Fall brings many pleasant surprises. The air turns crisp. The leaves change colors. The great outdoors is all the more inviting for dogs and cats alike. As more animals go outdoors with the great weather, fleas and ticks give a final push to make everyone’s life miserable before the cold weather comes. Later in the fall, freezes come and thin out the population of fleas and ticks – but around here they never disappear completely.
Fall can bring a false sense of security when it comes to external parasites. In September and October I see as many, if not more, fleas and flea allergies than in the warmer and wetter summer months. I’m not sure if people are just plain tired of attacking these pests or if the cooler temperatures actually makes the warmth of indoors and their pet all the more attractive.
Simply put, control for fleas has to be both environmental and pet-focused. Often we hear that a product is ineffective. While I think that some fleas populations can develop resistance, usually the problem is not the product but the saturated environment. On the other hand, tick control is almost exclusively achieved by avoiding wooded areas and applying topical products monthly. Flea baths and off brand Hartz products will not cut it for fleas or ticks – unfortunately you get what you pay for here.
The scariest part about fleas and ticks (aside from how gross it is to have a lot of things scurrying around on your pet) is the diseases they can transmit. Ticks especially have been shown to carry lots of diseases – Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever among others. Fleas don’t carry diseases that often, but they carry tapeworm eggs and have been shown to carry the dreaded plague! Not to say that the fleas you see will have this, but that’s still a gross thing to think about.
Now that everyone can get out and enjoy the cooler weather, I don’t want little hitchhikers to play a trick on you and get a treat from your animals in the meantime!
– Doc Cleland