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About Fleas

Fleas are small dark brown insects that can cause major irritation and transmit diseases to your pet and even potentially to yourself. Every dog and cat as well as rabbits can catch fleas, so they should all be protected.

Fleas are caught from other animals and from hatching pupae in the environment, so it is particularly important to guard against fleas if your pet goes outside or visits pet shops. The flea only spends a short time of its life cycle on our pets. This is why it is so difficult to control them.

  • Adult fleas spend most of their time living on animals. Females can lay more than 60 eggs per day after a blood meal. Even a single flea can quickly cause a major infestation.
  • Flea eggs fall off your pet into the home where they hatch into larvae and grow into insecticide-resistant pupae.
  • The pupae can lie dormant for up to a year before adult fleas hatch out.
  • Hatching is stimulated by vibration, warmth or carbon dioxide from a nearby animal.

The best environmental conditions for flea reproduction and survival include temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius and humidity greater than 70%. Hong Kong is a flea heaven!

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

If your cat or dog is scratching itself, it may have fleas. The scratching is caused by an allergic reaction to saliva from the bite of the flea, not by the irritation of the skin as the flea moves around. For a pet with sensitive skin even one bite from a flea can cause problems. When a flea bites a person it often causes raised red spot that can be very itchy.

  • Dogs are most commonly affected over the lower back and around the top of the tail. The dog damages the skin when biting, licking or rubbing the area irritated by the fleas. Damage from the teeth and licking can cause severe hair loss ,scabs and even bleeding
  • Cats also damage their skin by licking flea bites excessively, causing a wide variety of symptoms. We often see multiple raised small lumps or scabs over the back and neck. with extensive hair loss over the whole body
  • Rabbits become intensely scratchy and may even pull out their hair.

In all pets the skin damage caused by fleas can lead to secondary bacterial skin infections. If your pet has other allergies, fleas will make the resulting skin disease much worse. Fleas can also pass on other problems to your pet, such as tapeworms. Occasionally disease from fleas can even be transmitted to humans, resulting in cat scratch fever see cats and parasites. In rare cases this can be a serious condition.

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention is better than cure; there are safe and easy ways to protect your pet from fleas. We recommend the use of Spot On products for flea control. These products are applied once a month to the skin on the back of your pet’s neck.

  • Frontline works rapidly, killing 98-100% of fleas in 24 hours. Frontline is highly effective for at least one month after use. Frontline Combo or Frontline Plus also prevent the development of eggs into immature fleas
  • Frontline works by being absorbed through the skin and stored in glands below the skin. The product is then slowly drawn up onto the hair over a sustained period of time. You should not bath your pet for 48 hours before or after using Frontline.
  • Do not use Frontline on rabbits
  • Revolution takes a little longer, 72 hours, to kill fleas. Revolution also stops fleas multiplying, by preventing the development of eggs and immature fleas.
  • Revolution is absorbed through the skin and then distributed via the blood circulation back into the skin. Both products are waterproof 48 hours after application. Note that Revolution should be used for rabbits.
What about other products?

There is a huge variety of other products such as flea collars, powders and shampoos available for flea control in pet shops. We advise you not to use them as they are not as effective or persistent and in some cases are very toxic to animals or humans!

Many products sold in pet shops, or over the internet, have not undergone proper testing for efficacy or safety.  Permethrin, a common anti-flea product for dogs sold in pet shops, is very toxic to cats. When a cat sleeps or is in close contact with a dog treated with permethrin it can cause seizures and death. Permethrin is also quickly inactivated by sunlight and only works for a short period so it is not even very useful for dogs! Other products may contain organophosphates and carbamates, which are toxic to all mammals and can damage the environment.

Plant extracts are sold for their "natural pesticide capacity". However, caution should be used with these products, which are not safe just because they are derived from plants. The extraction and purification processes are not standardised and may result in adverse reactions to one "batch" of product. Many of the claims made for such products are unsupported by science. Even garlic, recommended as a flea repellent by some people, can be very dangerous to pets.

Frontline and Revolution have excellent clinical results, with reports and history showing a high degree of safety.


It is very easy to prevent transmission of fleas. At Hung Hom Veterinary Clinic we can advise you of the best method for protecting your pets and your family because we care for what matters. When you purchase flea control products from our clinic you can be confident that we will supply you with genuine effective products kept in good conditions and sold well within their Use-By dates. Our trained nurses will advise you on the best way to use these products to prevent flea infections in your home.

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