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This article will explain the importance of choosing the appropriate flea control, how to select the best one for your pet and the crucial things to remember when faced with many options.

Why it is important to choose the right product?

Fleas are very small and fast parasites that will feed on your cat or dog’s skin, sucking their blood before falling off and laying their eggs in your house. This cycle can take as little as 10 days in warm weather. One flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day so, if left untreated, in a very short time you can get a severe infestation. In many cases, you can’t find the fleas, just the evidence they have been there (flea dirt).

What happens if I don’t treat my pet?

Dogs and cats can be allergic to fleas… but even if not, flea bites are itchy! They will bite, scratch and lick at their itchy skin, causing red sores and rashes. A heavy flea burden in a young kitten or puppy can result in severe blood loss (anaemia) and even lead to death in some cases.

If you suspect your cat or dog is showing signs of being itchy and irritated, then do contact the veterinary clinic and we will advise you on the right course of action.

Will Fleas bite me too?

Yes, fleas can also bite humans. They can jump long distances so will hop onto your clothes as you walk by. They will bite, suck some blood, and leave a small red welt. This can become itchy and sometimes get infected. If your pets and your home are not treated appropriately then everyone in the household can become affected.

What do you need to know when buying Flea control for your pet?

How much your pet weighs?

One of the most important things you will need to know before buying any flea control is your pet’s weight. This will most likely be in Kilograms. Most doses are calculated based on the weight of the animal.

If you are unsure, contact the clinic first before you purchase or treat your pet.

Too much flea product can be extremely harmful to your pet, especially in small breed dogs, puppies, and kittens. The ingredients in some flea products can make your pet very unwell if they are given more than the recommended amount.

Example: A cat is approximately 5kg, A West Highland Terrier is 10kg, A Labrador is 30kg

Not all products for Flea control are equal.

How the fleas are killed is varied and not all products will kill the eggs or larval stages that are living in your home. You must make sure to check that the flea treatment protects the home the pet lives in as well as the animal itself.

Some topical formulas will repel fleas, while tablets and some others will only kill them if they land. Some will kill all life stages, others only the adults. Some last for just a day, most last for a full 30 days, but some can last as long as 8 months.

Decide how you want to treat your pet.

Some flea treatment comes in a tablet form, to be given orally, by you, to your pet. It is placed directly into their mouth or hidden in a small morsel of food. Fussy pets might not take these tablets easily and occasionally will need to be held firmly. Cats can be difficult to give tablets to, whereas many dogs will happily eat them out of your hand.

A ‘spot-on’ treatment is in liquid form and is placed directly on the pet’s skin by parting the hair, usually at the back of the neck. Make sure to apply it somewhere they can’t lick off. Pets who have sensitive skin may not tolerate this type of treatment.

A Flea collar was the traditional method of protection. Many of them are not very effective, although some are much more potent. Unfortunately, even the best can be lost or pulled off. For some pets, these are the best option, and some of them are amongst the best flea treatments on the market.

Do you need a prescription to buy flea control?

The most effective and safest flea treatments are prescribed by your veterinary surgeon. This ensures it will be the most appropriate one for your pet. It is unlikely to cause any harmful side effects. Prescription drugs undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are safe to use and can only be prescribed by your veterinary clinic

Prescription products come as spot-ons or tablets. They are the most potent and effective treatments available, and often treat more than one life-stage of the flea.

There is a large range of flea products on the market. You can buy them anywhere from supermarkets, online, and in pet shops. They can vary in price, but please do not assume the most expensive is necessarily the best.

Packaging and wording on the product can be misleading, so make sure that you understand what the product is, what animals it’s meant for (don’t rely on the pictures on the packaging!), and how to use it safely.

Example: Some dog flea drops sold without restriction in the supermarkets contain permethrin and are lethally toxic if applied to cats. Likewise, some of the most common flea spot-ons for cats and dogs contain fipronil, and are dangerous in rabbits. Sadly, there are deaths every year from people who assume that because they are on sale without a prescription, it is safe.

What are the benefits of a ‘prescription only’ treatment?

Purchasing a prescribed flea control means you will be reassured you are making the correct and safest option for your cat or dog with little risk to your pet’s health and wellbeing. Your vet will have chosen the most suitable product for your pet as an individual.

Flea control products can appear expensive, but the benefits of beginning a correct flea control programme are immeasurable. Your pet will not endure unnecessary suffering, your house will not become infested, and you will avoid being bitten. There is also the cost to consider in treating the skin diseases that can result from having fleas. It can be time-consuming too, with frequent visits to the clinics for the vets and nurses to care for your pet.

In Summary:

Choosing the right flea treatment for your pet will be based on your pet’s weight, their species (cat, dog, or rabbit), and how easy it is to medicate your pet. You will also need to consider how long it lasts and when you need to repeat it.

Usually, treatment occurs monthly and traditionally was repeated during the warmer months of the year (from March to October). However, we now know that fleas can survive and live in our homes over winter due to central heating, underfloor heating, and well-insulated houses, and so year-round treatment is usually needed.

Final Check:

  • Check the appropriate weight range for your pet.
  • Make sure it’s for the right species. Do not put a large dog treatment on a small kitten.
  • Check how long the treatment will last.
  • Make a note of when the treatment must be repeated.
  • Read the instructions to make sure you will be able to give the product safely to your pet.
  • Follow the instructions on the package.
  • You should not wash your pet 48hrs before or after applying a spot on, or allow them access to furniture or expensive fabrics until it has dried.
  • Do not give to your pet if you think they may be pregnant.
  • Always check with the veterinary clinic if you are unsure of the right flea treatment for your pet and we can help and advise you.