For the love of your pet: Fight fleas year round with monthly prevention

I think this is the same time last year that I started my war against fleas. It started with just a couple here and there; the next thing I knew, I was inundated. The fleas got so bad I even started finding them on me. I bought some flea stuff from the grocery store, and it didn't seem to work very well. I could never get ahead of the flea problem. What can I do this year to avoid the same cycle?

You're right. The minute the sun starts to shine and the ground begins to dry, the fleas start to arrive. If you had a large amount of fleas last year and were not able to get them under control, you will probably have the same problem this year.

There are a lot of different approaches to battling your flea infestation. Most people start with protecting their animal. If you wait until you see a flea on your pet, you may already be behind the curve.

For every flea you see, there are nine more hiding somewhere else. I suggest having your yard and house sprayed before you even suspect a flea problem. You can call your local bug man to spray, that way you know they will pick the right chemicals for your problem and also chemicals that will not harm your pets.

If you choose to spray yourself, make sure you pick products that have quick dry times and are safe for pets after they are dry. Chemicals that are safe for your pet are usually marked that way or they are marked safe for young children.

When treating your yard, be sure to spray a couple of feet up the fence line, in the flower beds and around and on porches. Ticks and fleas are notorious for hiding in those places.

When spraying inside your home, get the tough spots such as under the couch, in closets, under and behind piles of clothes.

Using a spray with a growth regulator is also very helpful. This will not only kill the adult fleas but prevent them from procreating before they die.

When it comes to treating your pet, ask your veterinarian which flea preventative is best. There are a lot of choices over the counter. I do not suggest using any over the counter flea or tick preventative without first consulting your veterinarian.

A lot of the products sold in grocery stores or pet stores have not had the extensive safety testing of those sold by veterinarians. Some products can be toxic to some pets. Your vet bill to treat toxicity will far exceed the two or three dollars you saved by purchasing an over the counter product.

Time and time again, I see owners upset because they didn't know they could have these problems. Using a flea preventative monthly, like heartworm preventative, all year round is the best way to protect your pet against fleas.

Please contact my office or your current veterinarian's office if you have any questions or concerns with your flea prevention protocol.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.