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, but there are also 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 contact with 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, in your home and yard, 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 its head deep into burrows looking for rabbits or similar, then you may get more than you bargained for when they pop its head back out again!
As it can take up to 3 months to fully clear a flea infestation, preventative measures are a 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 from a dog flea can cause your dog’s immune system to respond. Once triggered, the immune system reacts to flea bites and results in severe itching.
Also, scabs or bumps may appear, and it is not uncommon for the dog to chew and bite around its 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 bad reaction to fleas, don’t wait. Take them to your veterinarian for a check-up.
Adult fleas suck blood. Just like us, our dogs can become anemic if their red blood cell count becomes low.
Although any dog can develop flea bite anemia, 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.
If your dog has fleas and is lethargic, has pale gums, or isn’t him or herself, then take them to your local Veterinary clinic immediately as severe cases of flea-bite anemia are life-threatening.
In addition to fleas, a related cause of poor health can be tapeworms. Tapeworms can seriously affect your dog’s health. They hook into the lining of your dog’s intestine and absorb nutrients that your dog would normally use. 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 egg. Once the egg matures, the tapeworm can grow several feet and cause serious problems.
Your dog is likely to show signs of fatigue, diarrhea, or constipation, and you may notice small white worms in its stool. Again, if you’re in any doubt, then take your dog to the vet straight away.
Fleas and ticks
It’s almost impossible to talk about fleas without also talking about ticks. Like fleas, ticks can make your dog seriously ill. Flea and tick prevention is essential if you regularly walk your dog in areas populated by sheep, cattle, or deer.
Ticks can cause serious infections, like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis. Not only are ticks a threat to our dogs, but the diseases can be passed onto humans as well.
Ticks are surprisingly hard to spot when they first attach as they can be as small as a pinhead. Regularly checking your dog and tick prevention measures are key to keeping your dog protected.
If you do find fleas and ticks on your dog, deal with them as soon as possible and watch out for any of the following symptoms;
- weight loss,
- joint pain
- changes in gum color
Choosing the best flea treatment
With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to decide on a flea and tick treatment plan. So we’ve picked two of the most popular products produced by two of the biggest brands 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
- The #1 name in flea & tick protection trusted by pet owners for over 20 years, this waterproof, fast-acting flea and tick treatment kills fleas, flea eggs, lice, and ticks, including those that may...
- Designed for use only with dogs and puppies, this long-lasting treatment is made for dogs eight weeks or older.
- Made with two active ingredients, fipronil and (S)-methoprene, this treatment stops infestations and prevents new ones.
- Kills all flea life stages
- Prevents fleas on a treated dog from infesting your home
- Kills fleas within 12 hours of initial application
Is Frontline or Advantage better for dogs?
The main difference between the products is that Frontline provides additional protection from ticks and mosquitoes. Although this may not be such an issue if you live in an urban area, if you regularly walk your dog in the countryside that also grazes sheep and cattle, you would need to buy additional tick protection if you opt for the Advantage product.
Let’s look at both in detail.
Frontline Plus is a waterproof, fast-acting topical treatment that kills fleas in all of its life-cycle stages; adult fleas, flea eggs, larvae, and pupae. Produced for dogs and puppies of eight weeks or older, this long-lasting treatment protects your dog from a flea infestation for 30 days.
Frontline Plus kills fleas and ticks as well as lice, offering your dog superior protection against disease. Its two active ingredients, fipronil and (S)-methoprene, work together to kill fleas and ticks quickly.
Easy to apply, part your dog’s fur between its shoulder blades and squeeze the liquid onto a single spot. The treatment does the rest, and the manufacturer Merial claims it kills 98-100% of fleas within 24 hours.
Advantage II is a topical flea treatment that is waterproof after 24 hours. The active ingredients Imidacloprid and Pyriproxyfen kill fleas in every stage of their life cycle- adult fleas, eggs, and larvae as well as lice.
Effective within 12 hours and lasting 30 days, it’s suitable to use on puppies from birth. It’s easy to apply; part your dog’s fur between its shoulder blades and squeeze the tube’s contents onto the skin. Used monthly Advantage provides year-round prevention from fleas.
Best flea treatment for dogs
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 an excellent 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.
While both products have excellent reviews, our recommendation is Frontline as it offers protection against both fleas and ticks, but it’s really down to the environment as to the best fit for you.
Read the instructions carefully before applying and always ensure that you pick the appropriate dosage based on your dog’s weight; you can look forward to many years of your dog being itch-free.
Last update on 2021-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API