Flea Prevention & PlagueFleas? Why do we need to worry about fleas? We don’t have fleas around here…

Well, we do. Not many, but the fleas carried by the rabbits and rodents in our area commonly carry plague (Yersinia pestis), which can be transmitted to people as well as dogs and cats.

Plague (the “black death”) is a bacterial infection causing high fever, lethargy, inappetance, body aches, lymph node enlargement in cats (sometimes dogs) and people! Plague is treatable with antibiotics, but can be quite debilitating and even fatal if not recognized and treated quickly. More information on plague is available from the Centers for Disease Control website.

Every year a few cats and a few people in northern New Mexico are diagnosed with plague. Dogs seem to be more resistant to infection with plague, but they can still bring fleas in to the house, where they can infect us. For this reason, as well as our pets’ health we recommend using a flea preventative on your dogs and cats from April through November. Even indoor cats have exposure to fleas through the mice that can get in the house.

Cats and dogs are exposed to fleas when they hunt, find freshly hunted remains left by the coyotes or when they stick their faces into a rabbit warren or rat den at the base of a juniper or cholla in the yard or out on the trail.


The best approach would be to keep the fleas off in the first place, but there really are no good flea repellants. Collars just don’t work that well. Flea dips or baths only work for the short period of time that they are wet on the animal. For this reason, we recommend using a topical long-lasting flea-killing product containing the active ingredient fipronil. Fipronil kills fleas that bite your pet, keeping them from setting up a nest or laying eggs in the house or yard, and limiting your exposure to them.

A few brands contain fipronil. Some of them also contain other ingredients to keep flea eggs from developing and hatching. If you have a continual flea problem in the home/ yard environment, these growth inhibitors may be helpful but, for the most part in our area, we are more concerned about the immediate infestation that comes from exposure to a rodent or burrow.

Some flea- preventives contain only these growth inhibitors and do not kill the fleas that may have found their way on to your pet, only keeping their eggs from hatching.

There are some over-the-counter flea preventatives that contain pyrethrins. Not only are they not as effective or effective for as long as fipronil- containing products, they can be toxic to cats and small dogs, and can cause skin irritation even in large dogs. Please avoid these pyrethrin or permethrin flea preventatives.

We have selected a flea preventive that we feel does the best job of preventing flea infestations in dogs and cats without the extra, unnecessary chemicals. It is also less costly than the most common flea preventives. Please call us or come by for more information and a prescription for flea prevention.

New Flea Control Options. We want your opinion:
For years we have recommended fipronil (Parastar, EasySpot or Frontline), a topical liquid medication applied monthly to kill fleas that feed on your dog or cat.

Now there are two new oral, rapidly acting flea control medications available for dogs:

BRAVECTO (fluralaner) and NEXGARD (afoxolaner).

These medications kill fleas in fashion similar to fipronil, by affecting portions of the flea’s nervous system not present in mammals like dogs and cats.

We would like to know if you are interested in trying either of these new products. If you have any questions about our services, please contact us today at (505) 466-1540.