For the most part, I love this time of year. As summer turns to fall, it is football season again! There is really no way to miss the start of football season in this football-crazed state. While approximately 89.2% of pet owners coming into my clinic are either wearing some sort of Ohio State apparel or their pet is wearing an Ohio State collar/leash all year round, this time of year the excitement for the upcoming Buckeye football season is always a big topic of conversation. Even as a Purdue Boilermaker football fan, I get excited as well. This is the time of year everyone team has a chance for a good season. Right? I mean, even Purdue has a chance, don’t they? The last few years have been rough for Purdue fans. While we have spent those years just hoping to win one game, Buckeye fans have been worrying about losing one game.

One thing I don’t like about this time of year is having to talk so much about fleas. Don’t get me wrong. I love those cute little buggers from a business perspective. We have several incredible, safe, effective flea products that we sell to prevent and treat fleas. However, this time of year I spend a lot of time talking to pet owners about how their current flea infestation “suddenly” appeared when flea prevention wasn’t started earlier in the year. The truth about fleas is that they just don’t suddenly take over a house like that. It can start with just a couple fleas jumping on a pet. They feed off the pet and females can lay up to 50 eggs a day. These eggs are very slick and easily fall off the pet. If they fall onto carpeted areas, rugs, or upholstered furniture, they have an excellent place to continue the life cycle. Next, the larval stage hatches out of the egg and feeds on flakes of skin and other debris. The next stage is the pupal stage which the adult then comes out of in anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months.

Once the adults emerge from the pupae, their main goal is finding a food source. So these young adult fleas find the nearest animal and the life cycle is repeated. It is easy to see how up to 50 eggs a day per female flea can really become a big problem. That is why it is typically this time of year that I see the more severe flea problems. A few fleas on a pet may be very easily overlooked early in the year, but without early prevention there can be thousands of total fleas between the adults, eggs, larvae, and pupae just within a couple of months. At this point pets are usually extremely itchy and often need treated for their skin inflammation and secondary skin infection. These pets often also have tapeworms from licking and chewing at their skin and swallowing the fleas.

While most of these pet owners who find themselves with a flea infestation have done nothing for fleas thru the summer, many had been using and relying on products purchased while walking down the aisle of their favorite store. I understand that these are more convenient and often cheaper than products that are sold at your veterinarian’s office. But if it doesn’t work, you not only have wasted your money, but your pet is now miserable. Many of these products include ingredients that often no longer kill fleas. Many fleas are resistant to products that include any chemical ending with -ethrin. I have also seen many pets covered in fleas when well-intentioned pet owners treat them with products containing fipronil, including Frontline.

The good news is that we now have products that can rescue you from being overrun by fleas. In the past, we would discuss treating the house, treating the pets, and treating the yard. With the incredible products we have now, just by treating the pets in the house for three months pet owners can get everything back under control. There are either monthly tablets that can be given orally or monthly topicals that can be applied and within three months the flea problem will be under control. Talk to your veterinarian about what he/she recommends for your problem.

As far as this football season, good luck to the Buckeyes (even though it never seems they need any luck). I hope they don’t lose any games because I really don’t like to see my clients depressed. I would appreciate a few prayers for my Boilermakers. We need it.

Chad Higgins, DVM has owned Amanda Animal Hospital for the last 20 years and sees dogs, cats, ferrets, and other little furry critters.