Flea Treatment Options
Hello I am Dr. Mike. In areas where fleas are endemic, they cause a lot of medical problems
in our pets. It’s important in our discussion about fleas to understand their life cycle,
what problems they may cause and the most current and effective treatment options available.
Today we are going to meet Dr. Wayne Rosenkrantz who is board certified in animal dermatology.
Fleas can cause several different scenarios and complications in our domestic pets. Of
course, the biggest one as a dermatologist and that we as veterinarians often see is
allergic reactions associated with flea bite reactions. When a flea takes a blood meal,
there is an exchange of salivary and other body part allergens that get into the system
and in sensitized animals, this causes an intense itching reaction that can manifest
as infections or hot spots, and that is the most common.
Other concerns relate to the ingestion of the flea that can contain a development stage
of a tapeworm. A tapeworm is an intestinal parasite that usually doesn’t cause a lot
of harm to most pets, but it’s an upsetting parasite. If owners happen to see these fragmented
segments around their pet’s bottom or on their stools, this of course draws attention and
obviously veterinarian attention needs to be given to appropriately treat and eliminate.
Anemias, those are rare also, but in heavy infestations, fleas do suck blood. In small
pets, kittens and puppies, if they have a heavy flea infestation, the fleas can actually
take enough blood meal to create an anemic situation. That, of course, can become more
of a life threatening scenario. So as far as actually killing fleas and implementing
flea control, there are a variety of choices available. The beauty about the new products
is that they have a tremendous increase in safety and efficacy than older, more toxic
dips that we used to use years ago. The topical products are easy for a lot of client to apply.
Then there are owners who prefer to use oral treatments, and oral treatments have their
own benefits, and particularly in dermatology we see a lot of patients who have skin disease
and inflammatory changes on their skin. We like owners to bathe their pets frequently.
When you bathe frequently, you can remove some of the topical products. Oral administration
has a big benefit especially when bathing programs are more frequent and indicated.
A product that I think is the most unique and certainly helped really tremendously in
our practices is the oral treatment; it has great efficacy and has been really, really
safe and highly effective in our flea allergic patients. So when you’re comparing topical
verses oral, are there some distinct advantages over one product than the other? There are
clients that don’t like topicals on their pets; they don’t like the greasy or residual
legions that it may leave at the sight of application. There are concerns about exposure
to people and the environment when you put the products on topically. The other huge
benefit is when we’re doing bathing and lots of other topical therapy, which is very important
in dermatology cases that the oral has a superior benefit over the topical. As far as prevention
of fleas and recurrences of complications, the key to success is consistency. That really
is what you need to do. Again, working with your veterinarian and picking the right product
that fits your pet’s specific needs, but using the product like its labeled indications,
once a month, every three months. That’s the key to success. When people become more complacent,
they do flea control for short periods of time, then the flea loads tend to reoccur.
The other areas of attention related to fleas and flea related dermatitis problems is treating
the complications of the disease that results from a flea bite or a flea allergy. Often
this can be secondary infections that may require antibiotics determined by your veterinarian.
Or we need to block the actual allergic reaction because many of these pets are intensely itchy
and they’re biting and chewing. So some type of topical or systemic drugs may need to be
given to block that itching episode. Dr. Rosenkrantz explained some of the problems associated
with fleas and why it is important to keep our pets protected from them. There are many
great options available to us from easy to apply topicals to flavored chewable tablets.
Most are very effective in killing fleas and begin working in minutes to hours. Many of
my clients prefer the chewable tablets. It’s easy, and there is no topical residue. I recommend
that you ask YOUR veterinarian for a flea control plan specifically designed for your
pet. I am Dr. Mike and thanks for watching.