Flea Control

Since we know that the flea lays her eggs on the pet and they fall off,it is obvious that they fall off where the pet goes. This means that you must treat your house if your pet comes inside. Many people resist doing this, explaining that they never see fleas in the house. The flea egg does not move and it is very hard to see. The flea larvae does not have legs so it has limited movement. The pupal stage of the flea does not move atall. It is not likely that you would be aware of immature fleas -- until they grow into adults. At this point you will be overwhelmed and the problem will be very hard to control. It is possible to kill the pre-adult stagesof the flea in the house. Outside, the flea eggs fall off in areas wherethe pet does things that dislodge them, like jumping around, sitting andscratching, etc. If these areas are warm and moist throughout the day,the flea can reproduce there. It is not necessary to treat large expansesof lawn that dry out during the day -- concentrate on areas the dog spendstime, that stay moist and warm. Make sure you treat around the doors inand out of the house, where your dog or cat is likely to be waiting aroundand where flea eggs are likely to drop off.

Once a Month Flea Control for Pets

There are now several "once a month" flea control medications for pets. Lufenuron (Program - tm), makes control of preadult fleas easier than ithas been in the past. This medication is approved for both dogs and cats. It is administered once a month and is active in the body for that entiretime. At the present time there are no known side effects of the medicationother than a small percentage of pets who are nauseous after administration of the pill. It may be administered when other medications are being used.The pill does not affect adult fleas at all. Therefore it is importan tto start this pill before the flea season or to treat for adult fleas as necessary.

There are also "once a month" adult flea control medications. Advantage (tm) and FrontLine (tm) are two new medications that provide long lasting adult flea control. Advantage works for about one month to kill fleas and FrontLine works for one month in cats and up to three months in dogs. These are very effective products. While these products may becombined with Program (tm), their ability to kill adult fleas effectivelymay make it un-necessary.

Other Flea Killing products for Cats and Dogs

There are many other products that will kill the fleas on the pet. Shampoos, powders, and sprays tend to kill only thefleas present on the pet at the time of application. Mousses (flea foams)and flea creme rinse products tend to have some residual effect. Dips, which are usually used as pour-on products, have a slighlty longer residualeffect and are more likely to be associated with toxicity. Proban, an orallyadministered flea killing pill has short duration of action but is madeto be given twice weekly. There are "spot on" products as well, which havemay have a longer duration of action. However, all of these products aremore toxic and/or less effective than FrontLine (tm) and Advantage (tm).

Treating the House of Fleas - Two Pronged Approach

Treating the house should involve a two pronged approach. To kill the pre-adult fleas it is necessary to use methoprene (Precor). This can bedone by using this product alone, or in combination sprays with an adultkilling ingredient. The ingredients that kill preadult fleas are generallyeffective for 3 to 4 months, indoors. Killing adult fleas can be accomplishedusing any of the pyrethrins (tetramethrin, pyrethrin, permethrin, etc.),or an organophosphate. The adult flea killing ingredients do not have aresidual effect and retreatment every 2 to 3 weeks until the fleas aregone is usually necessary. These products come in sprays and aerosols (foggers).It is very important to read the directions, figure out the square footageyou are attempting to treat and use these products properly. Foggers generallyare ineffective unless one is placed in each room, so small size foggersmay be the most economical approach. An alternative to this approach isto use a sodium borate product for flea control - such as FleaBusters.Some people use diatomaceous earth (food grade) in the house to controlfleas.

Flea treatment in the yard can be accomplished using one of the yardsprays specifically made for this purpose. There is a new approach, inwhich a nematode (worm) that lives on flea larvae is spread in the yard. This is non-toxic and appear to be effective. These worms are sold by various companies. One brand name is Interrupt, available through veterinarians. Remember, it is only necessary to treat areas which stay warm and moist.For some people this will be the whole yard. For others, treatment of muchless than the whole yard will be effective.

Prior to this year (1996), we felt that effective flea control meantthat you needed to treat the pet, the house and the yard. Not treating any one of these could lead to perpetual flea problems. It appears thatFrontLine (tm), Advantage (tm) and Program (tm) may change that situationand allow control of fleas with treatment of the pet, only.

Flea control can be accomplished if you are careful to take a few stepsto ensure that your plan works. Treat your pet with one of the new fleacontrol products. If you elect to treat the house, to it right. Measureyour house and figure out the square footage -- then apply a proper amountof flea control product. If you are using foggers, make sure that theywill cover the area you anticipate -- don't expect them to treat two roomsby placing one in the hall, for instance. Get a fogger for each room. Ifyou use a professional exterminator, make sure they use a product that kills preadult fleas as well as an adulticide. Pay them to come back in2 weeks the first time, rather than waiting a month. Keep up the treatmentuntil you see no fleas, then use the preadult products 2 or 3 times a yearto keep the problem from coming back.

Fleas can be controlled. It can be expensive to take care of a fleainfestation but it is usually cheaper than dealing with the complicationsto your pet's health that fleas can bring about.