Flea Treatments for Dogs
AAAHHH! Attack of the Fleas! As we are in the throes of the warm months of Summer, it is important to regularly give your dog a flea preventative treatment, even if she or he is an indoor dog. For the uninitiated, fleas are external parasites that feed off your pet’s blood, and live and breed in your pooch’s fur. They are not selective, and will bite you and your family, too. They are the most common complaint people make about having a pet in the family. They are dirty and can spread disease, not to mention making your poor dog itchy and otherwise miserable.
Many people refer to the warmer months of Spring and Summer each year as “flea season”, but in actuality, in many parts of the country, “flea season” is all year long. Warm temperatures, humidity, and vibration (usually from vacuuming) all are very conducive to flea development. And once you have them, getting rid of fleas can be very difficult!
A female flea on your dog can lay as many as 50 eggs per day. Flea eggs are not sticky, and will fall off as she or he walks around your home, your yard, and lies on your furniture. This ensures there are lots of potential new fleas throughout your house, and underscores why it is important to regularly treat your pet with a flea preventative.
See the diagram below to learn about the flea life cycle. Fleas in the pupae stage, during which they are in a cocoon-like shell, can stay like that for over a year. They are safe in hiding, waiting until the perfect conditions to hatch into an adult and torment your best friend. Many flea killing products also include what’s known as an IGR (insect growth regulator) which helps protect by keeping the flea at one of the immature stages, not allowing it to reach adulthood so it can’t bite and breed on your pet.
There are a number of ways to kill fleas, and a myriad of products in each category, but I’m only going to focus on the topical and oral flea treatments for this article. There are many good flea shampoos and dips out there, but unless you are regularly taking your dog in for grooming, you are likely not shampooing him often enough to make it an effective treatment plan. Below, I’ve listed a few of the more popular brands of flea preventatives. Remember, any flea preventative you select will work best when you apply (or feed) it once a month, or as directed by your veterinarian. Don’t wait until you see fleas to protect your home and pet. By then, you will have an infestation.
You can choose any one of these and have good protection for your dog, or select another brand with the same active ingredients above to ensure good results. If you take your dog out hiking a lot, or live in a high tick infested area, it would be best to select a brand that also kills ticks.
A common mistake people make when they discover fleas on their dog is to just treat their pet. However, once you’ve seen a few fleas on your dog, you can be sure there are many more, both on him, and in your home. You have an infestation, and it is imperative you treat both your pooch, and also treat the environment around you. If you don’t, the fleas in the pupae stage, which are hiding in your bedding, floorboards, and carpeting, will later hatch, jump on your pet, and you’ll have the whole issue to deal with again. Remember, a flea can stay in the pupae stage for over a year!
There are few good brands of home treatment sprays and foggers that will effectively kill fleas, and be safe for your pet. The one I like best is Vet Kem, which offers a variety of delivery methods for indoor and outdoor parasite treatment. Just remember to keep your dog off the treated area for the time specified on the can, and NEVER put the environment treatment directly on your pet. You could poison him!
With a little planning and preventative maintenance, you can keep your home and your best friend safe from these pesky parasites. Happy petting!
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