Flea Treatment

Household Flea Treatment

Vacuuming: The household should be thoroughly vacuumed twice weekly. Special attention should be given to areas where the pet lounges or sleeps and high (pet) traffic areas. Areas to be considered: under beds, under sofas, closets (for cat owners), areas in front of the doors, and stairs. Don’t forget to vacuum the furniture! The vacuum bag should be emptied or discarded after each vacuuming. Do not put mothballs or flea collars in the vacuum. That may result in toxic fumes being emitted from the vacuum. The vibrations and heat generated by the vacuum will cause fleas to hatch so increased numbers of adult fleas may be seen after vacuuming. A house premise spray is recommended is this case.

Typically, new fleas will be seen within four days after flea adulticide treatment. This fact will lead many clients into thinking the flea product was not powerful enough or did not work at all.

Liquid Sprays/Foggers: Household flea treatment may initially include a combination of foggers and sprays followed by sprays alone. Foggers are good for the first application but, regardless of label claims, few have residual action against fleas. The first application should include a Dursban®/pyrethrin/PreCor® (Insect Growth Regulator) combination of liquid spray that kills both fleas and roaches combined with foggers. The Dursban® spray in the house gives a good residual action and the pyrethrin gives a good “flushing” action. “Flushing” disorganizes the insect’s nervous system and makes them run madly out of hiding places allowing the Dursban® to kill them. Use the spray on carpeted areas and on and under furniture. Application should be as if you are “painting” the floors, starting in the back of the room working to the front. Do not walk on the floor for thirty minutes after spraying to allow for drying. After the floors are dry, all is safe. Repeat treatments every week for four treatments and monthly thereafter. Adams® and BioSpot® flea and tick carpet spray contain Linalool, Nylar (Pyriproxyfen) and Permethrin. Linalool is a plant derivative found in many plants including mint, lavender, basil, cinnamon and rosewood it is effective against fleas and roaches. Pyriproxyfen is a pyrimidine derivative which prevents the larvae developing into adulthood and stops reproduction. Permethrin is a neurotoxin which kills insects and ticks. It is highly toxic to cats and fish .

Powders: Powders are difficult to apply properly in the home. Fleabusters® is a boric acid powder and claims to kill flea larvae for 12 months if applied correctly. First remove all shoes, toys and other items from the floor, under beds, closet floors. Next cover electrical equipment and aquaria and remove pets from the room. Vacuum all carpeted surfaces and furniture. Sprinkle the powder lightly over the floor, under furniture and inside closets, paying particular attention to the areas the pet uses most. Brush the powder into the carpet thoroughly until it disappears. Work the power into sofa and chairs. Do not vacuum for at least 24 hours. Residual adult flea activity may be seen for 2 – 6 weeks.

Pet Flea Treatments

Shampoos: Flea shampoos contain various insecticides that are variably effective. The primary use of a shampoo is to remove fleas that are present on the animal at the time of shampooing. For this to be effective, the shampoo should contact the pet for at least ten minutes before rinsing. Shampoos are generally considered safe products, but the label should be read. Use a shampoo only on the animal (e.g., cat, dog, etc.) for which it is labeled.

Powders: Powders can be effective insecticides on cats and dogs. They are easy to apply: shake a small amount of powder onto the skin over the base of the tail and gently work down to the skin. We recommend using powders diluted to fifty percent concentration for young puppies and kittens. Baby powder or cornstarch can be used to dilute insecticide powder.

Rinses: Rinses apply insecticides all over the animal. The main advantage of a rinse is the longer residual action of the parasiticide compared to a shampoo. Always follow label instructions, make sure the product is properly diluted, wear gloves during application, and apply in a well-ventilated area. Rinses are applied by first bathing the pet, towel drying the pet, and then using a sponge to apply the properly diluted product.

Sprays: Most sprays are now pump sprays. These can be quite effective as flea control agents, depending upon the active ingredient of the product. Sprays should be applied once to twice weekly, and in some endemic areas, every day after the animal comes in from the outdoors. It is not necessary to totally soak the animal. A word of caution: many cats do not like sprays.

Foams: Flea foams consist of an insecticide in a foam base. These products are excellent for spot treatment of cats that are afraid of the noisier sprays. The foam is dispensed into a (latex) gloved hand and then the foam is gently rubbed into the hair coat – over the base of the tail, rear aspects of the hind legs, neck, face, and stomach areas.

Pour-ons: Several products (with different ingredients) applied as a “pour-on” are commercially available in North America, and include:

  1. Pro-Spot®, Miles- contains fenthion, a potent organophosphate insecticide that is approved only for use in dogs. The product is labeled to be applied every two weeks. To reduce the risk for toxicosis, other organophosphate insecticides should not be administered or applied if the animal is being treated with this product.
  2. Defend™ Coopers Animal Health- contains permethrin that is a synthetic pyrethrin. It is approved for use on dogs only (NO CATS) and labeled for use at intervals of at least one week. These products can be quite effective when used in conjunction with other flea control products. They do not prevent the flea from biting the animal, so if the animal is allergic to flea bites and has constant exposure to fleas, they will not prevent the signs of allergies.