Advertiser Priceless Pet Clinic  wants to remind our Readers about fleas and pets:
Based on data from The Texas A&M University System, people spend approximately $9 billion dollars a year controlling fleas! This shows that despite the plethora of flea products available, fleas continue to be a huge problem for our pets.
Fleas can lead to a number of health problems:
- Flea allergy dermatitis. Not all pets become significantly itchy from flea bites, but those who have an allergy can become extremely uncomfortable. This is the most common skin problem we see in our clinic
- Flea Anemia: smaller dog and cats, young and old, or severe infestations can lead to significant blood loss. I have seen numerous pets, cats in particular, that required blood transfusions due to heavy flea burdens
- Feline infectious Anemia: a microscopic organism carried by fleas that can be transmitted to cats. This organism attaches to red blood cells. The immune system then attacks and destroys the infected cells, leading to anemia
- Tapeworm infection: not typically a problem, but gross to find after the cat has been sleeping in the bed
- “Cat Scratch Fever” in people. The organism causing this infection lives in the flea feces imbedded in the cats nails
The different life stages of fleas affect are affected by environmental conditions. On average, the life cycle (egg, larvae, pupa, adult) is completed every 3 weeks. Eggs need humidity of 70% to hatch and 50% to live. They can survive for 48 hours at freezing temperatures. Larvae hatch from eggs in one to six days given appropriate environmental conditions. Their principal food is adult flea feces (“flea dirt”). A mature larva transforms into a pupa inside a silk cocoon. Under most household conditions, the adult flea will emerge in three to five weeks. However, a fully developed flea can remain inside the cocoon for up to 350 days! A reproductive strategy that enhances the flea’s chance of survival. This helps to explain how a flea infestation can seemingly “explode” out of nowhere, even inside your home. Our mild temperatures in the Puget Sound mean we can see fleas year round.
Adult fleas can begin feeding within seconds of finding a host. They must feed to begin reproduction, and female fleas will begin producing eggs within 24 to 48 hours of taking their first blood meal. Female fleas can produce 40 to 50 eggs per day, up to 2,000 in their lifetime. The eggs readily fall off the hair into the environment. A colleague of mine would tell clients “think of your dog or cat as a flea-egg salt shaker.”
So what are our options? There are so many products available, most making different claims in efficacy. Advantage, Frontline/Frontline Plus, Program/Sentinel, Tritak, Revolution, Comfotis/Trifexis, Capstar, Activyl, Vectra 3D, just to name a few of the veterinary labeled products. It can difficult for the average consumer to choose from these products, let alone the number of over the counter options. Often the choice is simply based on price. Unfortunately, some of the less expensive products are the least effective and potentially most dangerous, especially for cats. Talking to your veterinarian about the products will help clarify the choice.
In my experience, the most common cause of failure in flea control is consistency. Owners tend to treat once or twice. Then do not continue therapy because they no longer see adult fleas. Only treating when adult fleas are seen is addressing only 3-5% of the flea population. There are still eggs hatching in the environment! Additionally, fleas can last in the pupal stage for long periods of time, waiting for the optimal conditions. This stage is quite durable and resistant to environmental treatments. This is why we advise consistent monthly treatment to address the emerging fleas that are still developing.
The second issue is that all the pets in the home need to be on flea control. Otherwise, the untreated cat or dog may serve as a reservoir for the fleas. The last issue is to address the environment. Frequent vacuuming of carpets, furniture, the use of environmental products, and cleaning or removal of the pet’s bedding are very helpful control measures.
If you need more proof of how fleas can infest a home, watch this video:
In our climate, year round therapy is the best approach. Simply treating for the adult fleas once or twice will not break the flea cycle. In severe cases, we may recommend a combination of products to get a hold of the problem more quickly.
Priceless Pet Clinic carries a number of products to help. We carry Activyl for both dogs and cats which will address flea control. Activyl does not require an exam for purchase. Our broad spectrum products include Revolution and Trifexis. These products treat for fleas, prevent heartworm disease, and treat for intestinal parasites. Other products are available through our online pharmacy, Vetsource.com .
We are happy to answer your questions regarding the product you are using and our choices we offer to our clients. Please call Priceless Pet Clinic at 206-592-6454 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, or visit us online at pricelesspetclinic.com .