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Dealing with fleas in the cooler months

March 23rd 2017

Author: Sarah Butler

Summer is over but it’s essential that pet owners don’t get complacent about flea control.

These blood sucking little parasites can still be a problem for dogs and cats during the cooler months of the year and cause skin itching and inflammation. This means you definitely need to continue your pet’s flea control throughout autumn and winter. It’s a good idea to regularly re-evaluate products that are available and make sure you’re using the best for your pet.

Before you buy any flea control product, read the label carefully. Some have age restrictions and shouldn’t be used on very young animals. Others are only recommended for dogs so they must never be applied to cats; because of differences in their metabolism cats can become very ill if treated with dog flea products.

Flea shampoos have been a popular choice for a long time. They are good for washing your pet if they’re dirty before applying a topical product, but on their own they’re not reliable enough. This is because when you rinse off the lather, you also remove the killing effect. You’ll also need to make sure the weather is warm enough for a bath.

Flea rinses that are diluted and left on your pet’s coat are a better option because they do kill fleas for longer. Flea collars are also available and they can be a good hands-off option for both dogs and cats.

There are many brands of spot-on products that you can choose from. They’re easy to use because the liquid is simply squeezed on to skin at the back of your pet’s neck once a month. Some spot-on liquids are also effective against other parasites such as intestinal worms and heartworm. You’ll find some brands have products for both dogs and cats but again, make sure you use the right product on the right species.

Another option is to use flea treatment given by mouth. Most of these are only registered for use in dogs. There are products that kill fleas quickly but don’t last long which have a great knock-down effect if your dog has a heavy flea burden. Most oral treatments last one month but one product keeps fleas under control for a full three months.

Don’t forget that effective flea control also involves controlling the immature stages in your pet’s environment. Washing bedding in hot water and vacuuming carpets regularly will help to remove eggs, larvae and pupae before they develop into adults. Foggers and flea sprays usually contain not only insecticides to kill adult fleas but also growth regulators to break the flea lifecycle. It can be tricky to navigate the multitude of flea control options available to choose from.

Other questions to consider include: Does your pet also need tick protection and which products are best for that? Will it be easier for both you and your pet to use something that also controls intestinal worms? This is where your vet can help. Our staff can show you several products that would be suitable for your pet and lifestyle and demonstrate how to use them safely and effectively. Please feel free to call us or come in to the clinic for a chat.