Flea Treatment for Dogs – How to Choose a Flea Prevention Product

flea treatment for dogs

Let’s be honest – your pup is definitely a big part of your family.

He’s probably center stage in your family portraits and sleeps in bed with you like royalty.

We all care so much about our dogs and the last thing we want is Fido to be sad and itchy from a flea infestation (and you certainly don’t want those fleas around your house either).

Flea prevention treatments for your dog are so important for a number of reasons that we’ll delve into in a minute, but it can be difficult knowing which flea product is right for your furry friend and how to apply that product.

While it’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian for any matters related to your pet’s well being, we’re going to give you a brief run-down on how to choose and apply flea treatments for dogs.

Why Does Your Fur-Baby Need Flea Treatment for Dogs?

Brown Dog

As you may know, fleas are the most common external parasites found on dogs. While fleas tend to be more of a potential issue during the warmer season, a flea infestation can persist into winter due to their ability to survive indoors.

Not only can they survive for long periods of time, but fleas also reproduce like CRAZY. Once you have a flea infestation in your home, it can be a huge pain to get it under control.

This Wikipedia article has everything you need to know and more about fleas (like how in America about $2.8 billion is spent annually on flea-related vet bills!). But let’s talk about more about why your dog in particular needs flea prevention.

Fleas carry many diseases and can cause a plethora of health problems for your fur baby, including anemia and Lyme disease. And if your dog has fleas, chances are they will also be attracted to you. Fleas do not discriminate between warm-blooded creatures –so don’t be surprised if you wake up with itchy red marks all over your skin.

Basically, you shouldn’t even have a second thought about putting your pup on some sort of preventative flea treatment. Everyone will be much happier and far less itchy in the end.

3 Main Types of Flea Prevention Treatments

Here are the most common types of flea prevention products and their benefits and disadvantages:

1. Oral Tablets

In terms of effectiveness, oral pills are probably the best flea prevention treatment for dogs.

Most pills need to be administered monthly, but they aren’t messy like topical products and don’t cause any sort of skin reaction. They also provide protection for our dog’s entire body and some begin working within 30 minutes. Pills are also great if you have children and don’t want them exposed to toxic chemicals.

The downside to an oral flea prevention product is that they usually require a prescription from your veterinarian, and they do not ward off ticks. Also, it may be tricky to get your dog to swallow the pill.

2. Collars

Like oral tablets, flea prevention dog collars are do not cause any sort of mess. They are also the most economical of all flea prevention options and last up to eight months. Unfortunately, they can cause skin irritation on your dog and cannot get wet.

Collars definitely work, so if you want a very low-cost way to keep fleas off of your best friend we would recommend trying one. Just be sure to keep an eye on your dog’s skin for signs of irritation!

3. Topical Treatments

Another way to keep fleas off of your dog is to use a topical product like spot-on drops or shampoos and sprays. They are definitely the messiest of all the treatments, but do have some upsides.

Spot-on products usually last a month and repel fleas and ticks before they bite. Plus, they’re waterproof. Some of these actually repel fleas, while others only work after a fleabite has occurred.

Shampoos and sprays are very cost-effective and easy to administer, but only last a few weeks. Both spot-on products and shampoos/sprays can also cause rashes or other skin irritations, wash off easily, and sometimes take up to 12 hours to work.

Which Flea Prevention Product is Right for Your Dog?

There are a few different types of flea prevention treatments available for dogs, and they all have their pros and cons. You should take your lifestyle, cost and your pet’s current state of health into consideration before purchasing a flea treatment.

Your dog may have a health condition that eliminates a possible type of flea treatment. In this case, you should definitely talk to your veterinarian. Your dog’s age and weight are also important factors to consider.

Generally speaking, oral tablets and pills are the most effective way to keep fleas off of your pet. However, you may have to use a separate product if you are also concerned about ticks. And though you have to make a visit to the vet to get a prescription, it’s definitely worth it in the long run. Plus, your veterinarian will be able to help you decide which product is best for your dog.

If pills are not a viable option for you and your pet, we would suggest using a collar if your dog is prone to skin irritation since it can be easily removed should any major rashes arise. Plus, collars are inexpensive.

Otherwise, we would go with a topical treatment – particularly a spot-on treatment that actually repels fleas and ticks (as opposed to treating once your dog gets a bite). These last longer than shampoos and are waterproof, unlike collars.

Which brings us to our next topic: applying a topical flea prevention treatment!

How to Apply a Flea Treatment for Dogs on Your Best Friend

dog grooming

If you plan on using a collar or pills for your dog’s flea prevention, you can go ahead and jump past this part. Though oral pills can be tricky to administer because it requires getting your dog to actually swallow the pill, there are easy hacks like hiding it in a treat or their dinner.

Topical treatments, on the other hand, can get messy if you aren’t prepared and require following some specific instructions.

Though application procedures may vary slightly from product to product, this is a general guideline for putting a topical flea prevention treatment on your pup.

Note that your dog’s skin should be completely dry before you apply any topical flea prevention treatment

First, you will want to find the area of loose skin between your dog’s shoulder blades, which are the two, sharp bones right below the neck (as you may have guessed). This is always the best area to apply a topical flea treatment because your dog cannot easily reach it and lick it off.

Most brands of flea treatments will come in some sort of applicator. For example, Frontline Plus comes in a small, plastic applicator with a foil back. You simply hold the applicator upright with the foil side facing you, and then snap the tip off.


Next, lift up and gently hold the fur in the soft area between the shoulder blades. You will need to expose the skin before applying – these flea treatments only work when absorbed through the skin. Then, place the applicator tip just above the skin and squeeze out the entire contents. It may be helpful for your dog to apply the treatment both above and below the collar, but it’s not always necessary.

That’s it! You don’t need to rub it in or anything – just let the flea treatment work its magic.

After you’ve applied the flea treatment on your pet, be sure to wash your hands to avoid any irritation! Most of these treatments are safe, but you never know if you’ll have a reaction. You also shouldn’t touch that area on your dog until it’s fully absorbed, and make sure your dog doesn’t get wet for 24 hours after the initial application.

You should also keep an eye on your dog’s skin to make sure they also aren’t having a reaction. If they do, you can wash off the area, but it may be necessary to give your veterinarian a call to make sure nothing more serious arises.

So it’s not incredibly difficult to apply a topical flea prevention treatment on your dog. As long as you follow the instructions that come with the flea treatment, use an applicator and keep your dog from wiggling around too much, everything should go smoothly.

A Flea-Free Dog is a Happy Dog!


And it’s a happy you!

You should always get your dog some sort of flea prevention treatment so they live happy, healthy, itch-free lives! If you want a great summary of your flea prevention options, we recommend checking out this cool graphic from 1-800-PetMeds.

Also, you should always talk to your veterinarian before using any kind of flea treatment on your dog. We gave you a little summary here, but he or she is definitely the expert on your dog’s health.

After all, your dog deserves the best!


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