Why are the Fleas so Bad this Year?

There appears to be an odd phenomenon this year. July arrives and suddenly the fleas are swarming. That in itself doesn’t seem unusual. The onset of flea season in felines and canines varies from early July to September. This is greatly dependent on spring moisture, summer temperatures and even winter climate. This year seems to have been the perfect storm of events. We had a not too cold winter, a very wet and at time warm spring and finally a record challenging hot (so far) summer. So why should it surprise that we are seeing many clients complaining about the persistence of fleas on their pets? Because most of these pets have been on flea preventatives on a regular basis and yet are still becoming infested.

It’s no surprise when you compare the price of over the counter flea products such as Hartz to a prescription product such as Frontline or Advantix that the performance of the latter is superior from both an effectiveness and safety standpoint. As the saying go “You get what you pay for”. But, surprisingly, what we are finding this year is multiple failures among nearly all products. Why is this occuring? After a bit of detective work by one of the vets in our office we observed that Frontline and Advantix failures were nearly always seen when the products were sourced online or through pet stores rather than through a veterinary hospital. As mentioned in a previous post the manufacturers of these Name Brand products do not sell directly to pet stores or online distributors such as 1800 Petmeds. That leaves it up to the retailer to purchase products from third party sources in order to market them. If the storage of these products is not appropriate then it leads to an alteration in the chemical which can reduce efficacy.

So what are we saying? I must admit that what was stated in a previous post regarding the acceptability of purchasing products online as long they are not “medical therapeutic products” may not apply this year. Though we consider it very important for clents to save dollars when practical, it seems that the severity of this flea season may dictate otherwise. Let’s be clear. The Frontline and Advantix at your local vet starts out as the identical product to what the online pet pharmacies access. It’s what happens in the shipping, storage and other environments that can have a significant impact on how well these products perform. With this record hot summer it becomes an unpredictable answer. As is always the case: “Buyer Beware”.