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Scratch-Scratch-Scratch…Uh Oh…. FLEAS!

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

My dog has fleas

My dog has fleas

Scratch scratch scratch….you see your pet scratching and immediately think “Uh oh…FLEAS!”

And chances are you’re right.

Recently there has been a lot of news and focus on fleas and ticks,  and there’s a lot in the news about the EPA getting involved in issuing guidelines and pulling products off the markets, leaving pet owners more confused than ever.

This article from the Veterinary Information Network titled “Lawsuits proliferate against makers of topical flea and tick products” is a must read for better understanding of what is happening and also looks at one of the victims who later filed a lawsuit against one of the flea and tick treatment manufacturers.

Lawsuits proliferate against makers of topical flea and tick products” (article opens in a new window)

So here’s some common sense advice and your options.

Flea and tick treatments basically break down into two major types:

#1 – Natural repellents which include oils, sprays, wipes, shampoos and collars.   While these normally won’t cause an adverse effect in your pets, they must be reapplied frequently – usually at a minimum of once a day if your pet goes outside, and they aren’t always effective in all cases.

#2 – Chemical repellents which includes prescription medication from your vet and online pharmacies and over-the-counter (i.e. those you can buy from the local grocery or pet store) treatments.  These are chemicals that are applied via one-spot treatments or sprays, shampoos, collars, powder, etc.

The one spots are the subject of the new EPA guidelines.  They are popular because they can effectively prevent a bad flea infestation on your pet through 1x a month application.  However, they can cause severe reactions and even death in some animals – as the VIN article mentions.

If you’ve elected to go with a natural repellent be prepared to do more to keep the fleas and ticks at bay.  One good suggestion is to treat your yard for fleas and ticks once or twice a season to keep the fleas out of your yard using something non-toxic like nematodes or other natural repellents. That way your pets aren’t picking up fleas when they go out into the yard.

We’ve had good success using a natural product using Cedar Oil.  The yard treatment keeps not only the fleas and ticks away but also cuts down on mosquitoes and other biters.  Then we spray our dogs in the morning before they go out and things work out well for everyone.

So, no matter which way you choose to go, getting the upper hand against fleas quickly, before they get out of hand, is a good policy to keep you and your pets happy and comfortable in this worse than normal flea season.