Flea Control and Flea Control Products - Information on Getting Rid of Fleas.



Information on effective flea control and prevention is one of the main parasitic reasons pet owners visit the vet.

Fleas are common and persistent insect pests which cause a range of health problems in cats and dogs including: skin irritation, coat damage, hair loss, flea allergy dermatitis and anaemia. Blood sucking fleas also facilitate the transmission of a range of infectious disease organisms and flea bites on humans cause painful skin irritations and even severe allergic reactions in sensitized individuals. It is no wonder there is a lot of vested interest in flea control and eradication, both in the home and commercially.

This flea control page contains practical information for pet owners on getting rid of fleas on dogs or cats and eradicating them from the home and yard. Much of the information will also be applicable to rabbits, ferrets and poultry with fleas (though you should ask your vet what the safest flea control products are for these species).

Please note that a severe flea infestation in a house or yard can be very tricky to remove once a flea population becomes well established. The vast majority of fleas in a flea population are not the adult fleas seen on your pet, but juvenile stages (flea eggs, flea larvae and flea cocoons). These juvenile stages of the flea life cycle actually exist away from the pet's body and in warm, moist areas of the home such as the bed, couch, carpet, yard, garden and, where applicable, underneath the house. Because so much of the flea life cycle occurs away from the animal host and in the host's environment (couch, bed, carpet, yard), extra care needs to be taken to rid the environment of flea pests. This can be difficult (carpets, backyards, gardens and other flea infested environments can be large and difficult to clean properly) and sometimes it may actually take a consultation with a registered pest removal company in addition to a consult with your veterinarian to completely remove the little flea pests from your home once and for all.

To understand just how significant the environment is to maintaining a house flea infestation, take a look at my flea life cycle diagram page.



Flea Control Products



Flea Control in Dogs and Cats - Contents:

1. Flea Control Products That Control Fleas on Cats and Dogs:
1a) What you want a flea control product to do for you.
1b) The best flea products available from your veterinarian.
1c) Flea collars, flea sprays, flea powders, flea washes and flea shampoos - a waste of time and money?
1d) Natural and home remedies for fleas - homemade flea control and natural flea treatment.


2. Controlling Fleas on Dogs and Cats Effectively - important factors to consider when treating your animal for fleas.

3. Flea Management in the Environment - fleas in carpets, yards, couches, gardens and bedding:
3a) Practical Tips for Killing Fleas in carpets and houses - includes information on flea traps and flea bombs.
3b) Outdoor fleas control - yard fleas.
3c) Don't leave any stone unturned - fleas hide in weird places (dog kennels, under houses, car interiors and so on).
3d) Could fleas be re-infesting your yard on the backs of visiting animals?
3e) Could your pet be catching fleas from somewhere outside your home?
3f) Pest removal companies and veterinarians - a flea killing combination.


4. Preventing Fleas From Infesting Your Dog, Cat or Home - prevention is always better than cure.

If you found my flea control information helpful and worthy of a small tip,
you can leave one by clicking the 'donate' button opposite.
The button directs you to a secure PayPal donations page where
you can pay by credit card or using your own PayPal account.
All tips are very much appreciated and help to fund this website.




Flea Control Products



1a) What you want a flea control product to do for you:

You want the flea control product to kill fleas:
Pretty obvious. By this I mean that the flea control product should have a high level of effectivity. You don't want a flea product that only happens to kill the 'occasional' flea stupid enough to land right on it (e.g. as sometimes seen with flea control collars - the fleas around the animal's neck disappear, but the fleas on the animal's bottom are safe and sound). You want a product that distributes over the entire body of the host dog or cat (either across the animal's skin or through the blood stream) getting rid of every single flea on the animal's body.

You want a flea control product that the fleas are not resistant to:
This comes down to the above point - you want the flea control product to kill the fleas. Just as there are bacteria around that are resistant to antibiotics, so too might there now be fleas that are becoming resistant to the medications used to treat fleas on dogs and cats.

You want a flea product that kills fleas quickly:
Ideally, you want a flea control product that kills fleas really quickly (e.g. within 30 minutes even), giving the fleas no time to lay any eggs into the environment prior to dying. Female fleas need a 'blood meal' (a drink of blood) from your pet before they can lay viable eggs. If the female flea leaping onto the dog or cat dies before it can even lay a single egg, then this will hugely reduce the numbers of juvenile fleas (flea eggs, flea larvae and flea cocoons) present in the animal's environment (i.e. improved flea control overall).

A fast kill product is also essential if your pet suffers from flea allergy dermatitis. Flea allergic dogs and cats become sensitised to fleas when they feed. Flea control products that kill fleas fast, thereby preventing the insects from feeding at all or, at least, restricting the number of times the flea can bite and/or the duration of each feeding session, can help to reduce the pet's exposure to flea bites, therefore helping to reduce the extent and severity of flea allergy dermatitis.

You want the flea product to last the duration it says it will:
If a flea product is to be given monthly, then it should prevent and kill fleas for the full month prior to the next dose. It shouldn't start admitting fleas onto the animal's body after only a week or so.

You want a flea control product that will not wash off:
Many flea products are applied to the skin (i.e. topically). Because animals are bathed and rained on and taken to the beach, there is the potential for topical flea products to wash away, making them prematurely ineffective at preventing and controlling fleas. If your pet gets wet a lot, it is important to pick a flea control product that won't wash away.

You want a flea product that is cost effective:
Given that you will probably need to treat your pet with some form of flea prevention every month of the year (particularly in moist, humid, warm climates), it is important the flea medication you choose is cost-effective. Be aware, however, that a lot of the cheaper supermarket products (e.g. flea powders, flea shampoos, flea soaps and flea collars) and many of the home remedies for fleas may seem cheap and easy, but will not effectively remove your flea problem (i.e. resulting in wasted money). Sometimes you can end up saving money and time by choosing a more expensive product with a greater level of effectiveness (with flea control products you often do get what you pay for).

You want a flea control product that is easy to use:
Flea tablets (e.g. Comfortis, Program, Sentinel and Capstar) are easy to give to pets that will take tablets easily. Spot-on flea control products (e.g. Frontline, Advantage, Advantix, Revolution) are easy to apply to the coats of animals. Flea control shampoos, powders and washes can be noxious-smelling, messy (e.g. the powder goes everywhere) and tricky to use effectively (you need to bath/powder every part of the animal's body).

You want a flea control product that does not stain:
Many of the flea control products commonly prescribed by vets and bought at supermarkets are topical (applied to the skin). These flea medicines can sometimes be capable of staining carpets, clothes and other fabrics in the home or car.

You want a flea control product that is safe for animals and humans alike:
This is obvious. The flea control product should poison the fleas and not the host animal or the humans in the household.

If the flea product is topical (including washes, powders, spot-ons and shampoos), then it should be designed to be safe for humans to touch and apply to their pet. Sadly, this is not always the case. Be careful with some of the older flea control products; cheaper supermarket brands; some of the homemade and natural flea control products and any brand of topical flea medicine you don't recognize. They can sometimes contain toxins and oils that cause skin irritation to humans or pets if touched and some may even release odours and fumes that can cause respiratory irritation and asthma-type reactions. Certain types of flea control product can contain chemicals that accumulate in the environment, causing increased risk of toxicity and poisoning over time.

Be aware that individual humans and pets can have allergic reactions to any administered product. This does not mean that the product itself is generally unsafe (though it is clearly unsafe for the allergic individual), however, the adversely affected individual should not be placed in contact with that flea product again. I have seen animals develop itchy, bald spots on the backs of their necks as a result of an allergic reaction to various spot-on products.

Be careful of so-called natural flea control products and home remedies for fleas that contain odorous oils like tea-tree oil, eucalyptus oil, garlic and similar. These oils can irritate the skin of some animals, producing severe inflammation and redness and itching. Woolmix too can produce such a reaction in some individuals.

It should be noted that some products which are very safe for their intended host can be quite toxic to other hosts due to differences in host tolerance for certain flea medicines. Many dog products, though safe for dogs, are quite toxic to cats and so should not be used in this species. You should ALWAYS read the label to be sure.

Similarly, some very safe flea control products are not recommended for pregnant animals (or people). You should ALWAYS read the label to be sure.

Some are also only safe for animals over a certain age. Again, read the label to be sure.

The best way to find out about the safety aspects of a given flea control product is to take the product to your vet and ask. Vets have a good understanding of which flea products are safe (or they can at least look it up for you) and inform you of which species and ages the flea control product is most appropriate for.



Flea Treatment - TOP



1b) Flea control products from your veterinarian:

Some flea control products prescribed by veterinarians only kill the adult fleas running around on the host animal's coat. Some of these products also enter the house environment (e.g. carpet), killing flea eggs and flea larvae on contact. Other products do not kill adult fleas at all, but instead render the flea eggs or their larvae non-viable and incapable of developing into adult fleas (i.e. preventing the environmental flea life cycle from coming to completion). The best products do a combination of both these things: killing both adult fleas on the pet and de-activating the various juvenile flea stages (eggs or larvae or pupae) in the environment for a multi-pronged approach to flea management.


Veterinary flea control products that kill adult fleas:

Adult female and male fleas are required in order for flea egg production to occur and for subsequent environmental contamination with eggs, flea larvae and flea pupae (cocoons) to occur. No reproducing adult fleas eventually means no flea life cycle and no fleas in the house, carpet, commercial premises, yard or lawn.

If host animals are treated with a good flea control product that kills all adult fleas within 2 days of the flea/s reaching the host animal, then no flea eggs will be produced (it takes 2 days for adult fleas to create eggs after jumping into a host and feeding on its blood). Be aware that some products (especially the spot-ons) will require up to 24 hours to distribute all over the animal host's body (and therefore kill all of the fleas) if they have never been used on the pet before.

The Big 5 - adult flea killing products:

Nitenpyram (tradenames include Capstar) - This product kills adult fleas fantastically well as a once-off, oral tablet. The product is often used by vets as a fast knock-down to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs and cats. Nitenpyram starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the pet. The product is short-lasting, however, and needs to be given daily to have any ongoing effect (unlike many of the spot-ons below, which last for up to 1 month). Pet owners often dose pets with Nitenpyram once or twice to get rid of large flea infestations (massive flea burdens) on their pet and then follow up with a monthly flea control product for ongoing flea protection. Nitenpyram is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 4 weeks of age.

Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - This product kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the body within 12 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. "Advantage DUO" is no longer produced.

Fipronil (tradenames include - Frontline Spray, Frontline Top Spot, Frontline Plus) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Fipronil is a very safe product (distributes over the body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. The effect of the 'spot-on' formula lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Frontline Spray" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 2 days of age (be careful of correct dosing, though, if used in the very young) and needs to be reapplied more regularly than the spot-on. "Frontline Top Spot" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 8 weeks of age. Fipronil is toxic to rabbits and ferrets.

Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Selamectin is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the host's body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention. It is safe to give to rabbits and ferrets and birds, including chickens and other poultry (ask your vet for doses and for with-holding times on meat and eggs, if using the product on production birds).

Spinosad (tradenames include - Comfortis) - This relatively new product kills adult fleas fantastically well as an oral tablet. The product has a fast knock-down effect to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs. Spinosad starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the dog. The product is also long-lasting, maintaining its effect for up to 1 month after dosing. "Comfortis" is safe to use on puppies over 14 weeks of age. It should not be given to pregnant animals. It is not registered for cats. It also should not be given to animals with allergies to pork or those that have a history of epilepsy.


Veterinary flea control products that inhibit the development of juvenile flea stages in the host animal's environment:

Lufenuron (tradenames include - Sentinel and Program) - If host animals (cats or dogs) are treated with the orally-administered flea control medication Lufenuron, the chemical is taken up into the female flea's body as it drinks the host animal's blood. Lufenuron is an insect growth inhibitor that damages the development of the larval fleas that form inside of the flea eggs, causing these larvae to be unable to hatch. The flea medicine does not kill the adult fleas.

Cyromazine (tradenames include - Decaflea) - Another canine flea product, Cyromazine, is also an insect growth inhibitor product that works by preventing flea eggs from hatching.

Pyriproxifen (tradenames include - Duogard and Protect-a-Dog Double Impact) - The canine and feline flea product, Pyriproxifen , is also an insect growth inhibitor that prevents flea eggs (and also flea larvae) from developing. The chemical is sometimes contained in flea control products that are directly applied to the host's environment (to target the flea eggs and larvae in the environment directly). Pyriproxifen (and its relative, Fenoxycarb) is sunlight stable and may last up to a year before needing reapplication.

S-methoprene (e.g. the "plus" part of Frontline Plus) - The flea control drug, S-methoprene, is also contained in certain flea prevention products (e.g. Frontline Plus) where it has a similar mode of action against flea egg viability. It is sometimes included in environmentally-applied flea control products aimed at controlling fleas in the host animal's environment, however, it is sunlight sensitive and, if used, should be reapplied at least every 30 weeks.

Selamectin (tradenames include Revolution) - In addition to killing adult fleas on pets, Selamectin has an inhibitory effect against flea eggs, rendering them sterile.


For best effects, choose a quality flea product or combination of products that kills adult fleas quickly on the pet (preferably before the fleas have had a chance to drink too much blood and lay any eggs) and which also de-activates or kills the various juvenile flea stages (flea eggs or flea larvae or pupae) in the environment. Killing fleas on the host and in the environment will result in more speedy flea resolution!



Flea Treatment - TOP



1c) Flea collars, flea sprays, flea powders, flea washes and flea shampoos:

Most vets generally consider flea collars, flea powders, flea 'sprays', flea rinses, flea shampoos and flea soaps to be a waste of time at best (they generally do not get rid of fleas all that well) and, at worst, a risk to the patient's health (they sometimes contain a range of nasty chemicals that can be toxic to you and your animal).

Flea collars:
It is not uncommon for a dog or cat to come in to the vet clinic with a flea collar on and a bottom writhing with fleas. People tend to buy these collars because they are available at the supermarket and because they are cheap. They are cheap because they rarely work well enough to repel the fleas sufficiently. Even when the flea collar is of better quality, it is not uncommon to see insufficient flea prevention occurring because of misuse by the owner. Flea collars need to be replaced regularly to remain effective (the product will have instructions as to the proper use of the collar) and many owners simply leave them on far too long (well past their effectiveness). In addition, animals, particularly cats, can sometimes get their collars caught in trees or under their armpits, resulting in strangulation or armpit wounding.

Important author's note: Flea collars sometimes contain flea killing chemicals that are quite toxic to animals, particularly cats, if used incorrectly (see info on commonly-included chemicals below). Please read all flea product labels very closely to be sure that the collar you choose won't end up poisoning you or your pet.

Flea washes, shampoos and powders:
Flea washes and powders, depending on their formula (see info on commonly-included chemicals below), can sometimes be toxic to the people using them and the animals being treated with them. They also tend to have a very short duration of effect (a day or so at best) and, unless you are washing or powdering the animal every couple of days, most will do little to keep away the fleas long term. The problem with frequent treatment is, the more frequent the use, the greater the chances there are of the animal or owner being poisoned or otherwise harmed by the product should it have toxic ingredients.

Also be aware that powders, aside from being less effective, can sometimes be irritant to the pet's skin. The cat or dog may well end up scratching as a result of powder-induced irritation, making the owner think that the animal is still scratching from fleas!

Important author's note: Flea powders, soaps and shampoos sometimes contain flea killing chemicals that are quite toxic to animals, particularly cats, if used incorrectly (see info on commonly-included chemicals below). Please read all flea product labels very closely to be sure that the flea control product you choose won't end up poisoning you or your pet.


Flea killing chemicals often added to cheap, supermarket flea control products such as flea collars, flea powders, flea washes and flea shampoos:

Organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - coumaphos, chlorpyrifos, flumethrin, fenthion, maldison, diazinon, temephos, cythioate, carbaryl and others) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off treatment. Flea control products containing these insecticides usually need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be highly toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using). Organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea powders are very occasionally used to treat fleas in poultry. Most, but not all, of the organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea control products are toxic to cats, even in skin application or flea collar form, so please read the flea product labels closely.

Permethrin-based flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - permethrin, cypermethrin) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off treatment. Flea control products containing these insecticides often need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be quite toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using) if applied frequently. Permethrin-based flea control products are often used to manage poultry flea infestations. Some, but not all, of the permethrin-based flea control products are toxic to cats, even in skin application or flea collar form, so please read the flea product labels closely.

Pyrethrin flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - pyrethrin) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off application. Flea control products containing this insecticide often need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be quite toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using) if applied frequently. Pyrethrin is often used in the treatment and control of flea infestations on poultry. Although most of the pyrethrin-based flea control products available on the market are not toxic to kittens and puppies over 3 months of age, some of them will produce toxic side effects in some cats. Please read the flea control product labels closely to be sure.

Piperonyl butoxide, contained in some flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars, does have some insect killing and flea repellant properties. Although the insecticide has a low toxicity for animals, it is generally not that useful or effective at killing fleas on its own. It tends to be mostly used as an adjunct to permethrin or pyrethrin in many flea control products.

It is important to note that many of these organophosphate-based, carbamate-based, permethrin-based and pyrethrin-based flea control products do not have a long-acting effect (only days in some cases) and will require regular retreatment to maintain an adult flea killing action. Regular reapplication increases the risks of toxicity to both pets and their owners.

Additionally, some of these product formulations do not distribute their active ingredients all over the pet's coat well enough, ensuring that some adult fleas will still be able to find safe harbors on the treated host's body to live and feed and breed. Flea collars are a good example of this - they kill all of the fleas on the front half of the pet, but do nothing to the fleas on the animal's bottom, thighs and tail. Hence, the flea life cycle is able to continue and environmental contamination with eggs, larvae and pupae is able to occur.

My advice is to avoid these kinds of products wherever possible. There are simply much better, much safer products out there for getting rid of fleas from your pet and household. Go and ask your vet for a good product.



Flea Treatment - TOP



1d) Home remedies for fleas - homemade flea control and natural flea treatment:

Sorry if you were looking for recipes here.

As a veterinarian, it is my job and responsibility to only discuss products (including flea control products) whose medical effectiveness has been thoroughly tested and proven and whose potential for toxicity has been thoroughly tested and ascertained. Because of this, you will not find too many 'home remedies' or 'natural cures' on my pages, unless I have personally found them to be very basic and harmless (using diluted white vinegar to help with Malassezia prevention for example).

Now don't run away ...
I still have plenty of input and even some tips to give on the matter of home remedies for fleas.


Do read the sections on house and yard flea control (sections 3a and 3b). Many of the ways you can help eradicate fleas from your pet's environment are non-chemical and 'natural' including: vacuuming, steam cleaning, regular mowing, replacement of infested surfaces (couch, carpet) and the use of predatory worms to kill yard fleas.

Most of the information available on homemade flea control is found on the internet. Recipes and tips are generally posted as a form of anecdotal 'evidence' by folks who may or may not have actually used this so-called 'natural flea product' themselves.

And well might the recipe work ... I'm not about to sit here and say that all home remedies for flea control are bogus, however, I do advise readers to keep their eyes open. The vast majority of homemade flea killers will not work (or they will only be about as effective as the products discussed in section 1c of this page, which is not saying much) and, at worst, some of them may even come with various toxic or irritant side effects.

Be aware that natural does not equal 'safe'. Sometimes it can actually equal 'less safe' because very few 'natural remedies' are ever subjected to the kind of intensive safety and efficacy testing that the commercial flea control medicines are subjected to before they can be registered for sale. Yes, some commercial products can have toxicity issues, but at least you will find these on the label! You won't always get the same duty-of-care with natural and homemade remedies.

In the case of fleas, it is important to note that a number of 'natural' products used to repel insects (e.g. Chrysanthemum flowers) are repellant precisely because they exude the same kinds of poisons (e.g. pyrethrum/pyrethrins) that drug companies later purified and modified in order to create the commercially produced flea control products and medications that fans of 'natural medicine' despise so much. As such, their potential for toxicity can be the same or even worse than the commercially produced product derived from it. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't plant the natural remedies in your garden to help contribute to repelling yard flea and other outdoor flea infestations (just make sure your pet does not eat the plants).

Be aware that human and animal skin is different and that products applied without incident to human skin may in fact cause severe reactions in animal skin. Be especially careful of natural flea control products and home remedies for fleas that contain odourous oils like tea-tree oil, eucalyptus oil, garlic and similar. These oils can irritate the skin of some animals, producing severe inflammation and redness and itching. Woolmix too can produce such a reaction in some individuals.

It should also be noted that some chemicals, even natural chemicals, which are safe for some animals can be very toxic to other species as well as to animals of certain ages and pregnant individuals. And because natural and homemade flea remedies are not generally safety tested, you won't know that your pet could be poisoned until he or she actually is. You need to ask yourself if that is a risk you are willing to take.

My advice: instead of fishing about on the internet for free, but unproven, therapies, go to your vet and get a product that has been throughly lab-tested and proven to be safe and effective. I have been a vet for 11 years and, having treated thousands of animals for fleas, I can count on one hand the number of reactions I've seen that were suspected to be the result of veterinary-recommended, spot-on flea preventatives (of course, having just convinced you of this, Murphy's Law will dictate that your pet will now be one of the few really rare cases who actually gets a severe reaction ...). Paying for a quality product will cost you far less than taking your dog or cat to the emergency centre one night because you found out the hard way that garlic or onion or some other magical remedy you pulled off the net was toxic to your pet.

Should you find a homemade flea control product or recipe that others on the internet are raving about, take the article to your vet for a check over. Your vet should be able to find out whether the product is at least safe for your animal (whether it actually works will be a matter for you to find out yourself, should you choose to go down that path).



Flea Treatment - TOP



2. Controlling Fleas on Dogs and Cats Effectively - important factors to consider when treating your animal for fleas.

Flea Control Tip 1. Use the right flea product on your pet - avoid flea collars, flea sprays, flea washes and flea powders:
Most vets generally consider flea collars, flea powders and flea washes to be a waste of time at best and, at worst, a risk to the patient's health.

It is not uncommon for a dog or cat to come in to the vet clinic with a flea collar on and a bottom writhing with fleas. People tend to buy these collars because they are available at the supermarket and because they are cheap. They are cheap because they rarely work well enough to repel the fleas sufficiently. Even when the flea collar is of better quality, it is not uncommon to see insufficient flea prevention occurring because of misuse by the owner. Flea collars need to be replaced regularly to remain effective (the product will have instructions as to the proper use of the collar) and many owners simply leave them on far too long (well past their effectiveness). In addition, animals, particularly cats, can sometimes get their collars caught in trees or under their armpits, resulting in strangulation or wounding.

Flea washes and powders, depending on their formula, can sometimes be toxic to the people using them and the animals being treated with them. They tend to have a very short duration of effect (a day or so at best) and, unless you are washing or powdering the animal every couple of days, most will do little to keep away the fleas long term. The problem with frequent treatment is, the more frequent the use, the greater the chances there are of the animal or owner being poisoned or otherwise harmed by the product should it have toxic ingredients.

Also be aware that powders, aside from being less effective, can also be irritant to the pet's skin. The cat or dog may well end up scratching as a result of powder-induced irritation, making the owner think that the animal is still scratching from fleas!


Flea Control Tip 2. Use flea products that kill adult fleas as well as inhibit their environment-dwelling offspring.
Be aware that some flea control products only kill adult fleas. This means that adult fleas jumping onto your pet and feeding off him or her will die upon contact with the pet. The best of these flea killer products will kill the adult fleas before they have had a chance to lay any eggs, however, some of them won't, allowing the adult fleas to give birth to the next generation prior to dying (thus keeping the flea problem going in the household).

Aside from Sentinel and Program (active ingredient: Lufenuron), most products prescribed by a vet to 'treat fleas' in dogs or cats will have an adult flea killing effect (after all, the owner has brought the pet in seeking removal of the fleas he or she can see crawling about on their animal). The trouble with products that 'only kill adult fleas' is that, unless they kill the adult fleas before they get a chance to lay eggs, they do nothing to control the fleas developing and hatching from cocoons (pupa) in the pet's environment. Consequently, any time the owner forgets to maintain the pet's flea protection, the fleas from the environment will get a brief window of opportunity to feed off the animal, lay eggs and continue the flea life cycle. The owner is therefore required to remain extra vigilant with regular flea prevention if hoping that such a product will be enough to resolve the problem.

On the flip side, some products are designed to only make the adult flea infertile or prevent her eggs from hatching or her larvae from maturing. Such products do not kill adult fleas. The problem with this is that, while such products go a long way towards eradicating fleas from the environment by making the eggs and or flea larvae unviable, they will not prevent adult fleas from jumping onto and feeding from the dog or cat (which will invariably occur if the animal enters other flea-infested environments or interacts with other flea infested animals). This will result in the owner continuing to 'see' fleas on their pet such that they think their product isn't working. Allowing the adult fleas (even if not able to reproduce) to constantly invade the pet can also result in the animal continuing to experience signs of flea related disease (flea allergy dermatitis, scratching, anaemia, hairloss, feline infectious anaemia (FIA) disease).

For the best flea prevention and eradication results, it is therefore important to use products or even a combination of products that not only kill the adult fleas rapidly on the pet, but which also have the effect of killing the adults prior to them laying eggs or rendering any eggs laid infertile or incapable of hatching (even better if the product also kills flea larvae and cocoons in the environment). Thus, the flea lifecycle gets broken in many places, resulting in more rapid and complete removal of the fleas from the environment.


Flea Control Tip 3. Comb short-haired animals with a flea comb regularly:
Grooming short haired animals (e.g. short-coated dogs and cats) systematically from top to tail with a fine-toothed flea comb can remove over 80% of adult fleas from that animal's body. The process is time consuming and must be done carefully, ensuring that every patch of skin on the animal's body is groomed out, but it can help to reduce adult flea numbers on the coat dramatically. Reducing adult fleas on the animal's coat will reduce the number of flea eggs laid and those fleas' contribution to the flea life cycle and the overall flea population.

Be aware that eggs fall from the coat of the flea-infested pet in large numbers during pet grooming and combing sessions. Owners who groom their pets inside run a huge risk of combing massive numbers of flea eggs onto the floor carpet and host environment, therefore, aiding the environmental component of the flea life cycle.

If you are going to groom a flea infested pet, you should groom him or her outside in a bright sunny area, preferably on a day when humidity levels are very low (below 50%). Sunlight, drying and desiccation kills all of the flea life cycle stages and eggs and larvae groomed out into the open sun and dry air should die rapidly.

Pet owners who elect to groom their pets indoors should groom them on a non-carpet flooring, such as linoleum, tiles or smooth floor-boards. The region can then be easily vacuumed immediately after the grooming session to remove any fleas, eggs or larvae that might have fallen from the host animal.


Flea Control Information 4. Treat all the animals in the household at the same time.
Always treat every animal in the household for fleas if you have a flea problem. Leaving some animals treated and some not treated just results in the untreated animals acting as a flea reservoir for the household. Dogs and cats (and ferrets) will share fleas so you need to treat both species. Obviously, if you have dogs and cats, make sure that the flea control product you use is safe for both species (some dog products are toxic to cats).


Flea Control Advice 5. Treat your animals for fleas as per the instructions on the flea control product.
If your dog is 40 kilograms, do not try to get away with a product designed to treat a 20 kilogram animal. People often try to cut costs by using products designed for animals of lesser weights. This results in underdosing and the potential for poorer effectivity.

Dose the animals every month (or as regularly as the product instructions say, if the product is not a monthly). If you are serious about getting rid of fleas, it is no good dosing the dog or cat every couple of months and hoping that will be enough. The few weeks that the animal remains unprotected will be more than enough for the flea life cycle to get going again.

Store the product correctly. Do not leave it out in the sun or in a hot car. This can result in the product deactivating and becoming useless.

Make sure the product you are using is still "in date". Out of date products can be ineffective or even dangerous to use.

Make sure that you know what the rules are on your flea-treated animal becoming wet. Many spot-on or topical flea control products are not water-resistant and will not protect the animal for the full month's duration if the animal in question swims a lot or is bathed a lot. It is generally advised that a dog or cat not be bathed at least 2-3 days before or after the application of a "spot-on" so that the product has the chance to distribute across the coat properly.


Flea Control Tip 6. Ask yourself - Does your dog or cat get wet a lot?
Because pet owners and vets rarely think about this when a product is prescribed, I thought I would mention it again. It is possibly a common and underdiagnosed reason for flea prevention products failing to be effective in situations of:

  • high rainfall and humidity - e.g. outdoor dogs and cats that get rained on a lot,
  • frequent bathing - some animals are bathed every few days (it would take an amazing topical product to tolerate that),
  • frequent swimming and trips to the beach.
Animals that are regularly bathed and which spend a lot of time in water (e.g. those that swim regularly) may fail to be adequately protected by certain topical or "spot-on" flea control products (the water washes the product away). Such products may have to given more frequently to these animals to maintain protection or the owner may need to consider alternative modes of flea prevention (e.g. oral tablets).

Note - of the spot-ons, "Frontline" is considered to be one of the better products for dogs and cats that bathe a lot because the product gets deep into the sebaceous glands of the hair follicles (it is secreted into the coat over time by these glands) and is much harder to wash away.

Note - there is a new product called Comfortis, which is a monthly tablet that kills adult fleas. This product is not affected by bathing or swimming and is probably a good choice for all those water-loving animals out there.


Flea Control Advice 7. Could the fleas be resistant to the flea control product you are using? Try another flea product.
Although I have not encountered too many cases of true 'drug resistance' in my practice when it comes to fleas, I do not doubt that it could occur, particularly with flea products that have been around for a long time. After all, bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics so why couldn't fleas develop immunity to flea control products? If you think that your product is not working (e.g. you give the dog or cat a quality flea treatment designed to kill adult fleas only to find fleas still galloping around in the coat a day or so later) it certainly won't hurt to change flea control products and try something different.

Check with your vet to see how long you need to wait before applying a different flea control product as some medications given too close together could possibly have a toxic effect on the animal.

Important Author's Note - be aware that you might still spot the odd flea running through your pet's coat if the flea burden in the environment is large. The product you are using may be working just fine, but adult fleas will keep hatching from cocoons in the environment and jumping onto the pet. These fleas will then die too, only you might happen to spot them when they are still alive and moving and accidentally mistake these 'new fleas' as a sign the flea product is failing to kill. This is, then, not a case of the flea preventative being ineffective, but a sign that you really need to get stuck into killing fleas in the environment.

Anecdotally, I have had a number of vets and pet owners alike inform me that fipronil is no longer as effective against fleas as it once was. Now, I am not about to bag out products containing fipronil (I have had good experiences with the drug and the spray version is still one of the few products you can use to kill fleas in very young animals), however, if the product you are using does have fipronil in it, it would certainly be worth trialling a change in product. Just be aware that the drug may not actually be the problem (there just may be a lot of fleas in the environment and a need for a more intensive, aggressive flea management program).


Flea control hint 8. Consider getting the fleas on your pet identified (particularly if they are stick-fast fleas).
This probably sounds silly. A flea is a flea, right? Wrong.

There are many types of fleas that can invade dogs and cats, from the general dog and cat flea (e.g. Ctenocephalides species), to the various stick-fast flea species that live on poultry and rabbits. My flea pictures page has images of some of the different flea species as seen through the microscope. Your vet should be able to identify the species of flea living on your cat or dog.

If the species of flea is the plain old dog or cat flea (Ctenocephalides), which it is in most cases, then you know that the reservoir of flea infestation is your pets and their environment.

If, however, the species of flea is something entirely different (e.g. a rabbit flea or a chicken flea), then the reservoir of flea infestation is in fact wherever your cat or dog is coming into contact with rabbits and chickens (e.g. farm cats that go into burrows to catch rabbits often get fleas from these warrens). The solution to the flea problem is then to keep the dog or cat from coming into contact with the flea-carrying host animals (rabbits or chickens) and their environment. If the rabbits and chickens happen to belong to you or someone else, it is also recommended that their fleas be treated (these species suffer from flea burdens too!).


Flea control advice 8. SUPER IMPORTANT - You MUST treat the environment!
Because most fleas (eggs, larvae and cocoons) live in the environment and not on the pet, it is vital that you treat the environment if you are to ever fully eradicate a flea population. The next section (3) discusses environmental flea eradication.



Flea Treatment - TOP



3. Flea Control in the Environment - fleas in carpets, yards, couches, gardens and bedding.

3a) Practical Tips for Killing and Removing Fleas in Carpets and Houses - includes information on flea traps and flea bombs.

Contrary to popular belief, fleas do not come from the sand.

They will live in sand and soil, of course, provided that the dirt is warm and moist (suitable for the eggs and larvae to develop) and located in close proximity to host animal species (so that the adult fleas which result from the egg and larval development have somewhere to feed once they have hatched from their cocoons).

For the most part, however, fleas will live and cycle wherever the dog or cat lives, provided the temperature and humidity levels are appropriate to their flea lifecycle needs. Carpets, couches (especially those old, deep, material-covered couches), pet beds, human beds and bedding materials placed within outdoor kennels and enclosures are all fantastic sites for flea eggs, larvae and cocoons to dwell. For that reason, particular attention must be paid towards eradicating fleas (and their cocoons, larvae and eggs) from these areas. Fail to do so and the flea cocoons (which can last a good year or so in the environment) will hatch out adult fleas down the track, causing the problem to start all over again.

Ways to help eradicate fleas from the indoor environment:

1 - Read sections 1 and 2 (above) on flea control on the host animal if you haven't already:
There is no point trying to rid an environment of fleas if your pets are crawling with adult fleas themselves. Treat the pet first with a flea killing product that kills adult fleas so that there will be no adult fleas laying eggs into your freshly treated environment.




2 - Physical egg removal from the host environment by daily vacuuming:
Never underestimate the value of simple, frequent, thorough vacuuming in helping to get rid of fleas from a dog or cat's environment. Flea eggs and larvae in carpets, couches, human and pet beds and other indoors areas can be sucked away by regular vacuuming, reducing the environmental flea burden overall. All regions of the house should be vacuumed, where possible, but important emphasis should be placed on carpets, soft furniture (e.g. couches), floors underneath furniture, floors underneath removable rugs and mats and gaps under side boards. Using a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar can help to shake flea eggs, larvae and cocoons out from places deeper within the carpet proper and improve the vacuum uptake of these flea life cycle stages (the bar beats the couch or carpet, causing eggs and fleas and cocoons to be dislodged and to be sucked into the vacuum). After each vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be disposed of, lest fleas start hatching inside of the vacuum bag!


3 - Physical flea larvae and cocoon removal from the host's environment by heat and drying:
Temperatures of 13-32 degrees-Celsius and relative humidities in the range of 50-90% are required in order for flea development to progress. Desiccating (drying), low-humidity environmental conditions and temperatures in excess of 35 degrees-Celsius are lethal to flea larvae and cocoons (flea pupae) - important flea information that can be very useful in the non-chemical management and control of flea infestation problems.

Steam cleaning can be used to help destroy flea larvae and flea cocoons present in households and is of particular aid in the removal of fleas from carpets, pet bedding, human bedding, couches and animal runs and dog kennels. It is a useful natural flea remedy for the eradication of fleas in carpet and other contaminated environmental regions because it uses no chemicals, only heat and water, and because it kills the major reservoir of flea infestation: the flea pupa (flea cocoon). Steam cleaning is also a great natural flea control remedy in commercial dog and cat and poultry breeding facilities because steam can be used to thoroughly and rapidly clean out kennels, runs and concrete yards and because steam cleaning uses no chemicals that might poison the animals; accumulate in the environment; contaminate meat and/or fur/feathers and because it is cheap to use.

Important steam cleaning tip: If you are going to steam clean, make sure that you use a professional machine that produces true steam! Some home-use machines merely wet the carpet (or couch, bedding ...), rather than heat it up enough to kill the flea life cycle stages. Additionally, because the carpet may remain moist and humid for days to weeks after steam cleaning - an environmental change that is highly beneficial to surviving fleas - it is important to apply a flea insecticide to the steam-treated regions (carpet etc), and to any hosts present in the area, immediately after steam-cleaning to ensure that flea populations do not explode as a result of carpet wetting and a flea-favorable increase in humidity.

Hot water (>35 degrees) machine washing of pet bedding, clothing and pet toys should also kill flea larvae and remove fleas from these items.

Sunlight and drying, desiccating conditions outdoors will also kill larval fleas and flea pupae. Leaving pet beds, pet bedding and even removable mats and carpets out in the open sunlight for a few days (make sure that they are hot days with a very low air humidity) can also reduce flea larvae and flea pupae populations in these items. Note that especially large items (e.g. couches, mattresses), which could harbor flea life cycle stages deep within, away from the heat and drying effect of the sun, probably would not respond adequately to this treatment. Sunlight might also result in bleaching and damage to these items.


4 - Environmental flea life cycle inhibition through application of insect growth inhibitors to the environment:

Pyriproxifen is an insect growth inhibitor that prevents flea eggs (and also flea larvae) from developing. It is sometimes contained in products which can be applied to the environment (not just the pet) in order to keep flea eggs and flea larvae from developing. Pyriproxifen (and its relative, Fenoxycarb) is sunlight stable and should last up to a year before needing reapplication (see instructions on labels to check how frequently to reapply).

S-methoprene, is also contained in many flea prevention products (e.g. Zodiac Flea Proof Spray for Cats and Dogs, Frontline Plus, Troy IGR, Quick-Kill Eclipse, Fido's Flea Bomb Insecticidal Fogger) and has a similar mode of action against flea egg viability. If used in flea products targeted towards controlling fleas in the host's environment it will help to inhibit the environmental flea lifecycle by deactivating flea eggs. Please remember, however, that S-methoprene is sunlight sensitive and should be reapplied at least every 30 weeks (see instructions on labels to check how frequently to reapply).

Author's note - I can not make any assertion or guarantee about the effects of these chemicals on other insect species living in the environment. Other, desirable, insect species may be adversely affected by these compounds and this should be taken into account if you intend to use such products to help control outdoor flea populations.


5 - Environmental flea egg and flea larvae dehydration and death, using sodium borate:
Sodium borate compounds are crystalline compounds that have ovicidal (egg killing) and larvicidal (larvae killing) properties. They can be applied to a flea infested environment and are thought to kill flea eggs and flea larvae via a dehydration mechanism (the hypertonic crystals suck the water out of the flea eggs and larvae, resulting in severe dehydration and death of these flea life cycle stages). Direct ingestion of the borates by the flea larva also results in death by dehydration.

Author's note: Some borates can be harmful to pets that ingest them. Cats in particular can ingest borate salts if they walk across treated floors and pick up the powdery residues on their feet and coats (the cat will later groom or lick the salts off its coat, resulting in ingestion). Read product labels carefully to ensure that they are safe around pets.

The Fleabusters product: "Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder" used to only be available as a professionally-applied sodium borate carpet powder by the pest company that invented and utilised it. "Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder" is now available as a home-use product for household owners to apply to flea infested environments (e.g. carpet) and comes with a 1 year guarantee of efficacy. I have included a link to their site at the end of this page.


6 - Flea larva removal using flea adulticides that kill flea larvae in addition to flea adults - includes info on flea bombs:
Flea control should kill flea larvae.Many of the products which have been manufactured to kill adult fleas (usually on host animals), also have a dual role in killing flea larvae that exist within the host animal's environment.

These adult flea products achieve this larval killing effect in one of two main ways:
A) as an incidental effect - the flea control product placed directly onto the pet's coat to kill adult fleas also happens to kill larval fleas through contamination of the larval flea's environment with treated pet dander (which falls off the pet and into the environment) or through larval flea contact with the treated pet itself (i.e. the larval fleas make contact with the treated pet's body when the pet rests upon a larvae-rich environment like a pet bed or a flea-infested carpet) or
B) as a deliberate effect - a chemical insecticide, capable of killing both adult fleas and larvae, is applied directly to the larval flea's environment (in the form of a flea bomb, flea spray, flea fogger, flea rinse or flea powder) for the purposes of adult and larval flea eradication.


A) Adulticide ("adult killing") flea control products that kill flea larvae as an incidental effect:
Some of the adulticide flea products applied directly to the host animal's fur for the purposes of killing adult fleas on the fur also have a secondary role in the killing of larval fleas in the host's local environment. This larval flea killing effect occurs when medicated dander (dandruff) from the pet's coat (laden in insecticide) falls into the larval flea's environment. It also occurs when the treated coat of the pet comes into direct contact with the flea larvae (this larval contact occurs most commonly when the pet is at rest and laying down in a larval flea infested environment - e.g. the pet's bedding, house carpet).

Flea products that kill larval fleas as an incidental effect include:

Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - kills adult fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid kills flea larvae that come into direct contact with the treated pet's fur and it also coats the dander falling from the pet (this treated dander will kill flea larvae in the pet's environment). Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. "Advantage DUO" is discontinued.
Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills adult fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. As an added effect, it kills flea larvae that come into direct contact with the treated pet's fur and it also coats the dander falling from the pet (this treated dander will kill flea larvae in the pet's environment). It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention.
Pyriproxifen (tradenames include - Duogard Band for Cats, Duogard Band for Dogs, Duogard Line On for Dogs, Protect-a-Dog Double Impact) is an insect growth inhibitor product that prevents flea eggs (and also flea larvae) from developing. It does not kill the adult fleas, but is placed on the host's coat to render the flea eggs non-viable (it is because it is applied to the host that I placed it in this section).
Fipronil with S-methoprene (e.g. Frontline Plus) - The fipronil kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Fipronil is a very safe product (distributes over the body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Larvae that make contact with the treated pet's skin will also be killed. When S-methoprene is added to fipronil, it prevents any flea eggs produced by the feeding flea from hatching, adding to its impact on the environmental flea life cycle.

Some of the flea control products used to break the various parts of the flea life cycle are toxic to certain animal species and ages of animal. Read labels carefully.
Author's Note - Because these host-applied flea control products only kill flea larvae as an incidental effect (i.e. upon contact with a treated host) it is, therefore, most likely that only the flea larvae that are present in the environment where the pet hangs out a lot are going to be killed. Flea larvae that hatch in places outside of the host's normal range of movement (i.e. in places the host visits very infrequently) are unlikely to be exposed to the treated host or its dander and will, therefore, survive. These incidental products are not hugely reliable as "whole-environment" flea control products because they rely on the pet for environmental distribution - if the pet does not go everywhere that the environmental fleas are, then some flea larvae and flea adults will be left alive in the environment to continue the flea life cycle.


B) Flea control products that kill flea larvae and environmental adults as a deliberate effect:
Some of the organophosphate, carbamate, pyrethrin and permethrin chemicals used in certain adulticide flea control products applied directly to the pet's fur are also capable of killing larval and adult fleas in the host's local environment as well. Drug companies have, thus, formulated some of these insecticide compounds into forms (e.g flea bombs, flea powders, flea foggers, flea sprays) that can be applied liberally to the environment for major environmental flea control. Some of these environmental products (e.g. powders, sprays) can even be applied to the pet's fur directly (i.e. the same product can be used on the pet and on the pet's environment).

Environmentally-targeted flea control products that kill flea larvae and adults include:
Flea bombs and flea foggers (tradenames include - Fido's Flea bomb Insecticidal Fogger, Zodiac Flea Proof Insecticidal Mist) - permethrin and methoprene-S products designed to distribute a fine fog of flea control insecticide across a room; coating all surfaces.
Flea powders (tradenames include - Exelpet Pyrethrin Flea Control Powder for Cats and Dogs, Fido's Fre-Itch CPP Flea Powder, Fido's Fre-Itch Flea Powder, Keydust, Skatta-7 Tick Flea Louse Powder) - carbaryl or pyrethrin based flea powders that are dusted onto environmental surfaces where adult and larval fleas like to hide out. Some of these products can be also used on the host animal/s, including poultry and birds, in addition to the host's environment and bedding (read labels carefully).
Flea rinses and sprays (tradenames include - Di-Flea Flea and Tick Rinse and Yard Spray, Exelpet Fleaban Yard and Kennel Concentrate, Malaban Wash Concentrate, Malatroy, Pyretroy, Quick-Kill Rinse Concentrate for Fleas, Ticks and Lice, Troy IGR) - pyrethrin or organophosphate based flea products designed to be administered as a fine spray or wash for coating flea-infested environmental surfaces and flea larvae hide-outs.

Some of these products can be also used on the host animal/s, including poultry and birds, in addition to the host's environment and bedding (read labels carefully) and some are also useful for yard flea control (e.g. lawn flea control), where steam cleaning, vacuuming, flea bombs and other modes of flea control are less applicable. Products containing organophosphates may be cumulative in the environment, resulting in poison build up over time. Products containing permethrins are toxic to fish and waterways and should not be emptied into waterways, sewers or sinks or used in yards where groundwater contamination is likely.

Author's Note - These "environment-targeted" flea products, which kill flea larvae as a deliberate effect rather than an incidental effect, are better placed to be used in the management of major environmental flea burdens. These products are much more reliable as whole-environment flea control products (in conjunction with host-animal treatments) because they do not rely on the pet for distribution. If the pet does not spend time everywhere in the environment that the fleas are, then no matter - the insecticidal flea spray, flea bomb or flea fogger will. Flea bombs, flea foggers and environmental powders and sprays, used correctly, should leave few flea larvae alive in the environment to continue the flea life cycle.

Note - flea bombs and flea foggers are only able to provide good environmental flea control if their limitations are understood. These products are designed to spray insecticide out linearly, 360-degrees from a central point (the bomb). This insecticide rises up into the air and then drifts down, settling upon surfaces. Flea bombs and foggers are, therefore, unable to penetrate around corners (fleas can live in the non-treated carpet protected behind a wall); unable to access the insides of closets and cabinets (they do not go through doors) and unable to penetrate underneath tables and couches (the falling mist of insecticide settles on the furniture and bench tops, but not underneath). Flea foggers and bombs need to be positioned so that all regions of a room are in direct line with the spray (i.e. in 'direct sight' of the bomb) - there must be no walls, cabinets or other room dividers around that could interfere with the spray reaching every inch and corner of the room/carpet. If furniture can be completely moved out of a room while spraying is occurring, the better the insecticide cover of the carpet will be. Areas of carpet under non-movable furniture or in areas unlikely to be reached by the bomb, should be hand-sprayed carefully after "bombing" to ensure that fleas can not hide-out in these 'protected regions'. Alternatively, owners can elect to hand spray or powder all sections of a room without the use of a fogger or bomb. This is time-consuming, but gives the best, most targeted environmental flea elimination treatment.

IMPORTANT NOTE - PLEASE READ - Many of the chemicals and medications used in these environmental flea control products are quite toxic to pets and people. They should be used strictly according to instructions and you must read the labels very carefully (some of these poisons are lethal to cats, for example). It is advised that people and their pets clear out of the house for a few hours to days (depending on the product), whilst the flea treatment (e.g. flea bomb) is taking effect. Frequent, repeated use of environmental flea chemicals may result in an accumulation of flea poison within the home and is not advised - I recommend using them only occasionally, to get rid of major flea burdens, and following up with good, vigilant, safe (the BIG 5 mentioned in section 1b), host-animal flea prevention. People with significant environmental flea burdens should really seek the advice of a qualified pest company for more information on what to do to get rid of flea pests before using any of these products.


7 - Flea traps can be used to lure and kill adult fleas in the environment:
Flea traps are devices which use sound or light technology to lure adult fleas to them, so that they can not infest the host animals in the household. The fleas are attracted to the light or sound emitted by the trap, fall into the trap and then die upon exposure to one of a range of lethal substrates present inside of the trap (e.g. detergent, insecticide, glue).

Ultrasonic flea traps (sound emitting ones) are not thought to work all that well, but light-emitting traps can have a good effect provided that the right ones are used. Fleas like light and, like moths, will move towards light-emitting traps (esp. at night). Fleas are particularly attracted to light traps if the light emitted is green (510-550nm wavelength) and if it is intermittent (i.e. a blinking light that flicks on and off). The blinking light tricks the fleas into thinking that a host has just passed in front of the light and so they run towards it, looking for the host. Light traps that do not turn on and off (i.e. don't blink) will not usually provide good flea control.

It is important to never use flea traps as a sole means of environmental control. They will catch some adult fleas, but in a massive flea infestation situation, they will do little to cure the problem overall. If finances are limited, I would personally err away from these devices and spend my money on more effective flea eradication methods (e.g. carpet replacement, getting in a pest company).


8 - Physical flea egg, flea larvae and flea cocoon removal from the indoor environment by removal and replacement of contaminated regions:
In long-term, heavy flea infestations, the pet's bedding and various other cool, moist, indoors regions where the pet spends most of its time (like the couch and the carpet), can become very heavily infested with eggs, larvae and pupal stages. These places may be very difficult to get the fleas out of once they become heavily flea infested. Consequently, some owners are forced reduce their house flea populations by removing these environmental flea life cycle havens altogether and replacing them with clean ones - new carpet, new pet bedding, new mattresses, new couch and so on. It is an expensive way to eliminate fleas, but it can be highly effective.

Even better, instead of replacing the old infested carpet and couch with more of the same (i.e. another flea-attractive carpet or couch to reinfest anew), many owners assist their flea elimination efforts by replacing their old carpets and couches and the like with floors, seating and bedding made from easy-to-clean, flea-unfriendly materials. Flea unfriendly floors that do not support the flea life cycle include: linoleum, slate, stone, varnished floorboards and tiles. These floors are also easy to vacuum and clean. Flea unfriendly seating materials that do not support the flea life cycle include: non-porous vinyl, plastic and wood. Covering a new couch entirely (including underneath) with a clear plastic cover that is non-permeable to flea life cycle stages (including eggs) will ensure that the couch remains clean and does not become a nursery for juvenile flea stages.

Author's note - complete removal and replacement of contaminated bedding and carpet and the like is a useful way of dramatically reducing the populations of the off-host stages of the flea life cycle in the host's environment. It will not, however, do much for flea numbers in the long term if the fleas on the host (or hosts) are not eradicated too. Adult flea killing chemicals (the BIG 5 discussed in section 1b) should be used on the host animal/s in conjunction with this environmental replacement mode of flea control, to avoid having the new carpet, new couch and so on re-infested with fleas.


9 - Consider getting your house professionally flea-treated by a pest-removal company.
I am not kidding. Fleas are serious parasites and sometimes it takes a professional touch to remove a serious flea burden. It could well end up saving you a lot of money and mucking around if you seek the advice of a professional company sooner rather than later.



Flea Treatment - TOP



3b) Outdoor flea control - yard fleas, garden fleas, lawn fleas.

Many owners mistakenly think that their pets get their fleas from the sand and soil of their back yards; that fleas live much of their flea life cycle in the dirt itself. The fact is that they don't usually. Unless the sandy, soily regions of the yard are very cool (13-32 degrees-Celsius) and moist (humidity 50-90%) and sun-protected (i.e. covered soil areas under houses, verandahs and thick lawn and garden vegetation) and visited by the pet very often, fleas will not usually survive and replicate in outdoor soil. Most of the fleas that infest pet dogs and cats come from the indoors environment or the outdoor bedding of the pet (e.g. bedding placed in kennels), not the dirt of the yard, lawn or garden.

It is, however, not uncommon for large flea burdens to build up under houses or sheds or within soil-floored kennels if dogs or cats spend a lot of their time in there. If this is the case, these areas will have to be treated for fleas (and their cocoons, larvae and eggs) as part of any attempt to rid the environment of flea numbers. Fail to do so and the flea cocoons (which can last a good year or so in the environment) will hatch out adult fleas down the track, causing the problem to start all over again.

Also be aware that the flea life cycle may be alive and well in your garden or in your lawn.


Ways to help eradicate fleas from the outdoor environment - yard fleas, garden fleas and lawn fleas:

1 - Read sections 1 and 2 (above) on flea control on the host animal if you haven't already:
There is no point trying to rid an environment of fleas if your pets are crawling with adult fleas themselves. Treat the pet first with a flea killing product that kills adult fleas so that there will be no adult fleas laying eggs into your freshly treated environment.


2 - Open the garden up to sunlight and heat:
Keeping lawns very short (frequently mowed) and garden-beds open and sparsely vegetated should be enough to cause flea eggs, flea larvae and pupae to be exposed to sunlight and heat and the drying, desiccating effects of the open air. Heat and sunlight kill flea larvae and eggs, helping to reduce the flea burden in the environment. The liberal use of brick, concrete and stone surfaces in outdoor gardens and yards will also tend to kill off the various flea life cycle stages by way of sunlight-heat absorption and desiccation.


3 - Flea larva removal using flea adulticides that kill flea larvae in addition to flea adults:
A flea larva - part of the flea life cycle that takes place in the pet's environment. Many adulticide flea control therapies kill flea larvae in addition to flea adults.Many of the products which have been manufactured to kill adult fleas (usually on host animals), also have a dual role in killing flea larvae that exist within the host animal's environment, including lawns and backyards.

These adult flea products achieve this larval killing effect in one of two main ways:
A) as an incidental effect - the flea control product placed directly onto the pet's coat to kill adult fleas also happens to kill larval fleas through contamination of the larval flea's environment with treated pet dander (which falls off the pet and into the outdoor environment) or through larval flea contact with the treated pet itself (i.e. the larval fleas make contact with the treated pet's body when the pet rests upon a larvae-rich environment like a garden bed or a flea-infested space beneath a house) or
B) as a deliberate effect - a chemical insecticide, capable of killing both adult fleas and larvae, is applied directly to the larval flea's environment (in the form of a flea bomb, flea spray, flea fogger, flea rinse or flea powder) for the purposes of adult and larval flea eradication.


A) Adulticide ("adult killing") flea control products that kill flea larvae as an incidental effect:
Some of the adulticide flea products applied directly to the host animal's fur for the purposes of killing adult fleas on the fur also have a secondary role in the killing of larval fleas in the host's local environment. This larval flea killing effect occurs when medicated dander (dandruff) from the pet's coat (laden in insecticide) falls into the larval flea's environment. It also occurs when the treated coat of the pet comes into direct contact with the flea larvae (this larval contact occurs most commonly when the pet is at rest and laying down in a larval flea infested environment - e.g. the pet's bedding, lawn, garden bed).

Flea products that kill larval fleas as an incidental effect include:

Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advocate, Advantix) - kills adult fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid kills flea larvae that come into direct contact with the treated pet's fur and it also coats the dander falling from the pet (this treated dander will kill flea larvae in the pet's environment). Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. "Advantage DUO" is discontinued.
Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills adult fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. As an added effect, it kills flea larvae that come into direct contact with the treated pet's fur and it also coats the dander falling from the pet (this treated dander will kill flea larvae in the pet's environment). It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention.
Fipronil with S-methoprene (e.g. Frontline Plus) - The fipronil kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Fipronil is a very safe product (distributes over the body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Larvae that make contact with the treated pet's skin will also be killed. When S-methoprene is added to fipronil, it prevents any flea eggs produced by the feeding flea from hatching, adding to its impact on the environmental flea life cycle.

Author's Note - Because these host-applied flea control products only kill flea larvae as an incidental effect (i.e. upon contact with a treated host) it is, therefore, most likely that only the flea larvae that are present in the environment where the pet hangs out a lot are going to be killed. Flea larvae that hatch in places outside of the host's normal range of movement (i.e. in places the host visits very infrequently) are unlikely to be exposed to the treated host or its dander and will, therefore, survive. If the pet only visits the yard rarely, don't expect to see these products having much of an effect on the juvenile garden or yard fleas. Putting such products on your pet, however, will prevent the pet from picking up adult fleas in the yard and bringing them back into your freshly flea-treated house.


B) Flea control products that kill flea larvae and environmental adults as a deliberate effect:
Some of the organophosphate, carbamate, pyrethrin and permethrin chemicals used in certain adulticide flea control products applied directly to the pet's fur are also capable of killing larval and adult fleas in the host's local environment as well. Drug companies have, thus, formulated some of these insecticide compounds into forms (e.g flea bombs, flea powders, flea foggers, flea sprays) that can be applied liberally to the environment for major environmental flea control. Some of these environmental products (e.g. powders, sprays) can even be applied to the pet's fur directly (i.e. the same product can be used on the pet and on the pet's environment).

Environmentally-targeted flea control products that kill flea larvae and adults include:
Flea powders (tradenames include - Exelpet Pyrethrin Flea Control Powder for Cats and Dogs, Fido's Fre-Itch CPP Flea Powder, Fido's Fre-Itch Flea Powder, Keydust, Skatta-7 Tick Flea Louse Powder) - carbaryl or pyrethrin based flea powders that are dusted onto environmental surfaces where adult and larval fleas like to hide out. Some of these products can be also used on the host animal/s, including poultry and birds, in addition to the host's outdoor environment and bedding (read labels carefully).
Flea rinses and sprays (tradenames include - Di-Flea Flea and Tick Rinse and Yard Spray, Exelpet Fleaban Yard and Kennel Concentrate, Malaban Wash Concentrate, Malatroy, Pyretroy, Quick-Kill Rinse Concentrate for Fleas, Ticks and Lice, Troy IGR) - pyrethrin or organophosphate based flea products designed to be administered as a fine spray or wash for coating flea-infested environmental surfaces and flea larvae hide-outs.

Some of these products can be also used on the host animal/s, including poultry and birds, in addition to the host's environment and bedding (read labels carefully) and some are also useful for yard flea control (e.g. lawn flea control), where steam cleaning, vacuuming, flea bombs and other modes of flea control are less applicable.

IMPORTANT NOTE - PLEASE READ - Many of the chemicals and medications used in these environmental flea control products are quite toxic to pets and people. They should be used strictly according to instructions and you must read the labels very carefully (some of these poisons are lethal to cats, for example).Products containing organophosphates may be cumulative in the environment, resulting in poison build up over time. Products containing permethrins are toxic to fish and waterways and should not be emptied into waterways, sewers or sinks or used in yards where groundwater contamination is likely. Frequent, repeated use of environmental flea chemicals may result in an accumulation of flea poison within the yard or garden and is not advised - I recommend using them only occasionally, to get rid of major flea burdens, and following up with good, vigilant, safe (the BIG 5 mentioned in section 1b), host-animal flea prevention. People with significant environmental flea burdens should really seek the advice of a qualified pest company for more information on what to do to get rid of flea pests before using any of these products.

IMPORTANT - With outdoor flea control programs, only use chemicals as a last resort. Don't underestimate the importance of a good yard manicure. Emerged adult fleas can survive in long grass (lawn fleas) and in tall vegetation and in dark places under houses and all it might take is mowing the lawn regularly and keeping vegetation sparsely planted to ensure that any flea eggs, flea larvae and adult fleas that do emerge in the yard are subjected to the desiccating, heating effects of direct sunlight and drying breeze. Treating flea affected regions of yards with insecticides (powder, spray and granular forms are available for outdoor use) can help to remove flea parasites, however, such treatment may also decimate spider, beetle and ant populations that could be doing your garden a lot of good.


4 - You can kill flea larvae and pupae in grass and soil using biological control means - predatory nematode worms:
Interrupt, NemaSeek and NemAttack (there may be others) are chemical-free, biological flea control products designed to kill flea larvae and flea pupae (and perhaps even adult fleas) in outdoor lawns and soil. These biological flea control products involve the use of various species of predatory nematode worms, which prey upon insects and their larvae: Steinernema carpocapsae, Steinernema feltiae or Heterorhabditis bacteriophora. These tiny predator worms are sprinkled liberally onto moist, flea-infested grass and soil where they attack and invade the bodies of flea larvae and pupae (and maybe adult fleas) and also various other insect pests (e.g. termites). The worms live and multiply inside of these prey insect species, feeding on the insect's innards, before spilling out of the dead insect's body to go off in search of more prey.

The choice of which nematode product to use depends on several factors:

  • climate - Steinernema carpocapsae prefers cooler climates, Steinernema feltiae prefers hotter climates and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora can tolerate either
  • the mobility of the target pest - Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae are ambush predators that prefer mobile pests, which come to them. In contrast, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (NemaSeek) is a mobile, "search-and-destroy" worm that will seek out less mobile pests and kill them
  • the soil quality - Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae prefer open, sandy or disturbed soils, whereas Heterorhabditis bacteriophora likes clayish or undisturbed soil.
According to instruction sheets, these nematode-based flea products should be applied to lawns and soil (preferably soil with some sort of ground cover) immediately prior to the start of the flea season. If flea insecticides have been used on the yard, you should wait at least 30 days before applying the nematode products to the grass or soil as the worms will be killed by the flea control products. For best effect, the yard should be kept moist enough to "keep the grass green" (watering the yard every 3-4 days should be enough). Nematodes will need to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks to keep their numbers high.

Disclaimer - Pet Informed can make no claims about any of these biological flea control products and their efficacy and nor can we give any guarantee about what other unwanted side effects (e.g. decimation of beneficial ants and other insects) might occur as a result of their use. A link is included at the end of the page so that you can research more into these kinds of products if interested.


5 - Prevent your yard from becoming infested with fleas by preventing flea-carrying animals from entering your yard:
A potential source of flea egg and flea larvae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into the yard. These animals will drop flea eggs into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites. Discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil. Discourage such animals from your turf by:
  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.
  • allowing your flea-free dog outside regularly if you have one (dogs generally discourage stray cats and other wild animals from coming into a yard, provided the presence of a dog does not result in copious amounts of food being left outside).

If unwelcome flea-carrying pests are, however, unable to be dissuaded from coming into your yard, despite all your best efforts, you can adapt your yard to make it less flea life cycle friendly. Wild and feral animals will tend to drop eggs and larvae out in the open (lawn, grass, yard etc) as they forage about. Keeping lawns very short (frequently mowed) and garden-beds open and sparsely vegetated should be enough to cause flea eggs, flea larvae and pupae to be exposed to sunlight and the drying, desiccating effects of the open air. The liberal use of brick, concrete and stone surfaces in outdoor gardens and yards will also tend to kill off the various flea life cycle stages by way of sunlight-heat absorption and desiccation.



Flea Treatment - TOP



3c) Don't leave any stone unturned - fleas hide in weird places (dog kennels, under houses, car interiors and so on).

The same principles of flea control (frequent vacuuming, exposure to heat and drying, the use of flea-unfriendly surfacing materials and the possible application of insecticide products) described above for the house and yard also apply to flea control and prevention in other places. If you keep on seeing fleas, you need to consider all of the 'other' out-of-the-way places your pet might be hanging out, which you haven't yet treated for these pests.

Consider the car:
A significant source of reservoir environmental flea infestation and subsequent host animal reinfestation is the car. Flea infested animals drop eggs into the car during car trips - these flea eggs can hatch into larvae and go through the entire flea life cycle inside of the soft seats and carpet floors of the car. As it is often not a good idea to use pesticides inside of a car (pesticides and insecticides can release toxic fumes that are poisonous to people when the car interior heats up) frequent vacuuming is one of the safer ways of ridding the car of flea eggs, larvae and cocoons. In very hot, dry climates (e.g. Australia in Summer), persistent flea infestation of a car is not as likely because the car, when it is parked outside, will usually heat up to temperature levels beyond that of larvae and pupae survival.

Don't forget the dog kennel or cat aviary:
If your pet spends a lot of time outside in a kennel then you can expect a thriving flea population to be present in the soil of the kennel or in the bedding you have placed within it. Likewise with outdoor cat aviaries.

Author's note - removing and replacing an entire dog kennel is probably not warranted, unless the floor of the kennel and/or its walls are made of a fabric that holds fleas. If the walls and floor of the kennel are made of smooth, hard, easy to wash materials (metal, hard plastic) then only the pet's bedding needs to be discarded and not the kennel itself. The kennel can be steam cleaned (>35 degrees-Celsius) and/or disinfected with a pyrethrin-containing wash and rinsed, dried and used again. Open-floor kennels standing on grass or soil can be washed likewise and then the kennel should be relocated to a different region of the yard, well away from the original location, to let the sun and dry air kill the flea life cycle stages present in the grass and soil of the first area.

Should you choose not to discard your pet's bedding, sunlight and drying, desiccating conditions outdoors will also kill larval fleas and flea pupae in kennel beds. Leaving pet beds and pet bedding out in the open sunlight for a few days (make sure that they are hot days with a very low air humidity) can also reduce flea larvae and flea pupae populations in these items. Note that especially large items (e.g. couches, mattresses), which could harbor flea life cycle stages deep within, away from the heat and drying effect of the sun, probably would not respond adequately to this treatment. Sunlight might also result in bleaching and damage to these items. In such cases, washing pet beds with an insecticide-containing wash can also help to rid the bedding of flea pests.

Don't forget the space beneath the house or shed (or shearing shed, in the case of farm dogs and cats):
Dogs and cats often go under houses and sheds seeking solitude and shade. Used often, these spaces will soon be home to a robust flea life cycle.

Other spaces to consider:

  • Tops of cupboards and dressers - cats often like to hide out in high places like these.
  • Barns
  • Hay-lofts
  • Attics
  • Woodpiles
  • Old machinery and car bodies - some pets will find their own 'den' in places like this
  • Basically, anywhere else the pet spends a lot of time.



Flea Treatment - TOP



3d) Could fleas be re-infesting your yard on the backs of visiting animals?

A potential source of flea egg and flea larvae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into the yard. These animals will drop flea eggs into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites. Discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil. Discourage such animals from your turf by:
  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.
  • allowing your flea-free dog outside regularly if you have one (dogs generally discourage stray cats and other wild animals from coming into a yard, provided the presence of a dog does not result in copious amounts of food being left outside).

If unwelcome flea-carrying pests are, however, unable to be dissuaded from coming into your yard, despite all your best efforts, you can adapt your yard to make it less flea life cycle friendly. Wild and feral animals will tend to drop eggs and larvae out in the open (lawn, grass, yard etc) as they forage about. Keeping lawns very short (frequently mowed) and garden-beds open and sparsely vegetated should be enough to cause flea eggs, flea larvae and pupae to be exposed to sunlight and the drying, desiccating effects of the open air. The liberal use of brick, concrete and stone surfaces in outdoor gardens and yards will also tend to kill off the various flea life cycle stages by way of sunlight-heat absorption and desiccation.

Author's note - Don't forget about other visiting pets. It is possible for fleas to be introduced to your yard on the backs of dogs and cats owned by friends and family. Make sure that friends' pets are treated with flea preventatives and that they are free of fleas before they are allowed access to your back yard.



Flea Treatment - TOP



3e) Could your pet be catching fleas from somewhere outside your home?

Absolutely!

Wherever dogs and cats hang out in numbers, there is the potential for fleas to exist. Should your dog or cat visit these areas or hang out with other flea-carrying animals, there is always the potential for him or her to come back home carrying a brand new population of flea pests. Places where your dog or cat could catch fleas include: grooming salons, boarding kennels, catteries, pounds, shelters, wilderness areas, parks, sand-pits, dog beaches, dog clubs, agility trials, dog training grounds, dog shows, cat shows, households with cats or dogs, poultry shows, rabbit warrens, farms, veterinary clinics and so on.

Prevention is easy. Just make sure that your pet is treated with good quality flea control prevention (the Big 5 mentioned in section 1b) at least 2 days before it interacts with other animals or goes anywhere where it could pick up fleas.

Also make sure that any friends' pets are treated with flea preventatives and that they are free of fleas before they are allowed access to your home or back yard.



Flea Treatment - TOP



3f) Pest removal companies and veterinarians - a flea killing combination.

There are loads of flea products out there (of varying quality) and loads of advertisements containing well-known 'celebrity vets' endorsing this product or that (even if some of the flea control products they are being paid to endorse are quite simply, crap products). It is no wonder that pet owners can find it a bit of a minefield trying to figure out the very best flea product for their pet (and the best product for them may not be the best product for someone else with different circumstances).

The best advice I can give you: If you are noticing fleas on your pet, then go and discuss the matter with your vet. In some cases you can do this over the counter or even over the phone without having to pay for a consult. Don't go to a supermarket where no-one knows anything about the products they are selling (believe me, if they actually knew how bad some supermarket flea products were, they wouldn't sell them).

Now, some vet clinics do go into business with drug companies, selling only one kind of flea product (or diet brand or antibiotic brand or vaccine brand ... the list goes on) in return for better prices. This is common practice. To avoid being sold a product endorsement, look for a clinic that sells a wide variety of flea products from a range of different drug companies. That way you can ensure that the product you are being recommended is a true recommendation (taking into account your pet's circumstances) made from a veterinary perspective and not a recommendation resulting simply from a 'deal' made between a vet and a drug company, which had nothing to do with you.

The next piece of advice I can give you: Once you have spoken to your vet about flea prevention and started treating your pet with a quality flea prevention product, go and talk to a pest removal company that does flea control. Just as your vet will be able to advise you on the best flea-prevention products for your dog or cat, your pest removal company will be able to advise you on the safest and most effective way to remove fleas from your home environment (if you like, he or she will probably be able to take care of flea eradication for you).

It could well end up saving you a lot of money and mucking around if you seek the advice of a veterinarian and a professional pest control company sooner rather than later.



Flea Treatment - TOP



4. Preventing Fleas From Infesting Your Dog, Cat or Home - prevention is always better than cure.

Wherever dogs and cats and wild animals hang out in numbers, there is the potential for fleas to exist. Should your dog or cat visit such areas or hang out with other flea-carrying animals, there is always the potential for him or her to come back home carrying a brand new population of flea pests. Places where your dog or cat could catch fleas include: grooming salons, boarding kennels, catteries, pounds, shelters, wilderness areas, parks, sand-pits, dog beaches, dog clubs, agility trials, dog training grounds, dog shows, cat shows, households with cats or dogs, poultry shows, rabbit warrens, farms, veterinary clinics and so on.

Make sure that your pets are treated with flea prevention products (quality flea control products that rapidly kill adult fleas) at least 2 days before they go anywhere where they could pick up fleas. That way, any adult fleas which jump onto that animal will die immediately upon contact with the host animal's treated coat and never make it back to the home to lay any eggs.

Also make sure that all new pets are treated with flea preventatives and that they are free of fleas before they are allowed access to your home or back yard. It is not uncommon for people to rescue animals from pounds or shelters only to bring a flea problem back home with them too!

Make sure that the pets of friends and family are treated with flea preventatives and that they are free of fleas before they are allowed access to your home or back yard.

A potential source of flea egg and flea larvae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into the yard. These animals will drop flea eggs into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites. Discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil. Discourage such animals (e.g. stray and feral cats and dogs) from your turf by:

  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting and resting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.
  • allowing your flea-free dog outside regularly if you have one (dogs generally discourage stray cats and other wild animals from coming into a yard, provided the presence of a dog does not result in copious amounts of food being left outside).
If unwelcome flea-carrying pests are, however, unable to be dissuaded from coming into your yard, despite all your best efforts, you can adapt your yard to make it less flea life cycle friendly. Wild and feral animals will tend to drop eggs and larvae out in the open (lawn, grass, yard etc) as they forage about. Keeping lawns very short (frequently mowed) and garden-beds open and sparsely vegetated should be enough to cause flea eggs, flea larvae and pupae to be exposed to sunlight and the drying, desiccating effects of the open air. The liberal use of brick, concrete and stone surfaces in outdoor gardens and yards will also tend to kill off the various flea life cycle stages by way of sunlight-heat absorption and desiccation.



Flea Treatment - TOP



5) Your flea control links:

Flea pest control links.

To go from this flea control page to the Pet Informed Home Page, click here.

To go from this flea prevention and control page to the Flea Pictures page, click here.

For information on yard control, lawn and soil nematodes - NemaSeek and NemAttack:
http://www.arbico-organics.com/organic-pest-control-beneficial-nematodes-info.html

For information on borate-based carpet fleas control product - Fleabusters Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder:
http://www.fleabuster.com/Products/Rx_Plus/flea_powder.html



Flea Treatment - TOP



References and Suggested Readings:

1) Arthropods. In Bowman DD, Lynn RC, Eberhard ML editors: Parasitology for Veterinarians, USA, 2003, Elsevier Science.

2) Phylum Arthropoda. In Hobbs RP, Thompson ARC, Lymbery AJ: Parasitology, Perth, 1999, Murdoch University.

3) External Infestations - Small Animals. In Wroth O, editor: MIMS IVS Annual. St Leonards, 2001, Havas MediMedia.

4) Miscellaneous. In Wroth O, editor: MIMS IVS Annual. St Leonards, 2001, Havas MediMedia.

5) Crapp B, Stickfast Fleas. Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries. http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/cps/rde/dpi/hs.xsl/27_2744_ENA_HTML.htm

6) Parasitic Skin Disease. In Muller GH, et al.: Muller and Kirk's Small Animal Dermatology, 6th ed. USA, 2001, Elsevier Health Sciences.

7) Material Safety Data Sheet for Interrupt Biological insecticide for Outdoor Flea Control - http://www2.itap.purdue.edu/MSDS/docs/11643.pdf

8) Fleabusters Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder - http://www.fleabuster.com/Products/Rx_Plus/flea_powder.html



Flea Treatment - TOP



Pet Informed is not in any way affiliated with any of the companies whose products appear in images or information contained within this article. Any images, taken by Pet Informed, are only used in order to illustrate certain points being made in the article. Pet Informed receives no commercial or reputational benefit from any of these companies for mentioning their products and can not make any guarantees or claims, either positive or negative, about these companies' products, customer service or business practices. Pet Informed can not and will not take any responsibility for any death, damage, illness, injury or loss of reputation and business or for any environmental damage that occurs should you choose to use one of the mentioned products on your pets, poultry or livestock (commercial or otherwise) or indoors or outdoors environment. Do your homework and research all such flea products carefully before using any flea products on your animalsor their environments.

Also note that the presence or absence of products on this page should not be taken as a personal endorsement or non-endorsement of these included or omitted products. Products listed on this page are there for informational purposes only - I am not paid by companies to represent their products. The omission of a product from this page is in no way reflective of Pet Informed's personal opinions of this product. Pet Informed is Australian - it is very likely that products marketed outside of Australia may not be mentioned.

Copyright June 30, 2009 and January 2012, Dr. O'Meara, www.pet-informed-veterinary-advice-online.com.

Revolution is a registered trademark of Pfizer Animal Health.
Frontline Spray, Frontline Top Spot Cat, Frontline Top Spot Dog and Frontline Plus are registered trademarks of Merial Australia Pty Ltd.
Advantage Duo, Advocate, Advantix and Advantage for Dogs and Cats are registered trademarks of Bayer Australia Ltd.
Capstar, Sentinel, Program, Zodiac Flea Proof Insecticidal Mist and Zodiac Flea Proof Spray for Catsand Dogs are registered trademarks of Novartis Animal Health Australasia Pty Ltd.
Decaflea is a registered trademark of Dermcare-Vet Pty Ltd.
Di-Flea Flea and Tick Rinse and Yard Spray is a registered trademark of Jurox Pty Ltd.
Duogard Band for Cats, Duogard Band for Dogs, Duogard Line On for Dogs and Protect-a-Dog Double Impact are registered trademarks of Virbac (Australia) Pty Ltd.
Exelpet Fleaban Yard and Kennel Concentrate and Exelpet Pyrethrin Flea Control Powder for Cats and Dogs are registered trademarks of Exelpet Products.
Fido's Fre-Itch CPP Flea Powder, Fido's Fre-Itch Flea Powder and Fido's Flea bomb Insecticidal Fogger are registered trademarks of Mavlab Pty Ltd.
Keydust is a registered trademark of International Animal Health Products Pty Ltd.
Malaban Wash Concentrate is a registered trademark of Inca (Flight) Company Pty Ltd.
Malatroy, Troy IGR and Pyretroy are registered trademarks of Troy Laboratories Pty Ltd.
Quick-Kill Rinse Concentrate for Fleas, Ticks and Lice and Quick-Kill Eclipse are registered trademarks of Pharmachem.
Skatta-7 Tick Flea Louse Powder is a registered trademark of David Veterinary Laboratories.
Interrupt Biological insecticide for Outdoor Flea Control is a registered trademark of Biosys.
NemaSeek and NemAttack are registered trademarks of Arbico-Organics.
Fleabusters and Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder are registered trademarks of Rx For Fleas.
Comfortis is a registered trademark of Elanco Companion Animal Health.

Please note: the aforementioned flea prevention, flea control and flea treatment guidelines and information on the flea life cycle are general information and recommendations only. The information provided is based on published information and on recommendations made available from the drug companies themselves; relevant veterinary literature and publications and my own experience as a practicing veterinarian. The advice given is appropriate to the vast majority of pet owners, however, given the large range of flea medication types and flea prevention and control protocols now available, owners should take it upon themselves to ask their own veterinarian what treatment and flea prevention schedules s/he is using so as to be certain what to do. Owners with specific circumstances (high flea infestation burdens in their pet's environment, pregnant bitches and queens, very young puppies and kittens, flea infested ferrets, flea infested rabbits, dog, cat and rabbit breeders, livestock and poultry producers, multiple-dog and cat environments, animals with severe flea allergy dermatitis, animals on immune-suppressant medicines, animals with immunosuppressant diseases or conditions, owners of sick and debilitated animals etc. etc.) should ask their vet what the safest and most effective flea protocol is for their situation.

Please note: the scientific flea names mentioned in this fleas life cycle article are only current as of the date of this web-page's copyright date. Parasite scientific names are constantly being reviewed and changed as new scientific information becomes available and names that are current now may alter in the future.