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Tips on Selecting Flea Preventives

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When I started ToyBreeds.com and was asked about flea prevention, the answer was easy - Frontline Plus, the gold standard against fleas.

How times change. Last year, I tried to develop a table with all the flea products but once I reached 19 products, I threw up my hands.

What happened is that the patent held by the manufacturer of Frontline Plus expired and scores of competitors entered the field. (The manufacturer of Frontline Plus introduced an excellent new product, Frontline Tritak for Dogs and Puppies as well.)

I'm going to offer some general tips to help decide how to protect your dog. You have you choice of oral, topical and wearable (collars) flea preventions.

Product Notes

Collars - These are not the cheap Hartz collars sold at grocery stores. I'd never recommend those.

There are two reputable brands available. Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Small Dogs and Scalibor Protector Band for Dogs. Both offer protection against ticks as well as fleas. Seresto is advertised effective up to eight months while Scalibor is effective up to six months.

Both these collars were widely used in Europe before coming to the U.S. but both will lose effectiveness if they're constantly exposed to water, such as swimming pools.

Quick kills - If your dog was infected with fleas, the standard remedy was to give him a Comfortis pill. This is a prescription medicine, but most vets would let you buy just one pill.

There's an over-the-counter competitor to Comfortis now called Capstar Flea Treatment Dog which works well and is less expensive. You won't be able to buy just one tablet however.

Both Comfortis and Capstar kill existing fleas but neither are preventives and neither protect against ticks.

There is a newer product called NexGard which does it all. It kills fleas quickly, is a preventive and also protects against ticks. It's a prescription medicine but I expect it to replace Comfortis rather quickly.

Trifexis - This newer product protects against fleas, most common worms (hookworm, roundworm and whipworm) and prevents heartworm. It's drawbacks are that it doesn't prevent ticks and it's relatively expensive.

This also is one of those products that seems to draw many negative comments on Facebook and Internet discussion forums. If you ask your veterinarian, however, you'll find there haven't been documented evidence or studies that indicate this preventive is inherently dangerous to dogs.

Considerations

Ticks - If you buy a product that only protects against fleas, you'll need some other type of prevention for ticks.

If, for some reason, your flea product doesn't protect against ticks or you're taking your dog to a rural or wilderness area and want additional protection, the best product is Preventic Tick Collar. Be sure to get your vet's concurrence, however, before you mix products.

Topical - Some people do not like using topical preventives because they don't want small children or cats exposed to the medications. Many of the canine flea preventives are especially dangerous to cats.

I stopped using topicals because I felt they were not as effective as they used to be in hot, humid climates with large infestations of fleas. I've now switched to ingestible medication.

Your dog and your location -The best person to talk to about flea prevention is your veterinarian. I'm not saying you have to buy your medications from the vet but at least ask him what his patients like the best and what he recommends for your dog.

Some medications are not recommended for older dogs or dogs with certain health conditions.

Some preventives seem to be more effective in some climates than others and in some types of infestations than others.

WARNINGS

There is no preventive that doesn't have its detractors. The problem is that any one medication can trigger an adverse reaction in any one dog.

NEVER give a new medication to your dog unless there is a responsible person present who can watch for signs, such as disorientation, seizures, swelling, labored breathing, of adverse reactions. Contact your vet immediately if your dog has any problem.

NEVER mix products without your vet's approval. For example, Frontline products should not be used in conjunction with Advantage or Advantix products, and Trifexis and Heartgard should not be used concurrently. Ask your vet.

What I use

I've moved from Frontline Plus to Vectra 3D (both topicals) to NexGard, the new ingestible. So far, so good.

Please also review Five Dangerous Myths widespread on the Internet about flea prevention at http://www.toybreeds.com/fleas.htm and a video and guide on how to recognize fleas at http://www.toybreeds.com/fleacomb.htm.


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