Flea Control

How does my pet get fleas?

The most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis).


The most important sources of cat and dog fleas are newly emerged adult fleas from pupae in your house or yard. Adult fleas live and feed on our pets, but the female flea lays eggs that fall off into the environment. Under favorable conditions, these eggs develop first into larvae and then into pupae. The pupae contain adult fleas that lie in wait for a suitable animal host. Modern carpeted centrally-heated homes provide ideal conditions for the year-round development of fleas. The highest numbers of flea eggs, larvae, and pupae will be found in areas of the house where pets spend the most time, such as their beds and furniture. Even though fleas may be in your house, you probably won’t see them. The eggs are too small to see without magnification and the larvae (which are just visible) migrate deep down into carpets, furniture, or cracks in floors away from the light.


What effects do fleas have on my pet?

Many animals live with fleas, but show minimal signs. However, the following problems can occur:


  • Some animals develop an allergy to flea bites, especially if they are bitten repeatedly. If these animals are bitten by fleas, they groom or scratch excessively and develop skin disease.
  • Adult fleas live on animals and feed on blood. In puppies, kittens, and debilitated animals, this may cause anemia.
  • The flea acts as the intermediate host for the tapeworm (Dipylidum caninum). Tapeworm eggs, which are shed within tapeworm segments in the feces, are eaten by flea larvae that develop into infected fleas. Animals become infested by swallowing infected fleas during grooming. Any animal with fleas is also likely to have a tapeworm infestation.


How can I get rid of fleas on my dog or cat?

This can be a demanding task and requires a multi-pronged approach. Fleas need to be eliminated from your pet, from your home, from your yard and from any other cat or dog that you have. Even this rigorous approach may not have 100% control, as there are other sources of fleas that are beyond your control such as other people?s pets, wild animals, and infested environments with which your pet may come into contact outside of your home.


What products are available to treat my pet?

The best flea products kill adult fleas and contain insect growth regulators which effectively sterilize the fleas and prevent flea infestations. These products have residual activity that makes them last for a month. For cats, we recommend Frontline Plus or Revolution. For dogs, we recommend Frontline Plus. A newer monthly oral product called Comfortis is available for dogs.


Many over-the-counter products that are packaged to look like Frontline Plus have limited effectiveness because they only work for a few hours or days after application. This is particularly true of flea shampoos and powders. They kill fleas present on your pet at the time of application, but have little residual effect so the pet may have fleas again as early as the day after applying the product.


ALWAYS READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY. Apply the product as instructed and repeat at the intervals stated.


How can I treat my home environment?

A number of different products are available to kill the stages if the flea life cycle present in your home, such as:


  • Insecticide sprays for use in the house
  • Sprays containing insect growth regulators (IGRs) for use in the house
  • Insecticides applied by professional pest control operatives in your house


Sprays for use in the house should be used in places where the flea eggs, larvae, and pupae are likely to be. It is recommended that you first treat the entire household and then concentrate on the hot spots- your pet’s favorite dozing spots, like soft furniture, beds, and carpets. Once they hatch from eggs, flea larvae move away from the light and burrow deep into carpets and into other nooks and crannies that are difficult to treat. Be sure to move cushions, furniture, and beds to spray underneath. Other places larvae are likely to live include baseboards and the cracks in wooden floors.


Your pet’s bedding should be regularly washed in hot water or replaced. Regular and thorough vacuuming of your carpets, floors, and soft furnishings can remove a large number of flea eggs, larvae, and pupae in your home. You will need to throw away the vacuum bag to prevent eggs and larvae from developing inside the vacuum cleaner. We recommend vacuuming before applying a spray to the house because the vibrations will encourage newly developed fleas to emerge from pupae that will be killed by the insecticide.


How do I choose which products to use?

A flea control program needs to be tailored individually based on your pets’ lifestyles and your family situation. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you about safe and effective flea control products.


Despite treating my pet for fleas, he still has them. Is there a “super flea”?

There is no evidence of fleas developing resistance to insecticides, especially the monthly topical flea preventatives. Apparent failure of treatment almost always results from improper application of the preventative, inadequate treatment of the home, or exposure to other infested pets or environments. Consider treating sheds, cars, and any other outdoor sleeping spots. Most of these problems can be overcome using an effective product on the pet to kill fleas in addition to treating your home.


Animal Hospital of Waynesboro

2637 W Main Street

Waynesboro, VA 22980

Phone: 540.943.3081

Fax: 540.949.7771

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Office Hours

Monday          7:30 am - 7:30 pm

Tuesday          7:30 am - 7:30 pm

Wednesday    7:30 am - 5:30 pm

Thursday        7:30 am - 7:30 pm

Friday             7:30 am - 5:30 pm

Saturday        8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Sunday*                   Closed

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