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What's the Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas on Pets?

Flea Treatment Options

By Madeleine Burry. January 01, 2011 | See Comments

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What's the Best Way to Get Rid of Fleas on Pets?

Fleas are annoying pests that are not the easiest to get rid of. Check out these different options that are best for you and your pet.

There are many options available, but how can you figure out the best way to get rid of fleas for your pet? When choosing a treatment for your pet, consider how it’s administered, the treatment’s effectiveness, and any potential side effects that can occur. Of course, your vet is a great resource for determining how to get fleas off your pet. You may find that using a combination of treatments is necessary to completely eliminate fleas from your pet.One important caution: Whatever products and methods you select, be sure to only give cat medication to cats, and dog treatments to dogs. Doing otherwise is potentially very harmful to pets.

Flea Pills and Orals

There are several types of flea pills for dogs available that work to treat fleas—some pills target the flea eggs and others work by attacking adult fleas. In many cases, your pet will require several pills in order to destroy the life cycle.

Pills are generally not suitable for very young pets, and can cause side effects. Some pills may require a trip to the veterinarian, too. If it’s a struggle to get your pet to swallow pills, even when they are given with food, pills might not be a workable option, though there are products like Pill Pockets that make giving pills easier. Some oral flea treatments, like Comfortis, come in chewable form too.

While pills are one of the more effective ways to eradicate fleas, the potential side effects and visit to the veterinarian for prescription versions may be marks against this option.

Shampoos

Flea shampoos are very effective when used in conjunction with pills or other treatment. On their own, however, shampoos are not a lasting method and only destroy adult fleas for about a day.

Cats and dogs can both be shampooed, but different shampoo varieties are used for each animal. One important factor for deciding if shampoo is the right method for your pet is the amount of distaste your cat or dog has for bath time. Since the shampoo has to sit on your pet for around 10 minutes, it won’t be a quick dunk in the tub for your cat or dog.

Flea Collars

Choose flea collars carefully. Collars can work in two different ways, but the most effective variety releases chemicals into your cat or dog's skin. Flea collars kill adult fleas and ticks. Some pets will develop a rash by the collar. Sometimes, fleas will continue to bite pets, just not near their heads. Flea collars like Seresto, that distribute active ingredients through the pet's skin, are more effective at full-body treatment. Flea collars are mainly effective as a preventative, and less effective as a treatment method. Collars cannot be used on puppies and kittens.

Flea Dips

Lasting for two to three weeks, flea dips are a strong chemical treatment. Because dips linger on your pet’s skin, they have fallen out of favor as a preferred treatment for many pet parents, since cats and dogs may lick their skin and ingest insecticides.

Flea Powder

This treatments last for up to a week, and can kill adult fleas as well as repelling them. Sprays and powders are suitable for both cats and dogs. To apply the treatment, pets will have to be held still while their eyes are covered. Note that the odor may be unpleasant.

Spot On Treatments

Lasting about a month, spot on treatments are applied to your pet's back between the shoulder blades. Spot on flea treatments are capable of disrupting the flea's life cycle, although they have to be reapplied on a monthly basis. When applied regularly and on schedule, this treatment method is quite effective.

Environmental Treatments

While it is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of non-chemical solutions, flea combs are definitely effective at removing the fleas living on your pet.  Note that many essential oils are quite dangerous for pets, so steer away from using them unless a veterinarian or trusted medical resource okays the usage.

More Flea and Tick Control Advice

What Temperature Do Fleas Flourish In?
How to Kill Fleas in the Yard
Five Must-See Flea Videos

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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