Are you stressed out because your dog has fleas and you need to know what kills fleas on dogs? There are so many products available these days and it’s easy to become confused by all the treatment choices out there.
But being spoilt for choice can be a good thing because there are many excellent treatment options available. This article will provide you with a simple but comprehensive guide to quickly make the right choice about the most effective flea treatment for dogs.
First we’ll tell you about the different treatment types that are available so you can decide which one would be best suited to your dog. Then we’ll give you examples of products that fall under each treatment type so you can make an informed decision before you make a purchase.
- 1 Choosing the best dog flea treatment – what factors can affect your choice?
- 2 Benefits of Finding The Best Flea and Tick Prevention
- 3 Factors To Consider Before Choosing Which Product Type Is Best For Your Furry Friend
- 4 What Are The Product Options For The Best Flea Treatment For Your Dog?
- 4.1 Oral Tablets and Chews:
- 4.2 Topical Treatments:
- 4.3 Collars:
- 4.4 Shampoos and Sprays:
- 5 Pros and Cons of the Different Treatment Types
- 6 Facts About The Flea Life Cycle
- 7 Eliminating Fleas in The Pet Environment
- 8 Our Verdict on the Best Dog Flea and Tick Prevention Products
- 8.1 Safest
- 8.2 Most Convenient
- 8.3 Oral Preferred
- 8.4 Topical Preferred
- 8.5 Collar Preferred
- 8.6 Budget Options
- 8.7 Puppies & Small Dogs
- 8.8 What Health Problems Can Fleas Cause in my Pet?
Choosing the best dog flea treatment – what factors can affect your choice?
Choose Type of Protection:
First you need to decide what type of protection you need for your furry friend. There are products available against fleas, ticks, heartworm, tapeworms, roundworms and mange. You can protect your dog against any one of these parasites separately or combination treatments are available as well, depending on your needs.
Choose Mode of Administration:
There are oral pills available for treatment as well as topical (spot-on) application methods. Some pet owners prefer flea collars and others like to use other topical applications like flea shampoos or flea sprays.
Choose Length of Treatment Period:
Many products protect your pet for a period of one month but there are shorter and longer treatment periods available as well. Some products that kill adult fleas are only active for a few days and others work for 3 month periods or even for 6 to 8 months.
The Cost Factor:
Cost is always important when choosing the best flea treatment for dogs so you need to decide if the product you choose is cost effective for you. Are you going to choose a monthly purchase or pay a bit more for a three-monthly flea treatment? Can you afford to purchase a six month or twelve month supply and get a bulk discount from a reliable online source?
Consider Possible Side Effects:
Some products can sometimes cause side effects and it’s important to find the one that works best for your dog. Oral flea pills can sometimes be hard to administer to your pet while some topical applications might be messy and could also cause skin irritations. Flea collars can sometimes cause allergic skin reactions and using shampoos and sprays can be messy and stressful for your pet and they often only last a few weeks.
Benefits of Finding The Best Flea and Tick Prevention
The old saying “Prevention Is Better Than Cure” definitely rings true when it comes to finding what the best flea medication is. Fleas can quickly spread disease between animals and they are parasites that are able to live on multiple hosts. Dogs and cats of all ages are the most vulnerable and flea infestations can quickly spread amongst them.
The main benefits of using the best dog flea medicine are to protect your pet by preventing disease but also to protect your family:-
Protect Your Pet:
Fleas can be the carriers of, and cause many diseases in your pet such as flea allergy dermatitis (extreme itchy skin, loss of fur, welts and swelling), Lyme Disease (causes loss of energy, fever and weight loss), tapeworm infestation (they live in the intestinal tract and cause weight loss and nutritional deficiencies) and anemia (loss of energy, pale gums, breathlessness and possible death).
Protect Your Family:
Fleas and ticks can bite humans too and feed off them causing Tick Bite Fever (Rickettsiosis), itchy bites (which can get infected), allergies as well as rashes and welts.
Factors To Consider Before Choosing Which Product Type Is Best For Your Furry Friend
Children – sometimes small children can be sensitive to the chemicals that can be found in some topical flea products which you apply to your pet. To keep your family safe and protect your pet at the same time it might be better to use an oral flea pill in this case.
Lifestyle – if your dog is very active and spends a lot of time running around outdoors then a topical treatment might be more suitable. When your pet comes into frequent contact with other animals the topical applications are ideal because they will repel ticks and fleas before they can bite.
Health – if your dog has sensitive skin and a tendency to develop allergies then an oral treatment product would be a better option for you.
Effectiveness – topicals can be washed off for 24 hours after application and are proven to be generally less effective than the oral treatment options.
Cost – oral treatments are mainly available as monthly doses but there is a newer product available now that only requires one dose every 3 months. Collars can often last up to eight months. Generally speaking though collars, shampoos and topical sprays are mostly cheaper than the topical or oral treatment options.
Other pets – if you are an owner of multiple pets then please remember that flea treatments should not be shared between dogs and cats.
Pet Age – if your dog is still a pup then you should look for a product that is the best flea medicine for puppies. An oral treatment option is probably best although most pups should tolerate topical treatments as well.
What Are The Product Options For The Best Flea Treatment For Your Dog?
Oral Tablets and Chews:
Nexgard Chewables are beef flavored chews that are given once a month to your dog. They protect your pet for 30 days and kill adult fleas as well as 3 types of ticks. They can also be combined with a good wormer (like Drontal) or heartworm medication (like Heartgard).
The first oral dog chew that gives your pet 3 months of protection (one dose 4 times a year is all your dog needs). Fleas start dying within 2 hours of administration and it also controls four species of ticks. This ensures that current flea infestations are destroyed and new ones are prevented from developing.
This beef flavored chewable dog tablet is given as a monthly treatment and kills adult fleas within 30 minutes of administration. All fleas are eliminated and flea infestations are prevented for one month.
This product combines your dog’s heartworm prevention treatment with flea prevention to protect your pet against 6 parasites. Each beef-flavored chew is given once a month and controls and treats fleas, heartworms, hookworms, whipworms, roundworms and tapeworms.
Revolution (also known as Stronghold)
This once monthly topical treatment can prevent and treat fleas, heartworms and ear mites. It is also used for the prevention and treatment of the American Dog Tick and for canine sarcoptic mange. This product is also ideally suited as the best flea treatment for small dogs.
Bravecto Topical Spot On
Similar to it’s oral counterpart, this topical product offers a 3 monthly prevention and treatment for flea infestations. It is also effective for the treatment and prevention of infestation against 3 common types of ticks.
This very well known topical product has been around for many years and is still widely used by pet owners around the globe. It is a monthly spot-on flea prevention treatment. Adult fleas are killed within 12 hours of application and it also contains a flea growth regulator which kills the eggs and larvae to disrupt the flea life cycle. In addition it kills 4 common types of ticks as well as chewing lice within 48 hours. It also helps to prevent the development of sarcoptic mange in dogs.
This monthly spot on treatment stops flea bites within 3 to 5 minutes and kills all adult fleas and flea larvae within 20 minutes of application. It also eliminates 98% to 100% of fleas before eggs are laid and protects your dog when in contact with other flea infested animals. It’s long lasting (1 month) and easy to use.
Advocate (Advantage Multi)
An easy to use once monthly topical treatment which offers protection against a wide variety of parasites. Adult fleas get killed on contact and therefore do not need to bite your dog to die. It also provides protection against flea infestations and heartworm disease, as well as 3 of the most common intestinal parasites that can infect dogs (also known as roundworms, whipworms and hookworms). An additional benefit is that it treats sarcoptic skin mites which can sometimes also infect humans.
This is a unique once a month product that kills adult fleas on your dog and eliminates the flea life cycle as well by killing flea eggs and larvae. It has a unique mode of action called bioactivation which uses the enzymes of the fleas themselves to fully activate the product.
K9 Advantix (Advantix)
This product is UK registered and labelled in kilograms. It is a topical spot-on once-a-month dog treatment for fleas, ticks and mosquitos. It kills and stops fleas and ticks from biting and repels and kills mosquitos before your dog can be bitten. The flea life cycle is also eliminated and it repels biting flies and kills chewing lice as well.
An innovative and safe waterproof flea collar which is a good alternative to other regular once-a-month topical treatments. Fleas and ticks are repelled by this unique technology which releases the safe active ingredient slowly over a period of 8 months. This product offers your dog protection from fleas and flea eggs, as well as flea larvae and ticks. It will also protect your dog from sarcoptic mange and eliminates the odour or mess created by some of the other regular once-a-month topical spot-on products.
Shampoos and Sprays:
This is an effective alternative to regular oral or topical flea treatments in pets. It provides a month long protection for your dog against ticks and fleas and kills 100% of adult fleas in less than 24 hours. The product is waterproof and remains unaffected if your dog loves swimming regularly. It also kills chewing lice and helps to protect your pet against sarcoptic mange.
Tropiclean Natural Flea & Tick Dog Shampoo
This is a natural and safe flea and tick shampoo for dogs and puppies that kills ticks and fleas on contact and repels them for up to 7 days. It also contains lemon grass and sesame oil to protect and soothe your dog’s skin.
Pros and Cons of the Different Treatment Types
Oral Tablets and Chews:
Pros – give full body protection, mostly monthly treatments, one 3 monthly treatment available (Bravecto Chews), no skin reactions, no mess, effective within 30 minutes (Comfortis)
Cons – pills difficult to swallow and administer for some dogs, fleas and ticks are not repelled by oral treatments
Pros – administered monthly except Bravecto Spot On which is a 3 monthly treatment, applications are waterproof and do not wash off, fleas and ticks are repelled before they can bite your dog
Cons – can sometimes cause skin irritations and allergies, they can be messy, sometimes they wash off on the day of the application, they take longer to work (up to 12 hours). Some products repel fleas but others become effective when the flea bites your pet
Pros – these are cost effective and economical, they are simple to use and not messy, the effect lasts up to eight months
Cons – flea collars cannot get wet (Seresto Flea Collar is the exception and is waterproof), skin irritations and allergies can sometimes occur, they can sometimes be accidentally pulled off
Shampoos and Sprays:
Pros – these products are cost effective and fleas are killed immediately on contact
Cons – relatively short acting and effects sometimes only last for a couple of weeks, can be stressful for your pet, and they can be messy to use
Facts About The Flea Life Cycle
Female fleas can live for 50 to 60 days and because they lay from 40-50 eggs per day they can produce about 2000 eggs in their lifetimes. The flea larvae that hatch from the eggs can crawl into cracks between the floorboards, as well as into carpets, fabrics and bedding.
There they evolve into cocoons and are able to remain dormant for months and weeks while waiting for the ideal conditions. Young fleas will hatch and emerge to start a whole new life cycle.
Facts on Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)
The best flea control for dogs can be achieved in the long term by using products that contain Insect Growth Regulators. Examples of such products are Frontline Plus, Advantage, K9 Advantix, Revolution, Sentinel Spectrum and Activyl.
These products don’t kill the fleas immediately but they prevent them from reproducing by disrupting the flea life cycle. If fleas can’t grow and reproduce then future generations of fleas cannot develop and the flea population is effectively eliminated.
IGRs are effective because they destroy mainly flea larvae and flea eggs. These stages of the flea life cycle can be found in floorboards, upholstery and carpets and they make up more than 95% of flea populations so eliminating them is crucial to control flea population growth.
Eliminating Fleas in The Pet Environment
Contrary to what pet owners think, most fleas do not actually live on your pet but can be found as young fleas in the environment your dog lives in. These are not fleas that come from other pets. So even when using the best flea treatment for dogs it’s important to keep your pet’s environment clean at all times by paying attention to a few simple facts.
Fleas can live in your pet’s bedding, under furniture and between floor boards so it is essential to maintain a clean household. Start by washing your dog’s bedding and blankets at least four times a month with very hot soapy water. Then hang them out to dry in the blazing sunshine.
Next it’s time to get to work with your vacuum cleaner. The vibrations will stimulate young fleas to hatch and you can kill them, the larvae and adult fleas by vacuuming floors, furniture, upholstery and carpets at least once a week.
Our Verdict on the Best Dog Flea and Tick Prevention Products
OK, so now you have some good information available to you about the pros and cons of the types of dog flea treatments that are available today. We also gave you examples of good products that fall under each type of treatment group. But how do you decide what the top flea medicine for dogs really is?
You could gather more information and research to find the best dog flea treatment reviews online or you could read the more detailed product reviews on our site for all the individual products that we mentioned in this article. But it also really depends on your own personal situation, what kind of dog breed you own and what your particular flea remedy priorities are.
If you are looking for the safest flea treatment for dogs then we would recommend one of the well known products on the market that have been tried and tested over time, like Frontline Plus, Advantage Multi (Advocate), Sentinel Spectrum or Revolution. These products are well respected by veterinarians and have stood the test of time.
If convenience and less hassle is important to you and you don’t mind spending a bit of extra cash on your furry friend, then we would suggest one of the longer lasting treatment options, like Bravecto Chews or Bravecto Topical Spot On which will protect your dog for 3 months (single dose). Flea collars also fall into this group and a Seresto flea collar would protect your pet for a period of 8 months.
Regular once a month oral treatment options are best for some folks that don’t like the mess and hassle of applying topical applications. If that’s you then we think you should consider Nexgard Chewables, Sentinel Spectrum or Comfortis.
Owners of active dogs that have lots of contact with other animals should consider using a topical treatment. If you are looking for the best topical flea treatment for dogs, which will repel fleas jumping on your pet from other dogs, then we would recommend Bravecto Topical, Frontline Plus, Advantage Multi (Advocate), Activyl or K9 Advantix (Advantix).
To those owners wanting the convenience and ease of simply applying a dog collar to your pet every 8 months we would recommend the Seresto dog collar.
It could be that you are on a budget though and if that’s the case then a simple topical spray or flea shampoo might be the answer for you. We would recommend trying Frontline Spray or Tropiclean Natural Flea & Tick Dog Shampoo.
Puppies & Small Dogs
If you own a young dog or pup then you should look for the best flea treatment for puppies under 12 weeks. In that case we would recommend using products like Revolution (Stronghold), Frontline Plus, Advantage Multi (Advocate) or Sentinel Spectrum all of which are safe for puppies between the ages of 6 to 12 weeks.
What Health Problems Can Fleas Cause in my Pet?
We all love the warmer weather that the summer months bring but for pet owners the rise in temperature always means the start of a new flea season. Fleas are parasites that live in the environment around our homes and better weather means getting ready for the next flea outbreak which could run rampant in your home and in your yard.
Fleas are also carriers of disease and they can make your best furry friend very sick if you don’t pay attention. That’s why it is so important to control the flea populations your pets are exposed to. Some folks think that itchy flea bites are all their pets are exposed to but here are a few more serious illnesses that can be caused by fleas:
Fleas are carriers of the tapeworm parasite and all it takes to get infected is for your pet to swallow a carrier flea while grooming or licking themselves. The tapeworms then start growing inside the intestinal tract of your pets and deprive them of the vital nutrients that they need to stay healthy. Weight loss and lethargy can develop in serious tapeworm infestations and small tapeworm segments then become visible in the stools passed by your pet. A good worming treatment like Drontal given a few times a year would solve the problem or use one the combination flea treatments that also protect your pet against tapeworm – like Sentinel Spectrum.
When your pet is bitten by fleas it usually only leaves a small bump or welt behind which results in some minor itching and scratching. But some pets can develop an allergy to the saliva of fleas when it touches the surface of their skin. This condition is called flea allergy dermatitis and the resulting swollen bumps and welts that develop can cause serious itching, pain and discomfort for your pet. In more serious cases your pet can show signs fur loss and bald patches on their skin. Treatment should be aimed at eradicating the flea infestation with a good flea treatment product.
Anemia (Blood Loss)
Fleas are parasites that bite your pets and suck their blood so serious flea infestations can overwhelm your pet’s health by sucking so much blood from them until they become anemic. This can cause your pet to show signs of listlessness, loss of energy, pale gums, a low body temperature and also breathlessness. In extreme cases this can lead to more serious illnesses and even death, and it can especially serious in more vulnerable pets like small puppies and older sickly dogs. A good flea treatment product is the first way to treat this condition and you should combine this with a good pet vitamin that contains iron, so that your pet can replenish the essential nutrients in it’s system.
Extreme Itching and Hot Spots
Dogs with fleas can suffer from constant itching and scratching which leads to chewing and biting in the distressed animal. Eventually this can lead to the formation of red, raw and painful skin lesions also known as hot spots. These sores can then become infected with bacteria and your pet’s health could rapidly deteriorate from there. Treatment options would be aimed at reducing the extreme itch with a mild cortisone spray, using a good flea removal for dogs (products that kill fleas) and regular washing with a good anti-bacterial pet shampoo that also has natural soothing properties to help the skin’s healing process.
Infection With Bartonella
Bartonella is a parasite that can be carried by fleas and can be transferred to pets when flea bites occur. Bartonella infection can affect both dogs and cats (also called Cat Scratch fever) and can cause your pet to become seriously ill. Common symptoms to look out for are diarrhea, vomiting, fever, swollen lymph nodes and even seizures. Treating your pet for fleas immediately is imperative and then take him or her to your local vet for treatment.