Hello Pet Parents!

Oh boy, have I seen an uptick in flea issues lately! Yes, flea season is once again upon us. If you’ve had the “flea talk” with me, you know it’s a lengthy discussion, but one worth having. Let’s dive in and equip ourselves to tackle these pesky critters head-on.

I think it’s important to know all of our options. While chemical flea prevention is not my go-to, they are very common, so I want to take some time to break down some of the common ones out there – 

Understanding Chemical Flea Medications 🧐  

Topical Treatments:

Frontline (Fipronil)

Mechanism: Spreads across the skin and coat, concentrating in sebaceous glands, which release the drug over time. Fipronil disrupts GABA-gated chloride channels in pests, leading to hyperexcitation, paralysis, and death of fleas.
Pros: Easy application, good for pets that resist oral medication.
Cons: Potential for localized irritation, environmental contamination.

Revolution (Selamectin)

Mechanism: Absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, targeting both glutamate-gated and GABA-gated chloride channels, paralyzing and killing fleas, heartworms, ear mites, and some ticks.
Pros: Broad spectrum, treats multiple parasites.
Cons: Potential systemic side effects, more expensive.

Advantage (Imidacloprid)

Mechanism: Spreads across the skin, targeting nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in fleas, causing paralysis and death.
Pros: Fast-acting, effective against adult fleas.
Cons: Does not kill ticks, potential for skin irritation.

Advantix (Imidacloprid + Permethrin)

Mechanism: Combines the flea-killing power of imidacloprid with permethrin to also repel and kill ticks and mosquitoes.
Pros: Broad spectrum, repels multiple pests.
Cons: Toxic to cats, potential for skin irritation.

Vectra 3D (Dinotefuran + Pyriproxyfen + Permethrin)

Mechanism: Dinotefuran kills adult fleas, pyriproxyfen acts as an insect growth regulator, and permethrin repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites.
Pros: Comprehensive protection, effective against multiple life stages of fleas.Cons: Toxic to cats, potential for skin irritation.

        *Topical flea prevention has additional Environmental Concerns: The runoff of these chemicals can contaminate water bodies, posing risks to aquatic life and the broader ecosystem​

Systemic Treatments:

Bravecto (Fluralaner)

Mechanism: Lipophilic, persists in the bloodstream and fatty tissues, preventing chloride ion influx in pests, causing hyperexcitation and death.
Pros: Long-lasting (up to 12 weeks), effective against fleas and ticks.
Cons: Potential for bioaccumulation and toxicity, possible neurological side effects.

Simparica (Sarolaner)

Mechanism: Lipophilic, binds to GABA and glutamate receptors in fleas and ticks, preventing chloride ion influx and causing hyperexcitation and death.
Pros: Monthly dosing, effective against fleas and ticks.
Cons: Potential for gastrointestinal and neurological side effects.

NexGard (Afoxolaner)

Mechanism: Targets GABA-gated chloride channels in fleas and ticks, leading to hyperexcitation and death.
Pros: Monthly dosing, palatable chew.
Cons: Potential for gastrointestinal and neurological side effects.

Comfortis (Spinosad)

Mechanism: Targets nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, causing paralysis and death of fleas.
Pros: Fast-acting, effective against adult fleas.
Cons: Does not kill ticks, potential for gastrointestinal side effects.

Trifexis (Spinosad + Milbemycin Oxime)

Mechanism: Combines the flea-killing power of spinosad with milbemycin oxime to prevent heartworms and intestinal parasites.
Pros: Broad spectrum, monthly dosing.
Cons: Potential for gastrointestinal side effects, more expensive.

Important Considerations 📝

While these medications are highly effective, they come with risks. Their lipophilic nature can lead to bioaccumulation and toxicity. The drugs can accumulate in fatty tissues, potentially leading to toxicity over time if not properly managed. Long-term use and high dosages can increase the risk of adverse effects on organs such as the liver and kidneys.Regular monitoring of liver and kidney function is crucial, especially for long-term use. Certain breeds, particularly those with the MDR1 gene mutation, may be more prone to adverse effects, including neurological symptoms.

Research Insights 📚

Studies have highlighted potential harms from common flea prevention products. Adverse effects can range from localized irritation to more severe reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea, and neurological symptoms. The FDA has issued warnings in the past about the potential for neurological adverse reactions in pets treated with isoxazoline class drugs, which include Bravecto and Simparica.

Keeping Our Pets Flea-Free Naturally 🌿

Environmental Control

Essential Oils: Diffuse black pepper, oregano, and peppermint oils (with proper dilution and ventilation).
Cleaning: Vacuum all floors and dispose of contents outside. Clean hard surfaces and wash all bedding regularly. Consider using products from Wondercide.

Bathing & Grooming

Bathing: Weekly baths during active flea issues; otherwise, every 2-4 weeks.
              RecommendationFour Legger Revitalize (Shampoo) + Four Legger Restore (Conditioner).
Flea Combing: Daily checks with a flea comb. If you find any flea dirt, bathe your pet immediately and clean the environment.

Supplements & External Protection

Oral Supplements: We like Woof Creek Flea and Tick Defense as a natural alternative to help deter fleas.
Essential Oils for Protection: Use custom blends from our clinic or
*DoTerra’s TerraShield spray. You can also DIY a flea collar with water,
*Terrashield essential oil, and castile soap (3 tablespoon of water with 4-5 drops of Terrashield essential oil along with a drop or two of castille soap and soak the collar in it). *Ask us or work with an essential oil specialist for pets to find proper dosing based on your pet’s weight.

When Chemical Preventives Are Necessary ⚠️

There are times when the flea burden is high, and chemical preventives are appropriate. Occasional use is okay, and we can discuss protecting vital organs, detoxifying, and maintaining overall health during their use.

Personalized Flea Prevention 🐶🐱

Flea prevention is not one-size-fits-all. During your appointment, let us know if you need additional guidance. We’re here to help you find the best solutions to keep your fur babies happy and flea-free this summer!

Stay vigilant and proactive, and let’s enjoy a flea-free season together!

Warmest wishes,

Dr. Lily Chen 🌸

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