Pet owners have many options to treat, control and guard against fleas. Navigating the types of flea products available can be confusing if not properly understood. Get to know how different products work and what that can mean for your pet. Proper application and administration make all the difference, so choose a prevention product that makes the most sense for you and your pet.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a flea prevention product:
- How long the product lasts
- How quickly the product starts to work
- Ease and convenience of application
- Whether or not the product kills fleas only after they bite and drink blood from your pet
- Prescription requirements
- Cost per use/application
- Pet age and weight requirements
- Whether or not the product is waterproof/water-resistant
A critical component to help get rid of fleas on your dog – and even more importantly, discourage them from returning – is to use a flea preventive. Effective flea prevention can break the flea life cycle, be achieved through collars, topical or oral products, and can last anywhere from 30 days to 8 months. Choose the prevention method that works best for you and your dog. Keep in mind that preventives work best when used regularly year-round; simply applying for one or two months may not be adequate to prevent an infestation.
How do flea collars work?
Think collars are old school? New innovations in design and delivery create collars that aren’t like their predecessors. Today you’ll find effective protection in thin, flexible and odorless designs that may also be non-greasy and adjustable.
Flea and tick collars provide an easy way to deliver the active ingredients needed to kill and/or repel fleas, and putting them on can be a simple process. The collars contain the active ingredients that target fleas and/or ticks.
Flea and tick collars are readily available from a variety of retailers or from a veterinarian without a prescription.
How do flea drops work?
Liquid flea treatments, also known as drops, spot-on treatments or topicals, are popular, effective methods for controlling and preventing flea infestations. Applied to the pet’s skin, topical flea treatments work by spreading the active ingredients over your pet’s body to kill or repel fleas. Topical drops typically kill fleas on the pet through contact. This means fleas do not have to bite the pet to die.
Some flea drops are labeled to kill only adult fleas, while others interrupt and control multiple stages of the flea life cycle. Some topical products can also go the extra mile, providing broad-spectrum protection against other external threats like ticks, mosquitoes, or lice. Check the product label for indicated parasites.
Flea drops are readily available from a variety of retailers or from a veterinarian without a prescription.
How do flea pills work?
Some pet owners prefer flea pills. Available as tablets or chewables, once ingested, oral flea medicines work by circulating their active ingredients throughout your pet’s bloodstream. When bloodsucking parasites such as fleas bite your pet and drink their blood, they ingest the active ingredients and die.
Treatment products quickly kill an existing adult flea infestation on your pet, but do not offer prevention. Some oral flea medicines are longer-acting and offer flea treatment and prevention to help stop reinfestation. Check product label for duration of effectiveness.
Fast acting flea treatment pills are readily available from a variety of retailers or from a veterinarian without a prescription. Longer-acting flea treatment and prevention pills are readily available from a veterinarian and require a prescription.
How do flea sprays work?
Sprays allow you to treat an active infestation on your pet. They kill and /or repel fleas.
Inexpensive and effective, these treatments simply require you to spritz your pet's coat (taking care not to get the product too close to your pet's eyes or mouth) until damp. They can be helpful with cats who are difficult to bathe. Keep a spray available for a flea emergency.
Flea sprays are readily available from a variety of retailers without a prescription.
How do flea shampoos work?
Flea and tick shampoos are applied like other bath products, killing adult fleas on contact and washing away eggs, flea allergens and flea waste currently on your pet. After applying the shampoo, work the product thoroughly in to the pet's coat. When finished thoroughly rinse your pet.
Flea shampoos are readily available from a variety of retailers without a prescription.
Keep it positive
Whichever flea treatment or prevention method is best for you and your pet, you can make the application experience more pleasant. Continue to praise your pet and show your love to make these moments less stressful.
Related article: The flea life cycle