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Fleas, Prevention is the Key

No matter where you live, if you own a pet, you have probably seen the most common pet external parasite, the flea. Not only are fleas carriers of tapeworms, they are a common cause of dermatitis. Severe infestations can cause anemia and even death.

In warmer environments like we have here in south Alabama, fleas can become a real problem and difficult to keep under control, especially if flea prevention hasn't been a top priority. Year-round flea prevention is recommended here especially if your pet spends a lot of time outdoors or frequently comes in contact with other dogs.

How to Check For Fleas

If you have seen your pet scratch this can be an indication that your pet has fleas. You can check for fleas by pulling the coat apart inch by inch and searching for them on the skin. Many times we have shocked pet owners by telling them that their pet has fleas. Since the pesky creatures are the professional at hide and go seek, we have to look at other indications many times to determine whether or not our pet has fleas.

Your pet's blood is a flea's breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet. Because of that, flea feces will appear like dark specs of dirt on your pet's skin. Technically it is digested and dried blood. So if you don't see any fleas, take a closer look for flea poop. Common spots to look for feces are just above the tail on the lower back, top of head and neck areas. But with severe infestations it will be clearly visible everywhere and bath water will be bloody reddish/brown in color.

Getting Flea Infestations Under Control

While prevention is always the best method of flea control, knowing how to treat a flea infestation is equally important. Treating for fleas can be difficult and seem impossible if not done correctly. Flea treatment involves treatment of the pet AND living and sleeping quarters all at the same time. This may include the whole house and yard and multiple treatments to break the life cycle of the flea.

In your house and yard you can use more natural products like Diatomaceous Earth or be more aggressive with chemicals like Demon depending on your preferences. Both can be acquired at your local feed store or pet supply store. The easiest and most effective route would be to call your exterminator and let the professionals handle it.

For your pet there are many options to use. There are natural alternatives that require pet owners to be proactive and stay on top of fleas. It can be done, but it requires more than just a pill. The rest of this article is not for you. It is for those that need a quick way to rid their pet of fleas and prevent them.

We've seen pets come in that are on preventatives that obviously are not working to keep fleas off. This may be because they have been on the market a long time and have lost their effectiveness or the ingredients used are simply not designed to kill fleas. Some flea preventions offer only birth control, but do not kill live fleas.

Birth control should not be used on a pet that has flea allergies as you want to rid these pets of fleas as quickly as possible. Nor should they be used when there is an infestation because of the risk of anemia. You will only want to use these when there is no flea infestation or skin issue and when your pet does not go outside or around other pets.

We will list some effective flea preventatives below, a little info about them and how they work. As with all medication, side effects may occur. Consult your veterinarian about what flea prevention might work best for your pet.

Oral Flea Preventatives

Triflexis: a monthly chewable tablet that begins killing fleas within 30 minutes. It protects against heartworms, and treats and controls adult hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. Veterinarian prescription required.

Great flea/heartworm combo that also treats other intestinal parasites.

Active ingredients: Spinosad and Milbemycin oxime

Nexguard: a beefy flavored monthly chewable. Kills fleas and 3 types of ticks, the American Dog tick, black-legged(deer) tick, and Lone Star tick. Veterinarian prescription required.

Tasty flea/tick combo.

Active ingredient: Afoxolaner

Sentinel: palatable monthly oral flea birth control pill. It doesn't kill adult fleas. Sentinel guards against adult roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and heartworms. Veterinarian prescription is required.

Birth control only, but great for heartworm and other intestinal parasites.

Active ingredients: Milbemycin Oxime and Lufenuron

Bravecto: oral chew for dogs that provides 3 months of prevention and treatment against fleas and ticks. Starts killing fleas in 2 hours. Controls Black-legged tick, American Dog tick, Brown Dog tick, and Lone Star tick. Although not labeled, laboratory studies have shown that Bravecto effectively treats demodectic mange in dogsreducing the number of mites on skin scraping by 99.8% on day 28 and 100% on days 56 and 84.

Tasty chew that works for 3 months against fleas, ticks, and demodectic mange.

Active ingredient: Fluralaner

Comfortis: Chewable beef flavored tablet for dogs and cats that kills fleas and prevents infestation. Starts killing within 30 minutes. Veterinarian prescription required.

Beefy flavored monthly that kills fleas only.

Active ingredient: Spinosad

Capstar or generic, Capguard: an unflavored tablet that starts killing fleas in 30 minutes and lasts 24 hours. Safe to use daily. It is good if you do not have a flea problem and your pet has come in contact with fleas at the park or a friend’s house. We use this product in the salon and also offer it for sale, but is not recommended as a regular preventative measure. It is great for a quick kill or along side Sentinel, the flea birth control. Over the counter product.

Pill, quick kill of existing fleas with no lasting effects.

Active ingredient: Nitenpyram

Flea Collars

Seresto: Collar that repells and kills fleas and ticks on cats and dogs for 8 months. Seresto also protects your pet from flea eggs, flea larvae and sarcoptic mange on dogs. Over the counter product.

Collar for fleas, ticks, and sarcoptic mange. The dogs that we’ve seen wear these have not had flea issues. My concern with these would be the chemicals always being on a collar on the dog that you sleep with and pet every day. Also, these cause the hair of long haired dogs to matt up around the neck.

Active ingredients: Flumethrin and Imidacloprid

Topical Flea Preventatives

We personally don’t recommend topicals because of the mess and the variables involved with bathing around application time. So we don’t recommend topicals for this reason. Thera-Clean recommends no topical application within one week of a Thera-Clean bath. After the bath is ok, just not before. So keep this in mind if you use a topical.

Frontline Plus: monthly topical that kills all existing fleas on your dog or cat within 12 hours, Frontline Pluskills all ticks and chewing lice within 48 hours, kills flea eggs and larvae, aids in the control of sarcoptic mange, waterproof, over the counter product.

Active ingredients: Fipronil and (S)-methoprene

Revolution: monthly topical for dogs and cats that protects against heartworms, fleas and earmites. Dogs also get protection from ticks(American Dog tick) and sarcoptic mange and cats get protection from roundworms and hookworms. Veterinarian prescription required.

Active ingredient: Selamectin



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