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Types of Flea & Tick Prevention

Fleas can be a pain in the tail to get rid of. Although fleas are less active in the Winter, they are still able to live in warm micro environments such as your house year round so it's important to keep your dog on his/her regular flea/tick prevention treatment. In today's market, there are several different treatment options for flea & tick prevention. It's important to know about the different options, how they work, and how they can effect your pet.

Some people see fleas and think "no big deal, they just make my dog itch", give their pet a flea bath and call it a day. It's important to know the dangers of fleas and why they need to be taken care of ASAP. Fleas can cause a wide variety of issues for your pets. The most common issue is flea bite dermatitis which is a specific allergy to flea saliva, which leads to intense itching and scratching. That constant itching allows the skin to break open and form scabs that can get infected. This can easily warrant a vet visit to obtain medications for both the allergy and infection. Fleas can also cause tapeworms, which are parasites that grow inside of your pet and need to be treated by your vet. Fleas can also cause flea bite anemia. This is when the infestation is so severe that the fleas feed so much on the animals that their red blood cell count decreases. This can become a medical emergency and even fatal in some cases if left untreated. Although fleas typically don't look to humans as hosts, they can carry certain diseases that spread to both humans and pets.

Keep in mind if your dog has fleas, just doing a flea bath will only get rid of them on your dog but it most certainly won't prevent them in the future or keep them from jumping back on your dog if they have taken residence in your home. In order to get rid of them, you must treat your entire home, including but not limited to pet bedding, carpet, rugs, blankets, or anything else your dog is normally on or near. Pet stores sell flea and tick sprays, carpet powders, and foggers for the home, but it's important that you carefully read the instructions on what you purchase to ensure safety of both you and your pet. There are also some more natural remedies for getting rid of fleas in your home, which you can read some ideas here: Treat Your Home For Fleas. Flea eggs can survive for weeks or even months before hatching, so you may need to regularly treat your pet and home until the infestation is completely gone.

Here are some of the different types of flea & tick prevention treatments:

  • Topical Medications - These are applied directly to the pet's skin, usually between the shoulder blades or at the base of the neck. These contain ingredients that repel and kill fleas and ticks. The treatment is absorbed by your pet's oil glands which distributes the flea killer through the skin and hair. Topicals are typically toxic to both humans and pets if ingested. You should research the brand of topical before purchasing, as some do not work as well as others and K9 Advantix is extremely toxic to cats for them to even be around a dog with it on. Also brands like Frontline only repels fleas, not ticks, and because it's so commonly used, the fleas have built up resistance to it. 
  • Oral Medications - Oral medications typically require a prescription from your vet or you can purchase them at places like 1800PetMed online. Some products not only kill fleas and ticks, but also can prevent heartworm disease or some internal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Oral medications do sometimes have side effects like vomiting and diarrhea. Some have even reported depression and lack of appetite as well. As far as effectiveness, oral medications are typically one of the better options as far as preventing fleas & ticks. 
  • Sprays - Depending on the product you select, they can last up to several months as long as the pet stays dry. Read all instructions carefully before applying anything to your pet. They do have some more natural sprays on the market, however, the all natural ones can take up to 3 months to take effect and get rid of an infestation. 
  • Powders - Powders are dusted over the dog's entire body and rubbed into the fur and between the toes. Side effects of powders may include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, depression, lack of appetite, and shaking. We personally do not recommend these as the powder can be toxic if ingested and typically do not work well for preventing fleas & ticks.
  • Shampoos - The shampoos will help wash away adult fleas and their eggs for a short period of time - but will not stop an infestation or keep the fleas from returning. Flea shampoos will kill on contact if your dog already has them, but they will still need regular flea and tick prevention treatment
  • Dips - A flea and tick dip is a concentrated liquid that is diluted with water and applied to the animal with a sponge or poured over the body. The pet is not rinsed after the dip is applied. Make sure that it is not ingested and use caution when applying. 
  • Collars - Flea collars use a concentrated chemical to repel fleas and ticks from an animal. The chemical will disperse all over the animal's body and can last for several months. Many of the flea and tick collars on the market don't work very well or won't last very long, we highly recommend the Seresto collar as being one of the best currently on the market. 
As always, for those who aren't a fan of all the chemicals, here are some all natural flea repellent ideas: Natural Flea Repellent





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