One Flea Can Mean An Infestation! – Photo credit: Kat
Flea preventatives are available in sprays, dips, pills, spot on treatments, and shots. You can purchase almost any flea product through your veterinarian or in a local Petco store. I strongly recommend that people avoid buying flea products at other retail stores such as Walmart because they are often ineffective or dangerous. It is important to note down that you cannot use flea preventatives that are designed for a cat on a dog or vice versa. The main ingredient in some flea products that are dangerous to cats are pyrethrins.
Make sure you clean the surrounding areas when you treat your animals with a flea prevention product. Fleas can hop and lay eggs just about anywhere in your house. The favorable locations to lay eggs include tabletops, bedding, clothing, carpet, behind corners, and under couches.
You want to take into account cost, effectiveness, safety, and how long each product takes to act on the fleas when you make a decision on which product to use. Age of the animal and specifications for each product must be factored in when applying a medication.
Before you continue, I want to let you know that the best tool for removing fleas is a handy flea comb. The flea comb is a cheap, versatile tool that can be used to remove fleas naturally without the need for chemicals. Fleas are caught within the teeth of the comb then drowned in a dish soap solution. You can also check out my other article about the anatomy of the flea for a better breakdown.
Topical flea preventatives are applied on the base of the neck area by a tube. Most topical flea preventatives are good for 30 days. Topical preventatives have to be applied for several months in a row to be effective against the flea since there are multiple life stages of the flea. Many people use a 30 day topical preventative along with a pill that kills all the fleas instantly for maximum effectiveness like capstar. The reason for this is that the flea prevention takes time (up to 24 hours) to completely take effect while a pill like capstar will kill all of the current fleas in 30 minutes.
Frontline is a flea medication that contains two strong ingredients that work against fleas, flea eggs, and ticks. Fipronil is the ingredient that is used to destroy adult fleas and ticks by disrupting their nervous system. Frontline contains s-methoprene which prevents the development of fleas. This product will last up to one month per application. Frontline can begin as early as 8 weeks old.
Advantage is a flea preventative that can be applied to both dogs and cats. Advantage contains imidacloprid as the main ingredient which kills fleas by destroying the nervous system. Pyriproxyfen is the ingredient in Advantage that is used as an insect growth regulator to prevent the development of fleas. Advantage is safe for use in dogs that are at least 4 pounds and 7 weeks old and in cats that are at least 8 weeks of age.
Revolution (Requires Prescription)
Revolution is a prescription flea medication that is applied monthly to the back of the neck. You have to purchase this prevention from a veterinarian. Revolution kills ear mites, fleas, and prevents heartworm infections. Revolution is also advertised to prevent sarcoptic mange, hookworms, and roundworms. Revolution is safe and effective in cats that are eight weeks or older and for dogs that are six weeks or older. Selamectin is the ingredient used in Revolution to prevent heartw orms which is a macrocyclic lactone similar to ivermectin.
Cheristin is a cat only flea medication that is applied once per month to kill and prevent fleas. Cheristin can be applied to any cat that is 8 weeks or older. Cheristin kills all fleas within 12 hours of applying it. This product is relatively new as of writing this article, so make sure to look for it online or in Petco if your local clinic does not carry this product.
This product is a flea and tick preventative that works exactly like Frontline does. It contains the same ingredients and is applied the same way. PetArmor is safe for dogs and cats that are over 8 weeks of age. PetArmor is about half the cost of Frontline.
Flea Dips and Sprays
Flea dips and flea sprays are good for a temporary solution to a flea infestation. Flea dips and flea sprays will kill the current adult fleas on your pet but will not kill the eggs. A monthly preventive is still recommended if the animal is heavily infested or is going to a new home.
Flea sprays and dips work best for animal shelters or rescue groups that have to treat hundreds of animals that come from many different areas with unknown exposure to parasites. Flea sprays will cause the dying fleas to immediately run to the head area, so make sure to remove them with a flea comb if you see them. Hold the face of the animal with one hand while you spray around the head area so you do not get it in their eyes.
Frontline which contains s-methoprene is available as a spray for cats and dogs which is similar in effectiveness to the spot on version. This product can be used on any cat or dog that is 8 weeks of age or greater.
Biogroom is a flea product that comes in a gallon jug which is then diluted into a dip or spray. Biogroom is diluted by mixing 4 ounces of the solution per gallon of water. You can choose to dip an animal in the solution or spray them down real well. The spray is advocated more because you can remake it as needed at a lower dilution and at your convenience. It is advised to wipe down younger animals with damp wash cloth as opposed to spraying, when animals are under about 12 weeks old.
Zodiac and Ovitrol
Both of these products are excellent and cost effective for shelters and rescue groups. This product is sprayed directly to the animal and rubbed into their skin which then kills the current adult flea population.
I do not recommend flea shampoo as a good method of removing fleas due to the fact it isn’t effective long term and can break out their skin. Most flea shampoos that you buy from retail stores are dangerous and can be toxic to pets, especially younger animals.
Use blue Dawn dish soap if you want to bathe any animal that is infested with fleas, it will work just as well as any flea shampoo. Always let the dawn sit for a couple of minutes prior to washing it off. Bathing may be necessary if the animal has fleas or if they are bundled up in something nasty like oil or gas. Simply cover the animal with the dish soap and rub it in for a couple of minutes prior to rinsing.
Some flea pills provide monthly protection while other pills only kill the current population of adult fleas. Make sure to read the instructions completely so you know how to administer the product and what to do afterwards.
Capstar will kill all of the adult fleas that are currently on your cat or dog but will not protect your animal against new fleas. Capstar is one of the pills that can be used safely on young animals that is two pounds or less. Expect to see scratching and biting of the skin as the fleas start to die. This product is usually used in conjunction with a monthly preventative.
Flea Bombing and Diatomaceous Earth
You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth in areas that the fleas are located at after vacuuming your floor well. Use a broom to push the powder into the carpet so that you hit all of the fleas. Fleas typically die in about 4 to 12 hours after exposure. You can apply this product every week for one to two months to make sure you kill all of the hatching adults. You may also use borax on carpets to kill fleas, which is just as effective.
Bombing the house for fleas is one method that some people opt for due to the ease of use and amount of area that that the bomb can reach. There are several steps you have to take if you decide bombing is the best plan of action.
The first step is to make sure all drawers and cabinets are open, all utensils are removed, and all of the pets and family members are outside for at least 10 hours. It is vital to deflea every animal before returning to the house. I typically do not recommend flea bombing unless there is multiple animals that are infested and people are getting bitten as a result.
Seresto is one of the top pet collars available for the protection of fleas in cats. Seresto has been proven to last up to 8 months for both cats and dogs. This collar has also provided top notch protection against ticks in outdoor cats and cats who may travel outdoors. The collar is not greasy for cats who does not provide a risk of toxicity.