Prescription vs. OTC Flea Remedies for Dogs

There are several flea remedies that are known to effectively kill or reduce flea infections in pets. These remedies are available in the form of over the counter (OTC) drugs and prescription medicines. Since these medicines aren't ideal for use in every pet, it's important to find out if prescription drugs are better than OTC remedies, or vice versa.

Prescription vs. OTC

Prescription drugs are medications that can't be purchased without producing a valid vet prescription. OTC drugs on the other hand can be purchased without a prescription. While OTC remedies can be easily purchased and administered without prior vet approval, it's still important to conduct a vet check before administering these remedies to your dog, because they may not be suited to individual pets.

Prescription drugs are safer for use because your vet will confirm the diagnosis and prescribe medications that suit your dog's unique needs. However, since prescription drugs contain ingredients that are highly potent, they may give rise to severe side effects and this is one reason why they need to be administered under veterinary supervision.  

Managing Fleas in Dogs

Most OTC flea medications contain small amounts of permethrin, fipronil and imidacloprid. Since some of these ingredients attack the nervous system in parasites and cause paralysis, it's important to administer these medicines in an appropriate manner. Although OTC remedies contain pesticides in smaller amounts, they can give rise to several side effects when combined with other medicines. Pet owners are therefore encouraged to discuss the benefits of using any given OTC flea remedy with the vet, before administering the medication to the dog.

Prescription drugs in particular contain insect growth inhibitors and certain pesticides in higher concentrations. These drugs often cause adverse reactions when they're wrongly administered or ingested. You should measure the dosage correctly and seek immediate medical help if the dog shows signs of overdose.

Side Effects Include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Trembling
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Facial swelling 
  • Skin reactions

Selecting the Right Flea Remedy

Before using an OTC product, make sure you get your dog checked by the vet to rule out any underlying illnesses. Since certain commercial flea remedies aren't safe for use in pets suffering from immunosuppressive diseases, pregnant or lactating pets, you should evaluate your dog's overall health and look for flea remedies that match the animal's individual needs.

If the pet is suffering from a flea infestation, the vet may prescribe certain medicated shampoos and topical solutions to bring the infestation under control. If the infection is mild, ask your vet to recommend OTC flea remedies that would suit your dog.

Tips for Pet Owners

To get rid of flea infections you should bathe your pet regularly and keep your surroundings clean to avoid future infections. Consider spraying your outdoor areas with horticulture oil to get rid of parasite infections.

Permethrin based products aren't ideal for use around cats, so if you have dogs and cats living in the same household you will have to choose a safer alternative.

It's important to stop relying on medicines to cure flea infections in dogs. Instead, look for natural remedies that kill fleas. Some pet owners prefer using garlic, because it's a better option. However, since garlic is toxic when administered in large amounts, so use caution when administering it to ward off flea infections in your pet.