Summertime is in full effect, which means lots of outdoor fun in the sun, shade, water, and woods for many pets. Exercise outside and bonding with their human counterparts no doubt makes for a great way to spend a day, or even a weekend, but with all that activity comes with the ever-present threat of pesky fleas and ticks.
If they're left untreated, these parasites can yield symptoms that range from itchy and irritating to invasive and dangerous, which is why prevention is any pet owner's best bet at keeping their dog or cat flea free. With lots of options out there to choose from, we've broken down the best flea treatments of 2019 to keep your pet healthy and happy, all year round.
Topical flea treatments are a popular and effective way to prevent fleas and ticks from finding their way onto your cat or dog. Sometimes referred to as "flea drops," topical treatments come in single-use doses based on your pet's weight, with built-in applicators that make administration quick and easy. For dogs, online pet supply retailer 1800PetMeds lists Frontline Plus as a top choice for dogs and cats over eight weeks of age. What makes it so great? It's easy to use, it's waterproof, and it's fast-acting, killing all existing fleas in under four hours. On top of that, it also eliminates flea eggs and larvae, kills carriers of Lyme disease, like ticks and lice, and can assist with the treatment of sarcoptic mange in dogs.
For anyone looking to manage and treat fleas and ticks on a budget, a less costly alternative to Frontline Plus is Flea 5X Plus, which runs $10 cheaper than the aforementioned product. Flea5X Plus contains the same active ingredients as Frontline Plus, and is listed as the generic option and is considered to be just as effective at eliminating and preventing fleas in most cases.
Sometimes, offering your dog or cat flea prevention in the form of a pill or tablet works better, especially if handling them proves tougher than feeding them a tasty treat. Oral medication also works much faster than topical varieties, with some brands, effectively killing up to 96% of adult fleas in less than an hour, according to Reviews.com. This can be particularly helpful if your dog has been hit with a bad infestation, and because these chews enter your pet's blood stream, fleas can be targeted on any area of the body. Bayer Advantus Soft Chews ranked in the top spot on the site for its effectiveness and easy administration thanks to their great taste, while PetArmor Fast Caps came in a close second — it's much cheaper than the Bayer brand, but the unflavored pills may be tough to get some dogs to swallow. PetCareRx also listed Capstar as a great option that is safe for pregnant or breeding cats and dogs.
While the oral medications listed above will work in essentially no time to kill existing fleas on your cat or dog, they will do nothing to prevent their return, or treat flea eggs that are soon to hatch and wreak havoc on your pet and home. For anyone with a pet who is prone or susceptible to frequent run ins with fleas, a monthly preventative oral option will be a safer bet, and can protect your pet from other harmful diseases. Sentinel is a monthly preventative oral medication for dogs and cats that stops the life cycles of fleas, and also prevents the growth of heartworms, and controls or removes hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, according to Petco.
For the occasional flea sufferer who may only need spot checks on an irregular basis, or for anyone who isn't excited by the idea of imposing strong chemicals on their dog or cat, a tried and true classic may be a better fit for your needs. Flea shampoo can make a great option for dogs with a mild case of pests, but do require your dog to allow the formulas to sit on their skin for several minutes to allow it to work. If your canine will tolerate hanging out in the tub with suds in her hair, Be Flea Free Shampoo received 4 out of 5 start on 1800PetMeds.com, and uses natural ingredients, like rosemary and cedar essential oils to remove fleas safely. Alternatively, a flea collar offers some protection from fleas, ticks, and lice, like the Seresto Flea & Tick Dog Collar, which boasts a lifespan of eight months, making maintenance easy and hassle-free, according to Petsmart.
These options are generally more affordable, although many are designed with dogs in mind, so looking to other alternatives will be the best bet at keeping your feline friends flea free. A flea spray can offer temporary protection in a pinch, with top name brands like Frontline and Advantage offering spray-on options.
Finally, home remedies have been shown to be effective in treating fleas in some cats and dogs, but the efficacy of these treatments will depend on your pet, and the severity of his case. Dishwashing soap is an inexpensive flea shampoo alternative that can provide relief in a pinch, and neem oil is safe way to remove bugs from plants and pets, like dogs and cats. Other essential oils, like lavender, or peppermint oil are also used by some to treat fleas, although they must be diluted with a carrier oil as too much of certain types can prove toxic to dogs when ingested.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.