Types Of Flea Treatment
Above, we have talked about the topical and oral treatments to combat fleas and prevent fleas. But there are a few ways in which you can treat fleas directly on your dog:
These are pipettes filled with liquid which is applied topically to the skin and then spreads over their skin over a few hours. It is usually the best option for preventative treatment, so if you have cured a case of fleas and don’t want them to reappear, or want to start straight away from a young age
These are orally given and are the best option if you have a current infestation and need to cure this really quickly before starting to apply the topical treatment. They get to work in a matter of minutes or hours, so the fleas on your dog should be dead within 24 hours. Most can be given daily until the issue is resolved. Some can be used alongside the topical pipettes but check before you apply a spot-on
Flea collars were once popular, especially on cats as opposed to dogs. But their effectiveness was limited with most only working to stop fleas going on their head, and then they would need replacing after a short period which was wasteful. Some cheaper options also caused skin irritation. Many UK vets now don’t recommend them in most cases, but one or two vet-approved brands do exist right now, the best of which we have talked about on our Best Dog Collar page
These are great for getting fleas off your dog’s fur, but they can’t remove every single trace or flea and aren’t as good as tablets or spot-ons – think about all of those difficult-to-reach places such as underarms, and even right down near the skin. We would say they are best used when you believe a tablet has worked, and you want to bathe your pet and get rid of all traces of fleas before applying the topical preventative spot-on. Shampoo still contains active flea-fighting ingredients which can get rid of any which are still alive. Many people also use flea shampoos when bathing their pet as a regular shampoo, just to be on the safe side. Check how often you can do this if you also use spot-on
Powders and Herbal Treatment
Powders are applied to your dog’s coat directly. They are only active for a few days, only kill adult fleas (so the larvae live on), and therefore aren’t long-term effective. Herbal and natural treatments have not been tested by vets so their results aren’t guaranteed, and many contain potentially hazardous ingredients such as tea tree oil. For this reason, we don’t recommend either
The level of medication your dog needs for fleas is based on their weight.
Most dogs over 2kg can use flea treatment, and thereafter, certain strengths have certain weight limits. Always buy the appropriate level for your dog, and if your pet is on the edge of a grouping, go one up.
Most treatments work on dogs up to 40kg, so if yours is over this, you will need to either buy an extra-strong medication for extra large dogs or double up on a large dog pipette/tablet according to usage instructions.
Flea treatments can now also prevent ticks, which is vital if your dog goes outside often.
But they are better at preventing than tackling, so if your dog does have ticks, always ask for advice from your vet about tackling this issue separately.
Some higher-end treatments will also prevent intestinal worms, or at least come with a separate application to do so. Fleas, ticks and worms are three of the biggest most common issues facing dog health, so it is great to think about worming when buying your flea and tick treatments too.
Flea Larvae and Eggs
Some flea treatment will only tackle the living fleas on your pet. Others will kill the larvae and eggs (so they don’t turn into adult fleas).
95% of fleas in your home aren’t on your pet. They are in soft furnishings in your home. So if you are waking up in the morning with bitten ankles, buying a treatment which tackles fleas at all life stages is essential.
This means that if any eggs and larvae fall off into your carpet, they won’t hatch in there, which makes tackling the issue in your home much easier.
Some people badly review flea treatments by saying the particular application didn’t work for their pet. But vets and flea medication manufacturers told the New York Times that they do actually (mostly all) work, and if they don’t it is because the owner has not used it properly or followed instructions in the long term.
This can be anything from not using enough for your dog’s weight and size, to leaving it a bit too long before reapplying, to getting their fur wet and leaving topical treatment ineffective. To get rid of fleas, you also need to remove them from the house, which many people neglect.
Tablets are the most effective to tackle fleas, and topical treatment to prevent them further, so while many topical applications can also kill existing fleas, don’t expect severe cases to be cured by one small vial of liquid alone.