In our first Flea Week blog “Getting Rid of Fleas: A Comprehensive Guide” we learned that the fight against fleas is a fierce battle and it must be fought on many fronts. First and foremost, you must treat your pets. This post is all about the things you need to know for effectively treating fleas on your pet.
You are not the only one that loves your pet… fleas do too! With so many types of flea treatments and prevention on the market, how do you choose the right one? Which product is best for treating fleas on your pet may depend on your lifestyle, where you live, and even the age of your pet.
What’s the Difference?
Most flea & tick shampoos contain either Permethrin or Pyrethrin, so what’s the difference?
Permethrin vs. Pyrethrum – on the surface these two insecticides are quite similar, they both kill unwanted insects and mosquitos. They sound similar and have similar qualities; however, they are different in chemical composition and origin.
Permethrin is a synthetic, man-made chemical. Pyrethrum is all natural and acquired from the Chrysanthemum plant. Pet owners need to be aware that products with Pyrethrins are generally safe for dogs and cats. Permethrin-based insecticides must NOT be used on cats.
Shampoos & Dips:
Flea & tick shampoos are a great way to “start” the season, especially if you’re planning on following up with either a collar, a topical, or an oral treatment. The Gold Medal Flea & Tick Shampoo and Bio-Groom Flea & Tick Shampoo both have the active ingredient Pyrethrin, making them safe for dogs & cats. Sentry Flea & Tick Shampoo contains Permethrins so you will NOT want to use it on cats. Vets Best has a spray shampoo that is made with Peppermint Oil & Clove Oil for a more natural approach to flea control.
Sprays, Wipes, & Spot-Ons:
Topical flea treatments can include drops or spot-ons, sprays, and wipes. Apply spot-ons by parting your dog’s hair and applying the liquid directly onto the skin. The product must get applied to the skin and not the hair to be effective. For best results, you can apply to several spots along your pet’s back (always follow label directions). If you have a very agile, flexible cat, you may want to apply the topical at the base of the skull rather than along the back. Do not rub the product in, it will be absorbed into the skin.
Advantage II has the active ingredient Imidacloprid with the IGR (insect growth regulator) being Pyriproxyfen. Frontline Plus has the active ingredient Fipronil and (S)-methoprene is the IGR. There are now several “generics” of both Frontline Plus and Advantage II available, as well as topicals that are Permethrin-based.
For a more natural approach, Vet’s Best has a topical containing Clove, Thyme, and Cinnamon oils as active ingredients. Rounding out this category are sprays, such as Advantage Treatment Spray, ShieldTec Flea & Tick Spray, and Espree Flea & Tick Spray. Davis Pure Planet has a spray that, although labeled as a Poultry Spray, is safe for dogs, cats, and puppies, and is effective against fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes! For on the go, Espree and Vet’s Best both have convenient Flea & Tick Wipes which are safe for dogs, cats, puppies, & kittens over 12 weeks of age.
Chew on this…
Oral treatments such as Advantus Soft Chews or Capstar are formulated to begin killing fleas very quickly and to work for 24 hours. These can be used daily; however, they are generally meant for a quick “knockdown” to be followed up with a collar or topical.
NexGard, Bravecto, Simparica, and Trifexis are just a few of the monthly oral flea treatments that require a prescription. Jeffers does not sell prescription items and recommends that you talk with your veterinarian.
Not Your Father’s Flea Collar:
When it comes to flea & tick collars, they’ve come a long way baby! There is a new generation that says “goodbye” to the powdery, greasy, smelly, and frankly, ineffective collars of yesteryear. Here are a few great choices:
The Seresto Flea & Tick collar offers 8 months of protection using a unique combination of Imidacloprid and Flumethrin. The active ingredients are infused within the collar and are released in low concentrations over time. The Seresto collar is not only waterproof and unaffected by bathing or swimming, but Bayer recommends that you not remove the collar as it might interrupt the function of the collar and disrupt the continuous release of chemicals.
UltraShield and Salvo Flea & Tick collars both contain Deltamethrin as the active ingredient, and both offer 6 months protection per collar. Salvo comes in a 2-pack for a whole year of protection. The Natural Essential Oil Pest Repellent Collar for Dogs is infused with essential oils such as Citronella, Peppermint, Geranium, and Orange Oils, making them a natural alternative to collars with chemicals.
Another type of protection for your dog is the SpectraShield Medallion which clips onto your dog’s regular collar. He/she will be protected from fleas & ticks for up to 4 months. Active ingredients Zetacypermethrin and Piperonyl Butoxide in the medallion remain effective through bathing and swimming. This may be the perfect solution for your outdoor-loving dog!
It is important to remember that treating fleas on your pet is only the first step in the process. For the next steps, please read our blog post titled “Flea Control Around the Home and Yard“.
As always, this information is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It should in no way supersede, challenge, or supplant the diagnosis, treatment, or advice of a licensed veterinarian.
Renee Jones, CPDT-KSA, is a certified professional dog trainer, having received instruction from canine behaviorist Dr. Pamela Reid, plus nationally acclaimed trainers: Patricia McConnell, Pia Silvani, and Jean Donaldson, to name a few. She is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). She serves as a Pet Marketing and Canine Specialist for JeffersPet and JeffersPet.com.
Questions about this article, training, or non-emergent health concerns are welcome. Reach Renee most days from 9am – 5pm Central Time (Mon-Fri) at 1-800-JEFFERS (533-3377) ext 381 or by email rsjones@jefferspet. com.