A Bad Year for Fleas?
Is it just us, or is this the worst year for fleas in a long a time? Or should we say, “best” year for the fleas, and worst year for cats and dogs?
Just about everyone we know is suddenly battling flea infestations, and several dogs we know have been tortured by enough bites that they’ve chewed or scratched themselves raw, instigating some awful secondary infections or “hot spots.” And this is in an area not usually plagued by that many fleas.
We’ve been quizzing our friends about what they use for protection from fleas, and the answers have included every spot-on topical we’ve ever heard of, and some low-budget knock-offs we haven’t. Almost everyone who has complained of a flea problem has mentioned that sometime between week 2 and week three after application, the fleas seem able to return to the dogs (and cats) with impunity.
We’re fighting the battle, too. We’ve been attempting to introduce our two new kittens to our old cat slowly. Shadow is 14 or 15 years old, and has never had to live with another cat; she’s not taking it that well. The kittens are the last two of the litter of former fosters, who are now part of the family. We’ve been keeping them at our office building, but want to move them home with us full-time. To keep from sending the old cat off the deep end, we’ve been bringing them home in a carrier for short visits – and I think we’ve been unwittingly transmitting fleas around the neighborhood this way, too! We’ve used a monthly spot-on product on Otto for the past three months, and other products for cats on all the rest of the gang – plus we vacuum constantly, but we’re still seeing fleas.
In our youth, it was common to see dogs whose teeth were worn down from near-constant chewing – self-mutilation due to severe flea bites and flea allergies. As adults, we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security that the flea problem has been solved by modern chemistry. Intellectually, we know better; no insect can be controlled forever by a handful of chemicals alone. It takes a true, multi-faceted integrated pest management program, including indoor and outdoor treatments, as well as constant cleaning and vigilance, to control fleas – especially if you have cats (feral or not) who come and go, wildlife vectors (rats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, etc.) in close proximity, or lots of visiting dogs.
We have to ask again: Is it just here in Northern California where the flea population seems to have exploded this year?