Now that spring is here and summer is right around the corner, you may have noticed that the flies, ants, and other bugs are back, including fleas. If you’ve treated your pet but still notice that there are fleas around or they are still scratching, don’t panic. Even though it’s easy to think the medication must not be working or this new generation of fleas must be immune, chances are it’s more due to just time and making sure it is applied correctly. I treated my cats this week even though they are indoor only because I go to parks and have friends with pets and there is a small chance I could accidentally bring home fleas. It happened last summer and this year I decided to be more proactive.
There are several reasons why flea medication may not seem effective after one dose, here are a few common reasons why and what to do:
1: Failing to also treat the environment – adult fleas and eggs may be in your yard, carpet, and furniture. Treating your pet is one step but that doesn’t stop the eggs from hatching. If you haven’t treated every pet in your house, fleas may find that pet and bite her/him. Also, if your pet runs around in the parks, woods, or neighborhood they may encounter animals that have fleas and bring them home. Flea medication is meant to prevent fleas from living after biting a pet and make them also find your pet distasteful but it doesn’t mean they won’t hitch a ride.
2: Over-bathing can negate the flea medication – your pet has natural oils that form a layer on her/his skin and that is where the topical flea products go to work. Too many baths can wash away the oil and the product making it all ineffective. You may want to cut back on the romps in the lakes and muddy paths to space out baths throughout the summer. There are also soap free shampoos that you can use on your pet, talk to your vet.
3: One treatment isn’t enough – throughout the warmer months you need to apply the flea medication as directed. A flea’s life cycle and the time it takes for new eggs to hatch means the population sticks around for a while. It can take a few months before you see a decrease in the fleas around the parks, on other pets, and in your house if you’ve had an infestation. Stopping treatment too early can undo the hard work you’ve been doing so far. Continue keeping your place clean, treating your yard, and pets.
4: Some flea products “flush” fleas – Sometimes after applying a flea product you may see fleas on your pet’s fur. This is because the fleas are trying to get away from the treated pet and get away from the skin where they’ve been walking around. They may run across the outer fur instead and be more visible. It doesn’t mean your pet has more fleas, rather, it means the product is working.