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Flea Preventative Medications: Oral vs. Topical

Flea Prevention Medications for Cats and Dogs
Flea Prevention and Your Veterinarian

Make sure to ask your veterinarian’s advice on which flea treatment products he or she recommends, and in what quantities. The chance of an adverse reaction to a flea treatment may depend in part on the pet’s size and weight. Veterinary research has noted that toy breeds tend to have more reported cases than larger animals. Additionally, find out whether your veterinary practitioner offers pet grooming and bathing with medicated shampoos. Periodic grooming and bathing can not only keep flea problems at bay but also give the practitioner an opportunity to check for allergic reactions to topical flea treatments.

Fleas are not only a source of irritation and frustration, but they also pose a serious health threat to animals. These tiny external parasites can carry a variety of diseases, including bubonic plague, and severe infestations may cause deadly levels of blood loss in very small or young pets, according to national animal welfare organizations. Owners must therefore employ every preventative measure to keep these creatures off of their beloved pets, including the use of topical or oral medications.

The first line of defense is prevention. Prevention can be as simple as removing fleas and their eggs from your household by cleaning, vacuuming, and applying pet-safe pesticides to the yard. Keeping your grass mowed and removing excess sources of shade can rob fleas of their preferred environmental conditions, discouraging them from breeding in the yard. But no matter how scrupulously you keep your indoor and outdoor environments under control, at some point your pet is likely to need some form of flea treatment. These treatments may take topical ("spot-on") or oral forms.

Topical Medications

Topical or "spot-on" flea treatments are readily accessible to pet owners. These products can be highly effective at eliminating flea infestations or preventing new ones from occurring. Veterinary organizations point out, however, that while approved flea preventatives are generally considered safe, owners must follow the instructions on the label with great care to prevent a possible toxic or otherwise adverse reaction to the chemicals in the product. Animal welfare organizations also warn owners never to give cat flea treatments to their dogs or vice versa, because the results could prove fatal.

Oral Medications

Oral flea medications also have their pros and cons. In addition to topical treatments widely available, veterinary clinics also prescribe oral products such as Comfortis. Typically, regular monthly doses of such drugs aim to kill fleas before they have a chance to lay eggs, stopping infestations before they start. You may find that the oral delivery method creates less of a mess than the topical route, while also eliminating concerns over skin reactions to the active ingredients. But oral medications may also cost more than topical treatments, and prescriptions will need to be refilled regularly to maintain constant protection.

Sources:

AVMA, “Flea and Tick Treatments: EPA’s Investigation of Spot-On.”

Comfortis, “Controlling Fleas in Your Home.”

Cruz, Bernadine, DVM; Mesenhowski, Shannon, DVM, “Save Use of Flea and Tick Preventative Products.” AVMA, Dec 2012.

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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