Vet office offers advice on staying flea free

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 30, 2007

In the midst of a flea season that seems worse than those past,area veterinarian offices are offering advice on how to keep yourpets’ fleas to a minimum.

Franklin County resident Andre Smith said his 10-week-oldRottweiler, Spike, continues to itch in spite of the many differentflea prevention methods he and his son DeAndre have tried.

“We’ve got a flea collar on him, and we’ve used those littletubes of medicine you put on their backs,” said Smith. “We also usethe flea and tick shampoo, and he doesn’t have any ticks. But thefleas are still there, and he’s still itching.”

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Experts are saying the pests are a problem for the entirecountry, but that it is particularly rough this year in thesoutheastern states. Local veterinarian’s offices say they don’tbelieve the fleas are adapting, but that the weather may have a lotto do with it.

“We believe it could be because it wasn’t as cold this winter,so they didn’t die off,” said Shelley Lea, receptionist at theAnimal Medical Center on Brookway Boulevard. “And it’s been hot anddry this summer, and that adds to it.”

Lea said this year the office has been selling a much largeramount of flea product than they usually do, but that it hasn’tonly been to pet owners.

“We’ve had people without pets come in here that have hadfleas,” she said. “We think maybe it’s coming from squirrels,because they’re really bad to carry them.”

John and Jeanette Newell of Lincoln County said they haven’t hada problem at all with their dogs Barney and Sammy, but that theytake special care to insure that the dogs are not only treated, butthat they and their sleeping areas are kept clean.

“They’re in and out of the house,” said Jeanette Newell, whosaid Barney spends a considerable amount of time outside. “But weuse Frontline every month and we’re careful to keep them veryclean. Barney sleeps right between us.”

While adult fleas will remain on living things, the eggs willoften be left on other surfaces such as bedding, carpets andfurniture. Lea said the Newells are taking the correct steps inpreventing the itchy pests that can keep pets and pet ownersslapping and scratching all summer.

“You have to be certain to treat all your pets,” she said. “Butalso, it’s no good treating the pets if you’re not going to treattheir environment, too.”

Lea said routine washing of pet bedding is a must, and that ifthere has been a flea infestation, treatment of the home can beimperative.

“You’ll need to check into pest control or go down to the co-opto see what they recommend,” she said. “But it’ll often involvegetting all the pets out of the house for about 24 hours.”

The Newells said they even treated the places outside wheretheir dogs relax.

“We treated the area where their outdoor pen is,” said JohnNewell, saying they had used a particular insecticide to see to itthat the flea population in their yard was kept to a minimum,too.

Monthly treatments and sprays are available at localveterinarians’ offices. Many veterinarians discourage usingover-the-counter treatments as they can cause seizures in felines,as well as general toxic buildup in a pet’s system.

Sarah McCormick of Gallman, who shops for many of her petsupplies in Brookhaven, said after trying a lot of over-the-counterproducts, she finally gave up and went to her veterinarian forhelp. She said he told her that quality and routine are the way tostop the problem.

“He said the dogs need to be treated every month, and that itneeds to be a product like Frontline or Advantage so it won’t makemy animals sick,” she said. “He also said we have to make sure todo it every month, or the eggs won’t die.”

She said he also suggested a distraction for when the itchinggets out of control before the treatment kicks in.

“He said sometimes you have to keep them preoccupied,” she said,as she put a bag of rawhide bones in her basket. “If they haveother things to chew on, they won’t chew on themselves.”