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Chemical Treatments for Flea Control in Pets

There are a wide range of chemical treatments available for flea control. Chemical treatments are designed to kill any fleas currently on your pet or in your home and, in many cases, also the larva and eggs. By eliminating fleas in various stages of development, chemical treatments are capable of eradicating pests quickly and effectively.

Pros and Cons of Flea Collars

Pros

  • Flea collars can last for up to eight months compared to the 30-day oral or topical treatments.
  • Because they sit in the neck area, which is where fleas naturally gravitate, they kill fleas quickly.
  • Flea collars are less expensive than other treatments, but remember not to skimp to heavily; grocery store brands are usually completely ineffective. We recommend checking out these vet-approved and preferred brands.

Cons

  • A flea collar will not treat existing problems. If your pet currently already has fleas, this is not the solution.
  • Collars can’t stop all fleas from biting. If your pet has flea bite allergies, you may still find itching or inflammation.
  • Chemicals in flea collars are highly toxic to humans, so this is not a solution for homes with small children.

Pros and Cons of Flea Shampoos

If your pet currently has fleas, a flea shampoo will stun and kill fleas on contact and many will instantly be washed down the drain. These shampoos contain chemicals that are designed to kill adult fleas as well as prevent larvae from developing, including Nylar, Permethrin, Piperonyl Butoxide, S-Methoprene and Pyrethrins.

Pros and Cons of Nylar (Pyriproxyfen)
Pyriproxyfen mimics certain hormones to stop insects from growing, and prevents larvae from developing into adulthood, which stops the reproduction cycle.

  • Pyriproxyfen has low acute toxicity and is generally considered safe even in the environment. It breaks down relatively quickly and does not dissolve in water, making seepage into groundwater unlikely.
  • It is toxic to fish.

Pros and Cons of Permethrin
Permethrin is an insecticide that you may have already used at some point. It is most commonly known under the brand name Nix, a medicated treatment designed to kill lice.

  • Permethrin causes muscle spasms, paralysis and death in insects, but breaks down very quickly in people and in dogs.
  • This chemical doesn't mix with water and holds on to sediment. In the environment, this means that it's unlikely to contaminate ground water if you bathe your dog outside.
  • That being said, Permethrin is highly toxic to fish and other fresh and saltwater animals.

Pros and Cons of S-Methoprene
Just like Pyriproxyfen, Methoprene acts like an insect hormone to interfere with a flea's ability to transition from one stage of life to another. This means that fleas coming into contact with Methoprene will die without reproducing.

  • Methoprene can cause skin and eye irritation.
  • It is toxic to some fish and can accumulate in fish tissues.

Pros and Cons of Pyrethrins
Pyrethrins are toxins that are produced naturally by some chrysanthemums, although in pesticides, they have been synthetically produced. A pesticide containing Pyrethrins alone will cause paralysis and death in insects, however, this chemical is often mixed with others in order to increase the efficacy of the product. Pyrethrins are another common ingredient in lice shampoos.

  • Pyrethrins are generally safe for mammals.
  • However, Pyrethrins are not typically safe for cats
  • Pyrethrins can cause skin irritation.
  • Pyrethrins stick to soil are unlikely to move into groundwater if you bathe your dog outside, however, these chemicals highly to very highly toxic to fish.

What is Piperonyl Butoxide
You'll often see this ingredient in bug killers, but it's actually not in and of itself an insecticide. Piperonyl Butoxide is commonly added to bug sprays, foggers, shampoos and more to increase the effectiveness of the insecticides. It works by stopping the production of enzymes that insects produce to break down poisons, which means that even the stronger insects are much less likely to recover from flea treatment.

Pros and Cons of Topical Flea Treatments

Pros

  • Kills both adult and larval stage fleas, and will help to repel other pests such as mosquitoes as well.
  • When used correctly, a topical flea treatment such as Frontline is nearly 100 percent effective.
  • One application of a topical flea preventative lasts 30 days.

Cons

  • Topical treatments are not always ideal in households with children or where pets groom one another, as this can cause accidental ingestion.
  • The effectiveness of a topical can be reduced with certain bath products. When choosing shampoos for your dog, it's always a good rule of thumb to reach for products specifically designed for pets and those without drying qualities.
  • Some pets can have allergic reactions to topical treatments.

Pros and Cons of Oral Flea Treatments

Pros

  • Oral flea medications provide very targeted pest control
  • Will kill fleas in various stages of the reproductive cycle.
  • Doesn't rub off, leave stains or carry the danger of being accidentally ingested by children or other pets.

Cons

  • Once it reaches the bloodstream, the medication has to run its course, which makes adverse reactions difficult to mitigate, allowing you to only treat the symptoms.
  • Dogs often get stomach upset from 30- and 90-day oral medications.
  • Newer oral medications haven't undergone the extensive research necessary to determine their long-term effects.

We recommend an oral flea treatment that's well established and carries few risks. Our selection of oral flea medications is designed to work on existing infestations, to kill the adults living on your pet. Unlike monthly treatments, these flea medications work within a few hours, don't stay in your pet's system and can be given as often as needed.

Nitenpyram
This class of chemicals attacks the flea's nervous system and kills it in as quickly as 30 minutes. Nitenpyram will kill fleas on your pet within six hours with 90 percent efficacy, and is safe for pregnant or nursing pets.
As fleas begin to die, you'll likely notice your pet scratching itself. Once dead, fleas can very easily be brushed from your pet's coat. A gentle bath using a skin-soothing shampoo will help to calm any inflammation your pet might be experiencing from scratching or biting at itchy skin sites.
Nitenpyram is safe for dogs and cats 4 weeks of age and older and 2 pounds in body weight or heavier, however, there have been reported cases of hyperactivity, panting, vocalization and excessive grooming when this product us used on cats. Do not administer to pets under 2 pounds.


Imidacloprid
Imidacloprid belongs to the same class of chemicals as Nitenpyram, attacking the flea's nervous system and killing it in as quickly as 30 minutes. Imidacloprid is also the active ingredient in Advantage, a topical anti-flea treatment that's available for both cats and dogs. There are only slight differences between Nitenpyram and Imidacloprid, namely that Imidacloprid's safety has not been established in breeding, pregnant, or lactating dogs.
This medication is also not available for cats, and puppies must me at least 10 weeks of age and weigh 4 pounds in order to take Imidacloprid safely.