The 7 Best Dog Flea Treatments
7. Vet's Best Pet and Home Spray
- begins working fast
- kid-friendly formula
- shouldn't be used around cats
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
6. Petarmor Pro Advanced
- same ingredients as frontline
- safe for dogs over 8 weeks old
- may cause a rash in some dogs
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
5. Sentry Capguard
- safe for use in puppies
- low price for a six-month supply
- doesn't kill flea eggs
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
4. Frontline Plus
- applied in three easy steps
- comes as a three-month supply
- kills all fleas in 18 hours or less
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
3. Petarmor Fastcaps
- manufactured in france
- can be used with other medications
- can be chewed or swallowed
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
2. Advecta II
- doesn't wash off in water
- prevents chewing lice as well
- doesn't have any fragrance
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
1. Bayer K9 Advantix II
- safe to use year round
- doesn't degrade from sunlight
- available for dogs of all sizes
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
Why Do Dogs Get Fleas?
The small, brown insects found on the skin of many canines in warmer months are only one species of the Siphonaptera order of insects. Fleas are preferential creatures; so much so that different species feed off of different animals. For instance, Ctenocephalides felis is the flea most attracted to both domestic and wild felines, whereas the Pulex irritans species prefer to feed off of humans. The canine flea is properly known as Ctenocephalides canis. In all, there are over two thousand known species of flea.
While all fleas have their preferred host; they will happily jump from one species to another. It is just as common for a canine flea to bite a human or a feline. The anatomy of the common canine flea is such that the legs are nearly as long as the body; which is relatively flat and aerodynamic. Fleas propel themselves from host to host using these long legs; constantly seeking their perfect habitat.
Fleas prefer temperatures of 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels of close to 80 percent. For the Ctenocephalides canis species; the perfect habitat is the warm, humid area on a dog's skin and fur. Canine fleas are most likely to congregate in the dog's armpits, under their ears, and just above their tail.
Infestations are not solely due to poor canine hygiene, as is commonly thought. Unless the dog is washed using only medicinal shampoos and flea-repellent conditioners, the average adult flea pays little attention to the personal hygiene of their host. As one of many common canine ectoparasites, they only survive by feeding on the blood of their hosts. Because of this, the only consideration in a flea's mind is where the next meal comes from. Flea infestations simply occur through contact with other animals or contact with fleas in the animal's environment.
Do Fleas Pose A Real Threat?
When pruritus first appears in dogs, it may be difficult to ascertain a definite cause. Dietary factors should be considered, as well as the possibility of allergic skin disorders which have little to do with ectoparasites. When the symptoms do appear, there are very typical signs to look out for. One benefit of pruritis caused by Ctenocephalides canis is that the fleas themselves may be observed on the dogs skin. Another definite sign of a flea infestation is known as flea dirt; the fecal matter of fleas which resembles black pepper granules scattered across the epidermis of the animal.
Aside from simply annoying their domestic hosts, fleas may actually pose a threat to the well-being of the animals they bite. The flea’s bite is most commonly associated with the pruritis experienced by both humans and animals; severe itching of the skin disproportionate to the size of the small wound. For sensitive dogs, the experience can be quite severe.
Some domestic pets are hypersensitive to the flea's saliva. The condition is known as flea allergy dermatitis; and causes canines to itch over a broad area of the body due to one single flea bite. Over time, this can lead to hair-loss, inflammation and even secondary skin infections. Fleas may also transmit tapeworms and diseases to their canine hosts.
The easiest way to ameliorate symptoms of a flea infestation is through the use of various dog flea treatment options. As science has explored novel treatment methods and identified ways to target multiple species of fleas; dog flea treatment options provide safe and effective ways to reduce flea populations both on the animal and in their surrounding environment.
Why Are Regular Dog Flea Treatments Necessary?
In large part, dog flea treatments only work for a predetermined amount of time; and this has much to do with the strength and safety of medications and the life cycle of the fleas themselves. The life cycle of a flea varies by species; and plays an integral role in treatment methods.
There are four developmental stages in a flea's life cycle. An adult flea lives its life entirely on a host; feeding off of the host's blood and laying eggs on its skin. These eggs, up to 2000 of them, may start out on the host, but they readily fall about the environment as the host moves around. The process begins just two days after inhabiting the host. An egg can take up to ten days to hatch, giving plenty of time for many effective dog flea treatment medications to lose potency and need reapplication.
The hatched larvae are the only free living versions of fleas; as they feed off of organic material and flea dirt found in their environment. At the end of the larval stage, a flea will wrap itself in a cocoon for its pupal stage; lasting for a month on average. When it emerges it is an adult flea, ready to look for a host to live out the rest of its days upon. However if left undisturbed, flea pupae can survive for five or six months before emerging as an adult. For this reason alone, reapplication of dog flea treatments is necessary to avoid re-infestation.