I find all the information on flea products confusing as to what works best and what is the best value. Can you give me advice to help once and for all?
To do the best job possible with flea control, it is important to understand the life cycle of a flea. The adult flea that you see on your pet is only one to five percent of all the fleas found in your pet's environment. The majority are in the egg, larvae, and pupae form, and are very hard to detect with the naked eye.
The adult flea hatches out of the pupae and hops onto the host and spends the rest of its short two-week life on the pet. The other three stages are in your carpet, beds, couches and yard, after the ground warms in the spring. The pupae stage is the most difficult to treat as it is very resistant to most chemicals, and can stay in this latent state for an extended period of up to a year, while waiting for the proper conditions to hatch.
The most effective flea prevention is in place before the season starts. The treatment also needs to attack the egg and larvae stages (80% of household flea population). Products that treat these stages are often termed "IGR" or insect growth regulators. When these products are fed to your pet or placed on their skin, they are ingested by the biting flea (which gets a blood meal within 30 seconds of jumping on an animal). The chemicals in these IGR's affect the "chitin" in a flea, which is their external skeleton. This is a substance that neither man nor animal has and this makes this chemical extremely safe for us! Within a 30 day period, if there are fleas present in the environment, these products
The old insecticide flea collars that only killed adults were never effective, but there are wonderful IGR collars out now, that work extremely well and are a lost cost way to treat those indoor cats.
If time slips away from you and you find your house in the middle of a flea infestation in July, be assured that there are some new safe alternatives that kill adult fleas only by attacking their nervous system, and that leave the pets' body quickly with no residual action. After you have treated the environment also, you can quickly put your preventative into place.
One last note: Cats are extremely sensitive to many types of insecticides sold over the counter. Read the label carefully or just wait and call your veterinarian for the best treatment recommendations. You will save lots of money in the long run!