How To Fix Your Flea Problem

Mindy writes with a really bothersome problem, one that is relatively easy to fix.  Mindy’s question illustrates yet another way your pet’s doctor can be of assistance to you and your pets.  The solution to flea problems is often unique to a particular situation.  While thousands of pet owners might share a similar situation, and cure, there is no “one size fits all” fix for flea problems.  Your veterinarian can suggest a solution that will perfectly fit the concerns you and your pets’ problem present.

Hi Dr. Randolph.  My poor cats have fleas. They don’t go outside, but my building has about a million dogs. One of them is scabby (flea dermatitis problem?) They were on Frontline, I’ve switched them to Revolution. I treated the carpet with boric acid & I’ve given them Capstar. Can I also give them Program? I looooove all animals, but I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle with all the pets in my building (ironically that was one of the things that appealed to me most about my building.)
Thank you for this public service you’re doing!  Mindy

Mindy, we need to address your flea problem in a stepwise fashion.

  1. “Plain” Frontline is a good product that kills adult fleas, but even better is Frontline Plus, which has an added ingredient that allows it to kill adult fleas and flea eggs and flea larvae.  That way you get flea control and flea prevention all in one application.  Neither product, however, prevents heartworms.
  2. That said, Revolution is my first choice for heartworm prevention.  In addition, Revolution kills adult fleas, flea eggs and flea larve, prevents hookworms and roundworms and ear mites in cats.  Stick with the Revolution for the pets.
  3. Boric acid is great as a preventive, but you need a “bigger gun” right now.  Ask your veterinarian about Mycodex Environmental Control (house treatment) with which you can treat your apartment.  The pets will all have to be out of the house for at least four hours (longer is better).  Perhaps they can stay at a neighbor’s place and then you can keep her pets when she treats her apartment.  Even though Mycodex House Treatment will kill adult, egg and larval stages of fleas, we recommend a repeat treatment in three weeks, followed by quarterly (every three months) treatments.  IF you find that the flea problem is not relapsing after 9 months you may try to widen the treatment interval to every six months.  However, the risk of reinfestation is great, as you are surrounded by flea hosts, and the longer the interval between treatments the more likely you are to have the flea problem relapsing.  Be sure to spray the threshold and just outside the front door, creating a “DMZ,” (demilitarized zone) that fleas must cross to gain entry.
  4. Boric acid may have some long-term health concerns, especially for the cats, whose noses are right down there where the boric acid is.  I would feel more comfortable using the safe ingredients in Mycodex House Treatment alone.
  5. Capstar is good, as far as it goes, but remember it is out of the body within 24 hours.  I believe the system we’ve set up for you will work just as well without the use of Capstar.
  6. Program (lufenuron) causes any adult fleas that bite your pets to lay eggs that are defective.  Those eggs will not hatch.  It has no other effect on the adult flea, though, which means they will live a normal lifespan and continue to bite and annoy your pets until they die a natural death, about three months of age.  I don’t see it helping your problem.  Program is great when the flea burden is low and the risk of reinfestation is small.
  7. The kitty who is experiencing scabby skin needs to see his veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis as well as appropriate treatment.

I am confident that this approach will solve your flea problem, if you stick with it.

BTW, say hello to Mork for us, please.  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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