Are Insecticide-Resistant Fleas Making Your Pet Sick?

Posted on: 18 November 2015


If you're a responsible pet parent, you already regularly treat your pets with medication or collars to keep fleas off of them. Whether you use a monthly topical treatment or regularly change their flea collar, you might be surprised to know that flea medication doesn't always have the effect that it's advertised to have. If you've noticed that your pet still has fleas, you're being bitten by fleas, or you've found living fleas in your home, you might have a problem. This guide will help you to understand why, and what you can do about it.

How Flea Medication Works

There are several forms of flea medication, but they all generally work in one of two ways: by changing your pet's blood or effectively shielding their skin from fleas.

Topical anti-flea medications that go on the back of the neck and oral medications actually affect your pet's blood, making it distasteful or even poisonous to fleas. Flea collars release a surface medication that repels fleas from getting near your pet, but without affecting your pet's blood.

Flea Resistance

Unfortunately, fleas are just like any other living creature: they can build a resistance to something that was once poisonous to them. Fleas create offspring rapidly and in massive quantities, so if even one flea manages to withstand the poison and survive, it passes its genes down to its descendants. Given enough time, those descendants will create more and more fleas that are resistant to the medication, meaning they can bite your pet at will and survive.

What One Flea Can Do

Fleas are extremely dangerous for pets; they can not only cause anemia, but they can also give your pet parasites, like tapeworms, and dangerous blood-borne diseases. The bottom line is, if any fleas are managing to survive on your pet, they're not safe.

How To Beat the Fleas

If you think your pet has fleas, work with your veterinarian to find a solution that works for your pet. If you and your vet suspect that the fleas have built up a resistance to their medication, your vet may prescribe another brand of anti-flea medication. By using a completely different chemical, you'll be able to kill all the fleas.

Your vet can also test your pet to make sure that they haven't already become anemic or developed tapeworms. If they have been, you should work with your vet to start treatment right away to kill the tapeworms and restore your pet's red blood cell count.

Over-the-counter anti-flea medications can be very helpful in keeping the fleas at bay, but they can't take the place of regular visits to the vet to make sure that your pet isn't being exposed to fleas or other biting pests. If you ever suspect that your pet is being bitten by fleas, take them to a vet or animal hospital for a full check-up and a re-evaluation of their anti-pest treatment.