Fleas: Treatment Ideas, Part 2

cat fleas iStock_000001607683SmallIn the last post we learned about two common flea control treatments: flea collars and baths with flea shampoo. In this article we will talk about three other popular approaches for attacking those pests.

Flea Powders and Sprays

Similar to flea collars and flea shampoo, powders and sprays are non-prescription products that can be purchased at your local pet store. Both are external treatments (not to be ingested by your pet). Read the product labels carefully to understand the appropriate amount to use on your dog, based on your dog’s weight, size, and age. Also be sure to differentiate between products intended for use on dogs, on cats, and on carpets. These different types should never be mixed.


  • Spray or powder application will take less time than a doggy bath.
  • This type of treatment can last longer on your dog’s coat (as opposed to shampoo, which is rinsed off). So it will be able to remain effective in repelling and killing fleas for a greater amount of time.
  • Some sprays and powders come with chemicals for breaking the flea life cycle, so it will do more than just attack the existing adult fleas. It will also stop future generations of fleas from developing and infesting your pet.


  • Since these products need to be left on your pet in order for them to work, there is a higher risk of irritating your pet’s skin. Monitor your pet closely and stop treatment and consult with your veterinarian if your pet has an adverse reaction to this or any other treatments.
  • Although longer lasting than baths, sprays and powders will not last forever, especially if your dog gets wet. They may need to be reapplied often. Follow product instructions for frequency of applications.
  • Anyone with a great deal of contact with your dog, (you, other adults and children, other pets) will also be exposed to the chemicals on your dog’s coat.

Topical Treatments

It used to be that this type of treatment could only be prescribed by a veterinarian but it is now also found in pet stores. It takes the form of medicated drops that need to be applied to your dog’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades where your dog can’t lick at it. Your dog’s skin oils help distribute the medication across the rest of your dog’s skin and the treatment is absorbed into your dog’s fat layer and blood stream. The treatment will kill adult fleas and certain brands can also break the flea life cycle by stopping flea eggs from hatching or interrupting the development of flea larvae.


  • Topical treatments are safer for other animals and people in the environment because the medication is absorbed and no exterior chemicals remain to be transferred onto anyone else.
  • Many pet owners have reported that topical treatments are among the more effective flea control methods.
  • Application of topical treatments is easy and time-friendly.


  • Topical treatments can be expensive. One dose may range in price from 15 to 30 dollars.
  • A topical treatment will not be as effective if given after a flea bath since the oils needed to spread the medication will be depleted by the bath.
  • This and all of the other treatments discussed thus far (collars, baths, powders, sprays) all involve some level of chemical treatment. Some pet owners do not feel comfortable using chemicals on their pets. If you are concerned, talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about the possible affects that these treatments may have on your pet.

Oral Medication

Also available through pet product suppliers are a variety of flea pills that you can give to your dog. These medications also work through the blood stream to attack and kill adult fleas and possibly affect the populations of flea eggs and larvae. Most medications are given daily with the dog’s food or hidden in a snack.


  • Flea pills pose no risk of being touched and absorbed by other people or pets, and, unlike powders and sprays, pills pose no inhalation threats.
  • Along with topical treatments, flea pills are also widely accepted and used by pet owners.
  • Flea pills are fast acting. They can start killing fleas within 20 minutes of being ingested.
  • This treatment has been used in conjunction with other flea treatments. Read product labels and consult with a veterinarian before coupling two types of flea treatment.


  • It will be necessary to remember to give flea pills to your dog as long as a flea problem persists.
  • It may be difficult to persuade some dogs to eat the pill.
  • If you are dealing with a particularly bad or persistent infestation, daily doses of medication may become expensive.
  • Oral medications are not preventative or long-lasting. Although your dog will be quickly cleared of fleas for fast relief, nothing will prevent more fleas from returning to your dog’s coat.

As was said in part one of this article, know and review these different treatment methods, then be sure to consult with your veterinarian about the best option for you and your dog. Good luck!



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