The fleas are coming! The fleas are coming!

Spring is in the air! The Bradford Pear trees are blooming in this part of South Carolina and you know what that means! Fleas! Well, allergies too but that's a whole other segment! With the warmer weather of spring, the fleas will be hatching soon and if you haven't guessed by now this segment is about flea control.
Pic of Gizmo
If you only come away with one thing out of this article, it should be the importance of environmental control. You see, fleas don't actually live on our pets; 99% of the flea population as a whole live in your pet's environment. They hop on for a ride and a snack, then jump off and lay thousands and thousands of eggs. That's the real problem. Fleas are very prolific little buggers! Several strategies have evolved around around flea control, but environmental control is the most important for many of us. One philosphy is using a residual topical product that kills the adults when they get on or bite your pet. Other products just keep the eggs from hatching; sterilizing the adults, so to speak. Your strategy will depend on your flea burden in your pets environment and your overall tolerance for fleas.
First let's address the typical outside dog that has a heavy flea burden. You probably want to incorporate some sort of environmental treatment. Sprays and granules are widely available to treat your yard. Your local home improvement center is a good source. Furthermore, control is much easier if you have a contained environment such as a fence. This reduces the traffic of other animals through your pet's environment thus potentially reducing the number of fleas. But even without a fence, if you are treating the environment you can reduce the flea population significantly; at least in your pet's immediate environment.
An inside dog that only goes outside for brief periods naturally has less exposure to fleas. Thus, your approach can be less aggressive. This is especially true if you have a yard treatment plan in place. Environmental control in the home can be as simple as monthly oral dosing of insect growth regulators (those are the "birth control" products) to inhibit flea reproduction if one happens to come inside with your pet. Of course you can still use topical products to kill the adults if you prefer; some of these also include an insect growth regulator and don't necessarily need to be applied every month. The draw back of the oral growth regulators is that the flea still has to bite your pet. The topicals have this same limitation but it is much later in the dosing cycle. The problem with the flea biting is as you may have guessed the itching that can occur which is a real problem if your pet has flea allergies. A good strategy for the mostly inside dog may actually be a combination of a baseline growth regulator like one incorporated into your heartworm preventative and periodical use of topicals as needed.

It's really hard to summarize flea control in a few paragraphs. The
discussion forum is a good place to ask questions.