Oral Dog Flea Control

The type of oral dog flea control you decide to use will depend on the type flea your dog has and the severity of the condition. There are roughly 2,000 known species and sub-species of fleas around the world, but only one, the cat flea, accounts for nearly all fleas bites on dogs. The cat flea causes itching, biting, scratching and licking of the affected area.

In addition to wounds caused by scratching and biting, cat flea bites can cause the dog to swallow fleas. This may lead to a tapeworm infection, since the flea is the tapeworm's primary host. Because they can cause wounds, irritation, infections and intestinal parasites, you should treat dog fleas as soon as the condition has been discovered.

Diagnosing Dog Fleas

To diagnose dog fleas, put on a pair of gloves and place your pet on a white piece of paper or towel. Comb the dog's hair, beginning just above the tail and forward. You might notice a number of black, peppery-like flecks falling onto the towel or paper. Take a moist paper towel and dab the flecks. If they turn red, it's "flea dirt." After feeding on your dog, the flea excretes flea dirt (blood).

Topical and Oral Dog Flea Control

After you have concluded that your pet has fleas, you should take him to see a vet. Your vet will examine the dog and confirm your diagnosis. He will also assess just how serious the infestation is and whether your dog has an bacteria infection from biting and scratching the affected area.  Depending on the severity of the condition, your vet will prescribe topical lotions, oral antibiotics or both. Just a few common oral dog flea controls include prescription Program and non-prescription Capstar. Popular topical treatments include Frontline and Advantage.

Program contains a chemical called lufenuron. Lufenuron is used to sterilize female fleas. This prevents flea eggs from hatching, which breaks the flea life cycle within two months of taking the first dose. Capstar can be purchased over the counter, and it is effective at getting rid of existing fleas on dogs. However, unlike Program, Capstar does not break the cycle or prevent fleas from returning. Capstar does kill 98 percent of fleas within four hours of the first dose. 

Frontline topical flea control contains fipronil. This chemical is absorbed into the skin's oil-producing glands after being applied between the dog's shoulder blades. It works by collecting in the glands and drawing back out with the coat. Frontline kills fleas for up to three months.

Advantage contains the active ingredient imidacloprid, which kills fleas on contact. To be effective, this topical treatment must be applied to the skin of the dog's back. To keep fleas from returning, you must treat the entire home, your car, the dog house, kennel, carriers and the surrounding outdoor area. If cleaning the home does not help and the fleas cannot be controlled in the surrounding outdoor area with commercial chemicals, it's best to contact a professional exterminator.

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