Fleas are the most common parasite that a dog can get. They are especially active during the summer months but can continue to plague you during cooler months due to their ability to hide in household carpets and re-infest pets. Aside from itchy red skin and hair loss, fleas can infect your dog with other parasites such as tapeworms and ticks. Lime disease, which is carried by ticks, can be deadly in dogs.
If you suspect your dog has fleas, you can usually tell by looking at your dog’s coat for live fleas and flea feces. Lay your dog on a white piece of paper and rub his coat briskly with a comb, inspecting any debris that lands on the paper. Transfer the specks of dirty-looking flakes to a damp piece of paper and wait a few minutes. Upon further inspection, the flea feces will appear red or rusty due to the blood it contains, whereas regular dirt and skin flakes will not. If you are still unsure, a trip to the veterinarian will diagnose fleas if they are present.
The best way to deal with fleas is to not catch them in the first place. If your dog has gotten fleas in the past, your yard is the likely source and should be sprayed with flea-killing chemicals by a licensed professional. Regular vacuuming of carpets should rid your house of any fleas that have hitched a ride indoors on shoes and pets. Of course, if your dog already has fleas, you will need to treat him. Below are the four top products to do the job.
Advantage II for Dogs
Available almost anywhere that pet supplies are sold, Advantage II for Dogs is a topical treatment that contains imidacloprid which kills adult fleas within 12 hours and stops them from biting in 3-5 minutes, providing almost instant relief for your dog. To prevent and treat fleas, apply the entire contents of one package between the shoulder blades where dog can’t reach it. It also contains chemicals to kill fleas in the egg and larval stages and kills re-infesting fleas within 2 hours. Additionally, this product is waterproof for swimming and bathing.
The price of a 4-month supply for a small dog generally runs about $50, whereas a 4-month supply for large dogs costs roughly $65. The number of months required for use depends on your region, but it is recommended you reapply this product every month as needed. Flea control should be started a month before warm weather and continued for a month after. Side effects associated with this treatment are rare and generally mild.
Frontline Plus for Dogs
A monthly topical treatment, Frontline Plus for Dogs kills not only fleas in all their life cycles, but also kills ticks and chewing lice. Frontline Plus kills fleas within 24 hours and ticks within 48 hours, making it a great choice for quick relief. It also aids in the control of sarcoptic mange.
For best use in preventing and treating existing fleas, break open tab and apply entire contents between the dog’s shoulder blades where it can’t be reached. This product is safe for use on puppies 8 weeks and older. As with most topical flea treatments, the number of months required for use depends on the affected region. Frontline Plus is available wherever most pet supplies are sold. A 3-month supply of this medication for a small dog roughly costs $40, and that price does not increase for larger dogs.
Biospot Active Care for Dogs
This topical treatment is applied monthly and comes with a handy applicator for ease of use and prevention of spilling. Biospot Active Care for Dogs kills fleas and ticks within 15 minutes and destroys fleas in each stage of their life. It also kills and repels mosquitos which can cause fatal heart worm infections. To effectively prevent and treat fleas and ticks, use included applicator to apply the product between the shoulder blades, which keeps the dog from being able to ingest the product.
This product is approved for use on puppies 12 weeks and older. Biospot is sold at most pet stores, but is also available online. A 3-month supply for a small dog costs $20, and is consistently priced for all sized dogs.
K9 Advantix II Flea & Tick Control for Dogs
Now available without prescription, K9 Advantix II Flea & Tick Control for Dogs is a monthly topical treatment for killing fleas and ticks on dogs and puppies aged 7 weeks and older. It kills fleas within 12 hours during all life cycles as well as killing and repelling ticks, mosquitos, biting flies, and chewing lice. It helps prevent heart worm disease. As will most flea treatments, you’ll want to apply it out of your dog’s reach. Most dog owners find that the space between the shoulder blades gives the best results. K9 Advantix can be bought most places that sell pet supplies. A 4-month supply of this medicine for a small dog costs around $45. The price remains the same for larger dogs.
Ultimately, the best defense against fleas is a good offense. Preventing fleas is much easier than eradicating an infestation, due to their tenacious way of invading carpets and other soft furnishings. Fleas are not just an inconvenience, they present a very real danger to your pet as well as causing much discomfort. Keeping your grass well mowed is surprising method of aiding in flea prevention, for both your pet and your home. Remember to be vigilant for signs of fleas and ticks, both are most comfortable in the areas where your dog likes to lay, particularly cool shady places. If you suspect there are fleas and ticks in your yard, be sure to consult only a licensed professional to spray the area.
In some extreme cases, more than one flea and tick medicine may be required at one time. Before using more than one product, consult your veterinarian to find out which products can be safely used together and which ones might cause negative reactions from simultaneous use. Though side effects from topical medications are relatively rare, the likelihood can be increased by using more than one product at a time. Possible complications can include skin irritation, and in extreme cases, pyrethrin and pyrethroid toxicity. If your dog develops excessive drooling, protracted vomiting and diarrhea, depression, incoordination, or muscle tremors after applying topical flea medications, consult a veterinarian immediately.