Medicine to Keep Fleas Away From Dogs

Your dog can pick up fleas while outdoors or interacting with other dogs.
Your dog can pick up fleas while outdoors or interacting with other dogs. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

A flea infestation can make your dog itchy and uncomfortable. If the infestation is left untreated, your pet may develop sores and infections as a result of his constant scratching. Severely flea-infested dogs may also become anemic. The good news is that there is no need for your dog to suffer from fleas; a wide variety of flea control medications are readily available. Ask your vet which product would be best for your pet.

Sprays and Dips

Flea sprays and dips are some of the most easily available, least expensive methods of immediately treating your dog's flea problem. The benefit of these products is they tend to have the immediate effect of decreasing your dog's flea problem. The downside of these products is that they do not work long term. Giving your dog a flea dip will not prevent fleas from reinfesting him next week. Flea dips and sprays tend to work best for dogs who only require occasional flea treatment and rarely spend time in areas where they are likely to pick up fleas.

Topical Flea Treatment

Topical flea treatments are used to control your dog's flea problem long term. Topical flea control products are applied directly to your dog's skin and work by killing the fleas and limiting their abilities to reproduce for as long as 30 days after every application. Topical flea control medicines are more expensive than flea sprays and dips, but the long-lasting nature of these medicines makes them very effective for getting rid of your dog's flea problem.

Fipronil, Lufenuron and Imidacloprid

The active ingredients in topical flea medicines are not all the same and do not all work in the same ways. If one type of flea medicine does not seem particularly effective for your dog, try switching to a brand with a different primary active ingredient. Fipronil is one of the primary ingredients used in several topical canine flea medications, including Frontline Plus, Sentry FiproGuard Plus and PetArmor Plus. Fipronil works by killing fleas on contact. Imidacloprid is the flea killing product used in Advantage, another brand of topical flea medicine. Imidacloprid kills on direct contact and also helps destroy eggs, breaking the life cycle of the fleas. Lufenuron is the active ingredient in the flea medicine Program and it works by preventing flea eggs from hatching, though it does not affect adult fleas.

Multi-Purpose Medicines

Some flea medicines treat more than fleas. If you want to limit the number of different medicines you give to your dog, ask your vet about a product that treats fleas and other pests. For example, Sentinel combines flea medication with heartworm and regular worm protection. Frontline works on ticks as well as fleas. Revolution, a heartworm medicine, kills adult fleas and their eggs. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

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