Comprehensive battle needed for fleas

Flea control is important for all of our pets. However, if your pet is extremely itchy on the area above his/her tail, the most likely cause is flea allergy.

A single flea bite on a flea-allergic pet will result in several days of intense itching especially around the lower back and rear limbs. For those pets, control is not enough — the fleas must be eradicated.

Flea eradication requires a much more thorough flea control effort and is a year-round battle in some parts of the country. Flea populations peak in early to midspring and then level off and actually decline slightly in the hottest part of the summer.

The flea population will peak once again as temperatures begin to drop in the fall and then decline gradually during the winter before peaking again in the spring. In anticipation of the next peak, we should employ a multipronged approach to flea control now.

First, treat the house. Synerkyl IGR (available through most veterinarians) is a spray that will kill adult fleas quickly and provide 150 days of flea egg control. Read the directions carefully and concentrate on the areas where your pet sleeps such as carpet, rugs and bedding.

Second, treat the yard. Bayer Total Insect Control (available at most home-improvement outlets) is a granule that is released slowly, and while not affecting flea eggs directly, it will kill adult fleas as they hatch. Read the directions carefully and reapply as directed.

Last, and most important, you must treat every dog or cat in the household. This is being made much easier by a new product called Comfortis, which is a chewable tablet that is given once a month. It will kill every flea on your pet, usually within four hours, and it will continue to kill adult fleas for 30 days.

No more oily drops to apply to your dog’s neck and no more worry about whether you applied the product correctly. Comfortis is a true FDA prescription medication. All the steps the FDA requires for drug approval have been met, meaning we can be assured of both safety and effectiveness. It has also proven to be effective on my own personal dogs.

Comfortis should be given with a small meal to ensure absorption from the stomach. At this time the product is not approved for use in cats and the flea drops continue to be the best option for our feline companions.

Remember, treat the house (carpet, rugs, bedding), treat the yard, and treat all pets in the household. If you would like more information on Comfortis, visit the company Web site or contact your veterinarian.

Dr. Chris Rainey is a veterinarian at Animal Hospital of Orange Grove, Miss. Address “Pet Doc” questions with SASE to South Mississippi Veterinary Medical Assn., 20005 Pineville Road, Long Beach MS 39560.