It’s the time of year again when our furry families, including rabbits, might suffer from fleas. Even indoor rabbits can be afflicted, especially if they share a home with a dog or cat. When dealing with fleas, it is necessary to not only treat your pet, but to thoroughly clean your pet’s environment. The information in this article on topical flea control roducts for your pet is provided for your reference only. Always check with your veterinarian before using any new flea control product on your pet.
Treating Your Pet
When your rabbit has fleas, you can apply a topical treatment such as Advantage or Program and/or by using a flea comb to remove fleas. NEVER use a flea collar on your rabbit. Sometimes the materials used to make flea collars are toxic to rabbits. In addition, collars pose a strangulation hazard if the collar gets caught on something in the rabbit’s environment. The collar may also become lodged over the rabbit’s lower jaw if he tries to chew it off.
Although the following products have not been officially approved for use in rabbits, they have been safely used off label and are available from your veterinarian:
Advantage: (active ingredient: imidacloprid). Advantage kills 98% – 100% of the fleas on contact (a flea adulticide) by interrupting nerve transmissions in the flea, which results in paralysis and death. This product should be applied to an area of your pet, such as the back of his neck, that he cannot readily reach during grooming. It is also important to keep bonded pairs from grooming this product off of each other until it is thoroughly dry. Dosage depends upon the weight of the rabbit using the cat formulation. Advantage should be reapplied monthly.
Program: (active ingredient: luferon). Program does not kill fleas on contact. Instead, it prevents the immature flea from reaching maturity (and thus reproducing) by interfering with the development of the hard outer shell of the flea. It takes 6 – 8 weeks after starting with Program before you will notice a reduction of adult fleas on your pet. Because of this lag time, it may be necessary to use an adulticide or insecticide before using Program. Program is a pill that is given monthly.
Beware of all ‘natural’ flea control products, which may contain toxic ingredients such as the herb, pennyroyal. Remember, ‘all natural’ does not mean ‘safe’. There are some very toxic substances that occur naturally. In addition, Frontline (active ingredient: ipronil), another topical flea control product, is NOT recommended for use on rabbits due to some anecdotal reports of serious toxic reactions to this product.
Cleaning the Environment
Remember, it is also necessary to thoroughly clean your pet’s environment to help control fleas. Vacuum frequently, and either replace the bag after each use or add an insecticide, such as a pyrethrin, to the bag. Carpets should be steam cleaned at least once a year.
Source: Flea Control for Rabbits, by Dr. Susan A. Brown, DVM
More information on flea control see: Flea Control