What You NEED TO KNOW About Flea & Tick Protection

Southern California summer is here!  That means long, relaxing days at the beach, lazy afternoon strolls in the park with man’s best friend and, well … Fleas.  Ticks.  You try to control it—Fido's bed is freshly laundered to keep larvae away, and you check him regularly for ticks.  You don’t want to make him sleep outside or in the garage.  He’s spoiled (come on, you know he is) and neither you nor him want to be separated by something as insubstantial as the possibility of fleas and ticks.  But you still worry—ticks carry the debilitating Lyme disease, fleas are at the least highly irritating and painful, and even mosquitoes carry the infamous West Nile Virus which causes illness or even death in pets.  Can you do more?

Yes.  There are many more aggressive ways to control pest infestations on your beloved pets.  We have fleas and ticks in Southern Orange County.  The sooner you face it, the sooner you can do something about it.  I picked three ticks off of my own dog only two nights ago.  I’ve also recently found ticks crawling on my clothes while simply walking down the sidewalk.  Rescue off-the-street cats are frequently (if not always) infested with fleas.  

The last thing anybody wants is flea and tick infestations in their own home.  The smartest place to start is to keep fleas and ticks off your pets.

There are plenty of products you can use.  But what’s good?  What’s bad?  

What's even safe for your pet?  

What is it? Kills How long does it take to kill all pests? Waterproof? How long does it last? Safe on puppies/kittens?


How is it applied? Active Ingredient Surrounding Area?
Advantage®  Fleas  12 hours Yes 4 weeks Puppies: 7+ weeks

Kittens: 8+ weeks

Topical  Imidacloprid Inhibits larval development 


 Fleas, Ticks & Mosquitoes 12 hours Yes (slight decrease of effectiveness)   4 weeks Puppies: 7+ weeks Topical Imidacloprid & Permethrin Kills larvae
Frontline PLUS & Topspot®  Fleas & Ticks Fleas: 18 hours

 Ticks: 48 hours 

Yes 4 weeks Puppies/Kittens: 8+ weeks


 Topical Fipronil Kills fleas in all stages in pet surroundings
Frontline Spray® Fleas & Ticks 24 hours Yes (for 30 days) 8-12 weeks maximum Puppies/Kittens: 8+ weeks Spray Fipronil Not notably effective 
Capstar® Fleas Dogs: 3 hours

Cats: 4 hours


24 hours

Puppies/Kittens: 4+ weeks & 2+ lbs


Oral Tablet Nitenpyram Not notably effective 
Program® Sterilizes Adult Fleas  (makes them unable to reproduce) 7 days N/A 4 weeks Pregnant/Nursing Dogs: Oral Tablet

Cats: Liquid

Hormone Lufenuron Does not kill adult fleas.
Revolution® Fleas, Ticks (dogs), Ear Mites, Mange (dogs), Heartworm, Hookworm (cats), Roundworm (cats) 36 hours Yes 4 weeks Puppies/Kittens: 6+ weeks


Topical Selamecitin Not notably affective


Fleas, Ticks & Mosquitoes 24 hours to a few days Yes (reduced with shampoo usage) Ticks & Mosquitoes: 4 weeks

Flea Eggs/Larvae: 123 days

Puppies 12+ weeks Topical Permethrin & Nylar Not notably affective


What do all of those "Active Ingredients" DO?

 Did you know that some chemicals in flea/tick products are dangerous to your pet if applied incorrectly?  

Fipronil (Frontline): Locks stabilizing ions in the neurons of invertebrates (like fleas).  Without stabilizing ions, the fleas die from hyperstimulation.  This means that the fleas may become slightly more active just before they die.

Permathrin: A synthetic relative of natural pyrethrins; however, it is much more stable on your pet and more active on insects. Both permethrin and natural pyrethrins work by disrupting the insect’s nervous system. Products containing permethrin should NEVER be used on cats or ferrets as they are sensitive to this compound.

Imidacloprid (K9 Advantange & Advantix):  Affects parasite nerve cells.  Causes paralysis and death of fleas.

Selamecitin (Revolution):  Stops nerve transmission in parasites and kills them.  Stays in bloodstream, thereby protecting against heartworm.  Passes into gastrointestinal tract and kills some gastrointestinal parasites.  Topical application prevents against mites and ticks.

Nitenpyram (Capstar): Enters the gastrointestinal tract and is absorbed by the bloodstream.

Nylar: Nylar mimics an insect hormone involved in egg hatching and maturation of the immature insect to the adult stage. When exposed to Nylar, insect eggs fail to hatch; therefore, they die before becoming biting adults. Nylar does not kill adult insects.

Lufenuron Hormone:  A hormone that when present in the blood meal of the parasite effectively sterilizes the female by preventing eggs from hatching.

Amitraz:  Used in dips for demodectic mange.  Found effective as a tick repellant and is used in tick collars.  Do NOT use amitraz on cats.  Can be used with other flea and tick products such as Biospot.

A few words about natural parasite protection:

            Although natural solutions may be appealing, it is important to remember that natural does not always mean safe.  Citrus products generally contain d-Limonene or linalool extracted from the peelings of citrus fruits.  In excess, these extracts can intoxicate your pet.  There has been no clinical advantage found by using citrus over insecticidal flea prevention.  In heavy infestations, citrus products should be used in conjunctions with other more powerful parasite killers.

            No clinical trials have been conducted to prove the effectiveness of herbs and vitamins such as brewer's yeast, thiamine, garlic, citronella, or rosemary.  Although these may work in some situations, they have not been proven to be effective.


In Conclusion ...

            Solutions to summer parasite problems are virtually endless.  It is important, however, to choose one.  For the comfort and safety of both your pet AND you, recognize the presence of parasites and prevent them before they can become a problem.










Note!Always spay, neuter, microchip, collar and tag your pets.
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