Flea Control

About Fleas

All dogs have contact with fleas. Fleas are small, brown insects that spend most of their life cycle off the animal and feed on blood. When they bite, they make the host (either you or your pet) want to scratch, and after having their blood meal, fleas lay hundreds of eggs either on your pet (in his coat), or in the surroundings (dog bedding, carpet, lawn etc.). These eggs hatch into larvae that then develop into adult fleas after a week to several months, depending on conditions. Both flea eggs and larvae survive for many months in carpets, lawns, kennels, and bedding etc. so it is therefore important to treat these areas also, as well as your dog, if you want to control the problem properly.

Fleas cause:

A dog with fleas may show signs of continual scratching, hair loss or very small brown specks of dry blood right at the skin surface (known as flea dirt) where the flea has bitten your dog. All of these are evidence of a flea infestation. The period from spring to summer is usually the time of greatest flea infestation.

Flea control has two main parts:

Treating Your Dog

An insecticide applied to your dog's skin and coat is the best way to kill fleas in contact with the dog. This may take the form of a flea powder used twice to once a week; an insecticidal shampoo used weekly; a flea collar; a flea kill spray applied directly to the coat as required; or a flea 'rinse' (or flea 'wash' as it is also known) used weekly. Of these options, a flea collar is less desirable because they tend to be ineffective on large dogs and may damage the coat, and likewise, powders are also less effective due to the difficulty of getting the powder to penetrate through the dense coat. Depending on the degree of the problem any of the other methods are good, remembering that if you use a flea rinse this is a solution you dilute yourself and leave on your dog's coat after he has been bathed and towel dried - you do not rinse it off.

Obviously, all other pets should be treated at the same time but extra care must be taken when treating small animals and puppies because when insecticidal products are too strong (i.e. instructions have been followed incorrectly) or when large amounts are swallowed (as a result of excessive licking) this can be highly toxic to the dog. Some insecticides are more effective than others so it is best to ask your veterinarian about a suitable brand and should you have any queries about dosage and application it is advisable to check these before usage.

Treating the Environment

Clean up any garbage around your house where mice and rats (which carry fleas) may be living.

Unless impractical, board off popular breeding places for fleas, such as sandpits or under the house to prevent the dogs' access or otherwise, soak these areas with an insecticidal solution (rinse or spray) to kill existing fleas.

Sheds and garages etc. should be sprayed with a household surface strength insecticide such as Baygon (ensuring that it is effective for all stages of the flea life cycle: eggs, larvae, and adult fleas.)

Dog kennels should be vacuumed or swept regularly and sprayed with flea kill, diluted flea rinse, or dusted with flea powder. All dog bedding should be washed at the same time as defleaing, either soaked in flea rinse then dried, or washed first, then sprayed or dusted after it has dried.

Carpets should be thoroughly vacuumed regularly and it is sometimes helpful to put flea powder in the collecting bag of the vacuum cleaner. If the dogs are frequently inside the house, it is likely that your carpet is inhabited by many fleas, eggs, and larvae which can readily gain access to you and your dog, especially if his flea treatment is wearing off. You may wish to treat your carpet also, depending on the severity of the problem, which can be done by using a flea control mist or fogger, and this effectively kills all life cycles of the flea which come into contact with your carpet for approximately 6 months. This particular product is one in which you have to leave the house for a matter of hours whilst it penetrates throughout the house gradually. It is available under various brand names but Siphotrol is the name of this product under the 'VetKem' label which is stocked by most vet clinics along with an accompanying range of other flea products.

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