Flea Control Tipsheet
So, you just want the basics? This is the page for you - a condensed version of some of the most important stuff to know, so that you can go browse around the site for stuff that you're specifically interested in later. This page has most of the basic information, but it won't go into extreme detail, so you should probably look at the specific pages on any subjects you're more interested in.
First, the obligatory disclaimer. I am NOT a veterinarian - I am just some random guy on the Internet who has pets who have had fleas and has compiled all the information I could find on dealing with it into one place. It is always a good idea to talk with your vet, especially before giving your pet any kind of flea medicine or chemical product. It's especially important because pretty much every flea medicine I've seen has at least some small risk of side effects. It's usually a small number of pets who have allergic reactions. I haven't actually found anything about pets dying from taking flea medicine, but using common sense can go a long way towards reducing any risks that exists. This means that if you see something weird in your pet's behavior after giving them medicine - vomiting, acting strange - you need to take them to the vet.
That sounds scary - is it actually safe to use medicines on my pet? Some pets do have allergic reactions, but for all the major brands of flea medicine this is a small number. You also have to think about the health risks from having fleas, which are often more severe (worms, anemia, skin problems, and blood disorders that can cause death). On balance, it is probably best to use the flea medicine. If you're worried, you can try natural methods to get rid of them. They aren't as effective, but they won't have even that small risk.
Which flea medicine should I get? This is again a tough question, and vets will disagree on it. The biggest brand is Frontline - which also means it's probably prescribed more often by vets. Next is Advantage, and after that there are Program and Revolution. For dogs, there is also K-9 Advantix, a medicine that kills both fleas and ticks. Obviously this isn't a comprehensive list of every flea medication, but these are all big, trusted brands.
Frontline - Good because it can kill ticks as well, if you get Frontline Plus it will kill both flea eggs and adult fleas. The bad: it's got bathing restrictions, before and after you apply it - a problem with dogs. Read more about Frontline here.
Advantage - Good - it works virtually instantly to stop flea bites because it causes neurological damage to fleas in a few minutes that stop them from biting. Hands down the winner if your pet is having skin problems or allergic reaction to the flea bites. The bad: doesn't kill ticks, and you have to keep children away from the application spot for awhile. Read more about Advantage here.
Program - Good - it is safer for people (i.e. kids) coming in contact with your pets because it isn't applied to the skin. It prevents fleas from laying eggs, cutting off the life cycle. Bad - doesn't kill adult fleas. They only live a couple of days, but if your pet goes outside it will get more. Read more about Program here.
Revolution - Good - Kills adult fleas AND stops eggs from hatching, so doesn't just target one or the other. It also kills heartworms, an added bonus. Bad - it has slightly higher risk of side effects in the form of stomach problems (vomiting). Read more about Revolution here.
K-9 Advantix - Good - It kills other bugs, like ticks and mosquitoes. It is generally more effective at killing ticks than other flea medicines. It is also waterproof. Bad - Only dogs can use it, cats CANNOT.
What about combs, shampoos, bombs, etc, etc.? You can use any of these things as well, but the core of getting rid of them is a flea medicine. These other products will, generally, reduce the population but not end the infestation. However, they can be great for speeding up the end to the flea infestation in your house. Think of them as a supplement, not the main thing you should be doing.
I've got a kitten/puppy. Then don't use the medicines until you have passed the recommended age - it varies from 6 to 8 weeks - focus on natural remedies instead, and try bathing them with baby shampoo and grooming them with flea combs.
OK, but what about my house? What do I do about all the fleas in there now that I've tackled Rover and put smelly goo all over his neck? The fleas should die off within a few weeks, but there's some stuff you can do to speed that up. Vacuum repeatedly. If your pet has a bed, wash it several times in the washer in hot water. Keep your pets indoors if you can. There are some other products you can use around the house - sprays, some sea-shell dust that will kill fleas, flea bombs, etc. There are dozens of different methods people use, and all kinds of products you can buy. Look around the site for more information.
If I don't want to use the flea medications or chemicals, what are alternative ways to get rid of fleas?
You can look at the following pages for more information on: vacuuming to get rid of fleas, diatomaceous earth (basically, fossilized sea critters that make a soil that kills fleas), nematode worms for flea control (little parasites that kill fleas), plants that repel fleas, flea traps, and our general page on natural flea control.
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Text copyright 2005-2006 Fleascontrol.com and may not be reproduced without consent. This is not the official web page of any of the products listed on this site, this is a review page created by an individual. It is not by a vet, and is meant to be informative and not to substitute for a vet's advice - always consult a vet if you suspect a health problem.