Flea Infestations - An ounce of prevention...

Almost everyone has heard the old Benjamin Franklin adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but many don’t realize that it holds true for flea infestations on our dogs.  Some people think that it is fine to wait until “flea season” to start fighting these infestations.  Others may wait until they start seeing fleas on their dogs.  However, it’s much more trouble to treat existing flea infestations than it is to prevent them. 

 

To be able to tackle fleas and flea infestations on your dog, you must first know some basics about these tricky bloodsuckers.

 

We have been battling fleas for many years, and it is likely that we will continue fighting them for years to come.  The fleas that infest our dogs have developed a very effective way to maintain their life cycle.  Due to the small size of fleas and their ability to hide in pets’ hair coats, pet owners often don’t notice the first fleas that jump on their dogs.  Each female flea on an infested animal can produce up to 40-50 eggs per day (which can result in more than 1,000 eggs in her lifetime!)  Just think about it -- if your pet has a dozen fleas on him and half of them are female -- that could result in up to 240-300 flea eggs per day. 

 

Flea eggs roll off of the coat of an infested animal into the environment.  As you can imagine, that means that a lot of eggs get deposited in the areas frequented most by an infested animal.  These eggs hatch into worm-like larvae within a few days before they molt into the pupal stage where they form cocoons.  The amount of time that they can remain as pupae can vary -- anywhere from a matter of days to months depending on environmental conditions.  When they mature, pupae emerge as hungry adult fleas looking for a host to jump on and feed. 

 

This is the point when most pet owners notice the “first” fleas on their pets.  Unfortunately at this point, killing the fleas on the dog will only kill a small percentage of the fleas that are present.  There can be thousands of developing flea stages (eggs, larvae, and pupae) spread throughout the environment wherever the dog has been spending time over the past few weeks.  It can take weeks to months before all of these developing stages mature into adult fleas that you can see jumping on your dog. 

 

To treat an existing infestation like this, it may require a combination of strategies:

  • Pet 
    • Treat your dog with an effective flea control product that rapidly kills any fleas that jump on him. 
  • Environmental control
    • Frequent vacuuming of rugs, carpets, and furniture where the infested animal has spent time.  This will help remove some of the developing flea stages from the environment.
    • Launder any bedding or washable items where your dog has lounged.
    • Consult with a pest control specialist about treating inside or around your home. 
    • Limit your dog’s exposure to newly hatched fleas in the environment

 

Fortunately, it is easy to prevent flea infestations on your dog.  Since most of us have control over where our dogs go, we can try to limit their exposure to fleas in the environment. It is also important that we help protect our pets with year-round flea control.  NexGard® (afoxolaner) is a soft, beef-flavored chew that kill fleas fast – before they can lay eggs – for a full month.  Plus, it kills ticks, too!  Dogs love NexGard – making it easy to give.  It is available from your veterinarian with a prescription. 

 

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
NexGard is for use in dogs only. The most frequently reported adverse reactions include vomiting, itching, lethargy, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. The safe use of NexGard in pregnant, breeding, or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. For more information, click here for full prescribing information. 

Additional Resources
Important Safety Information:

NexGard (afoxolaner) is for use in dogs only. The most frequently reported adverse reactions include vomiting, itching, lethargy, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. The safe use of NexGard in pregnant, breeding, or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. For more information, click here for full prescribing information.