Fleas are a nuisance. Not only do they make our pets miserable, they can transmit tapeworms, cause severe dermatologic problems like flea allergic dermatitis and even spread diseases to humans.
One thing that makes fleas so troublesome is that when conditions are warm and humid, their breeding puts rabbits to shame. During the peak season, a female flea lays up to 40 eggs per day. When you consider a fleas egg-laying capability, along with that of her offspring, in 60 days a single female flea can be responsible for over 3,000 new fleas. Fleas also wont die in water, have become resistant to many flea-control products and adapt easily to new environments.
But all is not hopeless. Some monthly topical products and new monthly oral medications are very effective in killing and repelling fleas. In warmer parts of the country without hard freezes, flea control should be a year-round affair.
Combating heartworm and ticks
Warm weather also brings mosquitoes and heartworm, a potentially fatal disease occurring in many parts of the country. A mosquito picks up the infective stage of the heartworm when it takes blood from an infected pet and then transmits it when it bites the next pet. Heartworm disease is potentially dangerous and expensive to treat, but its easy and inexpensive to prevent with a once-per-month oral medication.
Ticks carry diseases that can affect pets and humans, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks are prevalent in wooded areas and areas of thick brush, where dogs (and people) often pick them up while hiking, walking on trails or playing. But many monthly spot-on flea medications also repel and kill ticks. For year-round strategies to keep your pets pest free, talk to your vet. Traditional pharmacies like those at Sams Club now carry heartworm medications for dogs. Just bring in your prescription.
Jeff Werber, D.V.M., has been a practicing veterinarian for 27 years. He is owner and founder of the Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. Visit jeffwerberproducts.com for more information about his pet-care products.