Fleas are a very common problem for pet owners. They infest all manner of pets, but especially dogs and cats. Treating your pets for fleas as well as controlling them once they have been eradicated is essential for keeping both your pet and your family safe from these nasty parasites. However, there are a whole host of medications and medication methods to choose from. How do you know which is the right choice for your pet?
The first step is to familiarize yourself with all the different flea pet meds available, and learn how they work to control these pests. There are three main categories of products: collars, topicals and oral medicines.
The original flea control product is the collar. Introduced in 1964, these collars were just about the only way to control fleas on pets for decades. They are still widely popular, as they are regarded as safe. However, their effectiveness has sometimes been in question. Flea collars work by slowly releasing a small amount of chemical that gradually spreads across your pet’s fur. As you might imagine, the area of fur closest to the collar gets the most protection, with the areas furthest away getting the least. This uneven application of the insecticide results in pets still getting bitten towards the rear and underside. Another problem with collars is that they can have side effects, usually resulting in a skin condition directly under the collar. One benefit of flea collars, however, is that they are very effective at stopping tick bites, as ticks usually attack around the head, neck and ears.
The major breakthrough in flea treatment came with the advent of topicals. These are liquid pet medications that are applied with a drop or two to your pet’s back. Topicals are extremely popular, as illustrated by well known brands such as Frontline, Advantage and Revolution. All are very effective at controlling fleas and ticks, while Revolution also claims to rid your dog or cat of various types of worms including heartworm. This claim has yet to be completely proven, but time will tell! Usually topicals used by themselves will not completely control a pest problem; they work best in conjunction with chemicals like methoprene, which are applied to your pet’s environment to stop adult parasites from developing from larvae. Topicals should first be prescribed by your local veterinarian, but afterwards it should be fine to restock over the counter.
Oral Flea Medicines
Oral flea medications come in pill or liquid form and work from the inside out. They allow the pesticide to come out through your pet’s skin and thereby kill fleas and ticks. These medicines have rather limited effect when compared with topicals, and one dosage typically lasts only a few days. There is also added risk of side effects, or risk that the treatment is too weak by the time it gets to the skin to be much of a deterrent. Popular oral flea treatments include Program, Capstar and Hartz.
So What Is The Answer?
It seems that for most pet owners, topicals are the way to go to rid dogs and cats of fleas, ticks and even worms. One concern for those with young families is the possible effect of topicals on infants and toddlers if they regularly come into contact with the pesticide by cuddling and petting the animal. However, if there are no small children around, then topicals seem like the best bet when coupled with an environment pest control agent such as methoprene. Flea collars are still a viable alternative and are more easily purchased, as well as having the added benefit of better tick protection. In any case, make sure to consult your local veterinarian initially, who should be able to provide you with up-to-date information on the latest products, options and recommendations that suit your particular location.