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When is Flea Season?

Flea season usually starts in May and goes through to winter. The worst time of the year for fleas is September, October, and November.  Flea prevention can be stopped once our temperature is consistently below the freezing point.

How can you tell if your animal has fleas?

The symptoms that an animal experiences when they have fleas can vary depending on if they are allergic to the flea saliva.  An animal that is not allergic may not even itch if infested with fleas.  On the other hand, an animal that is highly allergic to the flea saliva may itch and scratch excessively even after one flea bite.  Most animals that have fleas will either have the presents of a black pepper substance on the fur, or they will be scratching and/or chewing at the back end of their body.

What is the recommendation for flea prevention & control?

Here at Prairie View Animal Hospital we carry Vectra-3D (canine), Vectra (feline), Frontline Plus (canine or feline), or Revolution (canine or feline).  We recommend that you apply one of these topical flea preventatives once monthly to all animals in the environment.

An environmental treatment is also available.  Here at Prairie View, we carry Knockout spray.  This spray allows you to target the areas where fleas will most likely be.  Flea bombs on the other hand only target the tops of surfaces where fleas generally will not be.  A lot of vacuuming is also a great idea to limit the number of fleas in your environment.

Vectra 3-D for Dogs (dinotefuran, permethrin, pyriproxifen), Vectra for Cats (dinotefuran, pyriproxifen) from Summit Vet Pharm

This product is a monthly spot-on application for flea, tick and mosquito control with an insect growth regulator.  It provides long-lasting repellent, and is a fast acting adult flea killer that also provides control for the egg stage of the flea for at least 30 days.  Permethrin is added to provide tick control and as a repellant. Pyriproxifen (Nylar) is added for flea egg control (See above.)  Water and shampooing lowers efficacy after 14 days. Do not use the Vectra-3D on cats, because of the high concentration of permethrin. This product is fast-acting and should be very useful for households with flea allergy patients.

Advantage (imidacloprid), K9 Advantix (with permethrin) from Bayer

These products are available as a spot ons for either dogs or cats. Advantage seems to be very well tolerated by sensitive cats. It provides flea knockdown in about 8 hours. 100% killing can be maintained for at least two weeks. It is susceptible to wash off, therefore outdoor active dogs and dogs that swim or that must be bathed because of dermatitis must be re treated frequently. (Weekly reapplication is allowed with Advantage only). Imidacloprid has no efficacy against ticks, but K-9 Advantix, with permethrin does. K9 Advantix is only labeled for once a month, and ONLY FOR DOGS.

Frontline Spray, Frontline Plus and Frontline Top Spot (fipronil) from Merial

Fipronil is a broad spectrum insecticide available as a spray or a drip-on. Fipronil binds chemically to the hair and is absorbed through the hair follicle by the sebaceous glands. The spray is labeled for puppies and kittens of 8 weeks (10 weeks for Top Spot). It is also affective against ticks. The major problem with the spray is the high volume of alcohol based product that must be applied. Many cats will show minor adverse reactions with this application technique. The product is labeled to be applied no more than once a month. Frontline Pluscontains the insect growth regulator, S-methoprene and so provides control of eggs and adult fleas.

Revolution (selamectin) from Pfizer 

This prescription drug is designed as a once-a-month heartworm preventive and flea preventive for cats as young as 6 weeks old.  It also kills adult fleas and can be used to treat sarcoptic mange, ear mites and ticks.  It also helps control roundworms and hookworms in cats. The product is placed on the skin at the back of the neck, but is absorbed into the body to have its effect when female fleas ingest it with a blood meal.  Adult fleas will die slowly, but more importantly, female fleas stop egg production as soon as they are exposed. It is most useful as a preventive for flea infestation and in the presence of a flea problem in an allergic pet, but it is an excellent flea control product for cats.

Why are the above mentioned products better than flea baths and dips?

The Vectra, Frontline, Advantix, and Revolution are safer, easier to apply, and the protection lasts longer.  They also affect the life cycle of the flea, whereas the baths and dips only kill the adult fleas that are on the animal.

What is the flea life cycle?


Eggs are laid in the hair coat and are designed to fall off the host. They are resistant to insecticides, but susceptible to various insect growth regulators. Larvae develop in the host?s environment and feed on adult flea feces (blood) that fall out of the hair coat of the pet. Larvae are susceptible to traditional insecticides, borates and insect growth regulators. Larvae eventually spin cocoons (often within carpet fibers) for pupation. Pupae are resistant to freezing, desiccation, and insecticides. Pupae can lie dormant for many months; they are stimulated to expupate as emergent adults by vibration, warming and increased carbon dioxide. Normally, expupation occurs when a host is near and the new flea finds the pet within seconds of emergence. Emergent fleas are fairly mobile and can survive a few days without a host, if in a suitable environment. New fleas begin feeding within hours of finding a dog or cat. Once a blood meal has been taken, the flea can survive only a short time if it is dislodged from the host. New fleas experience very high mortality on healthy adult hosts. Most fleas do not survive 72 hours on an animal that is itching and able to groom itself.  Unfortunately, limited egg production does occur even on allergic animals. The entire life cycle of C. felis can be completed in as few as 16 days!

What problems can fleas cause?

Fleas can be the cause of tapeworms. When the infected tapeworm eggs are released into the environment, they have to be swallowed by immature flea larvae. Once inside the larval stage of the flea, the tapeworm egg continues to develop into an infective tapeworm as the flea matures into an adult flea. During grooming or in response to a flea?s bite, the dog or cat can ingest the flea carrying the infective tapeworm and the life cycle is completed.

Fleas can also cause anemia in young or emaciated animals. A single female flea can take up to 15 times her body weight in blood over the several weeks of her adult life.

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