This Flea Product DOES NOT WORK!

Submitted by Veterinary Wellness Partners on Thu, 10/23/2014 - 4:29pm

"This Flea Product DOES NOT WORK"

This is a common complaint that we get from clients.  So.......this must mean that what we recommend is not working, right?  To quote Lee Corso of ESPN fame: "Not so fast, my friend!"  

There are many products that are available for flea control and prevention of cats and dogs.  Many of these are great products and highly effective, while some of them are not so great.  In fact, some of the older "great" products have lost their efficacy.  This includes the "Brand most recommended by veterinarians," which will go unnamed at this time for various reasons.  At the end of this article, you will see a list of products.  Most of these are currently recommended by our veterinarians and more information can be found by clinking on the resepctive product links.

So onto the heart of the matter: why is this product not working?

  • The first reason it may not be working is what is stated above: many products have lost their efficacy. There was a generation of products on the market that was launched back in the late 1990's.  These products have been used a lot.  As a result, many generations of fleas have seen these products.  In addition, many of the over the counter products are based on an active ingredient that is over 40 years old.  Newer isn't always better, but when it comes to fleas: novel (another way of saying newer) is better in many cases.  
  • The second reason that a product may not be working is due to improper use by pet owners.  Some people try to "scheme" the system by buying a product that is labeled for a really big pet and then splitting it into smaller doses for their smaller pets.  This may work in some instances, but is a potential chance for disaster.  
  • Improper application is another reason for inefficacy of flea products.  Many topicals need to be applied at least 48 hours after the pet hase been given a bath.  This gives time for the oils within the skin to accumulate to high enought levels to bind to the medication.  
  • Another potential pitfall is applying the product to the hair coat, ratehr than directly on the skin.  Some vets recommend clipping the application area to remove some of the hair.  In addition, some products (like Vectra) have a specialized application tip.  This tip makes it easier to apply the medication on the skin itself.

Well I am seeing live fleas?:

  • The first reason is a bit obvious: Because what you are using is not working for one of the reasons listed above
  • Second, there are no products that kill fleas immediately, nor are there any products that truly repel the flea from your pet.
  • Most products will kill fleas within one to two hours.  You may be finding a flea that is in the process of dying, but has recently gotten onto your pet.  (We recommend the "Bag Test")
  • These fleas may be coming from your pet's environment.  His or her yard or your house can be the location of a large amount of fleas and their immature stages.  Only 5% of the fleas will actually be in the adult flea stage.  10% are in a pupated stage, 35% are in a larval stage and 50% are in the egg stage.  


How do I make sure my pet is protected to the best level?

  • First of all, we recommend buying a product that is recommended by your veterinarian.  Simply going to the store or to an online pharmacy may not get you the most effective products.  These big retailers are restricted to selling non-prescription medication, diverted product or ineffective medication.  However, their interest it not necessarily your pet's best interest, but rather profitablilty.
  • Use a soap free shampoo to bath your pet.  These shampoos clean and deodorize your pet without stripping off the oils that many products rely upon to be effective.
  • Wait 48 hours after bathing your pet to apply any product to the skin.
  • If your pet requires frequent bathings, look into one of the several oral fela medications that are available and effective.

What Else do I need to do if my pet has Fleas?

  • We recommend treating your house, especially areas in which your pet hangs out a lot.  There are many products that are approved for environmental treatment.  We recommend Knockout ES brand spray.
  • Vaccuum A LOT.
  • Throw out the vaccuum cleaner bag frequently, especially after the first area treatment.  If you have a vaccuum with a canister-type receptacle, clean it out frequently as well
  • Retreat the house.  This should be done at two week intervals until no more fleas are seen.