Capstar Flea Control for Dogs and Cats
Capstar is probably the most under-rated flea control product on the market. Chances are, if you're like most pet owners you've never even heard of it. Capstar is not quite as popular as other flea control products such as Frontline Plus, Advantage, and Revolution. However, Capstar can be a valuable weapon in your arsenal of tools when trying to get rid of fleas on your dog or cat.
Unlike topical and spot-on flea products, Capstar is a tiny pill which is administered orally. Capstar can be given to dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens as long as they are 4 weeks or older and weigh more than 2 pounds. Capstar is also safe for pregnant or nursing animals. One of the greatest benefits of using Capstar over other flea control products is its quick reaction time. It begins to kill adult fleas in 30 minutes. This can provide great relief to an animal that is suffering from a severe flea infestation. In fact, whenever we have a lost or stray animal come into our clinic or see a pet with fleas during an exam, the first thing we reach for is Capstar. Many veterinarians also use Capstar to treat maggot infestations but the product has not be labeled for such use by the manufacturer (at least not yet).
How Does Capstar Kill Fleas?
The main ingredient in Capstar is nitenpyram which belongs to
the chemical class of neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids work by blocking
the ability of messages to transmit through the central nervous system
of insects, causing death. Unlike some ingredients found in
over-the-counter flea medications, nitenpyram is not toxic to mammals.
There are two sizes of Capstar available for purchase: one for pets
between 2 and 25 pounds and another for pets between 25 and 125 pounds.
Although Capstar is very effective at killing adult fleas, it doesn't last very long. While most studies indicate that over 90% of adult fleas are killed within 4-6 hours of administration, there is a high chance for re-infestation. One of the reasons why fleas are such a problem is because of their ability to reproduce so quickly. While Capstar can safely be given as often as once per day, this can soon become expensive. For long term flea control and prevention, it's usually best to use Capstar in combination with other flea preventatives such as Fronline Plus or Program which target other stages of the flea life cycle.
In effective way to kill adult fleas and prevent future flea populations from emerging is to use Capstar in combination with Program or Sentinel. Program (lufenuron) is basically birth control medication for fleas. While it does not kill adult fleas, it prevents them from reproducing. This makes it a good product to use in conjunction with Capstar which kills adult fleas. Sentinel is a product that contains lufenuron as well as another active ingredient, milbemycin oxime, which is used as a heartworm preventative.
Beware of Pupae!
THERE IS NO PRODUCT ON THE MARKET THAT KILLS FLEA PUPAE. Because of
their protective cocoons, flea pupae are nearly indestructible. They
are completely unaffected by household insecticides. One study that
came out of Ohio State University found that vacuuming kills 100% of
pupae. However, getting 100% of the pupae into your vacuum is a
different story. You will never get all of them.
In addition to pupae there are other stages of the flea life cycle living in your pet's environment (your home) including eggs and larvae. Therefore, it can take up to 3 months to get rid of a severe flea infestation. Since flea pupae are protected by their cocoons, unless you successfully suck them up in your vacuum eventually they will all hatch out as adults and land on your pet. Depending on environmental conditions, it can take several weeks for all pupae to hatch!
REMEMBER: ALL PETS IN THE HOUSEHOLD NEED TO BE TREATED.
Why Use Capstar Instead of Frontline Plus?
You might be asking why someone would want to use Capstar when Frontline Plus is available which kills adult fleas and also prevents fleas from reproducing. When it comes to killing adult fleas, Capstar works more quickly. While it can take 12 hours to kill 100% of fleas with Frontline, Capstar can do the same thing in half the time. Also, Capstar can be used on puppies and kittens 4 weeks of age, while Frontline is only approved for puppies and kittens 8 weeks of age and older. There are also some pet owners who have concerns about using topical and spot-on flea products.
Does Capstar Have Any Side Effects?
Owners may notice an increase in scratching and grooming behavior shortly following treatment with Capstar. This is actually a sign that the product is working. Shortly before dying and falling off the pet, the fleas become agitated and exhibit a heightened level of activity. Usually this will subside within a period of an hour or less, and the pet will become more at ease and comfortable.
It is also safe to use Capstar in combination with any other medications your veterinary may prescribe such as heartworm preventative, antibiotics, dewormers, and anti-inflammatories. If you're not sure about using Capstar or have additional concerns you should consult with your veterinarian.
Below is a video that demonstrates what your pet might experience. The owner states, "Somehow Moose managed to get fleas. The vet recommended Capstar. Within 30 minutes the fleas started running to the surface of his fur and abandoning ship. During this time Moose was going crazy and trying to groom himself as the fleas ran across his body. After about 25 minutes of that he passed out and has been more relaxed than he has been all weekend. Capstar is a solid product and I would highly recommend it."
Where Can I Purchase Capstar?
You don't need a prescription to purchase Capstar. However, the manufacturer, Novartis, states that they only sell their products to licensed veterinarians. If you choose to purchase Capstar from an online retailer you should be aware that any product warranties or guarantees will be null and void. Novartis will only stand behind their products if they are purchased through approved veterinary channels. There is no control over how the products are stored or shipped. Many pet owners also receive expired products.
If you want to save some money, many veterinarians will match prices of some of the larger online retailers, such as PetMeds. I have a feeling that the longer consumers continue to shop for cheap flea medication online that the majority of veterinarians will respond accordingly and lower their prices. Either way, veterinarians are certainly more knowledgeable about fleas and flea control products than online retailers and I hope consumers are willing to pay at least a little extra to have access to this large body of knowledge and higher level of customer service.
Are You Dealing With a Severe Flea Infestation?
If you're dealing with a serious flea problem I would recommend giving all the pets in your household a Capstar tablet twice per week (every 3-4 days) until adult fleas are no longer seen. In addition to Capstar, I would also recommend using either Frontline Plus or lufenuron (in the form of Program or Sentinel) every 30 days for 3 consecutive months. For extra protection, vacuum all carpets, bedding, and flooring every 2 days for at least a month.
Follow this advice and you won't need to bother with chemical foggers and flea bombs or hire expensive companies to come out and treat your home. Also, be sure to check with a veterinarian before beginning treatment. This article shouldn't be used as a substitute for their professional opinion.
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