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Ask a Vet: Terminate fleas of all sizes
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Rome hated Carthage.

If Rome was the Bulldogs, Carthage was the Gators. Except with no visors or jean shorts. And after more than 115 years of war, Rome wanted to send a message to the defeated Carthaginians. Rome did so with a symbolic salting of the ground at Carthage to make sure nothing grew there.

This is a good model for how I feel about fleas.

Yes, fleas are a creature of the world, and as such have some value in the grand scheme of things. But in my business, sometimes the grand scheme is too far away to warrant consideration when your dog is chewing his rear end bald.

So my recommendations for dealing with fleas are as follows:

Kill all the adults. This works best with a combination of treatments, including a reliable topical flea preventive. Many are available, but steer clear of over-the-counter topicals, as their margin of safety and reliability have recently been put into question.

Another option is an oral pulse kill medication, such as Capstar. This rids the pet of fleas, at least in the short term.

And yes, fleas live on other animals besides the one affected. Therefore, treat every pet at the same time so you have no Typhoid Mary curled up at your feet, making everyone else miserable.

Kill all the non-adults. This is probably the most important aspect to take into consideration.

True, adults are the biters causing problems. But the children will become the next generation of biters. In the flea population, non-adults constitute up to 99 percent of the total. So when you eliminate the mom and dad fleas, terminate their kids.

I usually recommend aerosol foggers for the home, provided you have no exotic pets or sensitive household members. This takes away the necessity of spraying or powdering every inch, and allows you to be much more lazy, which to me is important.

This is the season for flea problems. If you notice one, pull the trigger on your own salting of the fleas, as it were. Trust me, they deserve it.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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