July 2, 2015

Although fleas are hardly a new topic for this column, the huge numbers of both cats and dogs I have seen in the last couple of weeks with heavy flea burdens convinced me that it is a topic worth repeating. Fleas can be a problem all year round and I certainly see cases in deepest winter but fleas love warm conditions and breed very rapidly at this time of the year. The result is that a few fleas can turn into an infestation in very short time. Fleas can cause a terrible skin irritation and many cats and dogs develop an allergic sensitivity to flea saliva called “flea allergic dermatitis”. This can be very distressing and can result in hair loss and inflamed skin and affected animals can be prone to developing secondary bacterial skin infections. Fleas are definitely better prevented than cured. With regular treatment, 12 months of the year, it should be possible to rapidly kill any fleas that the animal picks up rapidly and efficiently before they have an opportunity to breed. It is essential that a really effective product is used. There is growing concern about resistance to a number of products that have traditionally been the mainstays of treatment for many years. I have certainly seen a number of animals who have been treated with older products but still have continued problems. Contact your vet for the best advice on the most effective products. Remember that the most cost effective way to prevent fleas is to use a product that works first time and not waste money on products that are not effective. If you have not treated regularly and end up with fleas eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment, you will need to use a product to kill those life stages as well. Just using something that kills adult fleas will not control the problem as your pet will be constantly re-infested from the environment. It is likely to take much longer and cost more to get a problem under control where your house becomes infested with juvenile fleas. Remember, the most economical way to prevent fleas is to use a very effective product every month. If you use a less effective product or wait until you see fleas, it is likely to be more difficult and expensive to manage.

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