They may be tiny, but fleas can be a big problem for your dog. Left untreated they can make your dog seriously ill.
Not only can fleas cause your dog to damage its skin because of excessive scratching, there are more serious conditions that your dog may be vulnerable to. So what’s the best flea treatment for dogs?
How did my dog catch fleas?
Although we may think our dogs get fleas from other dogs, it is actually more common for them to pick up fleas from the local environment.
Untreated animals carry fleas from place to place and in doing so they also distribute the flea eggs. Once the environment is right the flea eggs hatch and attach themselves to a nearby host, in this case our dogs.
Environments rich in fleas can be found anywhere, the park, a friend’s house or wherever there is a likelihood of rabbits and foxes.
If you have a dog that likes to hunt and has a habit of sticking their head deep into burrows looking for rabbits or similar; then you may get more than you bargained for when they pop their head back out again!
As it can take up to 3 months to fully clear a flea infestation, prevention is the much better option than trying to treat a dog that is already teeming with fleas.
How do fleas affect my dog?
Apart from the sore skin that results from continual scratching, our dogs can develop more serious complications from flea bites;
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Flea allergy dermatitis or FAD is a common allergy in dogs. Just one bite can cause your dog’s immune system to respond. Once triggered, the immune system reacts to flea bites and results in severe itching.
In addition, scabs or bumps may appear and it is not uncommon for the dog to chew and bite around their tail, groin and bottom. They may even pull their fur out. And if not treated quickly FAD can lead to sores, ‘hotspots’ of inflamed skin and bacterial infections.
If you think your dog is having a bed reaction to fleas then don’t wait but take them to your veterinarian for a check up.
Fleas suck blood. Just like us, our dogs can become anaemic if their red blood cell count becomes low.
Although any dog can develop flea bite anaemia, it is more likely to happen in puppies and small breed dogs where the blood volume is less than a larger dog. What’s more, elderly dogs and dogs that are already in poor health are more susceptible too.
If your dog has fleas and is lethargic, has pale gums or just isn’t him or herself, then take them to your local Veterinary clinic immediately as severe cases of flea-bite anaemia can be fatal.
In addition to fleas, a related cause of poor health can be tapeworms. Tapeworms can seriously affect your dog’s health. They hook in to the lining of your dog’s intestine and absorb nutrients that would normally be used by your dog. An infestation can cause nutritional deficiencies, weight loss and fatigue.
Your dog is vulnerable to a tapeworm infection if they happen to swallow a flea containing tapeworm eggs. Once the egg matures the tape worm can grow several feet and cause serious problems.
Your dog is likely to show signs of fatigue, diarrhoea or constipation and you may notice small white worms in their stool. Again, if you’re in any doubt, then take your dog to the vet straight away.
Choosing the best flea treatment
With so many options on the market it can be a difficult choice when deciding on a treatment plan. We’ve picked two of the biggest brands and most popular products to give you a side by side view of what you are getting.
Both Frontline and Advantage are manufactured by large, multinational companies. Merial being the producer of Frontline and Bayer the producer of Advantage.
In fact, both companies have a long history in both human and animal pharmaceuticals and manufacture various products in their flea treatment ranges.
What’s the best flea treatment for dogs, at a glance
- Waterproof flea and tick treatment for dogs: Frontline Plus for Dogs provides waterproof, fast-acting, long-lasting flea and tick treatment and control for your dog. This product is approved for use...
- Break the flea life cycle with frontline: Frontline flea and tick treatment for dogs kills adult fleas plus flea eggs and larvae to stop existing infestations and prevent establishment of new...
- Kills fleas and ticks: Frontline flea and tick treatment for dogs kills fleas, flea eggs, lice, and ticks. This flea and tick treatment kills ticks, including those that may transmit Lyme disease.
- 4-dose flea and lice treatment for extra-large dogs over 55 pounds
- Advantage II dog flea treatment works through contact, so fleas don't have to bite your dog to die
- Effective dog flea treatment kills fleas in multiple life stages (eggs, larvae and adults) to break the flea life cycle
So which to choose
There are two main differences between the products and that is Frontline provides additional protection from ticks and mosquitoes.
Although this may not be such an issue if you are living in an urban area, if you are regularly walking your dog in countryside that also grazes sheep and cattle then you would need to buy an additional tick protection if you opt for the Advantage product.
Things to consider
With flea and tick treatments being such a large market, manufacturers are always looking to improve their products. As such it’s always worth doing your own research on any product that you will be using on your dog.
However if you are looking for a basic flea treatment then either one of these products is a good bet, they both have a very good safety record with only a few side effects being cited. These are mostly mild skin irritations and the possible loss of a small patch of fur where the ointment is placed.
Both products have a lot of very good reviews so it’s really down to environment as to what will be the best fit for you.
If you read the instructions carefully before you apply and always make sure that you pick the appropriate dosage based on your dogs weight you can look forward to many years of your dog being itch free.
Last update on 2021-01-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API