Get the Facts About Fleas This Summer and Protect Your Pets

Spring is the season of love and summer is the season of fleas. While fleas survive year-round in Southern California, they seem to explode during the summer and drive everyone, especially our pets, crazy. There are numerous products that claim to treat fleas and abundant information on the web that is sometimes good and sometimes not so good. Here are some common misconceptions about fleas by pet owners, as many people are not up-to-speed on fleas and the havoc they cause for their pets.


1.  Flea meds are only needed in the summer. We are fortunate to live in a beautiful climate that never gets cold enough for the fleas to stop reproducing and die off. Flea season is greatly influenced by weather conditions such as temperature and humidity.  Some of the worst flea infestations occur in the winter because everyone stops their flea meds and their pets are unprotected.


2.   Only treating when you see fleas is effective. Wrong. By the time you see the fleas, it is too late. A single flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, so if you miss it for just a day or two, your house becomes infested and it is will take months to break that life cycle.


3. Once you see fleas, you only need to treat once. This is a common mistake we see.  Adult fleas are only 5 percent of the total flea population. The other 95 percent are eggs, flea larvae (a nice name for a flea worm), and pupae. They take anywhere from three weeks to one year to hatch and develop into adult fleas. It is best to give flea meds for a minimum of three months to allow the eggs, larvae, and pupae to hatch into adult fleas, then die from the flea medications.


4. Only the pets in the house that have fleas need treatment. Not true. If there are pets in the house that are not on flea control, they can serve as the reservoir of fleas that continue to infest your house and the other pets.


5. Giving your pet garlic and B-vitamins will get rid of their fleas. This is false. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Owners looking for a more “natural” solution for flea control should use Comfortis or Trifexis. They are actually organic chemicals – you can spray this on your vegetables and they would still be considered organic because it is a clean chemical, it breaks down rapidly, and does not linger in the environment. Fortunately this is also the most effective flea control on the market at the moment.


6. Flea products are toxic. Wrong. Unlike “natural” products, prescription flea control agents have been extensively tested and approved. Actually, fleas are toxic. We see more disease from fleas themselves than from any flea control products.


7. Indoor pets do not get fleas. Myth. Fleas can hitch a ride on you and end up in your home and on your pet. Pets that never go outside, such as cats who live on the 14th floor of an apartment building, can get fleas.


8. If you do not have carpet in your house, fleas cannot survive. False. Fleas can live in furniture (couches, pet beds, your bed) and cracks in your house. They are resilient and can live in a lot of places besides carpet.


9. Spraying for fleas in your house and in your yard is all you need. Wrong. You have to treat your pets directly to gain good control. If you are treating the environment but not the pet, fleas can still feed on your pet and lay eggs in areas that may not have been treated. Treating the environment will definitely help, but it’s important to treat your pet and the environment at the same time.


10. If your pet is on flea medicine, you shouldn’t see any fleas. Myth. You may still see fleas on your pet because they continue to get inundated with fleas. Many flea meds will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours to kill the new crop of fleas that have tried to feast on your pet.  Fortunately, with active flea protection at work throughout the year, they should be dying.


Dr. Brian Evans, DVM, is the founder of Coastal Animal Hospital in Encinitas, Calif. He earned his undergraduate and veterinary degrees from the University of California, Davis. Coastal Animal Hospital provides personalized care for pets from their first visit to their final moments. Learn more at