Help! I can’t get rid of these fleas! How Veterinary Medical Center handles these pesky parasites.

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Hello and welcome to Veterinary Medical Center’s blog! My name is Dr. Amy Tanis and I have worked here as a mixed animal practioner for 5 years. This is our first blog entry and I felt it fitting to welcome you to our practice by allowing us to become better acquainted and go over how to get a better handle on flea control in our pets during this time of year.

Veterinary Medical Center first opened its doors in 1980 and has served small and large animal patients since! Our mission statement is simple and 2-fold: we treat sick animals and our goal is to do so with compassion, respect, and integrity. Our purpose is to make sure every patient and client is treated like part of our family! Back then, flea control consisted of shampoos, dusts and sprays that did not last long and were ineffective at controlling anything but the adult flea. Clients were often frustrated since the fleas were very difficult to get under control. Now-a-days, there are countless products that are on the market for fleas – but it doesn’t mean that they are any less frustrating when you see them on your pet!

When we talk about fleas, clients are often perplexed about where to start – what product should I use? How do I apply it? Can I combine treatments? Is what’s available at PetSmart the same as what my veterinarian sells?

This time of year, we often see a surge in the number of fleas that infest our cats and dogs. This is because they’ve had all spring and summer to reproduce, so the number of adults ready to jump on your animal is the highest.  And how the adult fleas got to that stage (their life cycle) is important since we focus our efforts on killing not only the adults, but other life stages as well. The flea goes through 4 separate life phases – egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The whole life cycle takes about 3 weeks in ideal warm, humid conditions. But the pupa stage can lay dormant for up to 6 months or longer if the temperature is cool. That’s why you may not see fleas all winter, but come spring and warmer temperatures, you have fleas again! It is because the pupa that have survived all winter (free room and board in your house!) hatch and become adults that then jump on Fido or Fluffy –  the cycle continues.

So how do we effectively stop this vicious cycle? Our flea control focus is 3-pronged: treat the affected pet, treat the environment, and treat all in-contact animals. This third factor may be out of your control if you frequent dog parks, kennels or areas where there are pets other than your own. But every other pet in your household should be treated.

But what is the best treatment once fleas are discovered? At VMC, we tailor each pet’s flea control program to meet the individual animal’s needs.  Some animals swim often – let’s use oral medication as the primary flea preventive or treatment. Cats often do not like taking a pill – there are topical and even injectable options. There are so many options on the market these days, the task of choosing a flea treatment or preventive can be daunting. We are here to help! Please contact us or visit our website so we can help you choose the best products for your animal.

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