If you’ve had to deal with fleas on your dog or cat, you’re probably already familiar with the common topical products used to control these pesky parasites. Maybe you even feel that the fleas in your area have become immune to all the standard treatments. Now there’s something new: Activyl and Activyl Tick Plus. According to the manufacturer, Merck Animal Health, it’s the first and only flea product to use metabolic activation or “bioactivation.” This new technology available only in Activyl uses the enzymes inside the flea itself to activate the flea-killing power. Read More
As a concerned pet parent, you know that protecting your four-legged friend from parasites like fleas and ticks is important. Topical pest control products can be messy and smelly, and with our ever-busy lives, it can be difficult to remember to apply every month. Have you ever wondered if there is anything new in flea and tick protection for your pet? Now available at PetMeds, the Seresto collar is the first new treatment in over a decade to offer flea and tick protection for both dogs and cats, and is also the first product to provide tick control for cats as well as for dogs. Best of all, it provides long-lasting coverage. Read More »
Not a Creature was Stirring Except for… Fleas?! Holiday Pet Tips and Advice
As a holiday gift each winter season, bees, mosquitoes, flies, and many other bugs disappear in colder parts of the country. Humans enjoy an extended period without stings, bites and buzzy irritations. Pets enjoy a break from having their noses converted into an insect meeting place. And yet, even when the mercury drops, one annoying pest neglects to share in gift giving by sticking around all year round: fleas.
While flea eggs generally don’t endure cold temperatures, their prognosis improves considerably in just the right (warm) conditions. And guess who happens to possess the perfect environment for fleas to survive even the coldest of winters? That’s right – Fido and Mittens, especially if they track fleas into the house at any point during the year.
In lieu of uninvited fleas crashing your holiday season, be sure to give your pets flea treatments this winter and all year round. Not only will your dog or cat stay happy, healthy and itch free, so will you and all the festive revelers who stop by your home for holiday cheer.
By the way, flea medications and heartworm preventatives make terrific stocking stuffers, alongside an abundance of pet toys and delectable treats, of course.
And as a special holiday giveaway, we are giving one lucky customer a one-year supply of our Flea 4x flea medication for dogs or Flea 3x for cats. Just leave a comment telling us what you do for your pet to keep them comfortable during the colder winter months, and one comment will be selected to receive a year’s supply of free flea medication.
Update: Congratulations to Kim (comment on 12/18/12 at 12:40 pm), the winner of our Flea4X giveaway! Kim, look for an email from us about your prize.
While topical flea products on companion animals have truly revolutionized the war against fleas, the expanded use of these pesticides has also resulted in occasional reactions as well. Examples of these very effective products include Frontline, Advantage, Revolution and Certifect. Probably the most common reactions experienced by pets are itching and/or irritation at the site of application, including hair loss and excoriation of the underlying skin in certain cases.
Treatment may include application of topical antibiotics and/or cortisone products, as well as considering alternative products should the reactions be severe or recurrent. While topical reactions are not usually very serious, there can also occasionally be more severe systemic reactions that may include lethargy, drooling, digestive upset (vomiting/diarrhea), and even rare neurological reactions such as tremors, hypersensivity to touch, weak gait, and even seizures. In these latter situations, the animal guardian may consider washing the pet with a mild shampoo. If the reactions continue, then a veterinary exam and evaluation is recommended. While these reactions are not common, veterinary stabilization may be needed including blood work, and supportive IV fluid therapy and medical support until the reactions subside.
Pets that experience reactions to the topical products may benefit from oral pest control products such as Program, Sentinel, Comfortis and Trifexis. More natural flea and tick preventative measures should be considered including the use of diatomaceous earth and topical essential oils, as well as natural products such as Wondercide and Cedarcide
Flea infestation is probably the most common external parasite seen by small animal veterinarians. Flea infestations cause tremendous suffering in affected allergic animals, with it taking only a few fleas to trigger and set off a vicious itch cycle. Fleas can affect any other mammals in the home, as well as completing their life cycle in the home or yard environment. Fleas may also carry infectious disease such as Bartonellosis and others. That is why it is so critical to have your pet on some type of flea control program with products such as topical Frontline Plus or Advantage II.
A common question often asked is “How do I know if my pet has fleas?” Often fleas may be seen crawling through the fur and skin on the lower abdomen and groin, and often around the tail. Many flea-allergic pets have a classic hair loss pattern down both sides of the back, often indicating flea bite allergy. Other times, a special tool called a flea comb is necessary in those pets with thick coats and/or a few fleas. Using this comb through the coat will often catch unwanted adult and larval fleas, including what is known as flea dirt, which is often the only evidence we find of flea infestation in many cases. Many times human guardians will also report being itchier around such pets, most commonly in the lower leg areas. No matter how one detects fleas, implementing an aggressive flea control program is important in not only in alleviating discomfort, but also in preventing the spread of disease to our animals and their human guardians.
Fleas are certainly very common external parasites seen in all areas of the country. When infestation is heavy, especially in young puppies and kittens, there can always be the risk of flea bite anemia. Because fleas are voracious blood feeders, red blood cell counts can drop dramatically especially in these younger animals. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, pale gums, low body temperature, and in severe cases death may occur.
Treatment of flea bite anemia includes supportive care as well as specific therapy for the flea infestations, such as products like Frontline Plus or Advantage II. Affected pets may be bathed to remove adult fleas. An oral cat and dog flea medication, such as Capstar can be given, which quickly kills adult fleas within a few hours. Warm subcutaneous or IV fluid therapy may be needed, in addition to supportive vitamin therapy. In severe cases, transfusion may be necessary to restore red blood cell counts to normal. Prevention of flea bite anemia involves using specific products to kill and prevent flea infestation such as the products mentioned above.
|Removing ticks from our pets properly is very important in the prevention of many tick transmitted diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis. The most common mistake animal guardians make in removing ticks is not removing the whole tick by either attempting to twist the burrowed tick out of the skin and/or leaving in the tick head.|
For tick removal, I first instruct clients to hold a cotton ball immersed in mineral oil against the tick for up to one minute. Using tweezers or special tick removal instruments such as Arctick Tick Removal Spray for Pets, it is best to then grab the skin that surrounds the tick, trying to grab its head. Try to avoid the tick’s body. In one steady motion and without jerking, it is then best to pull firmly and steadily directly outward. Twisting usually leaves the head behind. The most common mistake made is squashing the tick, which may lead to the transmission of disease causing bacteria into a pet’s bloodstream.
Removing the tick with bare fingers is also not recommended due to the risk of disease transmission into the animal guardian. Burning the tick with a match also should not be used. After removing the tick, placing it in a glass of rubbing alcohol will often kill it. It is not unusual to see a bump or mild skin reaction after removing a tick, which can be treated with topical antibiotics and/or hydrocortisone. Of course the best prevention of tick transmitted disease to our pets and/or us is to use a good effective tick control measure such as topical tick preventatives Frontline Plus or K9 Advantix II.
All too often, a pet owner will come in and share their experiences in which he or she regularly applies Frontline Plus (Fiproguard Plus) or Advantage II, yet is angry that after several treatments they are still seeing fleas. There are several plausible explanations for persistent flea infestations that have nothing to do with lack of efficacy of these products.
First, I make sure that they are correctly applying the topical flea medications. It is easy to forget that it is important to completely part the hair and apply the product directly to the skin so that proper skin and hair follicle distribution can occur. This is something that can be somewhat of a challenge for thick haired pets, however, the pet medication will not work properly if only the hair follicles receive the medication – it must be applied to the skin. It’s also important to properly follow product label directions, which for some products like Advantage II for large dogs require that animal guardians apply the product in multiple spots down the pet’s back. While it is tempting for animal guardians to try and save money by using only portions of products labeled for larger pets on smaller animals, it is a process such as this that can lead to product failure. Another big reason for product failure involves not addressing home flea relief for the pet, where in some cases 80% of the flea life cycle may occur. Consider using Premise Treatment for indoor home use.
In very heavy infestations, I will often recommend a professional home exterminating service. My favorite home products include borate based products such as Flea Busters, which can often dry out or dessicate the various flea life stages. In spite of recent discussion in the veterinary literature, the development of wide spread flea resistance is still not believed to be a major factor to clients still finding fleas on their pets.
Have you been battling a flea infestation in your home? What are some of the ways in which you have been trying to get rid of them?
|Frontline Top Spot is an easy to use one spot application that has been one of the most highly recommended products by veterinarians over the years. It kills all existing fleas within 24 hours of application, as well all stages of ticks and chewing lice. For the most part clients have found this product to work wonderfully for their pets. When this product does not work for clients, it is usually due to failure to treat the home environment of pets, where much of the flea life cycle still occurs.|
Common client concerns with this product include safety of use around homes with young children. This is usually not a problem as long as the product has completely dried. Other concerns include safety in young kittens and puppies. As long as kittens and puppies are healthy and over 8 weeks of age, Frontline Top Spot is usually safe to use. Side effects most commonly resolve around irritation at the sight of application of this product. This is usually only transient, and will resolve with supportive care.
Other less common side effects include digestive and/or neurological reactions, however, these are rare. It is important to note that although Frontline Top Spot kills fleas, it does not kill flea eggs and/or larvae, but it does prevent their development. For a more comprehensive flea control medication, there is Frontline Plus. Or if you are interested in other popular flea control products, see the 1-800-PetMeds Flea and Tick Comparison Chart.
|Did you know that not all flea control products for dogs are applied to the skin? Many pet owners prefer oral administration of external parasiticides to avoid exposure of themselves to topical pesticides, which is why some dog owners prefer the ease of administering a chewable tablet such as Comfortis.|
Comfortis kills fleas within 30 minutes and lasts for up to one month. In my experience common client concerns include lack of efficacy against other external parasites such as ticks, as well as the need for written prescription from the veterinarian.
One of my concerns with Comfortis is the occasional wide range of side effects including vomiting and/or diarrhea and various neurological reactions ranging from incoordination, trembling, and seizures. It’s for these reasons that I generally prefer using other flea and tick products in my practice such as Frontline Plus or Advantage II.
However, clients do report mostly high satisfaction with this product, with the exception of these occasionally severe side effects. It is also important to still treat the environment for fleas, as well as incorporate additional measure to help control other parasites such as ticks if using Comfortis.