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Which Flea Treatment

There is a bewildering number of flea treatments available these days from flea traps through to expensive POM products that can only be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon. This page concentrates mainly on those treatments that our clients have found to be effective in the UK.


Understanding the problem (or know your enemy)

In any population of fleas only about 5% will be in the adult form. Of the remainder about 10% are larvae (immature fleas) and pupae while the vast majority 85% are present as eggs.

Adult fleas, which are dark brown and about 2 to 4mm long, jump onto our pets, bite them and suck blood from their skin. These bites cause irritation and make our pets scratch. After feeding, the flea lays eggs that drop off into the carpets and soft furnishings. Each flea lays about 200 eggs. The eggs hatch out into larvae that live in the carpets and soft furnishings while they develop into adult fleas.

Eggs, larvae and pupae can be carried around the house on the soles of our shoes. On becoming adult the fleas jump onto our pets and bite them and the cycle begins again. In our campaign against the flea we therefore have two battles to fight. The first against the adult fleas. The second against the huge numbers of eggs, larvae and pupae found in the environment.


Killing the adult fleas (adulticides)

Frontline spot-on – a safe, effective product which is easy to apply. A liquid is squeezed on to the back of the pet’s neck from where it spreads over the whole of the skin surface. 98% of the adult fleas will be killed before having a chance to bite. One dose is effective for up to 5 weeks in cats and 2 months in dogs.

Frontline spray (pump action) – contains the same active ingredient as the spot-on formulation and is thus equally as effective. It can also be used on very young puppies and kittens. It may be more difficult to apply as the whole pet needs to be wetted with the spray for it to be effective. One application is effective for up to 2 months in cats and 3 months in dogs.

Stronghold Another effective spot-on that is applied to the back of the pet’s neck, from where it spreads to kill fleas for 28 days , ear mites , sarcoptic mites , and also round worms on applcation

Advantage spot-on – another effective product that is applied to the back of the pet’s neck from where it spreads over the whole of the skin surface. 98% of the adult fleas will be killed before having a chance to bite. Applied on a monthly basis.

Flea collars, shampoos, powders and foams are also available but are often found to be not as effective as the products mentioned above.

NB – only one adulticide product can be used on an animal at any one time.


Killing eggs, larvae and pupae and removing the infestation from the house

Program – an effective way of controlling flea infestation in the house. This product, which is harmless to our pets, is given in food once a month. It comes as tablets for dogs and liquid suspension for cats. There is also an injectable form available for cats, which lasts six months. The flea ingests a small amount of program when it feeds from the pet. The program stops flea eggs from hatching thus breaking the lifecycle. If there is an existing flea problem in the house, it will take a couple of months on Program before an effect is noticed. It is safe enough to be given to weaned puppies and kittens and to pregnant bitches. It is a good product to use all year round to prevent a build up of fleas in the house.

NB – it is safe to use in conjunction with other flea products such as Frontline, Advantage, , collars etc

NB – all animals in a household must be treated simultaneously with program for it to be effective.

Household sprays – (NOT to be used on pets) Staykill & Acclaim are what we recommend. These sprays kill eggs, larvae and adult fleas in the environment. The whole house, carpets, soft furnishings and curtains need to be sprayed to eradicate any infestation. They have a residual activity of up to 12 months. Although effective they are not very pleasant to use. Fish and birds must be removed from the room before spraying, as they are very toxic to these animals. It is very important to follow the directions on the can.


In summary

Because no single product is more than 98% effective it is important to treat the pet and the environment simultaneously.

The most effective treatment is to use an adulticide and Program in conjunction with one another. In winter Program alone may be enough to keep the problem under control.

Adulticides can be used in the warmer months or when recommended by your vet for example if your pet has a flea allergy.


Obtaining the products – LYDON VETERINARY CENTRE Policy

Apart from the household sprays, dispensing laws in the UK prevent us from supplying the above POM products unless your pet has been seen by one of our vets within the last year. In most cases this will have been at the annual vaccination. If you require any of these POM products and your pet has not been seen within the year, you should arrange for your pet to have a health check with a veterinary surgeon. If your pet has had a health check at Lydon Veterinary Centre within the last year then you can order these products by phone by ringing reception at your local Parkvets clinic. While each POM treatment must be still authorised by a vet it should be ready for you to collect within 24 hours.