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Can You Change Your Dog's Flea Treatment?


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Published: 9/22/2021

Have you been thinking about changing your pet's flea treatment? Pet parents who are unhappy with the medication's performance or dislike the application method often consider switching their pet's flea meds. But is it safe to change your dog's flea treatment? The short answer is yes — but you have to be very careful when doing so. In this article, we'll cover: 

  • Reasons for changing a flea medicine
  • How to change meds safely
  • How to make flea treatments more effective
  • Tips for picking a new flea product for your pet

Why do people change their flea treatment?

There are several reasons why a pet parent might change their dog's flea treatment. Here are a few of the most common:

  • The medication isn't working as well as it once did.
  • The application process is messy (for topical medications).
  • The dog doesn't like the flavor (for chewable meds).
  • The medication isn't helping control the flea infestation.
  • The medication is causing side effects for the dog.
  • The dog is licking the application spot (for topical medications).
  • Personal preference.

Changing your dog's flea treatment

Some people swear by changing up flea meds from time to time to increase the effectiveness, though you should be cautious when doing this.

It's essential that the old medication has worn off before administering a new type of flea medicine — this is the case even if the treatment is no longer working for your pet. Dosing your dog with a new medication when their old medication hasn't worn off could cause your pet to have an accidental overdose.

Before you switch

While it's OK to change your dog's flea treatment, there are some things you might try to make the old meds more effective.

Use dog-specific medication

First and foremost, you should be using a flea medicine made specifically for dogs. It may seem like a good (or cheaper) alternative to use flea medication made for another species, but these are not meant for dogs and are likely the wrong dosage.

Make sure you’re using topical treatments correctly

For topical meds like Frontline Plus, make sure you're using the flea liquid in the right spot. Most products state to place the topical liquids on the back of the neck or between the shoulder blade. This placement is meant to prevent your dog from being able to lick the medication off. Don't allow your pet in water for a few days after administering topical meds since this can make them ineffective.

Check the dosage

It's paramount that you give your dog the correct medication dosage and not too much or too little. Read the label carefully to make sure you're administering the medicine correctly and in the right amount. Underdosing can decrease the medication's effectiveness, whereas overdosing can cause dogs to become very sick. Flea medication toxicity is a serious condition categorized by gastrointestinal upset, drooling, seizures, and collapse.


Treat the source of the infestation

Lastly, you must treat the environment and source of the infestation. Flea medicine will do no good if the environment is the source of the flea infestation. Invest in flea bombs for inside the house and use a yard spray for the outdoors.

Follow the directions on these products very carefully since they can be toxic to both humans and pets. Remove your pets from the house when flea bombing and keep Fido off the lawn for a couple of days after spraying.

Tips for picking a good flea medicine

There are a few things you should look for when choosing an effective flea medication for your dog.

First, you should choose a fast-working formula that also contains an insect growth inhibitor. Insect growth inhibitors are sometimes referred to as insect birth control because they prevent insects (including fleas) from reaching reproductive maturity, thus preventing eggs and discontinuing the flea life cycle. 

You'll also want to select a flea med that's easy to use and well tolerated by your dog. Strong odors from topical medications may be off-putting to some woofers. If your dog is sensitive to certain smells, you may want to find a medication that has low or no odor. Likewise, some dogs don't like certain flavors and may object to eating certain flavors of chewables. If you pick a chewable flea medication, like Sentinel or Comfortis, make sure it's a flavor your dog will enjoy. 

Last but not least,  be careful choosing a flea medication if your pet has allergies or sensitivities to certain chemicals. Read the ingredients list closely to ensure the medication you choose doesn't have any ingredients that your dog is sensitive to.

Talk to your vet

Always consult with a vet before switching your pet's medication. Your vet will be able to instruct you on the proper course of action for switching medicine and picking a better fit for your dog. Need to speak with a vet ASAP? Live chat with a licensed veterinarian now!

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