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Eliminating fleas in our pets - the pros and cons of anti-flea products

Updated on May 3, 2013
midget38 profile image

Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

Cloudy, my West Highland, on an outing.
Cloudy, my West Highland, on an outing. | Source

Preventing Fleas naturally

Fleas. The very thought of them makes us literally jump. Dog owners the world owner fight the flea and tick battle with elusive conclusion, with the little critters always seeming to win.

The search for optimal flea control can seem like a never ending quest. Products on the market often have after effects that are not quite so desirable. Thus, natural methods of flea control are welcome alternatives for pet lovers.

There are multiple things to consider. First time pet owners will wonder what flea control products there are available. Others will wonder about their advantages and disadvantages. Still others will want to know if there are less risky, more natural ways of getting rid of these jumping nuisances.

This writer will show what anti-flea products and medications are available on the market, discuss their pros and cons and explore the natural remedies available that will rid us of these jumping nuisances.

Frontline
Frontline | Source

The pros and cons of flea products on the market

Fleas and ticks are nuisances that can be far worse than just merely being one. They also transmit deadly diseases to your pets. If a flea has been infected with tapeworm, they gain entry into your pet’s bloodstream after biting.

So what flea control products are available on the market?


Topical medications

Immensely popular, these medications are those that you usually apply in between the pet’s shoulder blades or the base of his neck. The ingredients in these medications repel ticks and fleas and put off nasty mosquitoes too.

Advantages

These medications work better to kill more fleas because they spread through the entire body. The medicine works even though the pet has had a shower.

Disadvantages

In the case of some topical medications, the flea would have to bite the animal in order to be poisoned or repelled. There are also possible complications that may arise from the medication being introduced into the bloodstream or sweat glands.


Oral Medications

If the idea of topical medications can be a little off putting, there are different oral medications, to be given monthly, available on the market.

Advantages

Oral medications not only repel fleas and ticks, some may even prevent heartworm disease in dogs.

Disadvantages

Some pets might develop allergic reactions to the medication, like itchiness and redness. Some may experience vomiting or diarrhea. Generally, the side effects of oral medication are few.


Sprays

Go to any pet store and you will find a wide collection of anti flea sprays available. These can be applied on your pet after his shower.

Advantages

A less expensive method of controlling fleas than topical or oral medications, sprays are also relatively easy to use.

Disadvantages

Some may not be as effective. The chemicals can also be dangerous when absorbed by the pet’s skin or touch his eyes.


Powders

Again easily accessible and to use, these powders are easy to apply after a bath.

Advantages

They are relatively inexpensive and easy to apply

Disadvantages

Like sprays, they are dangerous when absorbed by the pet’s eyes or skin. Side effects of powders may include vomiting, diarrhea and even shaking.

Flea Powder
Flea Powder | Source

Shampoos

Flea and tick shampoos, of course, serve to wash away adult fleas and ticks. Many contain the ingredient pyrethrins that facilitates this. There are many of these available at any pet store.

Advantages

These are easily available and are applied like ordinary shampoos. One just has to be careful of leaving the shampoo on for a short while before rinsing to give it time to be absorbed by the skin.

Disadvantages

Being absorbed by the skin, they are no less dangerous than flea sprays or powders. They do not prevent re-infestations of fleas.


Flea and tick dips

These are dips that are usually applied to your pet with a sponge. After application, the pet is allowed to air dry.

Advantages

Being quite concentrated in pyrethrins, a dip serves to kill more fleas and ticks.

Disadvantages

The high level of chemicals makes it dangerous to both animals and humans. After application, wash your hands thoroughly and do not let your pet lick itself.


Flea Collars

These collars contain chemicals like pyrethrins and other insect regulators to repel fleas and even mosquitoes. The chemical is dispersed all over the animal’s body after it is worn.

Advantages

The use of flea collars is a relatively inexpensive method of flea control. It provides some protection for your pet.

Disadvantages

The chemicals used can make the collar irritating and cause allergic reactions. They can also smell rather strong.

The pros and cons of individual flea medications

There are some well know flea medications that have been used by dog owners since time immemorial. Before using them, it is good for dog owners to consider their up and down sides.

Program

Program is an oral medication that prevents fleas from laying their eggs in a conducive environment. It does so by introducing chitin to the eggs of fleas, making them unhealthy. It prevents young fleas from using their teeth to hatch out of the egg. It also softens the exoskeleton of adult fleas.

The wonderful thing about program is that it is attractive to your pet. Available in different flavor tabs, a pet is easily drawn to consuming it. The not so wonderful-the fleas must bite your pet in order for the chitin to work. It does not kill adult fleas already present on the body.

Frontline

I have used this product on my dogs, who were previously infested with fleas and ticks. A topical medication, it is applied between the pet’s shoulder blades and goes into its sweat glands.

Frontline is effective in preventing infestation and my dogs have not had a repeat of it since application. It is good if your dog spends time outdoors and becomes a victim of full blown infestation.

However, it can cause allergic reactions, nausea or diarrhea because it is absorbed into the animal’s skin. It is not for constant application.

Revolution

A topical for external application on the skin, Revolution kills all manner of parasites, including fleas, hookworms and heart worms. It kills sarcoptic mange as well.

Its versatility makes it a great topical medications to use. However, like other topical medications, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause the side effects already mentioned.

Capstar

An oral pill, this will kill fleas within minutes. However, because it only works within 24 hours of application, it does not work as well if your dog has a highly advanced infestation. It works best when a dog without fleas is given the medication after being exposed to it.

Great Dane
Great Dane | Source

Some natural flea removers

You can probably tell that flea products, though effective in preventing or reducing infestation can also have their drawbacks. Owners may therefore look for natural solutions to their flea problems.

Diatomaceous Earth

An all natural product, DE is made of fossilized skeletal remains of unicellular plants called diatoms. Fleas can be repelled by putting small amounts of it around the home, where fleas are prevalent.

Generally non toxic to humans or pets, it can be irritating to those with breathing problems. If considering DE, do not apply it when the household fan is being turned on.

Nematodes

Nematodes are little microscopic worms that eat flea larvae and serves as a natural way of controlling the flea population. Because they do not survive in the sun, nematodes should be placed in shady areas around the home. You only need a small number, as they multiply rapidly. They can be purchased at some pet and garden stores.

Rosemary Flea Dip

This is a really natural way of getting around flea problems. To prepare the dip, 2 cups of rosemary should go into boiling water for 30 minutes. The liquid should then be strained and warm water added depending on the size of your dog. Pour over the dog and allow it to dry naturally.

Lavender essential oil

After washing and drying your dog, apply a few drops of this to the tip of the tail and base of the neck to repel fleas.

Brewer’s Yeast

This works like many oral medications, this is excreted through the skin and makes the dog less attractive to fleas.

However, it is much healthier, without chemicals.

A stray cat on alert
A stray cat on alert | Source

Apple Cider Vinegar

Not too attractive in terms of taste, adding a teaspoonful of this to your dog’s water makes his skin acidic and not tasty to fleas. Reduce the amount if your dog is not feeling, well, too sour.

Lemon spray

This is easy for all to prepare. Quarter a lemon and leave it in boiling water overnight. In the morning, spray all over your dog, avoiding its eyes. The sour taste will repel fleas.

Using common household items to prevent fleas

Salt

Putting a little salt in problem areas after the floor has been washed dehydrates flea eggs and kills them. It takes a longer time to work, but is worth the wait.

Soap and water

A great nighttime remedy, putting a bowl of water and some soap at night under light will repel fleas.

Natural flea Collars

Yes, you can make your own natural flea collars. Use a cloth or bandana and drop a little citrus, eucalyptus or lavender on it. The acidity will repel fleas.

Conclusion

The best way to prevent fleas is still to keep the environment clean. Regular cleaning and vacuuming will make the environment less attractive to fleas! Thanks for reading!


Original work by Michelle Liew

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    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      The pros and cons of anti-flea products and natural ways of eliminating fleas in our pets.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We have used the diatomaceious earth and the vinegar, both of which had some success...thanks for the other suggestions.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Darn girl you are good! Such a great list of solutions to get rid of those pesky fleas! Anyone with a dog or cat can certainly benefit from this hub. I'm going to get some DE from my pool filter and put it around the house!!

      Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

    • wiqaralishah profile image

      Wiqar Ali Shah 4 years ago from Peshawar Pakistan

      wonderful hub tnks for sharing.

    • wiqaralishah profile image

      Wiqar Ali Shah 4 years ago from Peshawar Pakistan

      awesome i like it very much very informative hub.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I use natural/non-chemical flea prevention products from onlynaturalpet.com for my dog instead of the chemical (topical) flea preventives. She already has a compromised immune system from a severe reaction to a vaccine and lives with a chronic medical problem that is likely due to that. (Her vet now uses titers to test her immunity rather than giving her vaccinations. So far, she still retains immunity.)

      I simply don't trust the chemicals in Advantix, etc. not to cause her eventual harm. Cancer is so prevalent in dogs today, and there's no reason to believe that environmental factors don't cause it in dogs as they do in humans.

      I do give her heartworm preventive--no choice about that, but try not to use anything else that might cause her harm. So far, the products I'm using to keep fleas away are working. Anyone who is interested in avoiding chemicals might want to take a look at the onlynaturalpet.com website.

      Voted Up+

      Jaye

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Fleas are a real problem here in S. Fl. My dog, Baby, is terribly allergic to flea bites and I battle them all the time. I dislike using these insecticides on her. I am using Revolution with good results now.

      Voted UP and will share all around.

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      That is a great hub and should do well on google as it is an on going problem fro pets. My little dog passed a few years ago, but there may be a puppy on our future. I will remember this hub if we do get one.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I dont' own a pet at the moment, but this will come in very handy for when I finally to get one - some day. Great advice and suggestions. Voted up++ and shared.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      A nice and well prepared work and well received, as I am a dog owner or should I say, owned by a doggie. Thank you for this fine work my friend, midget. whonu

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      totally passing this onto Kevin's parents, who own two dogs. Thanks truly for all the great advice and tips here about helping with flea control. Have of course voted up and shared all over. Have a wonderful weekend!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Bill.....glad that it has helped! Think that it's not possible to stop them completely, though. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Wigaraligshah!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for the recommendation, Jaye! Will check our the site too!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Mary, Revolution is a good dual preventive. Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it is something we cannot completely be rid of, Sheri! But we can prevent it! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Dianna! Anti flea protection will surely come in handy then! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Who!!!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine! Hope they'll find it useful!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      So interesting Michelle and will benefit so many readers who are also pet owners.

      Voting up and sharing.

      Eddy.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Great article. I like the natural approaches as I am not too fond of chemicals. Lately have been using natural products, voted up!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great suggestions Michelle! I like also the fact that you suggest natural ways to control those insects!

      My cats are indoor cats so I don't need to use any product on them. But I remember when I adopted my first cat when I was still living in Belgium; I found her on the campus of the university where I was working at and she was just full of fleas.... so much so that when I arrived home I was bitten on my legs by those little nasty insects. We gave her a bath of some product to try to get rid of all those fleas. What a nightmare!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      Excellent information. This is a decision that all of us pet makers must make and I appreciate the information.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Eiddwen. I hope it does!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I am not, either, Alexadry, and I am preparing lemon dip as I write! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I am preparing lemon dip as I answer your comment.....yes, natural, chemical free approaches are always the best. Thanks for sharing, Kidscrafts!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Pam!

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 4 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Wow, I didn't know there were some home remedies. That's great news. I use a flea collar for my cats in the summer. I've tried products like frontline, but my cats are relentless about trying to lick it off and with their flexibility, they manage to get at some it, so I stopped using it.Thank you for sharing this useful information Michelle! :O) Take care, Kathi

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I am preparing lemon dip for my pups as I speak. It stings just a bit so it has to be diluted with water to reduce the acidity! Thanks for sharing, Kathi!

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Great list of flea remedies. I like your evaluations of each remedy. I have used frontline and revolution., but I do worry about the effects. I like the natural suggestions you have made and will try some of these.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Natural remedies are much better because they have no chemicals. Thanks for sharing, Tebo!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 years ago

      Good hub and it is good to caution people about using any product. Read the warnings! When Program first came out, we were desperately looking for something that would work on fleas. It worked great for fleas, but my cat reacted very badly to it. I later read a magazine ad in which the fine print said that it could cause neurological damage to the pet. It had caused major neurogolical damage to our cat. He was never the same after that, and I felt so bad about it. I just wish I had seen the warning before the vet prescribed it.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Good call, MisBejabbers! These products make use of questionable chemicals to kill things, so if they are given in any form to our animals imagine the damage it causes! Thanks for sharing.

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