There are plenty of different flea treatments to help in the event of a fight against fleas, so how do you know what are the best treatments for your dog?
Dogs can easily pick up fleas on their daily ‘walkies’. That’s why you need an effective flea control strategy that can prevent a flea infestation and protect the whole household.
The flea basics
Fleas are tiny, wingless, insects that feed on the host animal's blood. In the UK, dogs are susceptible to two different types of flea: the dog flea (it’s scientific name is Ctenocephalides canis) and the cat flea (it’s scientific name is Ctenocephalides felis).
Flea bites are irritating and itchy and in some cases this irritation can cause scratching, leading to skin infections and hair loss. Fleas can also even pass on nasty diseases.
Once an adult flea has eaten a blood meal, it can lay eggs, reproducing rapidly leading to an infestation. Once a flea infestation takes hold, fleas can be very difficult to remove from the home. This is because the flea has several different stages of development in its life cycle – eggs, larvae, pupae and adults – all of which will be hiding in your home.
With this in mind, it’s important to choose a flea product that disrupts the flea life cycle, stopping it from multiplying.
Keeping your pet protected against fleas is actually relatively straightforward. You just need to choose which treatment delivery method works best for you and your pet. Our guide will help you find the right product for your pooch so you can stay carefree when it comes to fleas.
Dog flea treatments: Long-acting solutions
Flea collars vary considerably when it comes to their mode of action. Older style collars tend to include the active ingredients in the outer surface of the collar, while newer models embed the active ingredients in to the collar.
- Advantages: Special medicated flea collars can provide long-lasting protection against fleas, sometimes offering several months of protection at a time.
Seresto Flea and Tick Control collar protects your dog or cat against fleas and ticks for 7-8 eight months – the longest-lasting protection available in a single application. Application is as easy as putting on your dog’s normal collar.
The Seresto collar’s slow-release dosing allows the active ingredients to spread across your pet’s skin and coat at a controlled and steady rate, for all-over protection. It means fleas and ticks are killed through contact, with no biting required in order to die.1 This may also provide relief for pets with flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) – a skin allergy to flea saliva, which can lead to excessive itching and discomfort.
Flea collars can also be economically beneficial when taking the length of treatment time into consideration.
- Disadvantages: The quality of flea collars can vary considerably. Speak to your vet who will be able to recommend the best flea collar for your dog.
Seresto Flea and Tick Control collar is a vet-recommended flea collar, available in two sizes; for large dogs weighing over 8kg and small dogs weighing 8kg or less (suitable for puppies aged seven weeks and older). Find out how your dog can have 7-8 months of adventure with Seresto Flea and Tick Control collar.
Read our guide to help you choose the right flea collar for your dog.
Spot-on flea treatments
Spot-ons are topical treatments, which require owners to drop the liquid treatment onto the dog’s skin between the shoulder blades. Depending on the product, the active ingredient is then either absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, or it spreads throughout the skin.
- Advantages: The products are often applied monthly, protecting dogs for up to 28 days.
The active ingredient in the spot-on product, Advantage, means fleas don’t have to bite your pet to be killed.2 It works by spreading throughout the dog’s skin, and kills fleas through contact within 24 hours as well as targeting flea larvae in the home.3 It’s suitable for puppies (and kittens) from eight weeks of age.
- Disadvantages: Some spot-ons are active within the animal’s bloodstream and therefore the fleas would need to bite your dog to be exposed to the active ingredients, before they are killed. If you’re unsure, speak to your vet who will be able to explain, which spot-on product would work best for your dog.
There are a variety of flea tablets available, which are taken orally.
- Advantages: Flea tablets can be very effective and some owners find it easier to give oral medication over topical treatments, such as spot-ons.
- Disadvantages: Dogs may turn their nose up at tablets, making them difficult for owners to administer, which is why it’s important to have a variety of treatments to choose from. Additionally, the active ingredients in flea tablets are absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, so fleas will have to bite the pet to be killed.
Pet-specific flea sprays are applied directly to the roots of a dog's coat to kill fleas. Don’t confuse these dog-friendly products with household flea sprays, which are designed to tackle the problem in the home, but can’t be used directly on pets.
- Advantages: Some flea sprays can be used on very young animals, sometimes in pets that are just days old.
- Disadvantages: Pet flea sprays can be messy and time-consuming because it needs to be applied to the dog’s entire body for full protection and some pet sprays need to be re-applied very frequently.
Dog flea treatments: Short-acting solutions
Flea shampoos are designed to be lathered into your pet’s fur and skin during bath-time to kill fleas.
- Advantages: Easy to apply, these shampoo treatments are readily available too.
- Disadvantages: They may be effective at targeting fleas on the fur at that moment, but these products don’t have a lasting (known as “residual”) effect, so won’t stop new fleas hopping back on.
Flea combs are fine-toothed combs that pull fleas from the fur. Repetitive grooming using one of these can help detect fleas on your pet.
- Advantages: They do not contain any chemicals, and they’re easy to use.
- Disadvantages: It’s very time consuming, and it’s actually very hard to remove healthy, live fleas as they burrow deep into the layers of your pet’s coat. It also won’t stop new fleas taking up residence on your pet and laying eggs, so it’s unlikely that combing alone will rid your pet from fleas.
Like pet flea sprays, powders are applied directly on to the pet’s fur and skin to help fight the fleas.
- Advantages: They’re easy to apply.
- Disadvantages: Powders are a messy product and they’re only active for as long as the product clings to the dog’s fur and skin, putting your dog at risk of re-infestation.
Treating the home
If your pet has fleas, then unfortunately that means your home has fleas too, because fleas lay eggs that fall from your pet onto your flooring, carpets and furniture.
Any fleas you see on your dog are actually only a tiny fraction (5 per cent) of the total number that are hiding away in your home in their immature stages. The remaining 95 per cent are hiding in your home as flea eggs and larvae, and flea pupae, which develop into adult fleas ready to bite your pet and breed.
To get rid of a flea infestation, treating your pet is often only part of the picture; you also need to tackle the flea problem in the household.
Find out how you can evict fleas for good with our helpful guide to getting rid of cat or dog fleas.
- Information is regarding mode of action and is not intended to imply parasites can be completely stopped from biting.
- Mehlhorn H Parasitology Research 2001 198 (v1.0), information is regarding mode of action and is not intended to imply parasites can be completely stopped from biting.
- Advantage kills adult fleas on the pet as well as flea larvae in the pet’s surroundings – such as carpets and upholstery.