Are you losing an epic battle with fleas? Although there are over 2000 flea species in the world, 99.9% of the fleas on our pets are the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. Fleas are a terrible nuisance, but they also cause serious health issues in pets and people which is why a great Two-Step flea control program is essential.
So, how do you beat a flea outbreak? It's by understanding the flea life cycle and implementing this Two-Step approach which targets the adult fleas on the pet, AND the egg and larval flea forms in the environment (house and yard). This Two-Step approach is the most rapid method of controlling fleas.
STEP ONE: Kill the fleas on your pet...
5% of the total flea population lives on our dogs and cats--these are the adult fleas. In the Two-Step flea control approach, it's imperative to use a veterinary approved flea preventative--something that kills fleas--in or on your dog and cat, because a female flea can produce 3000 baby fleas which mature into egg-laying adults in as little as 2 to 3 weeks! Flea control must be done year-round--spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Note that all of the topical oil-based flea products are subject to wash-off when using anti-seborrheic (anti-dandruff) shampoos, or when frequent bathing or swimming are part of your pet's routine, so my preferred flea preventatives are oral Nexgard, Trifexis, or Bravecto for dogs, and Revolution for cats.
STEP TWO: Kill the immature fleas in the environment (house and yard)...
95% of the total flea population is in your pet's environment, not on your pet. These are flea eggs, larvae, and pupae. Step Two involves treating the house and the yard:
- Vacuum the carpet with a rotary beater bar-type vacuum to remove some of the larvae and eggs. Suction vacuum tile and hardwood floors, and upholstered furniture--don't forget places pets love like under the bed and in your closet. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag after vacuuming, or freeze the bag, as the eggs and larvae will continue to develop inside the bag resulting in a reservoir of fleas.
- Machine-wash pet and people bedding.
- Shampoo or steam clean. Cleaning the carpet before applying insecticides lifts the carpet fibers and allows for maximum penetration.
- Use an insecticidal aerosol spray that contains synthetic pyrethroids for quick-kill of adult fleas and methoprene or pyriproxyfen (Nylar®) as an insect growth regulator. Follow the label directions closely for application. Remove your pets from the area to be sprayed. One or two applications at 7 to 14 day intervals is sufficient if you are using oral flea control on your dogs, such as NexGard or Bravecto, or topical flea control, such as Advantage Multi, Vectra, Advantage, Advantix or Frontline on your dogs, and Revolution on cats, every 30 days. Consider: Virbac Knockout E.S. Area Treatment Carpet Spray or Vet Kem Siphotrol Plus II Premise Pest Control Spray.
- Focus yard treatment on common outdoor source points for fleas such as under porches, crawl spaces under homes, along fence lines, under shrubs, mulched areas, and areas where your dogs and cats spend most of their time. Areas protected from direct sunlight where the soil is moist will provide the best conditions for flea development.
- Stray dogs, cats, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, and foxes are common hosts of fleas, so block their access to your yard (if possible) and crawl spaces.
- Use an insecticide that contains cyfluthrin or fenvalerate. Spray or granules can be used. Follow the label directions closely for application. Remove your pets from the area to be be treated. Application may need to be repeated every 7 to 14 days with severe flea infestations. Consider: Bayer Advanced Complete Brand Insect Killer For Soil & Turf, Virbac Concentrate Yard Spray for Fleas and Ticks, or Tempo WP Ultra Pest Control Insecticide.
Use the tools of the Two-Step flea control program, and you'll win the battle to rid your dogs and cats of fleas. Then to ensure success for years to come, continue Step One year-round.
Give us a call at 281.351.7184 or schedule an appointment at kindvet.com if you have additional questions.
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