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Pet Talk - Pet Health

Monthly Flea Death Products
by Dr. Fran Good, DVM


August 11, 2003
Monday - 12:40 pm

The Saga of Monthly Flea Death continues. After the innovation of Program©, the once a month pill that short-circuited the reproductive wiring of the household flea, the veterinary community was reeling. We'd all wished for something like that to simplify the dreaded Flea Talk we all had to give to our clients, fifteen times a day. The one I'm giving you now.

But we'd always laugh and say 'Dream on'.

Photo by Chris Wilhelm

When lufenuron, the active ingredient of Program®, hit the market, it sparked a wave of new flea products, that's still continuing today. While lufenuron couldn't help our allergic animals, Defend was about to fix that. Since the flea had to bite the animal in order to ingest the lufenuron, our allergic animals, who were allergic to the flea's saliva, were left out in the cold this time. But the buying frenzy when Program® was first released made it clear that pet owners really liked the once-a-month idea. And Novertis upped the ante a tad, by coming out with injectable lufenuron, that only has to be given once every three months.

But still no good for allergic animals.

The next product I remember hitting the market was Ex-Spot© by Defend. This was the tried-and-true permethrin, applied topically, that had been made to last for four weeks. It took care of the adults on contact, which broke the reproductive cycle pretty pointedly, by killing the reproducers. The only problem remaining was that permethrins, applied improperly, or applied to cats at all, would result in an emergency toxicity call.

And we had quite a few of those. Cats. Emergency calls about improperly applied permethrins. Emergency calls about permethrins improperly applied to cats. Take your pick.

When Bayer created a product called Advantage©, which was topically applied to the skin at the back of the neck, we thought this was the end-all-and be-all of flea control. Now we had the once-a-month advantage (no pun intended) and the pet didn't need to get bitten for imidacloprid, the active ingredient in Advantage© to work. Imidacloprid killed fleas within a few minutes of contact, but caused very, very few toxic reactions.

And it was great stuff, I mean it is great stuff. But there are other dangerous critters out there besides fleas.

Next: How the monthly flea treatments welcomed other members of the parasite family to the Extermination Club

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©2002 Dr Fran's Pet Health


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