Fleas are a huge problem in the Port Elizabeth area. We have the ideal climate-warmth and humidity. Fleas thrive in dirt, dust and leaf litter.

The lifecycle of the flea is complicated and makes fleas very difficult to get rid of. The lifecycle consists of an egg, larva, pupa and adult flea. We only see the adult flea and sometimes the eggs-what we see is only 15 % of the actual problem. An adult flea can lay 50 eggs a day which equates to 2000 eggs in her life time. The lifecycle takes 2-4 weeks to complete especially in the ideal climate. The larva can persist in the environment for a very long time. The black dirt we see on the pets turns red when it gets wet. This is the excretion of the flea and is made up mostly of blood.

Why do fleas cause a problem?

Fleas cause a mild to severe irritation to your dog or cat. They can cause the animal to ‘scoot’ or pull themselves along the floor. Fleas can cause a very severe allergic skin problem (dermatitis) and can cause anaemia (blood loss) which can make your pet very ill.

In dogs fleas will often be seen around the base of the tail and behind the ears. In cats they are often seen under the chin, behind the ears and around the anus.

Flea allergic dermatitis (FAD):

This can become a very major problem for your pet and is a lifelong condition. It accounts for most of the itchy dogs and cats that are seen by vets. FAD tends to get worse every year and is most problematic in summer. The signs are continuous itching and scratching. In dogs it always occurs on the dogs back and tail base and in cats can present as a very itchy face/sores around the head and hair loss on their back. Some breeds of dogs-especially large dogs with thick fur, often get ‘hotspots’ which are large very red sores that develop quickly.

Flea control:

It is very important to have an integrated approach in order to control fleas effectively. This consists of treating all your animals, the environment and preventing re-infestation. It is very important to treat all the dogs and cats in your household with a reliable flea product. There are various flea products available eg. Bravecto, Seresto and Nexgard. Make sure it has both an adulticide to kill the adult fleas, and a growth regulator to prevent the eggs from hatching in your home. Use environmental sprays in the home to kill the eggs eg.*Fleago and Ultrum Ultimate*These products are available in our practice shop.

Useful tips:

If your dog has very long, thick hair you can have the hair cut or shaved.

Do not bath the animals too regularly. This just washes all the flea products out of their coat. The products need the natural oils in the skin to work effectively.

If your dog swims regularly make sure that you use products that allow for this eg. tablets like Bravecto

Use a reliable product regularly – as recommended

Common problems

  • Not treating all the dogs and cats in the home
  • Use the product at the correct dosing intervals as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Make sure the product is the right strength for the animal. This depends on their size and weight.
  • Use the correct formulation for the coat type .g. Sprays work better in long haired dogs.

Important: Make sure the product bought is safe for the species you are going to use it on. Cats are very susceptible to poisoning. Make sure that it is safe for puppies and kittens

Environmental control

  • Sweep, clean and vacuum regularly.
  • Clean in all cracks and gaps
  • Clean your car regularly if you take your pets out in it often
  • Clean your pet’s bedding and sleeping areas thoroughly.
  • Get the neighbours to treat their animals too.

Veterinary flea products

These are products that are sold by veterinarians that have very thorough products research and safely trials and back up product support. The veterinary staff are trained about the use and safety of these products in dogs and cats. Some examples include *Bravecto, Seresto, Revolution.