Oral vs. Topical Flea Medication for Dogs
Posted by Dr. Roth on
External parasites such as fleas and ticks are a battle pet parents often fight. They can be found in most environments and quickly jump onto unsuspecting dogs. Thankfully, many options are available to help pet parents win the battle against fleas and ticks.
Active fleas and ticks are pests already living on a pet. Ridding dogs of fleas and ticks can range from easy to difficult, depending on the dog’s coat type and the extent of the infestation. Pet parents with a dog with short, thin fur may have an easier time eliminating fleas and ticks because they’re easy to see. On the other hand, fleas can easily hide and be challenging to remove from a dog with long or thick fur.
However, some effective dog flea and tick products are available to pet parents that will safely remove fleas and ticks from their dogs and keep them off.
Flea combs are useful tools to help pet parents identify if their dog has fleas. These types of combs are designed to grab fleas and flea dirt. If a dog doesn’t have a huge infestation of fleas, it might be harder for a pet parent to locate the live fleas. However, flea dirt or feces is easier to find with the flea comb.
Pet parents can quickly determine if the black speck their flea comb picks up is dirt or flea dirt by wiping it onto a wet paper towel. If it dissolves into a red spot, it is flea dirt. A flea’s feces is made up of blood, so it will turn red.
If their dogs have fleas, the flea comb can help the pet parent determine if their dog is suffering from any skin conditions caused by the fleas.
Pet parents need to know that the flea comb won’t eliminate the fleas, and they will need to utilize other flea and tick removal options.
It is recommended to gently remove a tick with a tick removal tool like "tick twisters", “tick tornados” or "tick keys". Keep the area clean with soap and water and monitor it regularly. It’s normal to see a small bump or irritation where the tick was embedded, but it should disappear in a few days. If irritation persists of gets worse, contact a veterinarian.
If using tweezers, use fine-point tweezers to avoid the mouth of the tick breaking off and left embedded in the dog’s skin. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, slowly and gently pull straight upward. Extra stress on the bug can also cause it to release whatever germs it carries. It’s best to use gloves and pet parents should never attempt to remove a tick by hand.
CapStar is a highly effective oral tablet pet parents can buy over-the-counter for their dog. In some cases, prescription mediation might be needed. It is fast-acting and kills most adult fleas within hours after ingestion. Unfortunately, CapStar stays in the dog’s system for only about 24 - 48 hours and doesn’t kill flea eggs. Therefore, CapStar should be given in conjunction with a monthly preventative.
Before pet parents purchase CapStar, they will need to know their pet’s weight. CapStar cannot be used on puppies younger than four weeks or dogs weighing under two pounds.
Flea and tick shampoo can help kill active fleas and their eggs. However, these shampoos should be used with caution. When bathing their dog, pet parents need to keep the shampoo off their dog’s face. It can irritate the dog’s eyes and can be toxic if ingested.
If a dog has fleas, then their home has fleas. Fleas and their eggs can survive in carpets, clothes, bedding, and furniture. A thorough cleaning of the house is needed to remove the fleas, and flea spray can target specific areas in the home where fleas are likely hiding.
In extreme cases, pet parents may want to use a flea bomb. A flea bomb will kill fleas and their eggs. However, it is toxic, and all surfaces will need to be wiped down afterward.
Preventing a dog from getting fleas and ticks is the best way for pet parents to keep their dogs healthy and their homes parasite-free.
There are a few monthly preventative options to choose from.
Pet parents can help prevent flea infestations in their homes by using diluted vinegar as a cleaning solution. Vinegar is non-toxic to pets but will kill fleas and ticks. It can be used safely in most areas of the home, including:
Pet parents can also bathe their dogs with diluted vinegar to help rid or prevent them from getting fleas.
Keeping a clean home and regularly treating the yard for fleas and ticks will also help pet parents prevent their dogs from becoming infested with external parasites. Also, pet parents should regularly groom their dogs to maintain their coats and locate fleas before the infestation becomes overwhelming.