I thought it would be worth writing about this subject because it’s a perennial conversation that I have in the consulting room.
Any experienced dog owners might be saying: “you don’t get fleas at this time of year!”
Perhaps in days of yore this may have been true. Back then we didn’t have central heating, houses were draughty and fleas don’t like the cold. So, reliably in winter, the fleas would go to ground and wouldn’t be seen again until spring.
Sadly it just isn’t true nowadays.
In fact, only this week I have treated two pets belonging to surprised owners for flea infestations.
Where does the flea treatment come from? There are monthly tablets, three-monthly tablets, monthly spot on’s, six-monthly injections for cats (very convenient as only needed twice per year) and a number of other possibilities.
The thing that all these products have in common is that they are prescription medications. That is to say vets prescribe them to pets that we have registered on our system and have (at some stage in the recent past) examined to allow us to prescribe these controlled medications.
Some people choose to buy their flea treatments from a pet shop or even a supermarket. I would draw a parallel here between the pharmacist and the GP.
Say you get a chest infection - you might visit the pharmacy for some cough syrup. Four days later you are still coughing away and you relent and book a GP appointment. The doctor can then prescribe more potent medication to fix your chest. The pharmacist is not allowed to give you these medications, they have to be on prescription from a GP.
Vets find the same thing with flea treatments. I can cite many examples where owners have dutifully been applying a monthly flea treatment that they bought from the supermarket shelf, and have still ended up with a flea infestation! I can only imagine how frustrated they are, but the reason is supermarkets simply aren’t allowed to dispense the same medications that vets are.
Do think about preventing fleas even over winter, and where you buy your flea treatment from.