Flea Pills for Dogs: How do they work? Are they really effective?

Dog flea pillsThere are different ways to take care of your pet’s health, and protecting it from fleas and parasites of all kinds is one of them! Flea collars, pipettes or flea pills, solutions to preserve your dog’s health are not lacking out there.

Today, we focus on the flea pills! Nexgard, Bravecto, Capstar, Comfortis and many others … let’s see how to choose the right medicine to end the flea invasion!

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Collar, Pipette or Pill… What Are The Differences Between These Flea Remedies For Dogs?

You may have already used Frontline Combo pipettes, sprays or flea collars, which are very widespread (and very efficient!) to eradicate fleas. Unlike these products, the flea pills have an oral administration and a systemic action. So, they are ingested by the dog, and intoxicate the fleas through the blood of the animal and not by simple contact with its fur.

As a result, there is no danger for the owner or for children of becoming intoxicated by contact with the product, as is the case with some topical pesticides. If this risk is limited for pipettes and sprays that dry in 24 to 48 hours, it is another story for collars, which action is continuously spread for several months.

Getting Rid Of Fleas: Insecticide Or Insect Repellent?

In the wide range of pest control products, you will find insecticides and insect repellents. An insecticide kills insects, while an insect repellent scares them away. Therefore, insect repellents are recommended as a preventative rather than a curative measure. They can repel fleas on an animal with little or medium exposure, but are not strong enough in case of a real invasion.

Tablets or pills, for the most part, are insecticides. They should not be confused with insect repellent food supplements (often garlic-based).

What Are The Different Types Of Flea Pills?

There are so many different flea pills on the market that it is easy to get lost. Let us try first to clarify things a bit!

Curative medications

Great evils, great remedies! Curative medications, such as Capstar, eradicate all fleas on your dog within minutes.

The immediate effect of the tablet is appreciable, but it has no long term action.

So it will be quickly eliminated from your dog’s body, and the fleas will return immediately if you have not taken care to treat your environment.

To ensure that you are permanently rid of these parasites, you will also need to treat your home with a flea bomb.

Preventive medications

The so-called preventive medications have a persistent and long term action.

The active substance remains in your dog’s body for several weeks after taking the flea pill. So the next fleas that would come to feed there, die in a few hours, without having time to lay any eggs.

However, the flea pills don’t eliminate parasites from the environment, and they have to actually bite your dog in order to die. This treatment does not prevent new bites, but avoids new infestations.

Composition And Function Of Flea Pills For Dogs

To fully understand what you are giving your companion and why, let’s start with a little science! Here we will talk about molecules, active substances and excipients…

What do these drugs contain?

The active substances in the antiparasitic pills and tablets differ from brand to brand. They include Afoxolaner (Nexgard), Nitenpyram (Capstar), Fluralaner (Bravecto) and Spinosad (Comfortis), to name just a few. These substances are all insecticides (and acaricides for Fluralaner and Afoxolaner) that target fleas and adult ticks.

The other ingredients in the such pills are excipients that give the drug its consistency and color. Aromas are also added so that your dog can easily swallow the tablet – usually without suspecting anything!

How do they act on my dog ?

Flea pills are systemic products, so they have to go through the parasite’s body to act. The effects are rapid: fleas die within hours (or minutes) and ticks within 48 hours. These times correspond to their first meal on the back of your doggy, once it is treated.

The mode of action of the pill depends on its active substance. These molecules attack the nervous system of the parasites, but each in its own way. Insecticides and acaricides, such as Afoxolaner and Fluralaner target both fleas and ticks. Spinosad and Nitenpyram are simple insecticides that only kill fleas.

None of these molecules is an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). Therefore, the pills do not reduce the laying, hatching and development of larvae. However, if your dog is treated properly, the parasites will eventually disappear from your home, due to a lacking food source, which is your dog.

This may take some time, so it is advisable to treat the environment in addition to the flea pills: one shot of Fogger, and we wouldn’t need to talk about fleas anymore!

How Long Is A Flea Pill Effective Once Administered?

It depends on the pill. Those mentioned above have a duration of several weeks, apart from the Capstar. The action of Comfortis and Nexgard lasts 4 to 5 weeks, and the Bravecto is 12 weeks. For other less well-known tablets, you will find this information on the package leaflet or, better, with your veterinarian !

How Do You Give Your Dog A Flea Pills & Tick Tablets?

Tablets are given orally, often with food. Keep in mind that flea pills and tablets, whatever their brand is, are made of powerful active substances! They are available by prescription: do not attempt to administer them to your dog without your veterinarian’s agreement or advice.

Flea Pill Dosage

The dosages differ according to the molecules and the concentration of the corresponding pill. You should therefore refer to your veterinarian and read the package leaflet carefully before giving it to your pet. Below is a list of flea pills available on the market along with some indications on the most common brands:

Capstar should only be administered if there is a visible flea infestation on the animal. The recommended dose is 1 mg/kg. The treatment can be repeated several days in a row, but not more than one dose per 24 hours. Since this medicine has no persistent action, your veterinarian may advise you to combine it with a preventive anti-flea treatment. Capstar may be ingested with or without food.

Read more about Capstar Dosages And Effects

For Nexgard, the recommended dose is 2.7 to 6.9 mg/kg. Again, turn to your veterinarian to get the tablet corresponding to the weight of your dog. You can give it with or without food.

Comfortis should be distributed in doses not exceeding 45 to 70 mg/kg. Ideally, weigh your dog in the veterinarian office and ask for the corresponding dose directly. It is imperative that the flea pill be taken with or immediately after a meal.

The Bravecto pills should be administered at a dose of 25 to 56 mg/kg. It should also be taken during or immediately after a meal.

Dividing flea tablets or pills is strongly discouraged, especially for Nexgard and Bravecto. Instead, ask your veterinarian to provide you with the appropriate dose.

Method Of Administration

Usually, all the types of flea pills and tick tablets can be added into the bowl of the dog. Preferably, give your dog only a small dose of food to easily check that it has swallowed the tablet or pill.

These medicines are often appetizing, so you can try to give them to your dog as a treat, so that it swallows them all by himself (be careful of the Bravecto and Comfortis, which should not be ingested on an empty stomach)!

What Precautions Should I Take To Give My Dog An Flea Pill?

Again, it all depends on the brand you choose, and therefore on the active molecule. Your veterinarian will advise you on this. If in doubt, here are some reminders about the most common products.

Which dogs should take flea pills?

Flea pills are recommended for dogs exposed to parasites or with visible flea infestation. For the most part, they must be given to an adult dog that is healthy and weighs more than 2 kg.

Capstar can be given to your dogs weighting more than 1 kg and 4 weeks old,

Comfortis is for dogs with weight of 1.3 kg or more, but should not be given before they are at least 12 weeks old,

Nexgard and Bravecto are suitable for dogs with age of 8 weeks and 2 kg of weight.

Which dogs Should not get a Flea Pill?

Attention, Collies are intolerant of Spinosad ! Do not give your dog Comfortis without your veterinarian’s advice if you do not have a good overview and knowledge of its health history. For convalescent dogs or other treatment, also ask your veterinarian for advice.

Medical contraindications

Most of the active substances in the flea pills attack the nervous system of insects. Although the dosage is intended for fleas, and is therefore very minimal, this drug is not recommended for dogs with epilepsy.

Drug Interactions and possible adverse reactions

Capstar, Nexgard and Bravecto have no known drug interactions. However, it is advisable to use Bravecto with caution if your dog is taking steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (prescribed for allergies or chronic pain) or coumarin derivatives (anticoagulant). Comfortis can interact with a variety of substrates, including Ivermectin (used in scab treatment).

Vomiting, although quite rare, is the most common side effects in dogs. With Capstar, your dog may also experience severe itching due to flea dyeing. These effects are transient and benign.

More rarely, gastric disorders (vomiting and diarrhoea), some depression or anorexia have been reported. Nervous signs (convulsions, tremors, etc.) may also occur in very rare cases.

Flea tablets and Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), in dogs

Persistent flea tablets are sometimes used to treat allergic flea-bite dermatitis. This condition causes a particularly violent skin reaction to insect bites. The dog then feels severe itching, scratches – sometimes to the point of bleeding-and loses its hairs in whole patches. It can also be uncomfortable with topical fleas, as its skin can be particularly irritated.

Pills and tablets could be very effective against fleas. However, care must be taken to treat the environment the dog is inhabiting, so that new fleas don’t return! Since fleas will have to bite your dog in order to be poisoned, it will continue to show signs of (FAD) as long as the fleas of its habitat come to bite it.

Is The Flea Pill Treatment Effective?

Each flea pill type has its own effectiveness according to its characteristics. It is therefore important to use them correctly and to choose the right medicine. Not all brands and active ingredients target the same insects or have the same persistence.

In general, flea death occurs within hours of tablet absorption, regardless of the active substance (Capstar is particularly potent). To choose the right medicine for your puppy, let’s summarize the characteristics of the most common products :

– For preventive and curative protection against ticks and fleas: Bravecto (up to 12 weeks of effectiveness) and Nexgard (4 weeks).
– For curative and preventive flea protection: Comfortis, effective up to 4 weeks
– For curative use against fleas : Capstar.

Common Questions About Flea Pills

Questions regularly submitted by our readers, which will surely interest you. If you have another question, contact us or ask a veterinarian!

Can I Give A Flea Pill To My Pregnant Or Nursing Dog?

Attention, flea pill administration in nursing or pregnant dogs is possible only for certain brands: Bravecto and Capstar, for example. But it is absolutely necessary to avoid the Nexgard and the Comfortis in such situations.

Is It Possible To Give A Flea Pill To A Puppy Less Than 3 Months Old?

As a general rule, antiparasitic tablets or pills can be administered to dogs that are at least 8 weeks old. However, all products have dosage levels appropriate to their composition and concentration. Comfortis cannot be given to a puppy that is less than 12 weeks old, while Capstar can be given to a 4-week-old dogs. In order not to risk poisoning your puppy, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Can A Puppy Or A Small Dog Weighing Less Than 2 Kg Be Given A Flea Pill?

Again, it depends on the pill in question. Capstar can be given dogs weighting 1 kg or more and at least 4 weeks old, and Comfortis is suitable for dogs weighting 1.3 kg and 12 weeks old. Refer to the package leaflet of the chosen tablet or, better, ask your veterinarian for more information!

Can The Flea Pills Remove Sea Lice?

Well, usually no. The active ingredients in the tablets cited in this article, and most of the other brands, are not made to combat sea lice. Instead, this parasitic species is eliminated with Fipronil.

Can I use Flea Pills to Treat My House Against Fleas?

In case of parasite infestation, no. Tick tablets and flea pills work systemically, so every parasite has to bite your pet in order to die. Eggs, cocoons and larvae are not destroyed. It is strongly advised to treat your home area with spray or fumigant to eradicate all parasites.

Our Opinion Of Anti Flea Pills For Dogs

Flea pills have the advantage of being practical to use and don’t present a danger to the owner (and his children!) in case of contact with a freshly treated dog. In addition, the dosage is easier, and you avoid the disadvantages of greasy hair and yellowed fingers by pipettes or sticky hands from sprays. In addition, they are available only by prescription, thus you are avoiding errors in dosage and usage.

On the downside, the tablets are less broad spectrum than other dog parasite treatment solutions. They often only target fleas, and possibly ticks. Unlike non-systemic treatments, they are ineffective against tick-biting diseases, because the parasite does not die until after its first meal. Finally, they do not allow the house to be cleaned in the event of a flea invasion.

You should now have a little more clear understanding about all the antiparasitic treatments for dogs! And you ? Are you still confused? Ask us your questions and share your tips in the comments!

 

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