Let me begin by saying that the killing of fleas and ticks is an ongoing war. There are many precautions you can take to prevent an uprising and make it through ‘til the next frost. There are hundreds of products available now, and they all claim to be the best. The most important thing is to get what works best for your pet and what is most effective in your area. Know that treating your pet is just a minimum. For best results, treat your home and your yard as well. Before you begin treatment, it is good to know some background information on fleas.
Location, Location, Location
The type of flea and tick prevention you choose for your pet and home may depend, in part, on your geographical location. Know which bugs are dominant in your area and treat for those. Southern states have a much longer flea season than most of the country and Alaska, alone, has the distinction of having no flea season at all. Also, be familiar with the ingredients in each product. For a complete and most effective program, we recommend treating, not only your pet, but also your home and your yard. JeffersPet.com has a variety of products to assist you in killing the flea though all life stages.
All the World's a Stage
There are four stages of the life cycle of the flea. The adult flea constitutes only about 5% of the entire flea population, when you consider all four stages of the life cycle. Fleas lay their eggs on your pet, but the eggs do not always stick and may fall off into the environment. The eggs make up about 50% of the flea population. The entire life cycle (adult flea -> egg -> larvae -> pupa -> adult) can be completed in 14 – 21 days with the proper temperature and humidity conditions. This adds to the problem of flea control. Experts advise if you see one flea, there may be more than 100 offspring or adults nearby in the furniture, corners, cracks, carpet, or on your pet!
Easy as 1, 2, 3
First and foremost treat your pet. Using a monthly, topical treatment is a very good method. There are many varieties of topical treatments on the market. Some only treat fleas; some treat for fleas, ticks, and more. Make sure you do not bathe your pet 48 hours before or after application. Topicals are distributed by attaching to the oils on your dog's skin. If you bathe your pet before or after use, you will strip away these oils. When it is time to bathe, always use detergent-free shampoo. Regular shampoos or dishwashing liquids contain detergents that will remove the oils from the skin and wash off the topical treatment.
BioGroom®, Kenic, Lambert Kay®, and Jeffers Brand Shampoos are all detergent free.
Depending on your area and level of infestation, you may need to use a secondary product on your pet. Flea and tick collars are a good preventative treatment. Fleas and ticks like to hide in dark warm places like underneath collars. Remember, flea collars only protect the area around the neck, nothing more. Tick collars containing Amitraz (like Preventic®) will protect the whole dog from ticks for up to 3 months.
Oral treatments, such as Program®, are also available. Program® is a once a month treatment that will only stop the reproduction of the fleas. Program® does not actually kill the flea. It is merely birth control for fleas. Program® can be used in conjunction with topical treatments. Capstar™ is another oral treatment. Unlike Program®, Capstar™ will actually kill adult fleas. Capstar™ should always be used with other treatments. Capstar™ is a quick kill for fleas. It will start working within 30 minutes and will kill adult fleas on your pet for up to 24 hours. Some even say that you can see the fleas fall to the ground. Capstar™ cannot be given more than once daily. Capstar and Program together make a well-rounded treatment plan.
You should treat your home regardless of whether you have an indoor or outdoor pet.
You or your pet could be a carrier for fleas and ticks. If you have an indoor pet, even one bathroom trip to the yard can bring back a whole family of fleas. It only takes a second for fleas to jump from the ground to you or your pet. Once fleas are inside they tend to like dark places that are less traveled. Under or behind the sofa, in the bed, and especially deep in the carpet are some of the favorite hiding places of fleas. Foggers are a great way to treat an entire room. Some foggers require you to leave the room for a few hours.
Carpet powder and carpet sprays help in getting deep in the carpet and then can be easily removed by using a vacuum. Adams™ Plus Flea & Tick Mist with Precor is a good product to use for those in between touch-ups. The majority of sprays are safe to use on surfaces, furniture and also on your pet. Make sure to treat your home before you treat your yard; if you treat your yard first then you run the risk of "chasing" fleas inside.
When treating your yard, it is best that you start as close to your home as possible and then work outward. This way the fleas will scatter outward away from your home. Try to treat all of your yard. If you live on a farm or have a larger yard, treat at least a 100 ft. radius around your home, as well as your pet's favorite areas around your property such as barn, kennel, favorite shade tree, etc. A yard spray is the most common and easiest way to treat your yard. Adams™ Plus Yard Spray can be hooked straight to your hose. Adams™ Plus Yard Spray kills and repels fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, crickets, and many more insects. One bottle will treat up to 5,000 sq. ft. and is safe to use around flowers.
Another great product which doesn’t get much attention is ANTidote™ 3-N-1 Biological Flea Control. ANTidote™ uses nematodes, which are microscopic parasites. ANTidote™ contains millions of beneficial nematodes which have been cultured to hunt, seek, and destroy fire ants, fleas, and fly and grub larvae. They enter their host through any opening and kill from the inside. The product must be used after the last freeze of winter. Simply mix the contents of the package with water and spray your yard.
Ultimately, when choosing a flea or tick product for your pet, know your ingredients. Know what is right for you, your home, your yard, your area, and most importantly your pet.
See also: Flea Wars - Part 2 - Demystifying Key Ingredients.
This information is to be used to help make an informed decision. Nothing here is meant to suppress, supplant, or supersede the advice or diagnosis of a qualified veterinarian. JeffersPet.com has no vet on staff and makes no claims to veterinary or medical training. Always consult your vet when making changes to your pets’ diet, or any treatment. Where opinions are expressed, they are the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of JeffersPet or Jeffers, Inc.