Protect your dog from super fleas

Fleas live everywhere in the world except the Arctic—so it’s no surprise we have to do battle with them no matter where we live. And for many, it’s now a year-round concern. Summer is typically thought of as peak “flea season,” but milder winters, along with central heat and carpeting, have led to more fleas, more often. Pet parents and pet sitters alike are understandably frustrated. Do we have super-fleas on our hands?

Is the flea evolving?

You’ve tried all the usual suspects, from Frontline to Advantage, and the fleas keep coming back. Are fleas resistant to standard flea treatments? Mutant fleas??

Well, probably not. Or at least, not yet! What’s more likely happening is that the fleas are sticking around in the environment, and that even if they die off on your dog, the root problem hasn’t been addressed.

Only 5 percent of the total flea population actually live on our dogs—the rest just set up camp in our pet’s bedding and huddle under the furniture. They hang out in the moist and shady spots outside and just lie in wait. And occasionally, they jump 10-12 inches high and grab on for dear life.

All fleas can be super

In short, “super fleas,” are really just well-nourished, everyday fleas. Given the right conditions, ALL fleas have the potential to be super fleas. They’re stubborn, and they’ll stick around!

What’s a pet parent to do? Stay on top of flea treatments, year-round, and be vigilant. Fortunately, there are more options for treatment than there used to be. We’ve detailed some below, and you can find more here.

Oral options for treatment

Capstar for dogs and cats: around $30 for 6 doses

Pros

  •    Kills adult fleas quickly
  •    Side effects are rare
  •    No mess
  •    No prescription required

Cons

  •    Doesn’t kill flea eggs or larvae
  •    Pets may not take pill willingly

Comfortis for dogs and cats: around $95 for 6 doses

Pros

  •    Kills adult fleas quickly
  •    Long-lasting effects
  •    No mess

Cons

  •    May cause vomiting
  •    Serious reactions are rare, but possible
  •    Requires a prescription

Many vets advise that these oral medications are more effective than the standard topical treatments, but you should consult your vet to decide what’s right for your dog. Natural remedies are also available. You can get a full list of flea treatment options here.

Whichever flea treatment you choose, remember to follow the directions.  Pay attention to the weight determined dosage and keep track of your treatment dates. All treatments must be applied on time and correctly to be effective.

But what about our house? It’s like a flea bag hotel.

First, evict the super flea tenants from your poor, powerless dog. Then take the battle to the house. 

The flea is predictable and lazy. It’s snoozing in your pet’s bed. It hates the sun and prefers the dark, dingy corners.

So, wash your pet’s bedding regularly. Toss away old stuffed toys. Vacuum carpeting daily, especially under the furniture and in the corners.  Toss the pillows and cushions in the wash if you can.  If you have done all of this and your ankles are still itching, you may want to hire a professional bounty-hunter like Orkin to pay the Super Flea one last visit.

Hero image: Flickr / Matt Brown

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.