June 2014 News & Views: Plan to be “Flea Free” this June! Plan now to protect pets this summer and fall.

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Plan to be “Flea Free” this June! Plan now to protect pets this summer and fall.

blog-dreamstime_xl_29892999This time of year, we see SO MANY PROBLEMS caused by fleas – itchy skin, flea infested puppies and kittens, and clients with bites on their ankles. Did you know the problem likely started in March or earlier?

We KNOW that the spring, summer and fall are the biggest seasons for flea infestations. Why is that?

We know that by the time your pet has fleas, your home and yard are also likely infested with fleas! Fleas lay eggs on dogs and cats and then they fall off and hatch into larvae. The larvae matures into pupae and can be ‘dormant’ from weeks to months – WAITING for the right time to HATCH! Summer is the best time for fleas to hatch because the weather is warm!

How do you make it stop NOW and control future problems? The answer is complicated and multi-faceted! Please read about our flea control recommendations in our newsletter.

As a pet owner in Southern California, I know you are aware of pesky parasites…Fleas & Ticks!

Flea Facts:


  • Adult fleas live, feed and mate on our pets (host);
  • The female flea lays eggs that fall off into the environment where they hatch into larvae;
  • The larvae eat organic debris until they mature into pupae;
  • The pupae may lie dormant for weeks to months;
  • Newly hatched adult fleas jump onto a host animal to complete their life cycle.
  • Two days after eating a blood meal from the host, the female flea begins to lay eggs.

How can fleas harm your dog?

Fleas don’t breed on your dog — fleas deposit their eggs in bedding and nearby objects. Fleas feed on your pet’s blood and make your dog uncomfortable. A heavy infestation can cause your pet to become anemic and ill. A good way to check your dog for fleas is to roll him/her on his back and check his groin area. You may see fleas scattering in this area. Even if you don’t see a flea, you may see evidence of the flea’s existence with ‘flea dirt’. (Flea dirt resembles ground pepper.) The most common allergy dermatitis in cats and dogs is a flea allergy.

What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

If hypersensitivity develops, the tissue damage associated with inflammation may become too great even for the skin to repair. Therapy for the allergic reaction is based on the severity and history of the symptoms. While symptomatic relief can be provided, the only real treatment for a dog with this condition is to keep him ‘flea free’, if possible.


Flea Control – Getting rid of fleas on your dog or cat alone does not treat the overall flea problem. Did you know that during the flea cycle, only about 5% of fleas are actually living on your pet? The other 95% of fleas are living in your house or yard!

Flea Control Recommendations: 4 Easy Steps to make your pet and home ‘flea free’

  1. The first step is to vacuum. As previously mentioned, only 5% of these pesky fleas are living on your pet. That means the other 95% are living in either your house or yard. If you have a pet that lives inside or regularly comes inside the house, you need to get rid of the vast majority of the fleas quickly. Vacuuming is one of the most important steps of getting rid of fleas.
  2. Treat your dog or cat with a flea product. Topical treatments are applied to the skin, usually between the shoulder blades and dispersed through the dog’s coat. (Usually applied monthly.) Chewable tablets are a meat flavored tablet that rapidly kills fleas on dogs and then goes on to prevent flea infestations for a further month. These tablets are FDA approved.
  3. Spray all floors, carpets, rugs and places your pet sleeps containing a flea control product containing Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). IGR is a protein that works on the development of flea eggs and larvae, and stops fleas from developing to maturity so they cannot reproduce. Also, don’t forget about your yard and garden! (p.s. Don’t forget to remove or cover any fish or reptiles that are in the house before spraying!)
  4. Have a chat with your veterinarian to discuss which topical product or chewable tablet would be the most suitable for your dog or cat.

What you need to know about feline flea control products.

Although most topical insecticides will kill adult fleas, many have limited effectiveness because they only work for a few hours after application. This is particularly true of flea shampoos — they kill fleas present on your cat(s) at the time of application, but have little residual effect. Newer products with excellent residual activity are available from your veterinarian. For best results in a flea infestation, use flea control products that contain an IGR.

Ticks in Southern California

Ticks are not insects, but they are closely related to spiders, scorpions and mites.

How do you check for ticks on your pet?

Check your dog for ticks every day. Brush your fingers through their fur and apply enough pressure to feel any small bumps. Be sure to check between your dog’s toes, behind ears, under armpits and around the tail and head, too. If you do feel a bump, pull the fur apart to see what’s there. A tick that has embedded itself in your dog will vary in size, something from the size of a pinhead to a grape, depending on how long it’s been attached. Ticks are usually black or dark brown in color, but will turn a grayish-white after feeding in what’s referred to as an ‘engorged state’.

Removing ticks

Removing embedded ticks is a delicate operation, because it’s easy for a piece of the tick to break off and remain in your dog’s skin, if done improperly. Bring your dog to a veterinarian who can safely perform the task and, possibly, show you how it’s done.

Should my pet be on a tick preventative product?

Consult your veterinarian about your options and what’s best for your pet. Some questions you can ask include:

  • What parasites does this product protect against?
  • How often should I use/apply the product?
  • How long will it take for the product to work?
  • If I see a flea or tick, does that mean it’s not working?
  • What should I do if my pet has a reaction to the product?
  • Is there a need for more than one product?
  • How would I apply or use multiple products on my pet?

Parasite protection is not “one-size-fits-all.” Certain factors affect the type and dose of the product that can be used, including the age, species, breed, life style and health status of your pet, as well as any medications your pet is receiving. Caution is advised when considering flea/tick treatment for puppies and kittens and very old pets. Use a flea comb on puppies and kittens that are too young for flea/tick products. Some breeds are sensitive to certain ingredients that can make them extremely ill. Flea and tick preventives and some medications can interfere with each other, resulting in unwanted side effects, toxicities, or even ineffective doses; it’s important that your veterinarian is aware of all of your pet’s medications when considering the optimal flea and tick preventive for your pet.

Flea and Tick products we recommend at IVS:

  • Trifexis
  • Comfortis
  • Vectra
  • Capstar

*How often should you bathe your pet to control fleas?

Ridding your pet and home of fleas requires a multi-faceted attack. Bathing your pet with flea shampoo is just one potential part of the equation. However, if you elect to use a flea shampoo, you should shampoo only as often as the manufacturer recommends. How often you should bathe your pet with a flea treatment depends on the product and its contents.

Consult with your veterinarian for your pet’s best flea treatment option and schedule a bath appointment for your pet(s).

Kittens available for Adoption!

Take a look at these adorable kittens, approximately six weeks old, available for adoption! Come by our University Park location to see these precious kittens.


How is Angel doing today?

(Last month, there was a feature article on Angel, the German Shepard who was diagnosed with demodectic mange and severe case of bacterial infection.) Look at her now! Angel is improving daily with the treatment plan prescribed by Dr. Oakley, plus the love and care she is receiving from her new owner.





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