Best flea treatment for dogs 2021: vets share their advice



Whether you are a new dog owner or have a longtime puppy, keeping your four-legged friend flea-free is paramount.

It is easy for your dog to come into contact with fleas, whether through other animals or while walking in the woods. Nick Sutton, science communications advisor at the Kennel Club, explains that due to their strong hind legs, fleas can “jump easily from host to host, or from environment to host,” which means they can spread very quickly.

It’s important to catch them early because, in addition to causing discomfort, “fleas can cause serious illnesses in cats and dogs, including flea allergic dermatitis and even anemia,” notes Sutton. “They can also carry tapeworm larvae, which can infect your pet if they accidentally eat fleas while they are grooming themselves.”

Telltale signs include your dog who is itching much more than usual or biting himself, says Dr. Luke Gamble, CEO of Worldwide Veterinary Service. And when a serious infestation occurs, “patches of hair loss can even develop,” he adds.

If you suspect your dog has fleas, Dr. Gamble recommends examining their skin carefully. “You can see tiny dark bugs moving around,” he says, or the skin itself may appear “red and bumpy” and there may be traces of tiny black spots which are flea “dirt” (droppings). ).

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But, said Kathleen Pohl, veterinarian at My Family Vets. The independent that “some animals tolerate high numbers of fleas before showing signs of irritation” which means there may be a large infestation before you are aware of the problem. This is why “prevention can be easier and more effective than treating an epidemic,” she says.

“Protecting your dog from fleas is easy, and flea treatments come in different forms – usually collars, point solutions or tablets,” says Pohl. The problem is, most people don’t realize that many products you apply to your pet only kill adult fleas, which are a small number compared to a huge number of larvae and eggs. “These immature life stages often require home treatment to effectively prevent them from re-infesting your pet,” she adds.

Pohl recommends that “if you are having trouble controlling a flea outbreak, think carefully about your surroundings and where fleas may be hiding, and remember to treat your car or a relative’s house if your dog visits it frequently ”.

When seeking preventative treatment, PDSA veterinary nurse Nina Downing recommends buying from a “reputable pet store or online retailer” and keeping an eye out for “NFA grade products.” -VPS “”, which means “they may only be sold by a veterinarian, pharmacist or suitably qualified person”.

While these top vets can’t recommend specific products, we’ve asked them for information on each type of treatment, so you can determine which one is best for your pet. From topical medications to home treatments, here are the ways to protect your furry friends from fleas.

Topical flea medications or spot treatments

One of the most common flea treatments are localized or topical medications, which “are applied to the dog’s skin with an eyedropper,” says Pohl. They work because the active ingredients are “absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, skin glands, or the fatty layer under the skin and kill live fleas on the dog and prevent future infestation,” Downing explains.

A popular brand for this type of treatment is Frontline (from £ 39,, which is categorized as ‘NFA-VPS’ and can be purchased depending on your dog’s weight: small (2-10 g), medium (10-20kg) or large (20-40kg).

(First line)

With these types of treatments, “you might notice a greasy spot on your dog’s neck for a day or two, but don’t worry, it’s normal,” advises Pohl. And “fleas usually start to die within 12-24 hours of application.”

An alternative to Frontline is the Virbac Effipro duo spot-on treatment (from £ 25,, which is also NFA-VPS rated and can be purchased depending on your dog’s weight – small (2kg- 10kg), medium (10-20kg), large (20-40kg) or extra large (40-60kg). It should be applied between your dog’s shoulder blades.


“Always make sure to wash your hands after applying the treatment,” advises Pohl, and, after application, it is “important not to let your dog swim in waterways for up to four days. afterwards, as the product can damage marine life .. If your dog swims or bathes frequently, it can also reduce the effectiveness of the products.

Flea collars

Another option is a flea collar – Pohl says these work by “having an active ingredient built into the collar itself”. “This is released when the collar comes in contact with your pet’s skin. The product then travels through the skin to cover your pet and protect it from fleas. Ideally, “look for a product that not only kills live fleas and ticks, but also repels them,” says Downing.

This Beaphar Canidhield Collar (from £ 13, is an NFA-VPS product and is available for small and large dogs.


The brand recommends that for best results, use it at least a week before your dog is likely to be exposed to ticks. It is also said to be a great option if you are traveling abroad where your dog is at risk of contracting leishmaniasis. It is suitable for puppies from seven weeks old.

Based on Downing’s advice, if you want a flea collar that repels live fleas and ticks, go for the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar (£ 24,, which is also available for small dogs.


Oral treatments

“The last flea treatment option is oral treatment,” says Pohl, “which comes in capsule and tablet form.” Want to know how they work? The active ingredient is “absorbed by the intestine and introduced into the bloodstream, which kills fleas when they bite your pet,” she explains.

“Different drugs use different chemicals – some work very quickly but last only a few days, while others can work for several months,” adds Pohl. With many of these types of treatments, you will need to get a prescription from the vet, which you will then need to download from the retailer’s site in order to make a purchase.

But the program’s tablets (from £ 28.90, are available for purchase without a prescription – they should be given to your dog, disguised in his food, once a month for at least six. months during flea season.


Flea treatment for your home

With 95 percent of fleas living in the home, it’s “still recommended to treat your home with a flea spray when trying to control an infestation,” says Downing. Flea sprays will be effective in killing live fleas, larvae and eggs, thus breaking the flea life cycle.

One option is this Virbac indorex defense household flea spray (£ 7.57,, which kills adult fleas and mites for up to two months after application. The brand also claims that it prevents the development of flea eggs and larvae for up to 12 months.


When using, hold the can at arm’s length and direct the spray to the area you want to treat. It is advisable to use a sweeping motion to apply the product and to keep the box approximately three feet from the area you are treating.

Downing recommends using a flea spray “after deep cleaning your home and washing pet bedding and upholstery at a high temperature.” It is important to regularly clean your dog’s bedding and vacuum furniture and floors in order to destroy fleas at every stage of their life cycle.

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