As your garden blooms into summer, another season is also upon us – flea season.
When combatting fleas, one of the most common mistakes pet owners make is only treating the affected animal. But they’re not the source of the infestation: the environment the doggy or moggy calls home is.
One of the most effective weapons against fleas is the good old vacuum cleaner. By going over carpets, rugs, bare floors, furniture, pillows and bedding (yours and your pet’s) you effectively target fleas at all of their growth stages and thus prevent them reaching adulthood.
Use the crevice tool that came with your vacuum to target cracks, hard- to-reach corners, running boards and pelmets. If you can see evidence of fleas – most notably their droppings, which resemble pepper grains – it’s important you vacuum your pet’s bedding daily. Should that also happen to be your bedding, follow the same rule. Finally, don’t empty the vacuum bag into your kitchen bin as this will result in simply moving the fleas from one area to another. Take it outside.
Flea bombs, such as those by Mortein, are another effective environmental tool. However, they’re powerful formulations and it’s vital you and your pets don’t enter the area where they’ve been set off for at least two hours afterwards.
Once you’ve bombed, it’s time to talk topical treatments.
There are two main groups here. The first is called insect growth regulators and, although they don’t kill adult fleas, they interrupt their development by assassinating flea larvae and eggs. The most common of these medications is Program, which is given monthly in the form of a tablet and can be combined with heartworm protection in the form of the product Sentinel.
Know your enemy
The second type of product kills fleas rapidly and takes the form of tablets, or liquids applied between the animal’s shoulder blades (to avoid them ingesting it by licking). The medication spreads itself over the body and kills fleas on contact. Frontline Plus, Advantage and Revolution are the recommended products. You could combine them with Capstar, a tablet that begins to kill fleas within 30 minutes.
If you want to try a more natural solution, spraying some cedar oil on the animal’s tail, stomach, groin, neck, back and legs is an idea. Cedar oil kills fleas at all stages of the life cycle by suffocation on contact.
If, having taken these preventative measures, your pet still shows signs of severe itching, hot spots on the hips or face or oozing lesions from chewing, you could be dealing with flea allergy dermatitis. This is caused by an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva and can be effectively dealt with by medication prescribed by your vet.