All about fleas
A minority of dogs will be allergic to the flea saliva, to a level where both vet and owner do not see any visible evidence of fleas or flea faeces/eggs. A single flea may jump on and bite and die shortly after; but the damage is done. For optimal control the environment must be treated.
The aim is to kill all the immature lifecycle stages of the flea. These stages are almost invisible.
Treat all areas in the house inhabited by your pet in two ways: Vacuum all accessible areas (use the nozzle end for difficult access spots). Move furniture if necessary, and dont forget sofas with their removable cushions. Then use hand held insecticidal aerosol SURFACE sprays to spray all potential sources of the immature flea stages (eg. Baygon High Performance Egg Kill, Mortein etc) Be sure to spray horizontally under indoor furniture and appliances as the larvae hate light (eg. under bookcases, washing machine, clothes dryer) So-called bflea bomb are not as effective as hand held sprays as their active ingredient only falls vertically. The average house with pets accessing all areas will require 2-3 cans (carpeted houses especially) per application. The vacuum/surface spray routine needs to be repeated a fortnight later. Pet bedding can be shaken well to remove immature stages, vacuumed, and then surface sprayed, and left in full sun for the day. Discard any bedding where it would be difficult to dislodge the immature fleas stages eg. carpet, old mattresses etc. (Check that kennel out!)
Prevent your pet from gaining access to underneath the house. If accessible to the pet you must wet these outdoor/under-house areas that are away from full sun with a wet insecticide. eg. Coopex, Lawn Grub Kill or any other brand of suitable insecticide designed to make a large volume for application via a watering can or garden pump spray. The common active ingredient in these brands is chlorpyrifos. Dont forget the garage/carport, paved areas, and under/around the dog kennel. Repeat two weeks later. Dont allow your pet to contact any sprayed area while it is obviously damp with insecticide. Cats are especially sensitive as they are fastidious groomers. Consider professional pesticide control if the problem is severe and persistent.
Apply topical monthly adulticide
These products include Advantage, Advantix (both fleas and ticks), Revolution (fleas and heartworm prevention) and Frontline. They need to be applied every 4 weeks and sometimes more frequently. Avoid shampooing your dog as they are somewhat waterfast but not sudsfast. Maximum frequency of washing is monthly and dont apply these products for at least 24 hours after a bath.
Comfortis or Capstar tablets
We recommend oral tabs/chews over the topical products.
Capstar can initially be used every 1-3 days to rapidly kill adult fleas, thus preventing further egg production and reducing overall environmental contamination. It can augment the monthly topical products- give at the end of the 2nd and 3rd weeks in the monthly cycle after their application. Comfortis is an exciting new product given monthly and should not necessitate concurrent use of topicals. Both drugs are especially useful for dogs that need washing, or swim lots. Compatible with all other insecticides used concurrently.
Combination products (effective for fleas and ticks) such as Bravecto or Nexgard are very useful in this area with such a high risk of tick paralysis.
Most importantly, once you have got your pets flea infestation under control, you MUST continue to use a monthly flea preventative on ALL the pets in your household ALL YEAR ROUND, as this will prevent further infestations from developing. If anyone wants to bring another animal to your house, ensure that it is currently on a flea preventative. If not, then discourage the visit or give the animal a Capstar tablet 12-24 hours before its arrival.
There is little transfer of fleas from one animal to another directly. Animals pick up fleas from contact with infested environments, NOT by fleas jumping from one animal to another. Eggs are laid on the host, but fall into the environment where development continues from eggs to mobile larvae to pupae (dormant encased young fleas). A flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day and up to 2000 eggs in its lifetime. All stages of the lifecycle are sensitive to dryness and low temperatures. Therefore, further development of eggs requires a microclimate which is humid and protected from sunlight. These microclimates typically include carpets, floor mats, under indoor furniture, outdoor areas protected from sunlight (under the house!), cracks in floorboards, sofas, kennels and pet bedding. 95% of flea life stages live off the pet and can survive in the environment for up to 12 months. Flea larvae are very mobile and will migrate away from high traffic areas to sheltered areas in the house, eg, under appliances and furniture.