Summertime on the Central Coast– sunshine, surf, and… fleas?

Fleas are a part of pet life in California. An effective, year-round flea control plan is essential to protect your pet and your home from infestations. Unlike many parts of the country, our winters are mild enough that flea populations can survive and reproduce all year long.

For most pets, a flea bite triggers a mild temporary itch, but some pets can develop severe allergies to flea saliva. Flea allergy dermatitis can result in redness, flakiness, hair loss, and injuries from your pet scratching himself/herself. Many owners of flea-allergic pets are unaware that their animal is flea-allergic because they never see fleas on their pet. However, for flea-allergic pets, even a single bite is enough to ignite a reaction that can last for several days. Even for non-flea-allergic pets, fleas can pose a hazard to their well-being. Fleas can carry tapeworms, which are passed to pets when they ingest fleas while grooming. Some flea populations carry blood parasites that are transferred to dogs and cats during bites. In cases of large flea burdens, varying degrees of anemia can occur. Occasionally, some cats and dogs will have such a severe flea anemia that they will require one or more blood transfusions to survive.

Fortunately, there are several convenient and effective flea control products on the market today. The product currently recommended for dogs by dermatologists is Comfortis®, a monthly chewable tablet that kills fleas within minutes. The active ingredient in Comfortis is spinosad – a safe and effective insecticide that won the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge in 1999 and is approved for use in organic farming. Oral flea control medications like Comfortis can be preferable to spot-on topical treatments because they cannot be washed or rubbed off, they maintain their efficacy more reliably between doses, and flea populations have not yet developed resistance to their active ingredients.