The Pet Pantry

Flea Prevention

By: Heather Moeser, MS, DVM

Forget About Fleas with the Right Flea Prevention for You and Your Family.
These days there are a number of flea preventatives to choose from including a bath in dawn soap to kill adult to monthly topical and oral preventatives that also prevent heartworms and gastrointestinal parasites. It can be overwhelming, but to simplify how to choose just listen to the fleas themselves they can help you decide:
F – Friendly.  Ensure the product is friendly to both the environment and your pet. Avoid preventatives that can create toxicities in your pet. Generally, these are older products with great packaging that can be safe when used carefully, but can have severe neurological consequences if your pet is given an overdose. Additionally, many spot-on products for dogs contain higher concentrations of permethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid. They are derived from Chrysanthemum spp. Natural pyrethrins are less stable and potent than synthetic products. Use caution when using these preventatives on your pet. Additionally, do not use spot on preparations for your dogs on your cats. The two species have differences in their metabolism and will cause severe toxicity. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.
L – Lifestyle.  Consider your lifestyle and activity with your pet. Does your pet swim or get bathed frequently? If yes, then an oral preventative rather than a topical flea preventative may the better choice for your family. Are you forgetful or have difficultly remembering if you gave the flea or heartworm? It may be best to give an oral tablet or topical solution that does flea, heartworm and intestinal deworming.
E – Effective.  Your flea preventative must kill and prevent fleas in order to work. There are some products that may work better for your environment and flea population than others. It is important to make sure you are applying it correctly and not removing your topical preventative with shampoos that strip the product from your pet’s hair or sebaceous glands.
A – Affordable.  There is a wide range of flea preventatives available. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian or veterinary staff to discuss all the options, including those available over the counter. Keep in mind that preventing fleas helps save you money when considering the other illnesses your pet can experience secondary to a flea bite or infestation. These include exposure to tapeworms, which require special costly deworming to eliminate the infection. Multiple trips to your veterinarian for generalized dermatitis or hot spot (skin infections) treatments. Additionally, some pets become ill from blood loss or anemia. Fleas are sucking your pets’ blood by the way. FYI if you are in a bind, a one-time adult flea treatment can be a bath with Dawn dishwashing soap. Keep in mind that this detergent could irritate our pet’s skin.
Overall, flea gives us a great acronym to use to help remember how to prevent and treat for them.  It should be FRIENDLY, meet you and your pet’s LIFESTYLE, be EFFECTIVE, and AFFORDABLE.   Remember, veterinarians are nice people and we do not mind answering any of your questions about these and other pet health concerns.  We are here to help.

About Heather Moeser, MS, DVM


Dr. Heather Moeser, MS, DVM, is known for her compassionate care and “down to earth” approach to veterinary medicine. Dr. Moeser understands that it takes a partnership between your family, your pets, and your veterinarian to provide the best care for your pet. Dr. Moeser has a Master’s degree in Animal Nutrition from The University of Georgia and received her veterinary degree from North Carolina State University – College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005. For more information visit http://www.downtownmobilevet.com or Call 919.917.8312. to schedule an appointment.

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