Pet pests and their control

Page last updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2018 - 9:56am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Control of fleas

The objective of flea control is to break the flea’s life cycle. This involves the simultaneous elimination of adult fleas on the host, along with adult fleas and the various immature stages in the indoor and outdoor environment. This is done with a range of chemicals which act in different ways.

Carefully follow label instructions. Overexposure may result in cumulative toxicity when the premises are treated. For pets other than cats and dogs, veterinary advice should be sought as some products can harm or kill pets, particularly rabbits. Cats can be very sensitive to some flea insecticides.

Thoroughly vacuum and clean the indoor premises and outside lairs and wash pet bedding in hot water prior to applying an insecticide.

Knock-down chemicals

These chemicals come in a range of products including sprays, powders, shampoos and tablets which are applied to the animal and their habitats.

Read the label to match the product to your particular requirements. Diazinon is highly toxic to birds and isnot recommended for treatment around ducks, chickens or other birds.

Four brown chickens and one white chicken.
Clean chicken pens prevent stickfast flea and mite infestations.

The highest flea populations are found where animals sleep or where they spend a lot of time. Fleas survive in cracks and crevices in the floor or in the structure of their quarters. Treat these areas with recommended knock-down chemicals.

Use at least two applications of insecticidal sprays because the immature stages of the flea are not vulnerable to treatment. Apply the second treatment 10 days (in hot weather) to 14 days (cooler weather) after the first. Do not contaminate animal drinking vessels, food containers or fish ponds with insecticide residues.


A range of insecticidal collars are effective, but they need to be replaced regularly. Their active life depends on the chemicals and the length of the animal’s fur; being less effective on long-haired animals.

Treatments for pets come as dermal spot treatments or tablets. Although expensive, these chemicals are effective and last for four to six weeks and also control the egg and larval stages.

Space treatments

Entire rooms can be sealed and treated with specialised 'flea bombs'. These contain an insecticide combined with insect growth regulators, and can provide extended periods of control with a single treatment.