By Helen Crawford, Veterinarian
Why autumn is a critical month for treating fleas
With the cooler months almost upon us, now is a good time to remember that year round treatment is essential for good control of the flea population. Many owners believe that fleas aren't a problem over the winter months as they don't find fleas on their pets during this time. What is actually happening is that the immature stages of the flea are going into hibernation in the environment, building up in numbers which will all emerge during spring as the weather warms. As a result we often see a massive spike in flea infestations as the temperature rises again.
New flea treatment products and their benefits
We have recently seen the release of some exciting new flea products as well as good evidence to support the effectiveness of the more well-known treatments which have been around for some time now.
Most owners can identify with the challenges of getting their cats to swallow pills, so we all welcomed the recent launch of 'Broadline'. Broadline is an all in one topical treatment that treats pretty much everything, including fleas, roundworms and tapeworms. Tapeworm segments look like sesame seeds and are sometimes seen under cats' tails. Roundworms are less visible and are common in cats that hunt. Humans can also become infected with young children most at risk. Broadline is cost effective, so is well worth considering if your cat is due worming with their next flea treatment.
Products, such as Frontline Plus, not only treat the adult fleas on your dog or cat, but are also effective against eggs and larvae which make up around 90% of the total flea population (the adult fleas which we see are only the tip of the iceberg!). These products are easy to apply and long lasting. The main point to remember is that the animal must stay dry for 48 hours after application – no baths or swimming (or jumping in the trough for your dogs!). This is because the product is absorbed into the sebaceous (sweat) glands of the skin where it remains as a reservoir, being constantly released over 1-2 months depending on the product used. It is also important that all cats and dogs in a household or on a farm are treated together for the most effective control.
'Seresto' was launched last year bringing back the outdated flea collar but in a very new form. This collar provides safe and effective continuous protection against fleas and ticks for eight months. It's easy to apply, comfortable for the pets and water resistant. The product has been popular for working dogs especially those with hypersensitivity to fleas or in tick prone areas. For adventurous cats the collar has a quick release safety feature, which is triggered by the animal's weight. This product has been competitively priced. Our staff can provide more information or bring your pet in and we can fit them with their new collar.
Identifying and treating flea allergies
We frequently see patients that don't have obvious fleas but are suffering from flea allergy dermatitis causing large patches of thinning coat. A good rule is if you can draw a line down the middle of your pet, and you notice the back half is affected but the head end isn't affected, fleas are at the top of the list even if you can't see any! Fleas are sometimes found when you carefully flea comb. The condition improves with regular flea treatment.
Still finding fleas after you have treated your pet?
Often owners are dismayed to find fleas on their pets despite having treated them recently. Live fleas indicate a massive environmental (indoors and outdoors) contamination of flea eggs, pupae and larvae. These provide an on-going source of young adult fleas that will die within 24 hours of jumping onto a treated pet without breeding which breaks the life cycle of the flea and will in time cleanse the environment of new eggs and puppae. It is essential to treat all animals in the household regularly, on the same day and to their correct weight. Washing pets bedding, vacuuming and blocking off access to under the house will help also. Read the products packet insert; sometimes they advise more frequent application under conditions of a heavy flea infestation. Come in and see us if you are still seeing fleas and we can help advise the best treatment for your pets.
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