Dealing with fleas is an everyday thing for veterinary professionals, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy fix. And flea prevention for young puppies and kittens can be especially tricky, so here are some tips from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center to make the task a bit easier.
While it may seem simple, bathing with a liquid dishwashing detergent and following with a good flea combing is an effective method to remove fleas from puppies and kittens.
Bathing and flea combing do not provide long-term protection from fleas, but if the patient is going to be moved into a flea-free environment these are good options, particularly for very young, small or sick patients.
We know that 90% of the developing flea population is not found on animals but instead in the environment. Veterinary hospitals and shelters are not very hospitable to developing fleas due to the lack of carpet, but if the patients are in a foster home or there is a communal yard, environmental flea control should be considered.
First, owners or foster parents should ensure that other resident dogs and cats are on flea control. If a yard is available, it should be treated for fleas on a regular basis.
All bedding should be washed regularly, particularly bedding that is shared by animals. In the clinic or shelter setting any rugs, towels, etc. should be washed or vacuumed regularly.
The number of flea control products on the market is daunting. If the animals are younger than eight weeks, however, the list suddenly becomes a lot shorter.
Currently there are only two ingredients labeled for use in puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age.
Nitenpyram is an oral insecticide that kills adult fleas. It may be labeled for use in kittens and puppies four weeks old and at least two pounds. Nitenpyram’s effects only last for one to two days, but it can be given as often as every 24 hours.
Lufenuron is an insect growth regulator that comes in an injectable or oral form. It may be labeled for puppies as young as four weeks and kittens as young as six weeks of age.
Lufenuron prevents flea eggs from maturing into adult fleas, and its effects may last from one to six months depending on the formulation used. Due to its limited effect on fleas, it may not be sufficient alone for complete flea control.
Veterinarians can speak with companies to get more information about using flea treatments on young patients and/or prescribing products extra label for unique situations.