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Flea treatment for our pets.... Answered

I recently had to move house and within two weeks of settling in my cats got attacked by fleas while outside.
All the years they had not a single tick or flea so I did not pay too much attention until I spotted the first flea.
Needless to say that once you spot one there are many hiding already...
From past experience with my dog I did not trust the over the counter flea collars and decided to go to my vet.
They recommended Frontline for the treatment, plus a flea bomb to treat the house and washing everything the cats like to sleep on.
Came to just under $100AU - ouch...
Mind you I have hardwood floors here, so I was quite confident the bomb would could kill all what might remain inside.
The cats were kept indoors too to prevent new fleas finding them outside.
Well, after two weeks of daily combing for fleas the problem did not get better - it got worse!
Seemed they were having parties on my cats.
Back to the vet to complain I was told it might take a bit longer to show the desired results.
Hmmm, treatment every 4 weeks and after 2 weeks nothing happened??
On the way out an old couple with their two maltesers stopped me and said that they already gave up on Frontline and most other products as the fleas around here are resistant to the meds.
They now only use Neem oil that is massaged into the skin and fur of their dogs.
Sadly my cats would rather scratch me into meat strips then to let get near them with the oil.
So I did some asking around with my friend Google and the story of the old folks seems to be confirmed for most parts of Australia anyway.
Most flea collars and over the counter meds might still work to keep fleas away but not anymore to actually treat your pet once infected with more than a handful of fleas.
And yes, I am aware of those sprays claiming to kill all fleas instantly but I also know cats like to clean themself and don't like the idea of them liking the spray off the fur.

After some more digging I found out that Selamectin is still working and that works in several ways to control fleas and other parasites like heartworm and such.
You can look it up on Wiki if you like.
What I like about this med is the fact that fleas are really filthy things eating their own excremts.
Since the poo is usually everywhere in the fur and hard to remove it makes the killing even easier.
Plus in all spots where fles might be hiding but have noone to feed on they still eat their own ..... and die off.
My vet only had Revolution available at a price of almost 25 bucks per single dose - no thank you...
Instead I decided to bite the bullet and try one of the many online pharmacies for pet supplies.
Here I found "Stronghold" containing the above Selamectin similar to Revolution in concetration (bit higher though)...
The website stated to expect about 4 weeks for the delivery being xmas season and so on.
For me that meant cleaning everything again, using a normal insect bomb again and a last round of washing the cats caves and other items of interest.
To my surprise the parcal arrived ten days later, bit banged up but contents still fine.
All up the time for the Frontline was over anyway and instead of paying again for a useless treatment I gave the new stuff a try.
This was now two weeks ago and here is my summary:

Unlike treating with Frontline my cats actually tolerated the application without going mad, the smell is much more pleasant.
Did not expect anything to happen the first day and it takes a while to dry off the furr anyway so they got a day free of the dreaded flea comb.
During the first week there was little to no indication of anything good happening but it was to be expected as it takes up to 10 days to build up in the blood as well.
On day eight I had my first dead fleas in the comb and from here it got more every day.
Mostly the adults while the smaller ones still seemd to be active.
To the end of the second week I also got dead young ones in the comb indicating the promised break preventing them to grow up actually works.
I will still monitor the process and keep up with monthly treatments during the summer.
So you might see an update or two later on.

How to properly treat your pet and enviroment once you noticed a flea problem.
First: Don't panic!
If you have carpet or your pets literally go everyhwere like your bed, sofa and so on you want to combine your effords to avoid a fresh infestation from hatching eggs.
Ask around or check online if standard meds still have the desired effect in your local area, if not go for a product that does instead of wasting time and money!
Spray treatments or insect bombs can work quite well to control what's left behind by your pet but you need to be aware of the life cycle of the pest in question.
For most, including fleas, this means a single treatment might not do the trick.
See it that way:
You treat the animal, clean everything you can and also kill whatever crawls around.
But there is still unhatched eggs and living fleas on your pet.
So you need or better should repeat the house treatment 8 to 14 days later to get rid of whatever hatched.
Garden beds or just your lawn can be a source of problem too, here Neem oil seems to do the trick quite well but you can use other products from your local garden center as well.
What kills most harmful insects out there on your plant will do similar on fleas.
To get the timing of all treatments right you might want to start on your pet and use a good, normal clean for the house and fabrics.
Once you see the fleas go dead on your pet treat the rest.
This way you can be sure all fles that make it onto your pet won't survive or produce more viable eggs.
Now use whatever suits you to remove or kill the eggs, larvea and crawling fleas around you.
If done right and the meds take care of eggs too you won't have any further problems.
Regular checks should be done anyway and if you already know fleas are a problem in your area then please continue the treatment on your pet until the season is over.

Things you might want to know to calm down a bit and prevent panic:
Fleas on your pet are usually only biting them but not you.
This does not mean they won't try if you have hundreds of them crawling in your bed.
But they won't stay on you and it takes a good amount of bad luck to get bitten instead of just noticing something crawls on you.
So the risk of getting some weird desease from an accidental flea bit is slim.

When to be careful with a flea infestation?
If you are allergic to their excrements or have an otherwise compromised immune system the dust containing flea excrements can cause reactions.
So if your pets got you a lot of fleas and you notice breathing problems, red skin areas or itching you should contact your GP to discuss the problem and possible options.
Short term a normal paper face mask like used for dust will help, same for anti-histamines if it is an allergic reaction.
The best cause of action is to use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter on everything that might get into contact with your pets.
A standard vacuum cleaner will pick up the extremets too but just blows it out the other end making things far worse.


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4 years ago

Or you could just get a snake - one wipe with a warm damp cloth, all skin parasites gone...


Reply 4 years ago

I had a big python years agon and the cats got along well with it.
Although I never let them all run free in the same room due to being concerned the cats might injure the snake.
They are costly when it comes to the vet...