Very few things will cause your dog as much stress as a flea infestation. The constant scratching and biting are the least of his worries. Many dogs are actually allergic to fleas. Big bald patches, red skin, and visible irritation tend to present in dogs with a flea allergy.
Additionally, when fleas are inadvertently swallowed during biting and scratching, they cause tapeworms. A flea may seem like a small, insignificant nuisance. However, if they are left unchecked, they have the potential to cause serious health problems for your dog. In hopes of keeping your dog healthy and happy, we’ve compiled a list of the top three flea medications and preventatives.
Bayer Advantage II
For an average adult dog, Advantage II is a leading topical choice for treating fleas. It targets fleas at all life stages. That means, not even eggs and larvae can evade this potent medication. Advantage II contains imidacloprid (insecticide) and pyriproxyfen which is an insect growth regulator. Pyriproxyfen keeps flea eggs from developing, effectively stopping the life cycle. It works by mimicking the juvenile growth hormone of fleas and inhibits eggs from molting into the next stage of life. This prevents more adult fleas.
Advantage II is a topical solution. It’s a liquid that is administered between your dog’s shoulder blades. The liquid is absorbed into the skin where it settles in the oil glands. It kills fleas within 12 hours, and repels new fleas for an entire month. It is available “over-the-counter” at any pet specialty store.
Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for Dogs
Frontline is another topical flea preventative. Like Advantage, it is administered on the skin between your dog’s shoulder blades. The liquid contains fipronil and (S)-methoprene which are both powerful insecticides.
These topical flea preventatives work by absorbing into the skin and storing itself in your dog’s oil glands. Frontline self-distributes throughout your dog’s fur and skin via the hair follicles. Any fleas or ticks that decide to snack on your dog are immediately killed. That doesn’t mean that a flea has to bite your dog in order to be eliminated. Just being in contact with the potent medication kills them.
Frontline begins working a bit quicker than Advantage. While Advantage takes 12 hours to kill all fleas, Frontline kills them all in 4 hours. It also available “over-the-counter” at any pet specialty store.
Comfortis is a monthly chewable that kills and prevents fleas. Unlike the topicals above, Comfortis is only available through your veterinarian.
The active ingredient in Comfortis is spinosad. It’s a strong antiparasitic from the class known as spinosyns. These are derived from a soil microbe that is naturally-occurring. Spinosad works by attacking the insect’s nervous system and causing the instant death of adult fleas.
It starts killing fleas within 30 minutes and all the fleas are dead within 4 hours.
Best of all, the chewable is a yummy beef flavor. The majority of dogs perceive it as a special treat every month, instead a monthly hassle.
A Few Additional Tips
- Flea prevention is only one aspect of parasite prevention for dogs. It’s also extremely important to have your dog on a heartworm preventative. Talk to your vet for the best options.
- Never use a flea preventative formulated for cats on a dog, and vice-versa. Some flea medications for dogs are toxic to cats and the ones formulated for cats can be toxic to dogs.
- If you’re lucky enough to have a multispecies home, assure that your cat can’t groom your dog for at least 24 hours after administering a topical flea medication.
- Always use the size guide when choosing a flea medication on your own. Try not to estimate your dog’s weight. If you guess too low, the medication may not work as well. If you guess too high, it could cause your dog to have reactions to the high dose.
- Always monitor your dog and keep an eye out for symptoms like vomiting and excessive salivating. This could indicate that your dog has either had too high of a dose or simply can’t tolerate the type of pesticide used in the medication.
- Another thing to remember is that these medications will not kill fleas in your home or yard. They will just keep the fleas from living on your dog. If you accidently skip a dose of flea preventative, and fleas are present in your dog’s environment, they will begin to infest him again. There are other products that can eliminate fleas in your home and yard. Usually, if there is a severe infestation of fleas, your dog will greatly benefit from a combination of monthly flea medication and eliminating fleas in his surroundings.
- It’s best to check with your vet before starting a new flea preventative. Your vet will be able to recommend the most effective flea preventative for your dog. There are medications available with a prescription that not only kill and prevent fleas but other harmful parasites as well.
Just a Quick Word about Trifexis
This is still a relatively new parasite prevention pill. It has been blamed in hundreds of dog deaths, over 700 to be exact. Research has found that it may not be the single cause of death. Underlying conditions and other factors could have contributed to the reported problems.
Conduct your own research of the cases and come to your own conclusion. It is up to you, as a pup parent, to be well-informed on any medication you administer to your dog.
In general, for an otherwise healthy dog, the advantages of an all-in-one monthly pill to prevent parasites may be extremely beneficial. On the other hand, there could be a significant risk involved, as with any pharmaceutical. For every horribly sad case attributed to Trifexis, there are thousands of positive ones. It is up to you to decide if you are comfortable with any risks that are involved.
Your vet is there to help you and your dog achieve optimum health for a long and happy life. If you are not comfortable with any medication your vet prescribes, tell them. Talk to your vet about your concerns. Other options can, and will be offered to you. If your vet pushes any medication on you, it’s time to find another vet.