“Doctor, that (flea control) isn’t working. I still have fleas jumping onto my pet and me in my living room.”
At first this seems like a valid concern, but let’s look at the situation more closely.
First, there are few flea control products that “don’t work.” Some of the older products using pyrethrins and fipronil are experiencing decreased efficacy as fleas develop resistance to the active ingredients, but even those products share a common trait with newer, more effective flea control agents applied to pets.
- There is none in your carpet.
- There is none on your furniture.
- There is none in your yard.
In other words, whatever product you are using on your pets can kill only the fleas that are on your pet.
In a closed system, such as a bubble, all fleas would eventually either jump onto your pet and die from the flea killer, or they would die from starvation if they didn’t find a pet. Then, that would be the end of the matter.
However, your home isn’t a closed system. As fleas enter the house and yard, they multiply exponentially. Two become forty. Forty become hundreds. Hundreds become thousands.
Just as we provide an ideal environment for ourselves indoors, we provide an ideal environment for fleas, too. Not too cold in the winter, not too hot in the summer. And always a pet nearby for a ready meal. There is no reason for a flea to ever move out!
Some other misconceptions about fleas and flea control:
- Modern flea products meant to be applied to pets are not repellents. They are not intended to keep fleas off your pet, only to kill them once they jump on and take a blood meal. In other words, most of them require that the flea bite your pet before they die. Flea repellents have been tried on pets in the past, but were found to be unsafe due to unacceptable side effects (including death).
- “My pets never go outside, so they can’t have fleas.” As stated above, we create perfect environments for fleas indoors, therefore, if a pair of fleas enters your home, finding no flea killer on your pets, they will reproduce and thrive with no need for the outdoor environment. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear this from a pet owner. The fact is that most dogs go outside several times each day to relieve themselves and even if they use pads or newspaper fleas manage to detect the presence of pets in a home and invite themselves.
- “I’ll just treat my house for fleas. There is no need to treat the yard.” This is a corollary to “My yard is ‘x’ acres and I can’t treat all of it. Regardless of the size of the yard, your pets primarily utilize the area closest to the house. Create what I call a “DMZ” or “demilitarized zone.” Effective outdoor flea control in a zone all the way around your home means that fleas must pass through that insecticide-treated area to get indoors. Done properly, no flea will survive a trip through the “DMZ.” Click here to read about proper, safe yard treatment (scroll down to IN THE YARD).
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.