Is itchy skin and hair loss making your dog’s life miserable? Are there small, red lesions on your dog’s skin along with bits of black pepper like spots on the coat? Unfortunately, it seems that your dog has a flea infestation.
With fleas existing almost everywhere, it is not surprising that your dog has had a run-in with them at the dog park, trail, sidewalk or even the backyard. These little pests are notoriously difficult to find and have been stated by veterinarians as being the most common cause for skin issues in dogs. They flourish in warm, humid weather and feed on blood from mammals like dogs and cats.
In this article, we will help you learn all that you need to know about dog fleas and recognize how they have the potential to adversely affect the health of your entire family. Find out the various options available to exterminate these pesky pests and what you need to consider while choosing the one that is right for your needs. Understand how oral flea medications work and recognize their advantages over other treatments. And lastly, find our top picks for the best oral flea medication to help make your choice easier.
Recognizing the Threat of Fleas on Your Dog
It must be emphasized that you should not make the mistake of perceiving fleas as just a nuisance. These tiny blood-suckers have the potential to cause serious health risks not just to your dog but even to your family. They can cause both physical as well as behavioral issues for your pup. Dogs infested with fleas can become nervous and annoyed. Moreover, fleas can potentially transmit diseases and lead to serious conditions in your dog. These include:
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), a specific allergy to flea saliva.
- Tapeworm Infestation in the intestine, resulting from ingesting tapeworm infected fleas.
- Anemia caused by excessive loss of red blood cells during a severe flea infestation.
What is worse is that fleas can sometimes bite humans and have the potential to adversely affect your family’s health. In humans, fleas have been responsible for flea-associated allergies as well as the transmission of diseases like plague, typhus, tularemia, and cat scratch disease, which is a Bartonella bacterial infection.
With their potential threat to your entire family, including your furry friend, it is important you take urgent action to get rid these pests from your environment and prevent them from returning. An effective flea control treatment will not only help make your pet’s life more comfortable but also protect you and your family.
Flea Treatment Options
There are many safe and effective dog flea treatment and prevention options available to you. You can choose from any of the following products for your dog.
- Topical application agents are available for external application to your dog. They are available in different forms like
- Spot-on products
- You can also give flea collars a chance if you want an extended protection due to their controlled release of the drug.
- Another option for your pets is an oral flea pill. These insecticide containing pills are absorbed within your dog’s body and spread throughout their bloodstream.
Flea Pills vs Other Treatments
While all flea control products work to protect your pets from these pesky pests, we believe oral pills have some advantages over topical applications and collars. Many veterinarians also recommend the use of oral medications.
- Unlike topical agents like powders, shampoos, and sprays that are going to be messy during application, oral medications are small and compact. Available in the form of tablets or chewables, they are easy to administer to your dog during meal times.
- Since they leave a residue on your dog’s skin and coat, topical flea medication can often be harmful if licked or ingested.
- Additionally, if your pup is pesticide sensitive, external flea medication can result in allergy, skin irritation and hair loss.
- Flea collars, on the other hand, are limited in their range of treatment around the neck region as opposed to the full body flea management provided by oral pills.
How Do Oral Flea Medications Work?
To determine the right flea control product for your dog you must consider a number of criteria. Some important things that veterinarians say you must bear in mind are your dog’s age, medical history, pre-existing conditions, and whether or not your dog is pregnant. Additionally, your dog’s routine and lifestyle, as well as the severity of the flea infestation, will further help in determining the choice you make.
While making the final decision, it is best to consult your veterinarian to find out about any side effects, medical interactions, and breed predisposition to adverse effects.
After much research, our belief is that oral flea medication is the most competent and efficient flea management method for dogs.
These pills function depending on their active chemical ingredient, which after spreading throughout your dog’s bloodstream, targets fleas in diverse ways.
- Some pills work by paralyzing and killing adult fleas. Most pills that fall under this category affect the flea’s nervous system immediately after coming in contact with the drug. This results in instantaneous seizures, paralysis, and death in all the affected fleas, giving your pup quick and long-lasting relief.
- Others flea pills sterilize fleas and prevent larvae development. Although these drugs do not kill adult fleas, which remain alive for about three weeks, they lay sterile eggs that are unable to hatch. With as many as thirty eggs laid by each female flea in their short lifetime, sterilization prevents new flea from attacking your pet.
- Then there are medications that specifically target and kill flea larvae. These medications affect chitin production, which is a central component in the exoskeleton or outer layer of flea larvae. The larvae are unable to shed their outer layer, effectively halting the production of new fleas on your pet.
By understanding how a medication affects the flea life-cycle you can make the right treatment choice for your dog. You can also consider a combined approach by choosing drugs that kill living fleas and prevent future occurrences by targeting the eggs and larvae.
It is best to consult a veterinarian to understand the best combinations of flea pills that can be taken together to aim at eradicating these pests completely from your pet’s life.
Choosing the Right Flea Pill
Choosing the best product for your pup from the abundant options available can be a daunting task. Fortunately for you, we have done the hard work and research for you and have come up with our recommendations for the best oral flea medicines available.
Novartis Capstar is a fast-acting, over-the-counter flea pill for dogs. It imparts immediate treatment that deals with existing adult fleas in your pet. Capstar’s absorption into the bloodstream is as quick as 30 minutes, with an efficacy of over 90% within a 4 hour time period. While this drug is extremely useful in dealing with flea infestation quickly and effectively, it is not a long-term treatment option, nor is it a preventive medication for fleas.
However, if your dog has a severe infestation, Capstar has been found safe and effective through repeated daily administration along with a thorough cleaning and freeing your home of eggs and larvae. Even if your dog is young (over 4 weeks of age), pregnant, or lactating, this drug is safe for them.
If you notice increased itching in your dog after administering Capstar, don’t worry as it is caused by the fleas as they die. The drug might also give your pup an upset tummy. However, there is no known adverse drug interactions to this medication and can be used in conjunction with other products and medications.
Advantus Soft Chews are tasty, savory soft chewable tablets that you won’t have to hide and feed your pups. These flavored tables are available over-the-counter, without a prescription and are a fast-acting treatment option for flea infestations. They begin showing results as early as 1 hour from administration with over 96% effectiveness over a period of 4 hours.
They specifically target adult fleas that are on your dog and are safe to be administered daily in cases of severe infestations. They can also even be given if you have young puppies (10 weeks or older). Advantus is safe to consume even if your dog has animal protein food allergies since the drug contains no animal protein. Additionally, it is extremely safe to administer along with other medication like antibiotics, de-wormers, vaccines etc.
Advantus has been deemed safe for use, but in rare cases, some side effects have been observed. These include reduced energy levels, decreased appetite, and soft stools. It would be best to consult with a veterinarian if you observe any of these signs in your dog.
Get Rid of Dog Fleas!
Now that you are armed with all the information you need to keep these pesky little pests at bay, you and your family can rest easy. While you continue with your chosen flea pill regimen, make sure to also treat your immediate environment for fleas and other pests. And your furry side-kick can continue exploring, running along trails and rolling in the grass without the discomforts caused by fleas.
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