The real science behind flea treatments for your pet

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Reviewed by Dr Sylvia Shortreed BVSc

A single flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day – which means a small flea problem can turn into a big one very quickly. To deal with these invasive parasites, you need a fast, effective flea treatment that will kill adult fleas on your pet.

There have been many advancements in flea treatments in the last years, with newer products bringing new effective ways for pet owners to treat and prevent fleas on their dogs and cats. Here we will discuss the science behind commonly used flea prevention products ranging from oral tablets, collars, spot-on treatments and the difference between short and long-acting options.

How do oral flea treatments work?

Newer oral flea preventatives for dogs such as CredelioTM PLUS (lotilaner) fall into the isoxazoline class, a safe and effective new drug offering dogs long-acting protection from fleas and other parasites like ticks and mites. Credelio PLUS also contains a second ingredient called milbemycin that is highly effective against intestinal worms and when given monthly, also protects against heartworm disease. Your dog gets all this protection in the form of a small, tasty, monthly treat. Credelio PLUS is extremely effective against fleas, starting to kill them within 2 hours of dosing and killing all fleas on your dog by 12 hours after dosing.

How do flea collars work?

Another innovative flea product is the SerestoTM collar for dogs and cats. Seresto’s unique collar design contains active ingredients imidacloprid against fleas and flumethrin against ticks, releasing ingredients continuously into your pet’s skin layer over a period of 8 months! Imidacloprid has a clever extra feature of also killing flea larva found in the pet’s environment through the natural shedding of hair and skin onto the floor and bedding, and so it helps to treat and prevent flea infestations in your house and your pet’s environment. For more information on how the Seresto collar works, follow this link.

How do spot-on flea treatments work?

Using a spot-on flea treatment like Advantage™ or Advocate™ helps protect your dog or cat against fleas and their irritating effects, in an easy-to-use topical formulation.  They are applied monthly to your pet’s skin at the base of the neck, from where the solution spreads quickly through the lipid/fatty layer across your pet’s skin and coat from the point of application and kills fleas on contact, which means fleas don’t need to bite your pet for these products to work. This is in contrast to oral flea products, which are active in your pet’s bloodstream, requiring fleas to bite and feed in order to be killed. These flea preventatives contain the same active ingredient as the Seresto collar, imidacloprid, and have the same clever feature of protecting the environment from flea infestations. As your pet naturally sheds their skin and fur, the active ingredient, imidacloprid, is also shed into your pet’s environment killing flea larvae. 

These spot-on treatments have been trusted for many years by pet owners and vets due to their safe and rapid treatment of fleas on dogs and cats.

Advocate also contains a second ingredient, moxidectin, that protects your dog and cat from additional parasites such as intestinal worms, heartworm disease, lungworms, oesophageal worm, mites and biting lice. A unique feature of moxidectin in Advocate is its ability to reach a continuous level of protection in your pet’s system when used monthly, creating a protective shield from any new parasite infestations.

Remember to read and follow the label directions of any product that you decide will suite your and your pet’s lifestyle best. Regular flea prevention of all pets in the household is the surest way to keep everyone flea-free and happy!

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