Flea control – is your practice effective?

Flea infestations in dogs and cats throughout the UK are common, with as many as 10% of dogs and 20% of cats being affected. The surprising thing is that as many as half their owners are unaware of the problem.

Posted: 14 May 2018

Flea control – is your practice effective?

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Unsuccessful parasite prevention – the problem

Flea are a common concern among pet owners, so why is it that flea control is ineffective in so many homes? The answer is that parasite prevention is poor, and this happens for a number of reasons;

  • Ineffective products – the Internet, Social Media and price influence many people. As a result ineffective products are often bought.
  • Products applied incorrectly - too many of us don’t read instructions or labels. It’s human nature to try to take short cuts, and as a result the preventative treatment is not applied correctly. Often, ‘spot-on’ drops are dribbled across the hair and not applied to the skin itself. The drops are often applied at intervals that are inappropriate.
  • Overlooking treatment at all life stages – if we do this we are only treating the tip of the iceberg. The adult flea represents just a fraction of the whole flea population in the house. It’s so important to stress to your pet owners that they MUST treat all stages of the life cycle, otherwise it just continues.
  • Perceived as expensive - most pet owners want to do the best but may think that veterinary products are too expensive. Make sure you know the products available from pet shops and supermarkets so you can explain the difference in efficacy.
  • Forgetfulness – many owners are only reminded to buy parasite treatments when they see a flea. It’s for this reason that it’s so important to explain why preventive health care is necessary, practical and cost effective.
  • Ignorance – many clients still believe preventive treatment is only required in summer. It’s essential that they know that fleas are an all year round problem.

Effective owner compliance – 12 top tips

  1. Keep it simple – be clear with your communication and use simple, everyday language.
  2. Be consistent with messages – ensure marketing materials and staff are reliable and accurate.
  3. Let your clients know - it’s worth stressing the importance of using an effective treatment, and generally these tend to be the POM’s. The efficacy and comparison of treatments available from the veterinary practice and other retailers should be highlighted.
  4. Educate your clients – explain to your clients how to use the preventative treatment correctly, especially in terms of how and when to apply them. Demonstrate how to apply or administer parasite prevention treatment. Remind them that poor treatment application can affect the efficacy of treatment.
  5. CPD is important – do all your staff know and appreciate all the flea control products on offer? Use some of the free CPD available from most of the drug manufacturers to educate everyone within the practice.
  6. Use reminders - effective owner communication involves verbal face-to-face, postal, telephone and email reminders. Incorporate simple treatment plans to remind clients when their pets are due for preventive treatments. The methods of communication are almost limitless and many cost just a few pennies.
  7. Treat all year round – don’t just talk about flea control in the summer. Talk about it in the winter as well, and ensure your patients are protected 12 months of the year
  8. Treat everyone – all pets in the household need to be treated, not just the one in the clinic with the skin problem. Check how many cats and dogs, and make sure they are all prescribed treatment.
  9. Treat everywhere – basically anywhere the animals go needs to be treated. That means upstairs, downstairs, the conservatory and the car.
  10. Use bespoke treatment plans – talk with your clients and find out their budget, pet numbers, home details and try to formulate their unique treatment and prophylaxis plan.
  11. Clean the house – don’t forget to encourage the owner to vacuum all areas around the home to pick up and remove eggs and larvae.
  12. Write it down – it helps if the owner goes away with their plan in writing. They are more likely to stick to the plan when it’s in black and white.

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