My dog kicked me this morning. She does a karate kick with her back leg. It was 5 a.m. and I was asleep, until the jab hit me right in the tummy. What followed was a chorus of stretches and itches and the chatter of dog teeth clicking along the length of her tail.
Fleas! Unwelcome residents in our Florida paradise. Americans spend over half a billion dollars annually on flea control. Fleas like warmth and humidity. The rain has them hopping and biting. For years, ineffective flea collars, dusty powders and smelly dips were the only options.
All of these were remedies I remember my mom trying with our brood of Dachshunds.
We’ve come a long way with flea control. But, is the flea problem getting worse?
Perhaps. Fleas die when the temperature is below 32 degrees for 3 days, but our winters have been mild lately. Fleas live on many animals, so our pets are constantly exposed. And some pets are very sensitive to even one flea, causing an allergic dermatitis, scratching and discomfort.
Many products target the flea life cycle only, and are overall much safer for our pets. About 95% of the fleas are in the egg, larva or pupa stages. Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) are key, preventing the flea from becoming an adult. Only adult fleas bite and cause the flea “allergy.” Some products also prevent ticks and heartworms, a real bonus.
Unfortunately, there’s no one magic bullet. What works for a while may stop working altogether. Fleas adapt quickly. Also, individual animals respond differently. So, flea control is an ongoing effort to see results - like laundry.
Adult fleas live on our pets; other stages are in our yards and homes. An immaculately clean home can still have fleas. Not all that itches and scratches are due to fleas. There are other causes. Talk with your veterinarian. Research reputable internet sites for information. Help out a local shelter. Find out if they sell flea products like Frontline, CapStar, Revolution and more.