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  1. dogs flea and tick

Oral vs Topical Flea Medication for Dogs

Posted by Dr. Roth on June 01, 2022

Wellness Care
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Fleas are tiny external parasites that survive by drinking other animals’ blood. These parasites reproduce rapidly and can cause a dog to have various health problems, including anemia, allergies, skin irritation, and internal parasites. 

Pet parents often find themselves looking for the safest ways to rid their dogs and homes of fleas. Thankfully, there are safe options both oral and topical for flea prevention and to get rid of active fleas. To apply safely and effectively, pet parents need to understand the difference between medications.  

Before Purchasing Flea and Tick Medicine

Pet parents should always do research and due diligence before medicating their dogs. While shopping for a flea and tick preventative or medication for active fleas, pet parents should look for the following information on the label:

  • The product is specific to dogs — dogs cannot take medications made for cats and vice versa.

  • Check the weight range — medications made for large dogs can be toxic to small dogs, and medications for small dogs are ineffective on large dogs.

  • Look at what flea life stages the medicine targets — eggs, larvae, or adult fleas.

  • How long the medicine stays active in the dog’s body — some flea medications are effective for a few days, while others are effective for a month.

Pet parents may need to use a combination of medications to kill all the fleas.

Oral Flea and Tick Medicine for Dogs

Oral flea and tick medications usually come in pill or tablet form. Like any medication, they have various pros and cons. 

The pros of using an oral flea medication include:

  • Less messy

  • Fast-acting

  • Great for dogs that like to spend time in the water

  • Some oral flea medications may be more effective than topical medications

The cons of using an oral flea medication include:

  • It may be challenging to get the dog to take the pill

  • It could upset the dog’s stomach

  • Most oral flea medications only kill the adult flea

For Active Fleas

Many oral products, but not all, are used to kill active fleas. It is important for pet parents to get the right product for their situation and give their dog the correct dosage. One popular oral flea and tick medication is CapStar, which is very fast-acting. It begins killing fleas within 30 minutes and can kill over 90% of adult fleas within four hours. Unfortunately, this medication only kills adult fleas and only stays in the dog’s system for 24 to 48 hours. Therefore, it should be used in conjunction with a monthly preventative that kills all flea life stages.

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Oral Flea Preventatives 

There are also daily and monthly oral medications designed to repel fleas and ticks from the pet. Texas Pet Company Natural Flea & Tick Repellent Chews is an example of daily soft chews that taste like treats. The chews are made from natural ingredients and vitamins which after regular use, will create a deterrent odor excreted from the dog’s body that repels fleas. This is an option for pet parents looking for a more natural option, however they will have to remember to take the chew regularly. 

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Topical Flea and Tick Medication for Dogs

Topical flea and tick medicines are very popular and effective at preventing dogs from getting infested with fleas or killing active fleas. Preventatives can’t prevent fleas from jumping onto dogs and biting them, but they are good at killing the flea quickly so it cannot lay eggs.

The pros of using a topical flea preventative include:

  • Can kill adult fleas and prevent flea eggs and larvae infestation

  • Easy application, dogs don’t have to ingests  

  • Long-lasting

The cons of using topical flea medication include:

  • Can be challenging to apply to dogs with dense coats

  • Toxic if ingested

  • May cause a rash or skin irritation

Topical flea and tick preventative brand recommended by Fuzzy is Effipro.

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In addition to the topical treatment, there are other topical options like the flea & tick collar and flea & tick shampoos. Pet parents should monitor if their dog has any reactions or sensitivities to the products. Instructions should be read carefully and doses given accordingly. Topical medications should never be ingested by pets.


Flea and Tick Treatments for the Home

If a dog has fleas, then the home has fleas. Treating a dog for fleas won’t be enough to get rid of the fleas if the house also has an infestation. Pet parents can rid their home of fleas by following these tips:

  • Wash the dog’s beds

  • Wash all sheets, blankets, and towels in the home

  • Vacuum the floors and immediately take the contents out to the trash

  • Steam clean the floors after vacuuming

  • Clean the baseboards 

  • Wipe down all surfaces

  • Flea bomb or spray the home

A flea bomb can be toxic, so pet parents should read the directions carefully. Some flea bombs recommend pets — and pet parents — stay out of the home for several hours. After using the flea bomb, pet parents will need to wipe down all surfaces again. 

Flea sprays are also available. MyCodex is a household spray that kills flea & ticks and can also be sprayed directly on a pet. 

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Finally, pet parents should also treat the outside of the home. There are pest control companies specializing in flea and tick preventative yard treatments. Pet parents can also buy sprays that attach to a hose to treat their yard — vinegar is also a good option for treating the yard.

Fuzzy Can Help

Pet parents can contact Fuzzy 24/7 with all of their pet health questions. Fuzzy’s chat feature makes it easy for pet parents to talk to a vet and quickly get answers to all of their dog’s flea & tick and other health questions. 

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