5 Reasons Your Flea Medication Isn’t Working

 flea medication

Many clients of Guthrie Pet Hospital are suffering from flea infestation, because of the increased moisture and humidity that we are experiencing this year.  Dr. Anna Coffin will explain the flea life cycle and discuss reasons why your flea medication isn’t working.


Flea Life Cycle

There are four stages of the fleas life cycle:  Adult flea, larvae, pupae, and egg.  For an in-depth look at the flea life cycle see Dr. Anna Coffin’s article What’s lurking in your yard?.  If you are experiencing problems with flea medication not working it may be due to the flea life cycle.  These points are usually where the problem lies.

  • Once an adult flea emerges from the pupae and finds a host, it will live on that host it’s entire life.  Fleas don’t jump from one pet to another. Adult fleas come from the environment.
  • Adult fleas start to lay eggs just 24 hours after their first meal.  One flea can lay fifty eggs every day.  Because of its egg-laying capacity, the adult flea only consists of 5% of the flea population.  95% of the flea population is the eggs, larvae, and pupae that live in the environment.
  • Depending on temperature and humidity, the flea life cycle can take three to eight weeks, and sometimes more, for all life stages to develop and be killed.
  • The pupae are in a protective cocoon that is resistant to all chemicals.

Reasons Your Flea Medication Isn’t Working

  1. Not treating the source of the infestation: The fleas on your pet came from eggs that have hatched in the environment.  Find the source and treat it or reduce your pet’s exposure to the area.  Common sources of infestation include your home, yard, and parks.
  2.  Improper application of flea medication:  It’s important to read the directions for flea medications, especially topical products.  Some oral flea medications require a full meal to be absorbed.  Some topical flea medication may not work as effective if you bathe your pet or if your pet swims.  Topical products should be applied directly to the skin and in a two-inch area between the shoulder blades.
  3. Misunderstanding how flea medication works:  Most flea medication do not repel fleas, so new fleas from the environment can and will jump on your pet to feed.  Flea medications kill fleas either by direct contact or from the flea feeding on your pet.  Research the product you are using so that you know how fast it will start killing fleas.  Some products start killing fleas within 30 minutes, and some can take 24 hours or more.
  4. Not using a fast kill flea medication or one with an insect growth regulator:  It is important to either start killing fleas before they can lay eggs or use a flea medication that kills the eggs.  Stopping the flea life cycle is important.
  5. It takes time:  Your Flea infestation did not happen in a day and will not resolve in a few days.  In fact, it can take three to eight weeks, that is two months, for all stages of the flea cycle to be fully developed and mature.  Flea medication must be given as directed for at least two months. 

Successful Flea Treatment

Dr. Anna Coffin says that successful flea control begins with prevention.  Flea medication, used properly, is the best way to prevent an infestation in your home all year around i.  If you have a flea infestation, it is important to treat all pets in your house, even if they don’t go outside and treat your home and yard. [Tweet “If you have a flea infestation, you must treat all pets in your home and the environment.”]

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