September 9, 2013

ImageMy clients, friends and neighbors are reporting record flea control problems this year, especially, if they skipped or were late for their monthly year-around flea control applications or medications.

“That expensive flea control product that I bought isn’t working,” is what I hear over and over. But that isn’t actually the case. Today’s flea control products are highly effective, but if you skipped a dose, or were just a little bit late on your schedule, you will be seeing the results of a severe flea infestation this year. All it takes is a few fleas to survive long enough on your pet to produce hundreds of eggs and you have a massive infestation.

Once a flea infestation gets established in your home environment, it’s tough to bring under control because the adult fleas produce thousands of offspring. The fleas you see on your pet are only 5% of the total flea problem. The other 95% of flea life cycle include tiny eggs, larvae and pupae (or cocoons) which live and hatch in your home or yard. These life cycle stages can be found anywhere the pet has been and are so small that they are difficult to see. Most surprisingly they can survive up to 365 days in your home environment.

So, you noticed some fleas and re-started your monthly flea treatments(adulticides), but you continue to see fleas on your pet. This is because, even though you are killing all of the adult fleas on your pet, the nymph fleas, which are just a smaller version of the adult flea, are hopping out of the pupae (cocoons) in the environment so fast that you see these tiny fleas before your product can kill them. However, you can attest to the fact that your adulticide product is working if you notice that your pet does not have “flea dirt” or flea feces on them. This means that those babies are dying before they even poop. But, they can still make your pet scratch.


Your flea product isn’t failing at this point, but you need more help to get your environment under control

Here are some things you should know:


One flea can produce 2,000 eggs in its lifetime.


95% of flea life stages are present in the environment rather than on the pet. These environmental stages can survive up to 365 days and nothing kills the baby flea in a cocoon.


Fleas can reproduce year-round in southern climates.


While pets can become re-infested from sources other than the home, the majority of control requires a focus on what is happening at home.


Flea adulticides and growth regulators should be used at the correct dosage year-round.


Fleas are more than a simple nuisance; they can cause disease in both people and pets.


Control requires killing the adult fleas, and the other life cycle stages you can’t see.


Your veterinarian can help you establish flea control, but it won’t be simple.

You won’t see a “quick fix” when it comes to flea control – especially in humid climates. It usually takes three months of flea control to break the flea life cycle. This is because fleas in the insecticide-resistant cocoon stage are in between your hardwood floor planks, under your pet’s bedding, in your carpet and in every crack and crevice where your pet spends time. They will hatch out and hop on your pet for months after re-starting your adulticide therapy.

Now for the good news – effective flea control is available. Unlike years ago when flea control was cumbersome, expensive and rarely effective, products found at your veterinary office today can provide a very high level of effectiveness. Two advances in technology have made this possible: 1) Safe products that continue to work on the pet for a full 30 days, actively killing the adult fleas and 2) Insect Growth Regulators(IGRs) that kill the juvenile stages of the life cycle and provide highly effective control at this crucial part of the flea’s development.

Using a combination of these two products and treating your pet’s environment are the keys to re-establishing flea control. Veterinarians call this Integrated Flea Control. Integrated Flea Control kills adult fleas AND stops the immature life cycle stages from developing into adults. You must treat ALL animals in your household. This eliminates flea infestations in three months and prevents and infestation in the future.

If you are seeing fleas on your pet, then in addition to your monthly flea application or flea pill, you must wash everything in the path of your pet. If you can’t wash it, then you need to vacuum it every day and throw away the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag or clean out the canister of the vacuum each time you use it. You have sucked up flea eggs, larvae and pupae and you need to get those out of the house before they hatch! Treat under pet’s beds and the floor where they stand to eat with products recommended by your veterinarian. Treat areas in the yard where pets hang out, especially if they are shady. The sun dries out flea larvae, but with all the rain this year, some areas never dried out enough. Use an outdoor product recommended by your veterinarian or a reputable pest-control company.

You also need to be sure all pets in the household are receiving an IGR. Think of this as flea birth control. This ensures that any fleas to do sneak past your adulticides and environmental sprays are sterile. If they cannot reproduce, you will never get an infestation like the one you are suffering through this year. But, again, every pet in the household must take part!

Especially in the face of a record year for flea infestation, now is the time to act. You can watch an interesting video about fleas by visiting www.VetNewsNet.com and don’t give up. You can get this problem under control, but you must use integrated flea control methods, be persistent and patient.


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