Flea Control for Fido and FluffyAug 15, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in GardenThe Bottom Line Flea control is a science best handled under the advisement of your veterinarian.
Murder, Sterilization and Other Happy Thoughts...
It was not all that long ago that flea and tick control posed a major medical problem. Veterinarians hired additional staff during warmer months in order to keep treatment under control. Therapeutic baths and dips coupled with intravenous feedings, antibiotics and rehydration kept the frail pets alive. Clients brought in anemic pets every day, unaware that the problem was a direct result of infestation. Nothing on the market seemed to be effective.
Now the biggest problem in flea and tick control is confusion. There are so many products on the market; it can become bewildering when trying to pick the right product for your pet and your lifestyle. In an effort to untangle the maze of effective weapons in the war on those parasites making our pets’ existence miserable, I offer a short rundown of available flea control products.
Topicals are liquids administered by placing a prescribed dose, usually one drop, onto the pet’s back under his coat. Forming a thin film on your pet’s skin, this protective coating works to kill fleas as soon as they get on your pet. Almost all topicals available claim to shield pets for one month; it has been reported that some predominantly indoor animals get up to eight weeks protection from a single dose. The most effective topical treatments are available only from a veterinarian.
If your pet is a swimmer or loves to splash in the surf, this product is not for you. The same applies to those whose pets require more than three baths per month as it will wash off. Veterinarians advise owners to wait a minimum of two days after applying a topical treatment before bathing their pet. As it is a prescription medication, following your veterinary care professional’s directions to the letter will keep your pet safe, healthy and flea free.
ADVANTAGE® is the original topical treatment and is still considered the best flea killer by many veterinary care professionals. It is fast acting and safe for adult cats and dogs. The package insert stresses the importance of waiting two days after treatment before bathing your pet.
FRONTLINE TOPSPOT® is another spot-on topical that works for fleas on both dogs and cats. Although it is not as effective as Advantage®, it has the added benefit of also killing ticks. Another plus for this particular product is its water resistance. This is one topical that your Esther Williams of doggie-dom can use thanks to the water resistant nature of this topical’s composite. On the negative side, Frontline Topspot® takes longer to kill fleas and ticks than the competition.
REVOLUTION® is the newest of the products available today. The package insert lays claim to successful eradication of fleas, ticks, ear mites, heartworms as well as intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms. When quizzing my veterinarian about these various products, Revolution® is the only one that received a negative review.
Quoting my favorite D.V.M. regarding Revolution®, “Unfortunately, our experience has not been as good as the manufacturers says, so we use it only on cats that go outdoors and need heartworm protection. Hopefully the company’s other well known drug, Viagra®, works better.”
BIOSPOT®, CONTROL® and DEFEND® This trio of topical treatments are each packaged as new innovations. Sadly, they are not truly new products and the marketing campaign should have included a bit of truth in their advertisements.
To quote my vet, friend and former employer, once again, “Instead of being a new product, these are small, very concentrated drops of an old, ineffective flea spray called PERMETHRIN that is packaged like the other spot-ons. They do not work well on dogs, and often kill cats. (He emphasized this statement by raising his voice and using a tone akin to begging.) DO NOT EVER USE ANY OF THE PERMETHRIN DROPS ON CATS, NO MATTER WHAT THE LABEL SAYS!!! These are the only topical products sold in retail stores, and while they are certainly inexpensive, they just don’t do the job.”
Oral Medications are pills or liquids that you give your pet, by mouth, that are slowly secreted onto the pets skin to kill fleas.
PROGRAM® is unique in that it works differently than other flea control products. Think of Program as birth control for the flea kingdom. As the fleas ingest the secretions, they become sterile. Logic dictates that sterile fleas cannot make flea babes, no matter how hard they try. In an average of twenty-eight days, the present band of fleas infesting your pet and home die a natural death from old age. The supposition is that after one month, your home is flea free. Sounds great and might actually be a perfectly humane method to rid the old homestead and Fluffy or Fido of dreaded parasites. Unfortunately, someone was smoking catnip when he or she came up with this winner.
Happy Birthday – you are dead – wow, sure sounds like something we could live with and over which we would lose no sleep. Somehow, the concept fails when the realization hits that pets bring in new fleas when returning from trips outdoors for walks, while playing on the screened in porch or just sneaking out for a bathroom break. There is no way Program® can keep up.
There is a place and a purpose for this particular oral medication. For those whose pets rarely see the sun shining except through a window, this product is considered effective. Your indoor dog or cat can benefit from Program® since it does work well within certain parameters. An added bonus for those who bathe their indoor pets frequently, it does not wash off since it is continuously secreted onto the skin.
According to the package insert: “Program® is available as a pill for dogs and a liquid for cats. The medication is also available in a pill with heartworm prevention, called Sentinel®."
CAPSTAR® is a pill (oral medication) that kills fleas quickly but only lasts a day or two. According to my D.V.M., veterinarians will sometimes use it in the hospital for severe cases of fleas, but it is not very useful at home.
HARTZ® FLEA PILLS This is a product offered for sale at grocery stores, drug emporiums and discount superstores, among other retail establishments. These have a fairly decent flea sterilizer in them, which was once a product used to spray on the pet’s skin in the old days. However, according to my sources, it does not seem that it makes the transfer from the stomach to the skin very well. These pills are not as successful as others mentioned above.
My Advice is Worth Less than Two Cents
Normally, I try to stress my personal opinion through my reviews. This will not be the case in matters of prescribed medications and possibly lethal concoctions intended to kill parasites in our homes and on our pets. I follow the advice of Pogo’s veterinarian to the letter but do not expect him to have psychic powers. There is no way he or I could possibly know the individual particulars of your pets’ health, allergies and genetic predisposition.
While I managed to barely cover the top brands of oral and topical flea treatments for pets, this in no way is a comprehensive list of all available avenues. Please let this serve as a tool to help you open up a dialogue with your veterinary professional. He or she will know what is best for your pet. Remember, what once was a killer of our beloved pets now is preventable through simple, reasonably priced treatments. Let your veterinarian know you are concerned, Fluffy and Fido will thank you.
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