Adult fleas (the biting stage) spend almost their entire life on the dog, not in the carpet. Eggs are laid on the dog's fur and fall off into carpeting, under cushions, and wherever else your dog sleeps, lies down or spends time. They can lie dormant for many months until the conditions (moisture, temperature) cause them to hatch (eggs incubate best in high humidity and temperatures of 65-80 degrees). After hatching, the eggs transform into larvae, pupae, and eventually adults to renew the cycle.
Nearly 60% of the fleas in someone's home at a given point are in the larval stage. Larvae are like little caterpillars crawling around grazing on any flea dirt in their area. Flea dirt is the feces of the adult flea, which also falls off your dog along with the eggs.
After molting 3 times, the larvae spin a little cocoon and become pupae, eventually developing into adult fleas. Pupae are impervious to all available home insecticides. Pupae hang around (read: months) until the conditions are right... then when they sense a footstep, they hatch and jump onto a warm body (you or your dog) to complete the cycle.
If your dog has terrible allergies to fleas, how about using one of the products like Program (Just for fleas) or Sentinel (For both Heartworm and fleas). (One or the other, not both.)
Both of these products contain Lufenuron, which works by preventing eggs from hatching. This breaks the life-cycle of the flea. Once used, you'll never get more than a couple of adult fleas on the dogs, and any eggs they produce won't hatch. Both Program and Sentinel must be given on a full stomach in order to work!
Another product that works in the same way is the egg stopping collar. It works the same way in preventing the egg from hatching. Unlike conventional flea collars, these contain methoprene or pyriproxyfen which prevent egg hatch for several months. Thus, the overall effect is much like Lufenuron.
One brand available through veterinarians is the Ovitrol/Ovitrol Plus Flea Egg Collar; OTC brands include the Fleatrol Flea Egg Collar and Relieve Collar, which are supposedly sold in pet stores and discount chains. Carefully read the package of the collar to verify that methoprene or pyriproxyfen is present.
Once put on, the egg-inhibiting substance releases from the collar and distributes over the hair of the dog, killing flea eggs on contact. This breaks the life cycle and infestations never become established. These collars are said to be 100% effective at preventing flea eggs from hatching for at least 6 months on both dogs (and cats).
I have no experience with using the collar, but I have used the Lufenuron (Both Program and Sentinel at different times) and it worked great.
To GET RID of adult FLEAS off of your dog right away, you can give him a flea bath, or use a product called Capstar. Capstar is an oral medication that begins killing fleas in 20 minutes. It does not last beyond the few hours that it is in the pet's system.
Combine these approaches with a topical insecticide (like Advantage, Advantix, Frontline or Frontline Plus) to kill adults and you probably wont have problems with fleas. Any fleas that do jump on your dog (from other dogs or the environment) will not produce more fleas, and the insecticide will kill the adults pretty quickly. With our non-allergic dog on Sentinel, we never had to have a collar or other insecticide for fleas -- just for ticks. But that's another page.
Information for this article was combined from many sources and personal experience.
Particularly good sources for information were
Mar Vista Vet, Novartis (Sentinel and Capstar) and Placerville (CA) vet websites.
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