There are a baffling number of flea treatment options available out there, and choosing the best one for your dog can be confusing. Our team of veterinary professionals from PetVet Care Centres across the country discuss various flea treatments from powders to shampoos and monthly medications, to help you determine which flea treatment is best for your pup.
The Trouble With Fleas
Fleas are an external parasite and they depend on a host animal for survival. Once one of these little critters lands on your pet, they can make themselves at home and start to multiply at an alarming rate. Some estimates state that for every adult flea you discover on your dog, there can be 100 or more immature fleas hiding within your pet's coat. Plus, if your pet has fleas, there's a good chance that they are also invading your home, hiding in carpets and soft furnishings.
More Than Just an Itchy Nuisance
If your pet starts to itch and scratch, you might begin to suspect that they have fleas. Dogs that are allergic to the protein that's present in flea saliva will begin scratching as soon as a flea bites their skin. Just one bite can cause some dogs to scratch excessively, causing hair loss and lesions that can easily become infected.
Fleas are also able to transmit tapeworms, an internal parasite that can live in a dog's intestines. Tapeworms can even infect humans.
The Flea Lifecycle
Various flea treatments have different methods to either interrupt the lifecycle of fleas and/or kill them outright. To decide which flea treatment is best for your pooch, it's good to know a little bit about fleas live and multiply.
- Adult fleas live comfortably on your dog and nestle into their warm fur where they lay their eggs. Did you know that one female flea can lay 40-50 eggs each day, and may produce as many as 2000 eggs in her short lifetime?
- Each time your pooch begins to feverishly scratch at their bites, flea eggs are spread throughout your home and garden.
- The eggs can then settle into your home and garden, where they hatch and develop into larvae.
- Flea larvae burrow deeper into the fabrics they land on, then hatch. Suddenly, more fleas are jumping around, ready to hop onto your pet, have a nice meal and start to lay eggs of their own.
Flea Prevention - Easier Than Treatment
When it comes to parasites - especially fleas - it's far easier and usually cheaper to prevent an infestation than to treat your pet and home once fleas have moved in. Here are a few ways that you can help to keep fleas from invading your pet and your home.
Topical Flea Treatments for Dogs
Topical spot treatments typically come in small signal dose tubes that, when opened, allow pet owners to drip a pre-measured amount of medication directly onto their pet's skin behind the shoulder blades (to prevent your pet from licking off the medication).
The efficacy of topical treatments varies and depends upon a number of factors including how early treatment begins (how many fleas are present), and whether the pet owner is using the product correctly. When used as directed these products are estimated to be about 88% effective.
Spot treatments are largely designed to kill adult fleas, but some topical treatments also include ingredients that can inhibit larva development. While many of these products are available in stores it is a good idea to speak to your vet to find out which spot treatments they recommend for your pooch.
Flea collars are thin plastic collars that are coated in chemicals designed to repel or kill fleas. Collars that emit a gas that is said to repel fleas may not be very effective since fleas quickly learn to avoid the dog's neck area and make their home further back. Other collars are coated in chemicals designed to be absorbed by your pet's skin and kill fleas when they bite.
Both the effectiveness and safety of flea collars are hotly contested. If you are considering a flea collar for your pup it's a good idea to speak to your vet to find out which collar is best for your pup.
Bathing your dog using a good quality flea shampoo can be an effective way to kill any adult fleas that are present on your pet, but will not prevent eggs and larvae from continuing to hatch and thrive. The medications in flea shampoos tend only to work for a day or less, so using shampoo to fight an infestation is going to be an ongoing battle.
Flea Sprays & Powders
Flea sprays and powders can offer some short-term protection for your dog, however many of these products only kill adult fleas. If you are planning to use a spray or powder on your pet to fight fleas, be sure to look for products that will inhibit flea egg and larval development and kill adult fleas.
These treatments can be relatively effective. However, you will likely need to reapply the product repeatedly over a period of time. Speak to your vet before using these products and be sure to follow product directions carefully in order to protect your pet's health.
Oral Treatments to Prevent & Kill Fleas
Tablets & Chews for Dogs
Keeping your pup on a parasite protection medication whenever fleas and ticks are active, can be an easy and very effective way to keep parasites from making your pet uncomfortable or ill. It is estimated that oral treatments can be 99.9% effective at killing and preventing fleas.
Oral flea treatments come in the form of tasty tablets and chews that your dog can enjoy as a once a month treat. Once ingested the medication remains active and is transmitted to the fleas when they bite your pet.
Different oral treatments work in different ways, some will kill the adult fleas while others are designed to prevent larvae from hatching.
Oral treatments containing Nitenpyram are designed for short term use, to kill fleas quickly when there is an infestation evident. Medications containing Nitenpyram can actively begin killing fleas in as little as 30 minutes after being administered.
Another key benefit of oral treatments is that many of these medications can also protect your pooch against a host of other parasites including ticks, heartworms, and more. Speak to your vet to learn more about oral parasite prevention and treatment options.
Preventive Care & Parasite Protection for Pets
Many pet parents feel that the cost of prescription quality parasite prevention is beyond their budget, that's why many vets offer parasite prevention as part of their Annual Wellness Plans. Wellness Plans offer pet parents a discounted price on their pet's annual exams, vaccinations, and parasite protection, then spreads the cost across 12 easy payments.
Many of our PetVet Care Centers member vets offer Wellness Plans designed to help pet owners give their pets the preventive care they deserve, at an affordable price. Checkout our Wellness Plans page, or speak to your vet to learn more.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.