Are you in Flea-nial?

Boy, this summer has been challenging for pet owners fighting parasites, especially fleas and ticks. We have seen more of our patients fighting flea and tick infestations than ever before. Early spring rains gave these parasites the advantage.

Ticks are easier to spot, but fleas are more discrete. If your pet is itching, especially in the “flea zones” over the hips or around the neck, don’t be in flea-nial. Many times all we find is those black specks that fleas leave behind, commonly called “flea dirt” or “flea poop”.


So what can we do to protect our precious pets and keep these parasites out of our houses?


That brings us to a few commonly asked questions:

1. What are my options if I find fleas or ticks on my dog?

Bathing with a flea and tick shampoo is the best way to treat a heavy flea/tick infestation fast. But don’t stop here, there is no lasting effect from these shampoos or from sprays for that matter. Apply a topical product like Frontline or Advantage/Advantix to prevent re-infestation.


2. What can I buy over-the-counter for fleas and ticks?

While the best pesticides and medicines are available from your veterinarian, there are some good products avaible locally or on the web.

Permethrin and pyrethrin based pesticides like the kind people use to repel mosquitos still work reasonably well against ticks, but fleas have long been resistant to this type of pesticide. So save your money. If fleas are the enemy, a collar or these widely popular topicals are not the answer.

***Permethrins are not safe for cats, and many have reactions to pyrethrin based products as well. If your cat is drooling, scratching the application site, or having some other reaction to one of these pesticides, bathe him/her repeatedly with Dawn dish soap, and contact your veterinarian if it doesn’t improve.***

For fleas, the most cost effective over-the-counter products are Frontline or Advantage/Advantix available at pet stores, feed stores, even Target. There is a generic Frontline that is available, but in our experience thus far, it has not been effective.


3. I live in the woods, and the ticks are out of control. Is there anything that will work?

Topicals are great against fleas but not so great against ticks. Collars are better against ticks but nearly worthless against fleas. The answer for you is a combination of both. And in our experience, the Preventic collar seems to be best value. It’s available online and is inexpensive. Use it in combination with a topical for fleas and you will be doing well.


Thanks for reading, good luck fighting parasites, and don’t forget to spay and neuter at 3-6 months of age.

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