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Dog Articles

Dog Fleas and Treatments

You know how it is, your dog's scratching away and your wondering whether he's got fleas or perhaps the mozzies got him at night. Then, you start scratching yourself, and the characteristic pattern of three bites in a row (or possibly two if it was disturbed) appear on your skin. Yep, that's it, you've both got fleas! (and you now know how the dog feels because it itches like hell.)

So what are these fleas ? Well, there are two main species of fleas found in UK households - the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) (Cat Flea pictured above). The dog may have both species of flea present, but the most common is the cat flea and is able to breed on both dogs and cats.

In the old days, the flea season lasted from April to November, but with advent of central heating and carpets, fleas are now a year round problem.


Life Cycle

An adult flea typically lays about 30 eggs per day, which either fall off the dog or are laid in the carpet or bedding.

If you wish to start a flea breeding colony, hatching takes place in 1–10 days (dependent on temperature)

Once hatched, the larvae feed on organic debris in carpet or bedding and pupate in silk cocoons camouflaged by dirt and debris (this is why vacuuming is important). Once they pupate into adult fleas, they are hungry, very hungry and will jump onto the dog, cat or passing human and bite to feed off their blood.

The average adult flea lives for around 6 weeks and if not killed could produce 1200+ young - not bad if there was a market for fleas (I know, it's called a flea market ;-) )


Signs and symptoms of infestation

So, what are the signs of flea infestation ?

  • Visual signs: eg, flea and flea faeces in the fur - faeces will stain red if wet
  • Excessive scratching
  • Itching - the animal may rub against things to get relief
  • Loss of fur (due to excessive scratching)
  • Inflamed areas showing signs of bleeding, scabs etc
  • Excessive grooming - licking is soothing behaviour.
Associated problems
  • Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). This is an allergic reaction to proteins in flea saliva. Papules develop at the site of the flea bite and can cause severe itching.
  • Fleas can act as an intermediate host for the dog tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. {Tapeworm eggs can be ingested by flea larvae and a dog that happens to ingest an adult flea while grooming can subsequently develop tapeworms.
  • In young, old or sick dogs, anaemia can develop if there are too many fleas feeding on their blood.
  • Some dogs can develop secondary bacterial infections from flea bites, necessitating treatment with antibiotics.

Treatments


This necessitates a two-pronged attack. Some 90-95% of the fleas live off the animal - in its bedding or carpet, with only 5-10% being on the animal. This means that the furnishings, bedding etc needs to be treated as well as the dog. Regular vacuuming of carpets and bedding will reduce the debris the larvae need to feed off. Hot washing of bedding will also kill larvae and eggs. Steam cleaning of carpets and furnishings is also effective.



Environmental


Indorex Household Flea Spray - Contains the insect growth regulator pyriproxyfen and Permethrin. A single application lasts 12 months.

Staykill Household Flea Spray
- Contains the insect growth regulator cryomazine and Permethrin. A Single application lasts 6 months.

Vetkem Acclaim 2000 Flea Spray
- Contains the insect growth regulator S-methoprene and Permethrin. A Single application lasts 12 months.

All the environmental treatments are available off prescription :grin:


Dog treatment

Advantage+
Contains Imidacloprid - this binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the insect CNS and inhibiting cholinergic transmission. This results in a prolonged nerve impulse leading to excitation followed by paralysis and death of the parasite.
Available as 0.4ml (less than 4kg), 1ml (4-10kg), 2.5ml (10-25kg), 4ml (25kg+) spot-on pipettes.

Side-Effects/Cautions - Do not allow the contents to come into contact with the eyes or mouth of the user or dog.
The agent is bitter tasting and salivation may occasionally occur if the dog licks the application site immediately after treatment. This should not be taken as a sign of intoxication and should stop after a short time without treatment.


Advantix+

Contains Permethrin - this is a third-generation synthetic pyrethroid. It works by causing the sodium channels in the nerves to remain open which then triggers a continuous transmission of the nerve impulse. Also acts as a repellent. Also contains Imidacloprid (see Advantage)
Available as Advantix 40 (Dogs up to 4kg), Advantix 100 (4-10kg), Advantix 250 (10-25kg), Advantix 400 (25kg+) spot-on pipettes
Also effective against ticks - check dosing requirements

Side-Effects/Cautions
- The Permethrin component is extremely toxic to cats - keep cats away from treated dogs until the application site is dry. Do not allow the contents to come into contact with the eyes or mouth of the user or dog.
The agent is bitter tasting and salivation may occasionally occur if the dog licks the application site immediately after treatment. This should not be taken as a sign of intoxication and should stop after a short time without treatment.
Other side-effects in dogs include transient skin sensitivity (including increased itching, hair-loss and redness at the application site) or lethargy.
Poisoning following inadvertent oral uptake in dogs is unlikely but may occur in very rare cases. In this event, neurological signs such as tremor and lethargy can occur. Treatment should be symptomatic under veterinary medical attention. There is no known specific antidote.

The permethrin in the product is dangerous to aquatic organisms. Do not, under any circumstances, allow treated dogs to enter any type of surface water, such as ponds, for at least 48 hours after treatment.


Advocate

Contains Imidacloprid (binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the insect CNS and inhibiting cholinergic transmission. This results in a prolonged nerve impulse leading to excitation followed by paralysis and death of the parasite) & Moxidectin - interferes with parasite nerve transmission. Kills fleas within 20 minutes.
Also works on roundworm, heartworm, hookworm, whipworm & sarcoptic mange.
Available as 0.4ml (less than 4kg), 1ml (4-10kg), 2.5ml (10-25kg) and 4ml (25-40kg) spot-on pipettes.

Side-Effects/Cautions
- Do not allow the contents to come into contact with the eyes or mouth of the user or dog. Use with caution in sick, debilitated or underweight dogs.


Capstar


Contains Nitenpyram - this binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the insect CNS and inhibiting cholinergic transmission. This results in a prolonged nerve impulse leading to excitation followed by paralysis and death of the parasite.
Available as 11.4mg and 57mg tablets

Side-Effects/Cautions
- During the first hour following administration, the dog may scratch more than normal. This is caused by the way the product works on the fleas - it causes excitation in the fleas, which then move around the dog, irritating it.


Frontline


Contains Fipronil - this blocks the action of the neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid), resulting in rapid death of the flea. Adult fleas are killed before egg laying is possible.
Available as a spray or 0.67ml (less than 10 kg), 1.34ml (10-20kg), 2.68ml (20-40kg), 4.02ml (40-60kg) spot-on pipettes.
Also effective against ticks - check dosing requirements

Side-Effects/Cautions
- Do not allow the contents to come into contact with the eyes or mouth of the user or dog. If the dog inadvertently licks the product from the application area before it has dried, a brief period of hypersalivation may occur. This is mainly due to the alcoholic nature of the solvent. The duration or efficacy is not affected by bathing or water immersion from 48 hours after treatment. Do not allow dogs to enter ponds, lakes rivers etc for at least 24 hours after treatment.


Frontline Combo

Contains Fipronil - this blocks the action of the neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid), resulting in rapid death of the flea. Adult fleas are killed before egg laying is possible. Also contains S-methoprene, an insect growth regulator which stops the eggs or larvae from reaching adulthood.
Available as 0.67 ml (2-10 kg), 1.34 ml (10-20kg), 2.68 ml (20-40kg), 4.02 ml (40kg+) spot-on pipettes.
Also effective against ticks - check dosing requirements

Side-Effects/Cautions
- Do not allow the contents to come into contact with the eyes or mouth of the user or dog. Do not use on sick (systemic diseases, fever, etc) or convalescent dogs. Suspected adverse effects include reactions at the application site (skin discolouration, local hair-loss, itching, redness) and general itching or hair-loss have been reported after use. There could also be hypersalivation, reversible neurological signs (an increased sensitivity to stimuli, depression, other nervous signs), vomiting or respiratory signs have been observed after use.
If the dog inadvertently licks the product from the application area before it has dried, a brief period of hypersalivation may occur. This is mainly due to the alcoholic nature of the solvent. The duration or efficacy is not affected by bathing or water immersion from 48 hours after treatment. Do not allow dogs to enter ponds, lakes rivers etc for at least 24 hours after treatment.


Program

Contains Lufenuron - which is an insect development inhibitor. It prevents the flea larva hatching out from the egg and this breaks the flea lifecycle. Cruel isn't it :lol:
Available as 23.1mg, 67.8mg, 204.9mg and 409.8mg tablets

Side-Effects/Cautions
- The tablets must be administered together with food. The dog should be watched for several minutes following administration to ensure that the whole dose has been swallowed.


Program Plus

Contains Lufenuron plus milbemycin oxime (worming agent).
Available as: Red outer pack, tablets contain: 2.3mg milbemycin oxime and 46mg lufenuron (less than 4.5kg); Green outer pack, tablets contain: 5.75mg milbemycin oxime and 115mg lufenuron (5-11kg); Yellow outer pack, tablets contain: 11.5mg milbemycin oxime and 230mg lufenuron (12-22kg); White outer pack, tablets contain: 23mg milbemycin oxime and 460mg lufenuron (23-45kg)

Side-Effects/Cautions
- The tablets must be administered together with food. The dog should be watched for several minutes following administration to ensure that the whole dose has been swallowed.
Pale mucous membranes and increased intestinal peristalsis have been observed in some dogs following treatment. Some dogs treated with this product have displayed moderate and transitory hypersensitivity reactions, such as vomiting, laboured breathing, or excessive salivation. If you notice this or any other side effects, please report this to your vet.


Stronghold/Revolution

Contains Selamectin - facilitates the release of GABA (Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid) in the parasites’ nervous system. Also works on roundworm, heartworm, ear mites & sarcoptic mange. Related to Ivermectin - for some reason Collies and Collie breeds have a known hypersensitiviy to Ivermectin. Border Collies seem to be OK with Selamectin.
Available as 15mg, 30mg, 45mg, 60mg, 120mg and 240mg spot-on pipettes (Dose 6mg/kg)

Side-Effects/Cautions
- Transient clumping of fur at site of application, which should disappear within 24 hours. If applied to a site where it can be licked off, the dog may show short-term signs of hypersalivation.


Other Products

Other products are available from supermarkets and pet stores - shampoos, spot-ons and sprays. These tend to be permethrin based and are not as effective as the products only available on prescription. Permethrin-based treatments are not as persistent as the prescription only flea treatments and are hazardous to aquatic wildlife. It also washes off in heavy rain. Use with extreme caution if you have cats.

Non-chemical treatments are also available eg garlic, citronella oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil & cedar oil. These are all well know insect repellents.

+ - Effectiveness may be reduced if dog is subjected to prolonged, intense exposure to water such as a carwash :-P In cases of frequent water exposure the duration of activity may be reduced. You can retreat, but do not re-treat more frequently than once a week.

Notes: Most of the spot-ons migrate through the oils in the skin and give full cover within 24 hours - for dogs with dry skin problems, this mechanism may not give effective cover. There may be some absorption into the bloodstream. Stronghold and Advocate are designed to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Spot-ons normally use an alcohol as the solvent for the active ingredient, therefore apply away from naked flames and keep the dog away from sources of ignition for at least 30 minutes or until the application area is dry.

The treatments kill adult fleas on the dog within 24 hours. New fleas jumping on the dog from the surrounding untreated environment can still bite the dog but will die within 24 hours. The agents containing permethrin have a flea repellent action.


Some words of warning!

Dogs may have hypersensitivity to any of these chemicals. This means that they can potentially get life-threatening reactions following application to the animal or the environment. If they are going to react to the agent, this normally occurs within minutes of the second application, but may occur on the first treatment if they have met a similar chemical before. Following application of a spot-on, watch the dog for the first hour for any serious side-effects.

If you get a severe reaction to a spot-on or dog spray you have used, wash it off immediately (preferably within 30 minutes of application) using a conditioning shampoo and warm water and call the vet. If it is the environmental spray that's the cause of the problem, use a carpet shampooer for the flooring and wash the bedding thoroughly.

Treated animals should not be handled until the application site is dry. [/color]


Humans

OK, now that we've treated the dog and are happy that the fleas will die and no more will come back to avenge their mothers, your flea bites are itching like crazy.

You could try the natural way, using an ice pack, but the itching usually comes back once the area warms back up again :-( Someone I know swears by Eurax cream - he say's it's really marvellous for itching. They also do a more powerful form including hydrocortisone - Eurax HC (or you could try hydrocortisone cream on it's own); in either case apply sparingly.

Oral antihistamines are quite effective if you feel it is an "all over" itch or try a menthol based cream for the odd bite.


Also remember that humans may get allergic reactions to some of these chemicals, so if you become allergic to your dog, consider changing the treatment.


Hazard Warnings

So, how safe are these anti-flea chemicals ?

Here are some quotes:

Fipronil. There have been very few studies undertaken with human subjects, although human cells have been used in some carcinogenicity studies in which no adverse effects were detected.

Fipronil has been classified as a Group C (Possible Human) Carcinogen based on an increase in thyroid follicular cell tumours in both sexes of the rat. In contrast, thyroid tumours induced by fipronil in rats are not considered of relevance to human health in the UK.

Two Top Spot products were determined by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to pose no significant exposure risks to workers applying the product. However, concerns were raised about human exposure to Frontline spray treatment in 1996 leading to a denial of registration for the spray product. Commercial pet groomers and veterinarians were considered to be at risk from chronic exposure via inhalation and dermal absorption during the application of the spray, assuming that they may have to treat up to 20 large dogs per day.


Reference: New York State Dept. of Environment and Conservation, Division of Solid and hazardous materials, letter to Kandy Walker Duke, Rhône Merieux, Nov. 1996

http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/actives/fipronil.htm


Imidacloprid. Imidacloprid may be weakly mutagenic. In tests of the ability of imidacloprid to cause genetic damage submitted to the EPA as a part of the registration process, no evidence of genetic damage was found, or evidence only at high exposures. However, a new technique that looks at the ability of a chemical to cause genetic damage by chemically binding to DNA found that the imidacloprid insecticide Admire, increased the frequency of this kind of damage. DNA adducts (the binding of a chemical to DNA) were five times more common in calf thymus cells exposed to Admire than in unexposed cells.

Reproductive effects

Laboratory studies on imidacloprid have shown it can have an impact on reproduction. Imidacloprid fed to pregnant rabbits between the sixth and eighteenth days of pregnancy caused an increase in the frequency of miscarriages and an increase in the number of offspring with abnormal skeletons. These effects were observed at a dose of 72mg/kg per day. In rats, a two-generation feeding study found that rats fed imidacloprid gave birth to smaller offspring; their weight was reduced at a dose of 19 mg/kg per day.


http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Actives/imidaclo.htm


Methoprene. Methoprene is not considered as an oncogenic compound. The NOEL for non-carcinogen effects in an 18-month mouse study was 250ppm.

DEVELOPMENTAL/REPRODUCTIVE TOXICITY
Methoprene is not a teratogenic compound. The NOEL for maternal and embryo toxicity in rabbits was 200/mg/kg/day. The NOEL for reproductive effects in rats was 500 ppm.

MUTAGENICITY
Methoprene is not a mutagenic compound.


http://www.afpmb.org/pubs/standardli...-2495_msds.pdf


Permethrin. Large, toxic doses of permethrin, administered to laboratory animals, have produced central nervous system effects with symptoms that include diarrhea, salivation, bloody nose, tremors and intermittent convulsions. Overexposure to permethrin via inhalation also produced hyperactivity and
hypersensitivity.

Carcinogenic Potential: Permethrin: A statistically significant increase of lung and liver tumors was observed in female mice receiving diets containing 375 and 750mg/Kg/day over 85 weeks.


http://www.prentiss.com/msds/pdf/655_898.pdf


Piperonyl Butoxide. Marginally higher incidences of benign liver tumors in mice were observed following lifetime high dose exposures. The significance of this observation is questionable and under review. The doses at which tumors were observed greatly exceeded human dietary intake.

http://www.prentiss.com/msds/pdf/655_898.pdf


Selamectin. Carcinogen status: None of the components of this formulation are listed as a carcinogen by IARC, NTP or OSHA.

Reproductive effects: Treatment with selamectin resulted in reduced fertility (females only), and litter size, with a corresponding decrease in pup survival, in rats receiving the 60 mg/kg/day dose. An increase in the length of gestation was seen in animals receiving 25 and 60 mg/kg/day. Maternal toxicity was evident at 60 mg/kg/day.

Teratogenicity
: The offspring of rats treated with 40 and 60 mg/kg/day of selamectin showed an increased incidence of enlarged right atria, along with an increase in fibrin material in the thoracic cavity. Maternal toxicity was evident at 60 mg/kg/day but not at 40 mg/kg/day.


http://www.revolution4cats.com/docs/pdf/revo_msds.pdf


So, most of these agents show some detrimental effects - which shows that there's always a risk when introducing chemicals into a household. However, most people and their pets are not adversely affected when used carefully. There will be cases where both humans and pets are adversely affected eg allergies or other reactions and in these cases use of that or a related chemical must be stopped and it would be wise to shampoo the dog and carpets.

Assuming that the agents are all right with the dog and it's owners, reducing the application frequency slightly will help reduce the background concentration of the chemical. If it is a monthly spot-on, istead of applying it every month, apply every 5 weeks. Alternatively, if your dog doesn't suffer from FAD, apply only if the dog gets fleas. If used in conjunction with annual treatment of furnishings and carpets with S-methoprene, any laid flea eggs won't hatch, so your flea infestation won't be long-lived.

Also, frequent vacuuming of carpets and bedding will remove any debris, reducing flea larvae fodder material.

In the final analysis, each owner needs to feel happy and comfortable with what they are doing. Hopefully the above analysis will aid them to make an informed choice.

Your comments and views:
Shadowboxer
Fondly Remembered
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 7,358
Female  Diamond Supporter 
 
05-10-2005, 05:06 AM
A comprehensive and informative article. Thank you Roy.
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Meg
Supervisor
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 49,340
Female  Diamond Supporter 
 
05-10-2005, 09:47 AM
A very interesting and informative article thank you Roy. It is useful to see the side effects of these treatments noted too.
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Annestaff
Supervisor
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 27,478
Female  Diamond Supporter 
 
08-10-2005, 02:23 PM
A well written informatve article Roy. Lots of useful information that I'm sure will be of benifit to people.
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Lucky Star
Dogsey Veteran
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 20,089
Female 
 
21-10-2005, 01:46 PM
An interesting article Roy, thank you.
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Kelly7
Dogsey Junior
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 79
Female 
 
28-06-2006, 08:40 PM
Thank you this was a very helpful read!
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nichola
Dogsey Senior
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 392
Female 
 
07-10-2006, 07:56 AM
Thank you very much all the information I needed, great!
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windza
New Member!
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 3
Female 
 
16-04-2009, 04:50 AM
thank you this was very interesting
but i have tried everything
can i give the dog garlic pills
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tommy12
New Member!
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 3
Male 
 
28-01-2010, 11:37 AM
I give my dog 5 Garlic pills every morning This seems to keep the flees at bay and my dog loves them. At one time I stopped giving her the pills because I had used them all and low and behold the flees appeared. I suggest you keep your dog on Garlic pills. The flees don't seem to like it up 'em.
Tommy 12
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readalot
New Member!
Joined: Jul 2010
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Female 
 
18-07-2010, 09:28 PM
Thank you for the great advice, ive not got my puppy yet but thought it would be a good idea to read up on the flea problem.
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