Flea Season- it’s here again!
Do you live in an area that has fleas? Have you ever been frustrated dealing with them? They are truly the worst, for you and your dog. Here in Southern California fleas start showing up around spring and last until late fall or early winter. With the climate changing sometimes it seems they never go away. They can be everywhere and you may not even know it until its too late. If you see one flea there could be thousands in your home and yard. They can come into your home on you or your dog but they DO NOT live on your dog. They live in your wonderful environment. If you live in an area that has a well groomed landscape that is watered a lot, fleas simply love the moisture. If it’s hot and humid, eggs will hatch but they can lay dormant for years waiting for the right environmental conditions. You might find that all of a sudden after years of no fleas suddenly you are infested. Your dog is scratching at the base of his tail, has caused a hot spot, and your kids have bites on their legs. It’s time to do something – and fast! What is the best flea medication for your dog? What should you do?
Now what am I going to do?
What are the best flea medications for dogs and should you go holistic and all natural or get the latest medical treatment from your local vet? There are so many products out there, any pet parent would get confused. So the first question to ask yourself is: natural or medical? Both options are viable solutions but depending on your degree of infestation natural may not work fast enough for you. However, once the population is under control natural remedies can maintain a chemical and flea-free household. Ask yourself these questions to determine your best course of action:
- Is your dog a little bothered or insanely biting? If insanely biting than the first thing to do is GO TO THE VET!! Your dog may need immediate help especially if she or he is causing hot spots and bacterial infection (Dermatitis). Your dog can actually be allergic to the flea bite which could cause even more problems for you and your poor dog. A dog can be so sensitive that ONE flea bite can set them into a tizzy. Next thing you know you are at the vet hoping for antibiotics, shampoos, and possibly steroids. Let’s try to avoid these types of problems. If you have a flea product at home than give it or apply it primarily to the base of the tail area at the first sign of itching and/or biting. If your dog is not showing signs of excessive stress than you may be able to get away with more natural remedies.
- Once you determine the severity of your problem you can ask the question: Natural or Medicinal??? I personally like to go as natural as I can so I try to maintain my environment instead of loading my animals with chemicals. There are several natural products you can use but you need to realize that every treatment has side effects. Even fertilizing your flowers or cleaning your bathroom has side effects. Some animals as well as some people react differently to those types of external stimuli.
- If you have to go medicinal rather than natural, do you treat externally (topically) or internally (orally)?? This is a HUGE question and there is no easy answer. It comes down to personal preference, convenience, and cost. Frankly, cost is huge but what is healthy for my dog is what I am mainly concerned with. Yes, it’s awesome to give them a wonderful chewable treat but is it superior to a topical treatment when you are treating them for an external parasite? This is where the personal preference comes in.
- If you want to be able to treat for fleas naturally, which means treating your environment, you can do so both inside and outside your home. There are natural products that you can use that are safe for your pets, you, and your children but again, everyone reacts to things differently so take precautions with ANY product you use.
Of course, having a regular routine for flea control is your best option whether you treat topically, orally, or naturally.
Natural Treatment Options
Now lets get into what natural options you have IF YOUR DOG IS NOT IN NEED OF MEDICAL ATTENTION!
These are products you use to treat your environment not your dog. This is more of a prevention and maintenance routine.
Environmental and Natural:
- Diatomaceous Earth or D.E.- a naturally occurring substance made from fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a substance called silica which is used in thousands of non-pesticide products like skin care products, toothpastes, foods, beverages, medicines, rubbers, paints, and water filters. DE earth is not poisonous and it does not have to be ingested to be effective. DE causes insects to dry out and die and remains effective in your environment as long as it is kept dry.
- Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a mineral and a salt of boric acid. Powdered borax is white and is used in detergents, cosmetics, fire retardant, cooking, and of course, as a useful insecticide. It acts much like DE, it dries out the environment so eggs don’t hatch and adults dehydrate.
PRECAUTION: Both may cause upper respiratory irritation so please wear a mask and have inside well ventilated. Have all animals, children and elderly inside when applying DE in the yard and out of the house or in another room when applying borax inside. Wait until the dust settles before returning to the yard or room, lightly vacuum inside. If the treated area gets wet, re-apply when dry.
I think the best way to apply either product is with a flour sifter or something similar. After applying to the carpet, use a broom to brush powder into the fibers. Fleas live in your carpet and their eggs could be deep in the padding. Dog beds can also be a breeding ground so sprinkle into the inside of beds or anywhere the dog sleeps. Yes, even your couch cushions! Believe me, it really works… once your problem is under control you can maintain your environment with just one or two applications per year.
Now for the list of Prescription medication you can get from your vet:
Here is a list of my favorites starting with the best at top but this link to a comparison chart will help too. http://www.allivet.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Dog_chart-730×327.jpg (Not all of my favorites are on the chart but most are represented here)
Oral: Favorite first
- Nexgard/Nexgard plus
(Nexgard and Bravecto not only kill multiple life stages of the flea but they also kill many tick species)
5. Sentinel/Sentinel Spectrum
(These four ONLY kill fleas- Capstar & Comfortis only kill flea adults. Trifexis & Sentinel only kill flea eggs and larvae)
- once a month chewable treat most dogs love (except Capstar which is a rapid killer for only a short time period but can be given daily- not recommended for long term use. Bravecto is an every 3 month treatment instead of every month)
- no mess or oily residue
- no waiting for it to dry
- most brands treat more than just fleas
- fleas are external (outside) parasites, treating internally (inside) with oral medication
- dogs have to metabolize in digestive system before it takes effect
- could take 24 hours or longer to be effective
- flea has to bite animal for medication to be effective, Flea Allergy Dermatitis if allergic
- dog may not like it or have allergic reaction to eating it (very rare)
Topical: Favorite first
- Vectra (dries within 2 hours, works for 35 days, doesn’t react to the animal’s skin and they can hardly feel it when applied)
- Revolution (Also heartworm preventative and dewormer)
- Frontline/Frontline Plus
- once a month treatment
- flea does NOT have to bite animal for medication to be effective
- important step in treating Flea Allergy Dermatitis
- effective almost immediately
- helps control personal environment
- most brands treat more than just fleas
- dries in 2 to 48 hours
- oily residue (not all brands)
- possible skin irritation or allergic reaction like hives (rare)
- dogs may not like the way it feels (not all brands)
Living Flea Free!!
With all the treatment choices, your ultimate decision lies on what will be best for your dog. I personally believe that natural preventatives are better than having to medically treat your dog after the infestation is in full swing. Like most things it is easier and cheaper to prevent the problem than to fix it after the fact. The health of your dog and your family is first and foremost so why not do what you can to safely protect those you love.
We hope this helps you and your dog live a happy and healthy flea free life.
Have a great dog day!