With the hot humid weather we have had in San Diego lately, fleas are inevitable. This post will help owners navigate through the sea of products and prescriptions that are available to combat these pests. No one wants their dog to be scratching and miserable due to fleas. The following are some of the treatments that I have found very effective.
- Flea Comb & Soapy Water- Comb hair and check between each brush to see if you caught a flea, once you have, don’t hesitate to get it in that bowl of soapy water. You may also see little black specks. This ‘flea dirt’ is actually the excrement from the fleas and an indicator you pooch has got a pesty problem.
- Nutrition- Make sure you are feeding your dog a quality dog food. Dogfoodscoop.com has put together a great list of the brands you should avoid. Look at their “5 scoops section” for a list of their favorite dog foods too. There is also substantial evidence that Vitamin B supplements will help your buddy deter fleas.
- Diatomaceous Earth- A white powder made from crushed up shells of little critters, kills fleas by dehydrating them. The powder can be put on couches, carpet, rugs, grass, and even on your dog (although it is a little drying to their skin). Just one caution, the dust from this stuff will hurt your lungs and your dogs if inhaled, so use caution when sprinkling around the house.
- Clean Everything- Dog bed, blankets, couch cushions. If you have carpets, dust with diatomaceous earth and vacuum it up to be sure any fleas in the vacuum will die. Tile or wood floor? Cleaning floors with lemon is known to repel fleas.
- Bath- An oatmeal bath with cool water will help your dogs itchies, and get some fleas off him/her.
- Natural Oils- Friends of mine swear by lavender oil, but I have also read that eucalyptus oil works great. You rub the oil right on the dog, focusing on the hind and rear areas where fleas like to hide.
So far these have been completely natural remedies and, if practiced often, will usually keep fleas at bay. However if fleas have dug in their heels and don’t want to leave your poor pooch alone, it may be time to consider the chemical approach. You should still continue to practice the natural remedies.
There are basically two chemical options, topical or a chewable. Keep in mind the potential side effects from these medications are unsettling to say the least. They are good at controlling fleas, but there is no way to know if they will have unintended consequences and you should always seek a veterinarian’s advice for the best option for you.
For some folks chemicals are the only option and since Gus reacts very badly to flea bites, I empathize with you. Dogs who spend a lot of time outside, on trails or who have flea allergies often need these medications. One thing I want to make clear is that you should NEVER use more than the recommended doses. Some pet parents will use one chemical treatment that doesn’t work and then another, and another. These are monthly treatments and you need to wait a month to use something different.
Topical (made by Bayer)
- Advantage- All stage flea control
- Advantage Multi- Flea control, Heartworm, Roundworm and Hookworm prevention
- Advantix- Flea and tick control
Topical (made by Merial)
- Frontline- All stage flea control
- Frontline Plus- Flea and tick control
- Heartguard- Only Heartworm, Roundworm and Hookworm prevention, No flea control.
Some problems with topical treatments are the smell, the greasiness and you have to worry about it washing off initially (if you have a water dog). Plus, fleas are becoming resistant to these medications. I have heard of some success from people who use Frontline one month, and Advantage the next to kill fleas.
Chewable Pill (made by Elanco)
- Comfortis- All stage flea control (kills fleas within 30 mins, this is what Gus uses)
- Trifexis- Flea control, Heartworm, Roundworm and Hookworm prevention
The main problem with the chewable pill is that this drug is fairly new and ingesting said chemicals for years to come could have harmful effects. However, the pill works incredibly fast and we don’t have to worry about the chemical smell from the topical meds anymore. Comfortis was initially prescribed to dogs with flea allergies but can now be purchased by anyone who has a prescription from a veterinarian.
I hope this helps you on your quest to rid fleas from your world. Remember to always choose rescue and refer your friends and family to The Barking Lot when they are ready for their new Fur Friend.