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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yes, You Really Are Doing It Wrong

This week I was reading an interesting article in one of my journals. One of the premier flea experts, Dr. Mike Dryden (whom I've mentioned before) has been doing a study on flea control. He went to Florida, the state with the biggest flea problem in the US, and visit the homes of around 30 people who were having flea problems and said that their flea prevention products weren't working. Dr. Dryden studied the environment and what the clients were doing to control the fleas. In every single case, he found that there was a problem with client compliance. The lack of flea control was not a problem with the product itself, but with how the client was using it or how they were treating (or not treating) the environment. Remember, these were all people who thought they were doing things correctly and were convinced that the products simply didn't work.

This is yet further proof to me that these products really are very effective. Every single day we talk to clients who honestly believe that the prevention we sell them isn't working. But I can find fault with how they are using things in well over 90% of the cases. Just today we had someone call our hospital complaining about Advantix. They had put a single dose on a week ago and were still seeing fleas. This was their first time using any flea products this year. We had to have a long discussion with them about expectations and the flea life cycle. Dr. Dryden's study supports this view of clients simply not doing what they should be.

Unfortunately, it's hard to convince them of that. Flea control can be much more complicated that people realize, and waiting until you see fleas is too late. Check with your vet and find out when flea season begins in your area (or if it is year-round), and then start using a veterinary-recommended product at the beginning of the season before you see fleas. If you see fleas despite using these products, be sure to talk to a vet who truly understands all of these factors and get advice. The data continues to mount that if a product doesn't work it's not a failure of the prevention, and you really are doing something wrong.


  1. If I had a dollar for every time...

  2. Sheesh, tell me about it. This is a discussion we have at least once daily with clients.

  3. One time, my mother nearly killed my cat using flea product on my cat. After getting frustrated with cleaning/fogging the house, my mom sprayed the cat with flea spray. She completely saturated him. A few days later he was vomiting every meal and isolating himself. I finally insisted we call the vet. The vet immediately assumed it was poisoning after the entire story and gave him fluids to flush out his system. He stayed a few days but ended up recovering.

    The directions said to "lightly mist the fur"...yes, read the directions!

  4. Bunk! I have personally experienced flea resistance to Frontline-- as a tech. Fleas in the Dallas area do really seem to be resistant to it. We know this because we have had MANY cats come in with fleas, whose people have treated with Frontline. I've had it myself. We would bring the cat in, riddled with fleas and apply Frontline, then keep the cats overnight in our flea-free hospital, in Isolation-- to see just what was going on. Next morning, we'd check the cats out and find plenty of happy, bouncing fleas. This happened several times, and we had no choice BUT to acknowledge the likelihood of resistance to fipronil. Now we are seeing the same with Advantage. In my own case, we live in a managed duplex community and our homes are treated periodically throughout the year for fleas, etc. I also treat the yard and house perimeter with diatomaceous earth and sulfur dust. Our cats still have occasional live fleas, despite Advantage. When we first used it, many years ago (and we've been loyal since first using it because it saved the life of one of our now-deceased cats when it first came out)... the stuff worked. We applied it, and within 24 hours... no more fleas on our cats. We would see the fleas dropping off, dead or dying. Now the fleas are still active 24 to 48 hours later. I applied Advantage to our cats on the first of the month. On the third, one cat had her annual exam and vaccines. The vet and tech showed us some fleas on her that were still very much alive and very lively. No, these fleas have developed resistance, and we had to change products. Please don't guilt your readers like this-- organisms can and do develop resistance to treatments. If they didn't, then old-school treatments like pyrethrins (on DOGS, not cats) would still work and we'd have no need for newer things to keep up with evolution...


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