A responsible dog owner’s first consideration every spring usually turns to flea control. Fleas can pose a significant risk to your pet’s health, and there are a number of different types of flea control. In the past, my short-haired hounds have brought in fleas, making themselves and the humans miserable, and even infesting the carpet. The fleas are disgusting and itchy, but can also spread nasty diseases and their bites can get infected.
Effective flea control is different for every dog. When choosing flea control for your dog, you should consider your dog’s age, health, and environment. If you want to understand how to prevent your dog from getting fleas and other dangerous pests, then you should consider the following questions:
Which pests do you need to control?
The first question you need to ask yourself is, which canine pests do you want to kill? There are flea control products that primarily kill fleas, but other products that also destroy ticks and mosquitoes. You may want to kill fleas and flea eggs rather than just adults. Your dog’s needs will depend on the pests it’s exposed to, and when any prior exposure took place. If you’re unsure of your needs, then discuss the specifics with your vet and answer the questions as thoroughly as possible.
What are the types of treatment methods?
As you consider your options for flea control, you will have two main methods of treatment: topical and oral. Oral treatments are very convenient to administer, it’s just a flea control pill that’s easy to swallow if your dog doesn’t fight it. Topical flea medications like sprays or dips could be unsafe for some dogs or households. If your dog is prone to licking itself, then most topical treatments will be unsafe. Topical treatments can also be hazardous to young children, who may want to pet the dog.
When are flea control products taken?
Some treatment methods are administered more frequently than others. If you are a busy mom or a working professional, you will probably want to choose a more convenient method. Medication which is given once a year or every six months may be a better choice for busy pet owners. Discuss the different treatment schedules with your veterinarian to decide which will work best for you.
Is the flea control treatment tailored to a particular animal?
Not every flea control treatment is right for every dog. Be careful to choose a treatment that is suited to your dog’s lifestyle, age, or condition. For instance, certain products should not be used if your dog is pregnant or nursing. If your dog has a weight problem or is older, some products could be hazardous. Some products can’t be used if your dog has not been treated for heartworms.
Be aware of the lifestyle restrictions of topical treatments. Topical treatments are not water resistant, so if your dog swims frequently then you should choose a different option. The safest flea control treatments are products which are meant for both dogs and cats. These multi-species products are less likely to include toxic ingredients, but they may also be less effective under challenging conditions.
What are the active ingredients?
The last thing you need to remember when learning how to compare flea control products for dogs is to look at the active ingredients. These ingredients may have certain levels of toxicity that could be dangerous to small or young animals. Certain active ingredients may cause harm to animals with sensitive skin. You may want to research the purpose of active ingredients so that you can evaluate the truthfulness of manufacturer’ claims.
Remember that what you’re looking for is a good balance between safety and efficacy — the product must poison fleas, but not poison your dog. Fleas are not only dangerous for your pet, they are also dangerous for you and your family. Always discuss your final choices with your veterinarian before administering the treatment, especially if your dog is a high health risk for any reason.