Choosing the right flea treatment


By Dr. Francesca Matthews 

Overwhelmed by Choice?


ALWAYS seek the advice of your animal health professional prior to purchasing any flea product


As veterinarians working in practice we get to see many animals with flea problems, which, in most cases, owners are not aware of and many that have already been treated with a flea product. 

From that you will realise that not all flea treatments are equal and the requirements of your pet will vary depending on a number of things such as age, size, whether they are pregnant or lactating, whether they need cover for lice and/or ticks and whether they have a flea allergy.



Veterinarians are trained scientists


I know some of you reading this will think that this article is written by a veterinarian and therefore they will only promote what they stand to make money on and I can understand how this feeling might come about, however it is important to remember that veterinarians are trained scientists and use, promote and sell products that are backed up scientifically. They are also the ones that see the product failures, when a client visits with a pet with a skin problem related to fleas, despite recent treatment with a product not recommended by their veterinarian.

Before giving any flea, worm or other over the counter treatments to your pet you should consult with us. Veterinarians and their qualified support staff, are the only animal health professional qualified to give advice on the best product for your pet. We will be able to back up product claims and give reasons why the other product you used or thought you might use is in fact inferior.

How to choose?

You need to seek answers to a number of questions. Some questions that you might need answers to, and these will vary depending on your pet and its location:

  • Does the product you intend to use stop other stages of development in the flea life cycle, other than controlling adult fleas? For example does it stop egg, larval and pupal development?
  • How long does the product have a claim for, before it needs to be reapplied?
  • Does it kill other external parasites such as lice or ticks? (The relevance of this will depend on your situation and location which your veterinarian can discuss with you)
  • Does the product have any claim on internal parasites? This may or may not be a requirement for you and your pet.
  • Does the product have a claim against ear mites? This is important for pets that have a problem with ears mites.
  • What is the minimum age and size the product can be used on?
  • Does the product just stay in the skin, or does it get right into the body? What you want here depends on the claims of the product, which again your veterinarian can explain to you.
  • What is the safety margin of the product? That is, how many times can you overdose your pet without causing side effects? I know you don't plan to overdose your pet, but if a product has a high safety margin, this indicates the active ingredient is lowly toxic, which is surely better for your pet in the long term.


Please see us to find out what the best flea treatment to serve the needs of your pet and your household is. We will make honest recommendations, individually tailored to your situation.


Should I treat my cat and dog against fleas all year round?


The answer to this is YES.

While fleas are less prevalent in the cooler months of the year, they are still seen. 

One adult flea can translate in to up to 2000 eggs in optimal conditions, which becomes 2000 larvae, 200 pupae and 2000 adults. Carry on doing the multiplication from that and the numbers are pretty scary!

Although the cooler months are not optimal conditions for the flea life cycle it still continues, albeit at a slower rate. However, as our houses get warmer, with better insulation, the inside environment still continues to provide optimal conditions for flea development during the cooler months. In addition, the pupae can survive non-optimal conditions and remain dormant for some months waiting for optimal conditions to return and then you have an explosion of fleas as soon as optimal conditions return.


Continued treatment of your pets against fleas through the cooler months ensures the life cycle is kept in check and your pets and your house remain free of fleas.


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