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Why doesn’t my pet’s flea product work any more?

I only put the stuff on the back of his neck last week and there’s heaps of fleas – why doesn’t this stuff work anymore?!

Sound familiar? It does to us – I hear this at Lamington Terrace Vet Surgery all the time.And yes, I do agree that some products don’t work as well as others and some maybe don’t seem to be working as well as they used to.

But… usually the efficacy of the product (or how well it works) is just fine – there is just some other contributing factor that may be affecting it. Some of the common things that can reduce the effectiveness are

  • Frequent swimming – especially in salt water
  • Frequent bathing – especially with medicated shampoos – if your pet has been prescribed a medicated shampoo for a skin condition, you should switch to one of the oral flea control tablets
  • Incorrect application dose or application technique – “splitting” tubes of spot on into 2 doses is a common problem; I actually find some spot on products can be difficult to apply really well especially in really short haired dogs – I find it tends to want to dribble off.
  • Incorrect re-application interval – the idea of regular application is to continue the level of the active ingredient at a concentration that will kill fleas before they get a chance to feed and lay eggs. If the flea takes a bit longer to die then it can already have produced a couple of hundred eggs that will all become fleas in a further 6 weeks or so.
  • Some dogs have a defective “barrier function” of their skin and this can affect how some spot on products distribute over the body. These patients need a different type of flea control.

More often than not, however, the fleas are “hitch hikers”! Yep, just looking for a free ride back to your place!They jump on your dog when you’re out walking, you notice them once you’re back home.If you’re flea control programme is a good one then these fleas will be dead before they get a chance to lay eggs. The problem with most hitch hiker fleas is that they come in on a friend’s pet or a stray cat that wanders through your yard.

If these animals don’t have good flea control then they act like little salt shakers and as they move, flea eggs fall off them into the environment. Then, depending on the weather, in a matter of weeks or months you have a big hatching of fleas into the environment.

Remember that 95% of the flea life cycle is spent OFF the animal, in the environment.

I hope this has given you some food for thought about flea control. There are so many products out there claiming to be the best flea control but what works best really does depend on your individual situation