Thursday, October 1, 2009

Question: What can I do about fleas?

Dear Dr. Schaeberle,

I have an on-going flea problem in my home. What should I do and why are
there so many fleas?



Dear Jason,

What is a parasite? A creature that lives off of another at that animals expense. In my profession we think of internal (living in the body) and external (living on the body) parasites. Over the next 3 weeks I will discuss our more common parasites and the diseases they cause. Today we will cover fleas.

I live in an older home and many years ago we had two dogs, four cats and five people under one roof. Boy did we have fleas! I sprayed, dipped, fogged, shampooed and still had fleas on my pets and in our house. Then came along the topical flea product Advantage, made by Bayer, and
magically no more fleas? So why did this work so well?

1. The adult female flea can lay 45 to 50 eggs per day as early as 24 hours after jumping on your pet. These eggs are about the size of a grain of salt and fall off your pet into the environment.

2. Within a week the eggs develop into a worm stage and then, as with all insects, go into a pupae stage after about 5 to 12 days.

3. Fleas emerge from the cocoon stage usually within 1 to 3 weeks, but up to 180 days is possible.

So when you see fleas on your pet you have a virtual flea factory working in your house.

A product such as Advantage or Frontline kills fleas fast and efficiently for about one month. Fleas die before they can begin to lay eggs and thus infest your house.

My recommendations:

1. Don’t waste money on over-the-counter products, as most either take too long to kill the fleas (2 to 3 days for example with a typical flea collar), or don’t work continually 24 hours a day for extended periods (such as flea baths, which will only work for the brief amount of time that they are in contact with the pet).

2. Both Advantage and Frontline kill fleas very rapidly, continue to do so for 30 days, and have an excellent safety record.

3. If you do have fleas, treat all of your pets for at least 2 to 3 months continually. The flea season depends much on the temperature and humidity and lasts from May through October.

Learn more at our website,
Go to Resources, click on Pet Health and search on fleas.

Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

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