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THE TRIANGLE OF SUCCESSFUL FLEA CONTROL

THE TRIANGLE OF SUCCESSFUL FLEA CONTROL

by Diana Guerrero 
Copyright© 1997 By Diana Guerrero 

The following article has been provided by the above author. All copy rights are held by the author and any reproduction of this material in whole or in part must have the authors approval. 

 

 

The yearly blues hits most pet owners during the summer months when the heat and humidity rise causing the flea population to rise. Every pet owner’s nightmare are those itchy welts on their bodies, not to mention the scratching, hair loss, smell, and tapeworms that plague their precious pets!


Fleas are great survivors and can be host specific. This means that they specialize in what animal species they feed on. After feeding they lay numerous eggs everywhere, which result in larvae, and then more fleas. Juvenile fleas look a bit different from their adult counterparts....but who really cares! How do get this situation under control?!

 


Here is what we will look at in this article:
    THE FLEA CYCLE
    TAPEWORMS AND THEIR RELATION TO FLEAS
    THE TRIANGLE OF SUCCESSFUL FLEA CONTROL
    ANIMAL PEST CONTROL
    INTERIOR PEST CONTROL
    EXTERIOR PEST CONTROL
    FLEA COMBING & BATHING
    OTHER TRICKS
    BATHING

THE FLEA CYCLE
The flea cycle is pretty regular and hard to control once out of hand. This is because fleas will lay eggs on their host which fall off in the house, outside, and on any furniture they are around. The eggs develop into larvae within about two week window. The larvae or pupae that hatch exist on dried blood and fecal matter; they transform into the flea form later.


The adult fleas will live on the host animal for three to four weeks. Each female flea can lay about 2,000 eggs during that time! This cycle is why you must work regularly with flea control by treating your living environment at least every three to four weeks.

 


TAPEWORMS AND THEIR RELATION TO FLEAS
Tapeworms occur when your pet ingests the fleas as they are chewing and biting at them. The tapeworm is a parasite that lives within your pet’s intestinal tract. They can grow quite large and will steal food and nutrients from your pet’s system. Symptoms of tapeworm can vary.


The most identifying clue that your pet has tapeworms is the little rice like segments that appear in the feces. Other changes or symptoms include a dry or brittle texture to the coat, a severe increase in appetite, weight loss, and sometimes loose stools. Always take a fecal sample and see a veterinarian to treat this; by doing so, you can be sure you are addressing the right problem and avoid complications.

 


THE TRIANGLE OF SUCCESSFUL FLEA CONTROL
There should be several steps to your flea control. So you don’t forget, call it the triangle of successful flea control! These steps include treating the animal, treating the interior areas of your home (furniture, carpets, animal bedding and play areas, etc.), and treating the exterior areas of your environment (yard, patio, car).

 


ANIMAL PEST CONTROL
The first step is animal pest control with a topical or internal product; "Advantage" or "Frontline" are examples of a topical product. They kill the fleas and prevent their reproduction. These products will last a month or more if your animal does not go into the water or have a bath. You can get a prescription or the product from your veterinarian.


Other topical products include flea collars, powders, or animal sprays. These items vary in effectiveness and in safety. There are standard products and herbal products but I find the topical mentioned early to be the easiest and the safest for my household and have abandoned the others for it.


The internal product for animal pest control that has been popular is called "Program." This product is taken orally once a month and prevents reproduction of the flea cycle. It does not kill any of the fleas! Several colleagues have said it loses the effectiveness after a couple of years. (My animal is older and since many medications or related products that work internally may cause side effects on the animal later I am not comfortable with using this.) It is also a product available from your veterinarian; be sure to ask for their professional opinion on this product.

 


INTERIOR PEST CONTROL
The next item in flea control is geared for indoor control. These include flea bombs, topical sprays and carpet additives. They should be applied every four weeks or so through the flea season. Treatment should include carpeting, furniture, bedding, and other blankets or related pet abodes, don’t forget the vehicles you travel in since they can harbor fleas too.

 


EXTERIOR PEST CONTROL
The last area of control is slated for outdoor control. There are sprays and larval products that destroy the flea eggs and larvae so they do not produce mature fleas. These also should be applied every four weeks or so. There are professional services that do this or check with your local pet store, feed store, or hardware store.

 


FLEA COMBING & BATHING
Be sure to include a flea comb session with your animals when they come back from a hike. Use a bucket with warm soapy water to deposit fleas in once you comb them out. Otherwise they will swim and escape by jumping out! Regular baths help control the situation too. Any non-toxic shampoo product will kill fleas if it is left on the animal five to ten minutes.

 


OTHER TRICKS
Another trick is to use a night light with a pan of soapy water underneath to catch the fleas at night. Newer products on the market use light to attract and trap the fleas with sticky paper and other creative trays for water. Remember that if you have stray animals wandering around your house or have visiting animals they can introduce a couple of fleas and get the horrendous cycle going again!

 


A NOTE ON TICKS
Ticks are not the same as fleas. There are special products on the market to address them since most flea products will not. Ticks are a parasite that attach and burrow into your pet’s skin and drink their blood. Most often they are picked up in the brush or woods where they have dropped off other animals or cling to the brush on commonly used trails waiting for a host.

Once on the pet, these ticks should be pulled off with a special instrument to remove the entire parasite. If the head breaks off during the process you could have an infection set in. There are other risks to your animal from this parasite, like Lyme disease; you can have them inoculated against this in advance. Be sure to check with your veterinarian for further information on ticks and their related problems.

Hope this information helps you in your battle against fleas! Remember to get an early start on the flea season and keep the fight up until the weather cools down. Best wishes and hopes that you get to have a flea free environment and can enjoy the summer months with your pets!

 

 

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