Big Problems with little fleas
Something’s bugging me…
Fleas. They can be the most annoying, frustrating part of pet ownership for both the pet and his/her human alike. I will never forget the Great Infestation my family and I experienced with our first cat way back in 1997. No matter how many times we treated the carpets with borax (remember that stuff?) or how many flea collars we tried, nothing helped; our cat was literally being eaten alive and so were we! Then, this new product came along called Advantage. Our family vet told us to just place some drops on the back of our cat’s neck and our flea problem should be solved. Despite the fact we all thought he was crazy, we did as we were told. When all (I mean ALL) the fleas were gone shortly after, we all started to wonder what was in that little tube he gave us – magic? Monthly flea preventatives have definitely changed the way we deal with fleas in our pets and have greatly improved our bond with them. I wanted to provide an overview of the most common questions we hear at the clinic regarding monthly flea prevention.
Is monthly prevention necessary if my pet is only indoors?
Due to the Florida’s climate, there’s never really a “season” for fleas – it’s generally a year round problem. Even if your pet rarely goes outside, fleas can still get inside when we go in and out. Because of this, we usually recommend monthly flea prevention for all pets. Flea infestations are always easier to prevent than they are to control once they’ve gotten established.
My vet said my pet has flea allergies, but I don’t see any fleas
Some pets with flea allergies can be so sensitive, that even saliva from one flea can trigger an allergic event. If a flea has bitten, but is never seen or heard from again, the damage has already been done. Because many animals can develop some degree of flea allergy, we usually recommend treating every animal in the house every month to prevent the allergy cycle from starting in the first place.
How long does it take to get rid of an infestation?
If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to experience a flea outbreak in your home, you know it can seem like forever before the problem is under control. While adult fleas don’t live particularly long, the problem is the thousands of eggs they lay per day that will eventually hatch. Therefore, when dealing with an outbreak, it is important to treat every pet in the house for a minimum of three months to ensure the cycle will be broken. Stopping prematurely could mean another outbreak re-starting in the next month or so.
Why does my flea prevention not work as well as it used to?
It’s definitely not because anything has changed with how the medication is made. The problem lies with the flea. Research has shown that fleas can become resistant to certain medications if they have been exposed to them in the past.
How do I get flea prevention that works?
Fleas are becoming increasingly more resistant to the medications found in over the counter flea products. This is because these are the medications that have been around the longest and many fleas have been exposed to them. The newest and most effective products are usually sold through a veterinarian. These products range from monthly oral tablets to drops you only have to put on your pet’s skin every three months. As long as your pet is a regular patient at your vet’s office, many of these products can be dispensed without an exam. However, an exam is required if your pet has not been seen at a particular office or if it has been over a year since an exam has been performed.
Isn’t flea medicine just poison?
While many flea products work by using a mild toxin to kill the flea, the amount that would be required to affect a dog or cat would be infinitely more (think dousing your pet in gallons of the stuff). The margin of safety for any product sold by your vet has been established to be much wider than most over the counter medications we take ourselves. In addition, there are some products that contain ingredients that are only effective against fleas and are not active in mammals at all.
If you would like more information on the types of flea preventives we carry in the clinic and which one may be best for your pet, please don’t hesitate to call the office and ask (or set up an appointment if it’s been a while!). We are committed to keeping your pet and your home flea free!