Fleas are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of once you have them. When most people experience fleas, they are on the dog or cat, you see them roaming around and once they are treated and die, everyone thinks this is the end of the problem. Unfortunately, this is very often not the case!
When a flea is on an animal you are really only seeing the final stage of the flea lifecycle. Like most insects, a flea will go through five stages of life: egg, larvae, pupae, juvenile and adult. For the most effective treatment, a flea should be dispatched during the juvenile stage before it gets a chance to lay eggs.
During the flea’s overall lifetime, it actually spends 95% of its time in the ground. You can find them buried in the ground, usually in shady places that are not too hot or cold. When a warm-blooded animal walks past it triggers the flea to hatch out of the ground and spring forward onto their new host. All of this happens very quickly and ignoring the problems that fleas cause, is actually fascinating to watch. Once the fleas are on an animal they begin to feed (on the blood of your pet) and move from being a juvenile to an adult and then will breed and lay eggs.
A female adult flea can lay approximately 40-50 eggs in a day. While this may not seem like a lot, you’ll need to multiply that number by the number of fleas on the animal. For example a group of 10 females will produce nearly 500 eggs, and all of those can hatch in a little under a day (although the average is 5 days), so you can see how a small batch of fleas on your dog or cat can build into a huge problem in a very short amount of time.
For the prevention of fleas becoming a problem in your home, you need to be diligent and keep an eye on your pets. You can do this by performing regular inspections and treating fleas when you see them. Or, alternatively you can treat your pet for fleas regularly if you see them or not – which is what most pet parents do.
Currently the monthly flea treatments on the market are very effective and most will kill fleas rapidly, which can break the flea cycle. However, as the fleas are in your environment, you’ll need to exhaust the flea population in the area to be truly free from them, and this can take many months. Therefore, consistent treatment is the best way forward.
Flea, Tick and Heartworm Prevention for Dogs
For total protection against fleas, ticks and heartworm for your dog you can use a few different products. Out of all the products you can use, one criterion remains the same and that is, you get what you pay for. If the product you’re using is cheaper than most others (such as those sold in supermarkets), then it will probably suffer in its effectiveness. In Australia you can expect to pay around $100-$150 for an all-round flea, tick, and heartworm treatment for a dog. As you’re paying for volume of medication, the more your dog weighs the more the treatment will cost.
The main difference in the protection you choose for your pet is the way it is delivered. You can choose between spot-on (topical), chewable tablets, and hard tablets. When you’re choosing the one for your pet consider what you’re comfortable giving them. If they take a chewable or hard tablet easily then that is your best option. If you’re not sure (or it’s an unfamiliar dog) then using a topical treatment is best, but you need to make sure it goes directly on their skin and not onto the hairs.
An important note is that currently there is no treatment that provides complete coverage in one single dose. The ones that get closest are Nexgard Spectra (chewable) and Advocate (topical). Advocate does not treat Tapeworm, and Nexgard Spectra misses one of the two Tapeworms that can affect dogs. However, you can buy a separate Tapeworm treatment from most vets.
Flea Treatment for Dogs
When you’re only treating fleas, which is perfect if your dog is getting an annual injection for Heartworm, then you have a huge choice in treatment. The delivery methods include, chewable, spot-on and collars (Seresto is considered the only effective flea collar brand).
Most flea treatments are sold in either 3-month or 6-month packets. These require your dog to be treated every month to keep control of fleas. There are products that will keep your pet flea free for three months in a single treatment. While these are more expensive, for some the convenience is worth it. These convenient treatments are perfect if you need to leave your pet at home during travel, as you won’t need to rely on anyone to keep up with treatments.
Monthly flea treatment is perfect if you tend to walk your dog in many outdoor areas, and especially if they walk off leash and can explore places that fleas love to live. If you’re a beach goer many of these treatments will cover treating mosquitoes and sand flies.
If you want an ongoing treatment option, you can use Seresto collars. These have been made to last up to 8 months, they work in a different manner to the traditional flea collars. The active ingredient is embedded into the collar and slowly releases over time. The older style of flea collars was treated with chemicals and were not waterproof, and they usually only treated the area around the head of the dog.
Flea, Tick Worm Prevention for Cats
For cats your choices in treatments are a little limited. Currently, there isn’t a chewable treatment to cover fleas, ticks, and worms, but instead you only have topical or spot-on to choose from. The most popular brands for the treatment of your cat are Advocate and Revolution. These are available in either 3-month or 6-month packets, however some vets are able to supply a single dose, but this is usually only during a consultation.
Flea Treatment for Cats
As cats tend to wander outside of the confines of your home, flea treatments for cats are incredibly important. They have a tendency to hangout in homes that are not occupied, and get into cool and dark locations where fleas larvae like to live.
As cats are not the best at swallowing tables, your choices for treatment delivery is limited to spot-on and collars. The most popular brands to treat fleas for cats are Advantage, Frontline, and Bravecto. Advantage and Frontline are a monthly treatment and they need to be given to your cat every month to maintain effectiveness. Bravecto only needs to be given once to protect your cat from fleas for up to 2 months, which can make keeping up with treatments easier and more convenient.
Using a flea collar (Seresto) for cats can be another excellent solution. These typically last about eight months and are proven to be incredibly effective, and do not require the flea to bite your pet to start working. However, consider if your cat has a tendency to throw off collars, if they do then stick with a spot-on treatment to make sure they are covered.