Gungahlin Vet Hospital

Flea control

Fleas can cause skin disease and irritation for your pets and frustration for you - learn how to control them here.

Recommended products for flea control

Adult Flea

  • Advantage ™ - topical, monthly for dogs and cats
  • Frontline Plus ™ - topical, monthly for dogs and cats
  • Frontline Spray ™ - 12 weekly for fleas, 3 weekly for tick prevention (also kills biting lice and Sarcoptes mites). Safe from 2 days of age
  • Revolution ™ - topical, monthly for dogs, cats and puppies/kittens (also prevents heartworm and kills ear mites in dogs and cats, kills Sarcoptes mange mites in dogs and some worms in cats)
  • Nexgard - oral, monthly (also controls paralysis tick when given monthly)
  • Bravecto - oral, 3 monthly for fleas (also controls paralysis tick (dose 4 monthly) and brown dog tick (dose 2 monthly)
  • Advantix™ – dogs only – toxic for cats - monthly for fleas (also prevents Paralysis Tick if applied every two weeks)
  • Comfortis™ - dogs only - oral, monthly (must not be used in conjunction with some other parasite control agents (abamectins))
  • Panoramis™ - dogs only – oral, monthly (also prevents heartworm and treats round, hook and whip worm (but not tapeworm). Must not be used in conjunction with some other parasite control agents (abamectins)

Our experience is that these products are much more effective than older powders, shampoos, washes and collars, which are also usually more toxic.

Remember that you must also deal with fleas in the environment – see below.

Flea life cycleHow do I treat for fleas?

Because fleas have an extended life period off the dog or cat, it is not enough to only treat your pets – you must treat the environment as well. Flea eggs can fall off pets wherever they go, so environmental treatment can be extensive.

1)      Treat every dog and cat in the house, and those with whom your pets have regular contact, with an effective flea treatment. Repeat this according to packet directions, unless your vet recommends more frequent application.

2)      Treat the environment in which your pets live as well

a.       Vacuum all carpets and soft furnishings (sofas etc) thoroughly, ideally weekly.

b.      Vacuum cracks between floorboards, around skirting boards, tiles etc

c.       Move, and clean hair and debris from around and under, fridges, dishwashers, washing machines etc

d.      Wash all pet bedding in hot water and dry in the sun; repeat regularly.

e.      If dogs travel in the car, treat the car like the house.

f.        Prevent pet access under the house; clean up garages, carports garden sheds, kennels, doormats etc that pets have access to.

g.       If fleas persist, flea bomb the house. Use a flea bomb containing both an adulticide (kills fleas) and an insect control regulator (prevents flea larvae and pupae from maturing into adult fleas). Follow directions carefully and repeat as recommended.

Do I need to treat my pet for fleas?

Fleas are an important, although thankfully less common, cause of irritation and skin disease for dogs and cats. Fleas are also the intermediate host (source) for the most common tapeworm of dogs and cats, Dipylidium caninum. TV advertisements insist that you must use flea control or you aren’t caring properly for your pets. So what should you do?

Fleas used to be common in Canberra, but the advent of modern flea control products has reduced their numbers considerably. Dogs and cats share the same flea, Ctenocphalides felis, so all dogs and cats in a household that has fleas are likely to be infested. But they rarely pick up fleas from each other or directly from other animals. Instead, dogs and cats get fleas from going into an environment where there are flea eggs and immature fleas, or when an animal with fleas comes into your house and yard and flea eggs are deposited in the area where your pets live.

Flea eggs hatch into larvae, which pupate (like caterpillars becoming butterflies) before becoming hungry juvenile fleas, desperate to get a blood meal from an animal. Flea eggs can survive for more than 12 months in a house or sheltered place in the yard; fleas generally live on an animal for up to three months and female fleas lay about 500 eggs in their lifetime.

Because the eggs live so long and are so resistant, it is hard to get rid of fleas once they have infested your house. This is why some people choose ongoing flea control. The truth is that, even though fleas are becoming more common in recent years, only a small proportion of our clients in Gungahlin will ever see fleas or need to control them. Most of our clients do not use flea control, and we do not recommend flea control unless you are facing a problem or the risk is high.

Reasons to treat for fleas – high risk situations

  • Your pet/s have fleas
  • Yours pets are itchy – a trial of flea control may be warranted
  • You are moving from or have moved from an environment where fleas are more common – to try to avoid brining fleas with you.
  • You are moving to an environment where fleas are more common.
  • You are moving into or to have moved into a house where there were pets before, and are worried there may be flea eggs in the house or yard.
  • Your pets visit risky situations e.g. a holiday house, farm or a relative whose pets may have fleas.
  • Neighbouring pets (especially cats) come into your yard (or house) and may leave flea eggs behind.

Safe and effective flea control products are available over the counter from Gungahlin Veterinary Hospital, or from our on-line shop. At the Hospital, we can give personal advice.