies or kittens, and give your pets tapeworms.
The best way to determine if your pet has fleas is to find the adult fleas on the animal. Use a flea comb to detect fleas around the hindquarters and the head of the pet. Also examine these areas for "flea dirt," which is the feces that a female flea will deposit along with the eggs.
My Pet Has Fleas!
Getting control of your flea problem will require a three-pronged attack. You'll want to treat your pet, treat your home and your outdoor pet area.
Treat Your Pet
Flea control on your pet will involve patience. First, you will need to bathe your pet with a flea shampoo or use a dip to eliminate as many fleas as you can. Then begin a flea control program to keep them from coming back. There are many good products to choose from, and it's a good idea to rotate your products every two to three years to ensure efficacy.
- Topicals are flea products applied directly to the pet's skin, between the shoulder blades so the pet can't lick it. Dosage is usually one time each month. Some topical flea applications, such as Fiproguard™ and Advantage II®, contain an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) which breaks the flea life cycle for long-lasting protection.
- Oral Flea Control is administered by feeding a tablet orally either by placing directly into the mouth or hiding it in food. Capstar® has a dosage designed to initially kill flea infestations on your pet, as well as a once-a-month dosage to prevent them from coming back. There is no messy application, it won't rub or wash off, and there is no odor.
- Collars are simply placed around your pet's neck and offer the same protection as a topical. Most are water-resistant and can offer anywhere from four to eight months of protection if used properly.
- Sprays quickly kill, repel and prevent re-infestation and are quickly applied. Ideal to use when bathing isn't an option.
Don't rule out the flea comb as it is the best method for sick, pregnant or infant pets and as a rule of thumb, do not use dog products on cats.
Treat Your Home
Many people forget to get rid of them in the home. Fleas and flea eggs can fall off your pet anywhere your pet roams, and fleas love to hide in carpets and furniture. You must vacuum daily, especially in high-traffic areas. Be sure to enclose your vacuum bag in a plastic bag and discard immediately. Use carpet powders, foggers in large open areas, and sprays on your baseboards, moldings, cracks and under furniture where foggers can't reach.
Wash your pet's bedding weekly and treat the area with a spray, such as Advantage Household Spot and Crevice Spray. If you prefer natural methods of flea control, dust pet bedding and surrounding areas with Diatomaceous Earth. D/Earth is made of fossils that scratch the insect's outer shell, causing death by dehydration. Be sure to clean and treat all areas where your pet spends time: the car, the pet carrier, the garage, etc.
Treat Your Outdoor Pet Area
Be sure to treat under bushes, decks, trees and other places where untreated wildlife frequently visit. Your outdoor treatment should focus on these areas. Rake your yard to eliminate leaves, straw and grass clippings as fleas like warm, moist, shady places. Spray or fog your yard and kennels regularly with an insecticide premise spray or wash.
I Don't Want to See Another Flea!
The best flea control will always be prevention. Regular and consistent use of repellents indoors, outdoors and on your pet will reduce the risk of recurring problems.
If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.-Dr. B
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival's Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.
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The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.