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What is the best flea treatment for dogs?

Choosing the best flea treatment for your dog can be confusing, there are so many different types to choose from! Here our Huntersville vets look at the pros and cons of different flea treatment options to help you find the best treatment for your pup.


Why is it important to prevent fleas?

Fleas are external parasites that depend upon a host animal for their survival. Once a fleas find their way to your pup's coat they quickly settle in and make themselves comfortable, dining on your pet's blood and laying eggs.

Until steps are taken to break the fleas' lifecycle they will continue to thrive and reproduce on your pet, and in your home. Some people estimate that for every adult flea you find on your dog, there can be 100 or more immature fleas hiding in your pet's coat.

If that wasn't bad enough - if your pet has fleas, there is a good chance that these nasty little parasites are also invading your home, snuggled into your sofa or hiding in carpets.

Are fleas a health concern for my dog?

Pet parents typically begin to suspect that fleas are present on their pup when their dog begins itching and scratching. Many dogs are allergic to the protein which is present in flea saliva. It is this allergic reaction that causes the extreme itchiness and starts your dog scratching.

A single bite can cause some dogs to scratch excessively, causing hair loss, and lesions that can quickly become infected. 

Not only that, fleas can do more than just make your pup itchy, they can also transmit tapeworms. Tapeworms are an internal parasite that can live in your dog's intestines, and can even infect humans! 

How do fleas multiply so quickly?

Different treatments combat fleas at different stages of their lifecycle, so it's good to understand a little about the lifecycle of the flea, and how they multiply so quickly.

  • Adult fleas live on your dog's skin, nestled into their warm fur where they lay their eggs. 1 female flea can lay 40 - 50 eggs every day and may produce as many as 2000 eggs in her lifetime!
  • When your dog scratches, the flea eggs are scattered around your home and garden, where they hatch and become larvae. 
  • Flea larvae burrow deeper into the fabrics they land upon (or the dirt in your garden), where they will hatch as fleas. Suddenly there are more fleas jumping around, ready to hop onto your pet to have a nice meal and begin laying eggs of their own.

Is it better to prevent fleas or treat them?

Our vets believe that prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to parasites! It is far easier (and typically cheaper) to prevent a flea infestation from happening than to treat your pet and home once fleas have moved in.

What types of flea preventions and treatments are available for dogs?

Flea Collars

Flea collars have been around for decades. Flea collars are thin plastic collars that are coated in chemicals designed to repel or kill fleas. Collars that emit a gas formulated 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. Collars that are designed to help kill fleas are coated in chemicals formulated 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 speak to your vet to find out which collar you should choose.

Flea Shampoos

Good quality flea shampoos can be an effective way to kill adult fleas living on your pet, but they will not prevent eggs and larvae from continuing to hatch and thrive. That means that you will need to bathe your dog using flea shampoo repeatedly over a number of days in order to kill the adult fleas as they appear.

Medications in flea shampoos tend only to work for a day or less, so using shampoo to fight an infestation will likely be an ongoing battle. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle when using these treatments.

Flea Sprays & Powders

Sprays and powders formulated to kill fleas 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 flea spray or powder on your pet, be sure to look for products that will inhibit flea egg and larval development as well as kill adult fleas.

Speak to your vet before using these products and be sure to follow product directions carefully in order to protect your dog's health.

Spot Treatments

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). 

How effective spot treatments are varies depending upon the treatment you use, when you begin applying it to your dog (how many fleas are present), and how well you follow product instructions. When used as directed these products are estimated to be about 88% effective.

Most spot treatments are designed to kill adult fleas, but some may 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 treatment would be most effective for your dog.

Tablets & Chews for Dogs

Oral parasite prevention medications can be an easy and very effective way to prevent fleas and other parasites from making your pet uncomfortable or ill. 

Oral flea treatments come in the form of tasty tablets and chews that your dog can enjoy as a once a month treat (or as directed by your vet). Once ingested the medication remains active and is transmitted to the fleas when they bite your dog's skin.

Each brand of oral parasite prevention works somewhat differently, some will kill the adult fleas while others are designed to prevent larvae from hatching.

Treatments containing Nitenpyram are specifically formulated for short term use, to kill fleas quickly when there is an infestation. Medications containing Nitenpyram can actively begin killing fleas in as little as 30 minutes after being administered.

It is estimated that oral treatments can be 99.9% effective at killing and preventing fleas.

A key benefit of oral treatments over other forms of flea treatments is that many of these medications also protect your pet against other parasites such as ticks and heartworms which can make your pet seriously ill.

Speak to your vet to learn more about oral parasite prevention and treatment options.

How can I save money on parasite prevention for my dog?

Our vets understand that many pet parents feel that the cost of prescription quality parasite prevention is beyond their budget, that's why we offer parasite prevention as part of our Annual Wellness Plans for dogs and cats. Wellness Plans offer pet owners a discounted price on their pet's annual exams, vaccinations, and parasite protection, then spreads the cost across 12 easy payments. 

Our Dog & Cat Wellness Plans at LakeCross Veterinary Hospital are 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. 

    Wondering which flea treatment is best for your dog? Contact our Huntersville, Mecklenburg County vets to book an appointment for your pet. At LakeCross Veterinary Hospital our Wellness Plans include annual flea and tick prevention.

    Best Flea Treatments for Dogs | Huntersville Vet

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