Flea Prevention in Five Easy Steps
Before you begin the campaign for ridding fleas from your dog, it is necessary to know what fleas are and how they affect your pets.
Fleas are tiny, wingless insects or ectoparasites – i.e. external parasites that live on the surface of the host – other familiar example being the human head lice. Fleas live off a range of mammals, particularly the domestic pets, and can even bite humans. Fleas find the furry coats of animals an ideal place for breeding. Female fleas need to ingest blood of the host in order to produce eggs. Eggs undergo four stages – embryo, larva, pupa and adult – taking two to three weeks to complete the full lifecycle. The Dog Flea (Ctenocephalides canis) is one the most abundant species of fleas.
Prevention and Control of Fleas in Dogs
Fleas are obstinate parasites. It is not possible to eliminate them entirely from your environs. Even after you religiously carry out all possible tactics to rid them, they anyhow strike when the next flea season comes. You can, however, prevent and control flea infestation in five easy steps:
Step 1: Environment Control: Flea eggs need relative humidity of at least 70-75% to hatch and larvae need 50% to survive. Controlling humidity and temperature can drastically reduce fleas from environment. Using air-conditioners and dehumidifiers will break the lifecycle of fleas.
Step 2: Vacuuming and Cleaning: Once flea lays eggs, the host animal will ‘shower’ eggs and larvae at all places around the home. Larvae then develop into pupa, which again grow into adults. Frequent vacuuming will clear at least 90% of adult fleas and 50% of eggs. After vacuuming, use carpet sprays, powder or foggers to kill the remaining fleas and stop development of eggs and larvae. Dog bedding, kennel, and all other places where your dog is known to spend time should be washed frequently.
Step 3: Shampooing, Bathing and Combing: Use good quality shampoo and bathe your dog. Use special dog combing kit to remove flea larvae, pupa and flea fecal matter.
Step 4: Medication: This involves two types of treatments – using an adulticide to kill adult fleas and insect growth regulator (IGR) to remove immature stages of fleas – by applying once-a-month topical liquids such as Frontline Flea treatment or Advantage Flea and Tick medication. You may also try oral medicines.
Step 5: Non-conventional means: If for any reason you don’t want to use toxic medicinal treatments, you may try non-conventional methods such as using baking soda, borax, table salt and home-made flea traps.