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How to Choose the Right Flea Medicine for Your Pet

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Which flea treatment is best for your pet?
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An orange British Longhair cat scratching their head.

Pet owners have many options to treat, control and guard against fleas. But choosing the right flea product can be confusing, especially if you don’t understand how each option works.

As you get to know how different products help protect your pet from fleas, keep in mind proper application and administration make all the difference. It’s important to choose a prevention product that works well for you and your pet.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Flea Prevention Product: 

  • How long the product lasts
  • How quickly the product begins working
  • Ease and convenience of application
  • If the product kills fleas on contact or only after they bite and drink blood from your pet
  • Prescription requirements
  • Cost per use or application
  • Pet age and weight requirements
  • Whether the product is waterproof and/or water-resistant

Types of Flea Prevention:

  • Flea collars
  • Flea drops
  • Flea pills
  • Flea sprays
  • Flea shampoos

Keep in mind that preventives work best when used regularly year-round. Simply applying for one or two months may not adequately protect your pet from infestation.

How Do Flea Collars Work?

Think flea collars are outdated? New innovations in design and delivery create collars that aren’t like their clunky predecessors. Today you’ll find effective protection in thin, flexible and odorless designs that may also be adjustable and nongreasy.

Flea and tick collars provide an easy way to deliver the active ingredients needed to kill and/or repel fleas and ticks — and putting them on your pet can be a simple process.

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 another popular and effective method for controlling and preventing flea infestations. Applied to the skin, topical flea treatments work by spreading 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 kill only adult fleas, while others interrupt and control multiple stages of the flea life cycle. Some topical products can also provide broad-spectrum protection against other external parasite 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, which are available as tablets or chewables. Once ingested, oral flea medicines work by circulating their active ingredients throughout your pet’s bloodstream. When bloodsucking parasites like fleas bite your pet and drink blood, they ingest these active ingredients and die.

Treatment products can 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. Make sure to read the product label for the 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 available with a veterinarian’s prescription.

How Do Flea Sprays Work?

Sprays allow you to treat an active infestation on your pet by killing and/or repelling 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. Sprays can be especially helpful with cats that are difficult to bathe. Consider keeping a spray available in case of 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 just like other bath products, killing adult fleas on contact and washing away the eggs, flea allergens and flea waste currently on your pet. After applying the shampoo, work the product thoroughly into the pet’s coat. When finished, thoroughly rinse your pet.

Flea shampoos are readily available from a variety of retailers without a prescription.

Help Keep Your Pet Happy

Whichever flea treatment or prevention method you choose, aim to make the application experience as pleasant as possible. Praise your pet and show them your love to make these moments less stressful.

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