How Do Flea Treatments Work?

flea treatments

As Summer is upon us, pet owners everywhere, flea treatments at the hip, are preparing to go to battle. The villainous foe? Of course: the ever-imposing threat of a bad flea infestation. Even though fleas can thrive during all four seasons, our pets typically spend more time outdoors in nice weather, increasing the chance that they come in contact with fleas.

If you’ve got a furry, four-legged member of your family then you are probably very familiar with monthly flea treatment. You snip off the plastic tip and squirt the liquid miracle between the shoulder blades of Fluffy, or Fido, thus keeping them safe from the discomfort and dangers associated with fleas. But, how does this magical liquid work? And, when should you use flea treatments? How do you know if your pet even needs this medicine?

Signs and Symptoms

First, you will need to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms that your dog or cat has fleas. You’ll want to start by keeping an eye out for any changed behaviors/appearance of your pet:

  • Excessive scratching and itching
  • Rubbing themselves on floor or furniture
  • Red skin
  • Hair loss
  • Biting of skin or fur
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness or agitation
  • Hot spots
  • Pale gums

If you suspect your pet has fleas, be sure to give him a closer look. Look at your pet for:

  • Flea eggs on your pet’s skin and fur (These look like small white specks).
  • Flea dirt, or excrement, on your animal’s skin and fur (dark specks) These will fall from your pet as you brush him. Try having him stand on a white towel while you comb through his fur.
  • Fleas and/or flea dirt in your carpets or furniture
  • Visible, live fleas on your pet’s skin or fur
  • Red bumps or pimple-like spots. (Check on their belly or at the base of their tail).
  • Red bumps or pimple-like spots on your own feet or ankles

If you’ve determined that your pet does indeed have fleas, it’s time to spring into action to get rid of the little buggers for good. You have several options for flea treatments, but the most popular are topical applications or oral medicines. You will want to choose an option that kills both adult fleas on your pet, any immature larvae that may already be existing, and also prevent any eggs from hatching.

Oral Flea Treatments: Tablets, Pills and Chews

These flea treatments are ingested by your animal and work only when an adult flea bites your pet. The chemicals in these products then impact the parasite causing its death and/or impacting its ability to reproduce. These treatments do not typically kill larvae or eggs though so you will need to be aware of how these are used and how effective they will be.  Although these kinds of flea treatments are typically much more effective at killing adult fleas than topical methods, you may still need to treat your home to totally eliminate the problem.

Pet owners usually like this method of flea prevention because it isn’t as messy as many topical treatments and is very easy to administer. Not only that, some of these pills can start working in as soon as 30 minutes. This will start to offer protection and relief to your pet sooner than many other methods. Because they are quick and effective, by traveling through your pet’s bloodstream, they are often one of the fastest ways to stop your pet from suffering.

Topical Flea Treatments: Drops, Powders and Shampoos

Powders and shampoos can help to kill adult fleas. You can (and should) purchase a special flea comb to help remove fleas and eggs from your pet. These are particularly helpful with puppies and kittens who may not be old enough for some of the stronger methods of flea removal. These shampoos and dips are also designed to help soothe itchy and red skin. However, you will still want topical drops to kill eggs and larvae. Topical drops are applied to your pet’s shoulder blades (where they cannot reach to lick the chemicals) and then spread across their body using the animal’s natural body oils. This process takes about a day to spread to all areas of the pet and distribute the medicine.

Once the medicine is applied it begins to release toxins over the course of a month that make it so that fleas can no longer live on the animal. These types of flea treatments may also contain chemicals called Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) which will help keep larvae from maturing. Remember, even though it is the adult fleas that do the biting and cause discomfort to your pet, most of the flea population exists in egg form and hides in furniture, carpeting, and pet fur.

 Other important things to note:

Do not forget that if your pet has fleas it is likely your home also has fleas. You will want to get rid of any lingering fleas or eggs that are hiding out in your home. You will need to use flea treatments on your pets bed, carpets, mats and any furniture that your pet comes in contact with. There are specialty house bombs and carpet cleaners designed to help you with this problem. Be sure to wash all bedding and linens in hot water to rid your home of any possible infestation.

No matter what method of parasite control you decide to use, or which products you purchase, it is important for you to also get advice from your veterinarian. This is especially important if it is a product that you have not used before. Be sure to read the label carefully and follow the directions. Be certain to note any changes in your pet’s behavior after the medicine has been given and contact your veterinarian immediately if you have any concerns. Please feel free to contact our knowledgeable, friendly staff if you have any questions regarding the best flea treatments for your pet, or if you think your pet has fleas. We look forward to helping you keep your furry pal happy and healthy.

Still have questions about flea and tick prevention and control? Contact us today.


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Cindy Stone
Cindy Stone
posted 3 weeks ago

Clean, friendly and I was immediately welcomed. All interactions with "Pumpkin" were sincere and loving . All seem to enjoy their jobs. Sensitive to my pet's needs. First time boarding at 5 years old. Did well.

Tiffany A Burger
Tiffany A Burger
posted 2 weeks ago

I cant say enough praise over this practice. Dr. Jacob and ALL the staff demonstrate true compassion towards animals as well to those who own them. I have witnessed time and time again how each staff member blesses every person and/or fur baby who enters their doors. I have experienced the power of knowledge, expertise and (most importantly) kindness from Dr. Jacob as he helped walk me through an emotional time when Nikita was really sick. They love on my girl like she was their own- every encounter. I keep coming back and referring others to see themselves why I just love this place.

Charlene Robinette
Charlene Robinette
posted 3 months ago

We were extremely happy with our experience at Tipp City Veterinary Hospital. They were able to get us in on a Sunday, when our dog was very sick and needed to be seen that day. The staff was friendly, courteous and helpful. Dr. Ken was wonderful! He was gentle, but thorough when he examined our dog. He diagnosed the problem and patiently answered all our questions. His treatment was effective and our dog was feeling much better within 24 hours. We would definitely recommend Tipp City Veterinary Hospital.

amy allen
amy allen
posted 1 week ago

I have been taking my pitbull to Tipp veterinary hospital for 7 years and without fail every time we have walked in, we have been treated like family and my dog has been treated like royalty! Several times my dog has turned up missing and has been tracked back to the Tipp Veterinarian Hospital and they have kept her until I could be reached. They've never charged me for this and they've never scolded me. The facility is always very clean with no smell and Everyone is always extremely professional. With that being said they will take their professional caps off to love on my dog and be silly and make her feel like she's the only dog in the world! When you watch any of the doctors and all of the staff you know they are doing what they love and what they've been called to do. They've always taken such good care of my dog's health. And one thing that I really like is I don't feel like they judge and I don't feel like they push anything on me that I don't need or want.

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