Editorial: Fleas Aren’t “Normal.”

As the “dog days of summer” continue, not only do we have to worry about protecting our animal companions from the heat, we also have to contend with another all too familiar foe: fleas.

In reality, even though flea infestations tend to peak in summer, our mild winters mean that we can have breakouts at any time of the year. This is an important fact - for Southern California, fleas can be a year-round problem, and even indoors-only friends are susceptible to infestations.

For fleas, “infestations” is an appropriate term - for each flea we happen to see on our companions, there are likely many many more on them and in the environment at home, including our bedding, carpets, and couches. In fact, it is their apparent ubiquity that often makes many pet owners give up attempting flea control. For some of us, fleas on our dogs and cats seems like a normal, if unattractive part of having pets in our lives, much like cleaning a litter-box.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Especially in the past 5+ years, there have been many next-generation flea control products that have been proven to be safe and highly effective, especially when used in conjunction with other environmental products. The range of choices include topical spot-ons (like Bravecto), oral tablets (Comfortis), and chews (NexGard and Bravecto). Most of these products are considerably more expensive than the last generation of products, which sometimes discourages their use. We remain big advocates of them however. Especially when considering the costs associated with the ineffectiveness of previous products, these new products are not as expensive as they seem. Simply, the cost of a generic topical treatment, flea collar, flea shampoo, flea spray, and yard spray can quickly approach that of an often more effective next-gen product. In addition, the costs of treating conditions such as flea allergy dermatitis, hot spots, tapeworms and other various conditions (not to mention general misery for both the pet and the owner) is an additional cost/benefit analysis that is often forgotten when comparing the costs of various products both in-store and online.

In short, there is no longer a need to rely on the old powders, flea collars, yard sprays, and flea bombs of yesterday. Today represents a golden age in development of flea control products that past generations of pet owners would’ve loved to have access to. They are safe, effective, and not as expensive as they seem when comparing them to the costs of not using them. Opportunities to price-shop across many pet stores, veterinarians, and reputable online sites also make bargain hunting easier. The result is that the perception of fleas as a “normal” condition on our pets isn’t being realistic; in many cases it's antiquated, and it’s often from not doing enough.

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