Oct 01 2015

“Fallin” for Fleas

Many many years ago, when I was a noob to the vet world, I rescued an amazing cat, named Peppercorn (named by my two sons – Pepper , no …Corn — hence Peppercorn)) .  He had two broken “ankles” and a fractured pelvis, yet still was not complaining of the pain (or how his name was created) .

So a few surgeries later we had a pain free Pepper who could jump no higher than a chair level . He was a great cat with personality plus. His only downside was his stubbornness and urge to go outside. Obviously he was an outdoor cat before I met him!

Well, one fall  we were preparing to go camping for two weeks. I was packing up the van when Pepper snuck outside and noticed a rabbit nearby, chasing it under a big old pine tree. I shook my head and crawled under that tree and grabbed him and placed him back inside. Not even thinking there could be a concern other than getting on the road and enjoying the holiday.

My niece babysat Pepper while we were away. Two weeks later, we arrive home to a very itchy and irritated cat. I asked my niece who concurred. I then flipped Pepper over, exposing his flea ridden belly! Well this was the 90’s so I reached for my favourite pesticide mousse and soon had poor Pepper smelling like a chemical spill accident victim. The next day  while I was cleaning and treating the house I noticed  a still irritated and itchy cat who now smelt like a bottle of insecticide and still had live fleas crawling on him!l!

I remember my wife’s words that day. “YOU’RE THE VET! YOU DEAL WITH IT!!”

I did not want to repeat the toxic mousse treatment. Then I remembered a new product that had just come out on the market, called Advantage.  After one application of Advantage, Pepper was less aromatic and within 12 hours was sleeping soundly without any live fleas. I continued to clean and treat the house and retreated Pepper 3 weeks later. And to this day I am an Advantage fan for my pets, not only as a treatment but a preventative. Now having said that I would like to say the modern flea preventatives that veterinary medicine has to offer us are far superior in both effect and safety than the older products. Advantage, Comfortis, Bravecto, Nexgard are some of the current products that are available as flea and tick killers or preventives.

As a rule, fleas are a concern in all fair weather environments,  Personally I use a preventative for flea protection on my pets until winter snows come, or whenever they will be around a group of other animals -I really don’t like fleas!.

At Blue Cross Animal Hospital, we always see an increased case load every fall when the weather cools, and the leaves fall and provide damp cover. Fleas like to be hidden and moist.  And the local wildlife are more actively searching yards for food and hibernation. Finally, when we turn our furnaces on for the first time, the heat will stimulate flea eggs and larvae to mature through their life stages to the biting adult forms.

So  if you’re the gambling type that does not want to use a preventative all through the good weather then at least  beware of the fall weather for fleas.  And if you’re experiencing any problems with an itchy pet this fall, call us because  we can help make your pet more comfortable and make your life more relaxing!

Dr. David Costello

bluecrosskitchener | Preventive Medicine

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