Written By Dr. Gary Holfinger
Another pet just came in with self-inflicted damage over their back. The hair was gone, their skin was inflamed and raw, and it was all created by the pet chewing on itself. The source of the itching: fleas.
It's a continual battle - preventing fleas. Most clients don't think of flea prevention until they see the pet chewing and find a flea on them. At that point, an infestation has already occurred and a long battle is ahead. Those clients who have faced a flea infestation know that the process to eradicate these pesky insects is a long one. Once you've got fleas, it's extremely difficult to get rid of them. The flea is designed to overcome all of our attempts to remove them.
Adult fleas make up only about ten percent of the total fleas that are present on a pet. The other ninety percent are eggs waiting to hatch or in the larva/nymph stages so they are maturing before that meal of blood is needed. Once a female flea feeds, she begins laying eggs within a day. The typical female flea lays 40-50 eggs daily. She'll lay thousands of eggs in her lifetime. Those eggs may hatch in a few weeks, or wait months until the weather is ideal. Flea eggs are laid on the pet, and then fall to the floor where they wait before hatching. Therefore, eggs and larvae are most concentrated where the pet lays, whether on the carpet or your bed.
To get rid of a flea problem you must do more than kill just adult fleas, you must break the life cycle by not allowing eggs to hatch. This means that all pets in the household/yard need to be considered part of the problem whether they are itching or not. This is why we emphasize prevention rather than just treating the adult fleas.
Some monthly heartworm medications, such as Sentinel or Trifexus, have a monthly flea control or adulticide. These products are designed to not only prevent fleas, but also intestinal parasites. Other topical products, such as Parastar or Advantix, are effective on fleas and ticks, but don't prevent heartworm.
Fleas are worst between the middle of August until the end of October, but are a threat in the house regardless of the time of year. It takes months, if not years, to finally break the life cycle and eliminate the infestation, so don't let your home become infested!