When is the best time to treat for fleas?

Flea season is here!  There are a number of great products that pevent infestations from establishing.  The time to “treat” for fleas is before your pet has a problem.  A single flea can lay hundreds of eggs which fall onto your carpets and floors and before you know it fleas are established in your house.  Once this occurs it can take months to get them gone.  Fleas are insects and once they form the pupa stage they can be dormant for several months until moisture and temperature conditions or just right and then they hatch out in your house.  THERE IS NO PRODUCT THAT KILLS/CONTROLS THE PUPA STAGE OF THE FLEA LIFE CYCLE.  This is why keeping them out of your home is critical.  I recommend comfortis for dogs.  It is a once monthly chewable tablet that kills fleas for 30 days.  It is also available in combination with heartworm prevention in a product called Trifexis.  There are topicals available as well.  These too can be found in a heartworm/flea combination product.  What about cats?  Even if your cat is indoors, fleas can be carried in on your clothing or they can also hop into the home from outside.  Opossums and ferral cats are the number one source of fleas for dogs and cats.  They raom at night and the flea eggs drop from them and the next thing you know, you have fleas around your home.  If you have dogs and cats then your dog can carry fleas inside and they hop off and then feed on your cat.  Even if your dog is on flea control products, the flea is not instantly killed and those that hop onto your cat can feed and lay egss and once again you have a flea infestation.  ALL CATS AND DOGS IN THE HOME NEED MONTHLY FLEA CONTROL PRODUCTS!   So, the time to “treat for fleas” is all year long to keep them out of your home and to protect you and your pets from flea bits.

Winterizing Precautions

Once again cold weather is on the way and, as always, there are potential hazards for our pets.  First of all, this time of year many people are adding antifreeze to their vehicles.  This is highly poisonous to pets (and people too) in that it destroys the kidneys.  Most antifreeze has a sweet smell/taste so animals and children will readily drink it.  Anther potential source for antifreeze is in the garage where you store your car.  When the engine is turned off, occasionally a small amount of antifreeze/radiator coolant can drain from the overflow from the car and leave a small puddle under the car where you may not notice it.  Your cat or small dog can find this and consume it.  Small amounts consumed over time will results in kidney damage as well so it is important to not let your pets roam the garage unattended. 

Secondly, even though colder weather is approaching, fleas are still a threat.  They can harbor in leaves, etc and it takes a really hard freeze to kill them.  It has to get cold and STAY cold.  Even then there are sources of fleas for our pets such as stray cats, opossums, raccoons, coyote, etc.  It is best to protect your pets year round in order to keep your house flea free.  Remember, all pets in the house have to be on prevention.  Mixed pet households (dogs and cats) often think to only treat the dog since it is the one usually going outside.  Fleas are not instantly killed and if they jump off the dog and onto the cat that does not have flea protection, this is a source of food and the fleas will establish themselves inside the home.  Once established, it can take MONTHS to rid the house of the fleas.  There is no medication that will kill the pupa stage of the flea cycle.  These can remain dormant for several months and then hatch when temperature and moisture conditions improve.  Therefore, it is best to keep all your pets on year round prevention so that you don’t end up with a flea infested home. 

Another cold weather related problem can occur when the weeds mature and produce their seeds.  Many of these seeds have thorns or stickers that adhere to clothing and pet fur.  This is a favorite time of year to take our dogs for romps in the woods and fields.  Always check their paws, pads and toes for any weed seeds and remove them.  Another area to watch is the eyes.  Tiny seeds and plant awns can be trapped under the upper and lower eyelids as well as the third eye lid (the fleshy membrane at the inner part of the eye).  Always check the eyelids and if you see weed seeds, gently flush them out with a sterile saline eye wash.  If you see persistant squinting of the eye or excessive eye discharge immediately have your pet examined.  There could be a penetrating object in the eyeball or a scratch or an ulcer to the cornea of the eye.  These should not be ignored and should be treated immediately to prevent serious damage as well as relieving the extreme pain associated with these conditions.

So, enjoy the coming season.  I hope this information has been helpful and helps keep your pets safe and healthy.

Dr Walsh

Ticks are on the prowl again!

Just a reminder that ticks are still present and are becoming active again in the autumn months.  Just today a Labrador presented with a deer tick (this tick transmits Lyme’s disease) attached and the skin was inflamed.  Ticks are carriers of many diseases some of which are Lyme’s disease, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and Ehrlichiosis.  This can make your dog very ill and in some cases cause death.  It is very important to continue your tick control program this time of year.  There are actually some ticks that live in your house year round and serve as a source of infection for your pets as well as your family so for best protection, use monthly tick control product all year long.