In our last blog post, we discussed fleas with a focus on identification, transmission, and associated illnesses. If you missed it, please refer to “Fleas 101” for July 2016. This month we will focus more closely on prevention and treatment.
Thankfully flea treatments have come a long way from the days of stinky flea collars that leave a bald spot around your cat’s neck, or those unpleasant flea dips for cats and dogs, both of which were not very effective.
You can still find some of these older chemicals on the market. They are typically the cheaper over-the-counter medications, however, the increased potential for side effects and the lack of effectiveness make them a poor treatment option.
Caution also needs to be exercised that products are used specifically for the intended species. Cats, for example, are extremely sensitive to products containing pyrethrins/pyrethroids and can develop signs including lethargy, vomiting, and muscle tremors when exposed to toxic doses.
How to Choose the Right Flea Treatment for your Dog or Cat
You may have noticed there are a mind-boggling number of newer flea treatments on the market for pets. Periodically, the doctors at Bothell Pet Hospital review all of the available flea treatment options and choose a few that we recommend based of safety, efficacy, administration and mode of action.
Based on our reviews, we have a couple great options currently available in the hospital along with several other options available through our online portal/store.
Two of our current favorites are Bravecto and Activyl:
Bravecto is a newer generation oral, chewable, flavored tablet that will kill fleas for 12 weeks. Administration every 3 months has been wonderful for all of us with busy schedules! Besides, who can get rid of fleas in just one month of treatment? Another great attribute of Bravecto is that it is also effective against ticks, mites and lice. Many people also like the oral option because there is no oily residue left on the skin/fur of the pet. This has been especially popular for our clients with children. Bravecto currently is only available for dogs.
Activyl is a newer version of the traditional “spot-on” monthly flea preventative/treatment. It is applied to the skin by parting the fur. It is available in a flea formula or a flea and tick formula. Activyl is also available for both dogs and cats. Another option that we have available for cats is Revolution. It is also a topical flea treatment that treats fleas, and other parasites including ear mites and roundworms in cats. Although a canine version of Revolution is available, we prefer Bravecto and Activyl in dogs.
How to Combat Fleas in Your Home and Yard
Environmental decontamination is also an important step in battling fleas. Fleas can lay up to 45 eggs per day, most of which fall off the dog or cat into the environment, such as carpet or bedding.
Larvae live for days to weeks in carpet, bedding, etc. after hatching. The larval stage is most susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. Larvae that are exposed to a relative humidity of 33% or less, at any temperature, will die. Therefore environmental treatment involving decreasing the humidity, can be very helpful in flea control.
Borax is an inexpensive product that can be used to dehumidify carpeting and prevent larvae from developing into adults. Diatomaceous earth is a natural product that may help eliminate fleas.
Both of these products are sprinkled over the carpet and worked in with a broom, then vacuumed hours later. As with any aerosolized powder, care should be taken so that is not inhaled, by using a dust mask or other protection.
After vacuuming all of the house, the vacuum should be emptied or bag changed so that any captured eggs, larvae, pupae or fleas are eliminated from the house.
All washable pet bedding, or areas where the dogs/cats sleep, should be also be washed and dried.
When considering any outdoor environmental flea control, always remember that you are not only killing fleas with pesticides, but will also kill our beneficial insects, such as pollinators.
Hopefully the information in these last two newsletters will help you recognize a flea issue early so that treatment can be initiated immediately. For those that prefer to be proactive about prevention, or for our higher-risk pets, such as dogs that go to day-care or dog parks, or cats that go outdoors, continued use of flea control, as discussed above, may be chosen. If any questions arise, please give us a call! Best wishes for a happy, fun and flea-free summer!