Picking a flea medication for dogs can be overwhelming. From collars to topical treatments to more holistic approaches, it seems that everyone has different opinions on which medication is better for keeping away these pesky parasites.
Summertime is prime flea and tick season. These tiny parasites usually live in tall grass or woods and wait for a host to pass them by, at which point they latch onto an animal in order to live off their blood. They breed quickly and can jump from pet to pet. Fleas and ticks are pretty much the Draculas of the parasitic world, and inevitably an issue if you’ve ever owned a pet.
Unfortunately, most flea medications are made from a bunch of weird chemicals which deters some owners from using flea preventative. However, in this case, we believe the pros outweigh the cons.
The reason flea medication is so adamantly recommended for dogs is because fleas bites hurt and can cause excessive irritation, hot spots, and allergic dermatitis, transmit tapeworms or result in loss of hair. Additionally, most flea medications will also kill ticks, which are also parasitic and known to carry Lyme disease. So while these medications might be questionable in their content, they save your dog a lot of discomfort and lower their risk of exposure to parasitic viruses.
Types of flea medication for dogs
There are whole lot of options when it comes to medications, but you’ve got options nevertheless.
Perhaps the most common flea treatment used among pet owners, Frontline is a topical treatment that works itself into your dog’s oil glands and kills adult fleas and ticks and whatever larvae or eggs they may have laid on your dog. The treatment lasts for one month, and over time it will work itself out through your dog’s hair follicles.
The positive thing about topical treatments is that they’re usually pretty easy to apply. However, they have been known to irritate dog’s skin and the chemicals are harmful to humans.
Pills, such as Comfortis, are usually mess-free and flavored to appeal to your dog. The positive aspects of pills are they tend to start working immediately. Plus, you don’t have to worry about spreading chemicals all over the place. Comfortis is a prescription, so it’s not as easy to get without a trip to the vet.
It’s worth noting that not all dogs can use oral flea preventatives, and particularly small dogs under five pounds should not be given Comfortis. Consult with your vet before giving your dog oral flea medication.
Flea collars work by emitting gas or oil that spreads over your dog’s skin and then kills fleas and ticks on contact. Popular options include Serestro, which lasts eight months and claims to be mess-free.
The thing to note about flea collars is that they are toxic to young children, and bathing your dog more than once a month can shorten the collar’s lifespan from eight months to five. They seem more suitable for cats in homes without children.
Unfortunately, the holistic dog health realm has not yet found a truly effective flea preventative. Some solutions such as flea traps or clove wipes and bathes can temporarily curb fleas and ticks, yet they don’t kill them, which is the goal of flea medication. If you don’t kill them, they will continue to happily live in your carpet and find a way to sneak back on your dog for a snack.
Bathing your dog with clove oil makes them smell fantastic, and helps keep fleas off for the time being. At Fitdog, we use an all natural clove based flea shampoo that rids dogs of fleas without harsh chemicals. It should be noted that flea baths are not flea prevention. We always recommend that dogs are on a regular flea preventative medication.
How to Prepare for Flea Season
Flea and tick medication is the only thing that can truly protect dogs from flea infestation. However, you can also take these steps to reduce their exposure to fleas.
Avoid tall grass
This is where fleas and ticks thrive. If your dog gets in the grass, give them a thorough examination to make sure there are no bugs squatting in her coat.
Consistent lawn maintenance is important
Because these parasites live in tall foliage, you will have to mow your lawn, cut back the roses, and prune the trees so they have less of a chance of survival.
Wash your bedding frequently
This is especially pertinent for people who have sought flea treatment after their dog has been bitten. If you have found fleas in your house, make sure you wash all bedding (including your dog’s). Then, give your abode a good vacuum and scrub to let the tiny tenants know they’re unwelcome.
Bathe your dog between medication doses
If you use a monthly topical flea medication, it is wise to bathe your dog between dosages. This ensures the medication is staying on them and lasting the full month.
If you have a cat, avoid Permethrin
This is a common insecticide used in some flea-prevention formulas, but it is highly toxic to cats. Check the label!
We hope this guide was helpful in navigating the many types of flea medications. May you and your dog have a happy and itch-free summer!