Pet owners understand that sharing their lives with pets is a big responsibility, and it demands that one is aware of and fulfilling their pet’s every need. After all, our pets aren’t able to communicate exactly what is going on, how they feel or what they need. In addition to providing a pet with a good diet, plenty of exercise opportunities and lots of love, one must also provide them with appropriate health care. This includes pet flea protection.

Flea Protection for Pets

Fleas are far more than an irritation for pets and their owners–they are tenacious pests that can inflict irritating bites on their hosts and can also cause or exacerbate non-optimal health conditions and are difficult to eradicate. This is why flea medication should not be chosen casually, and also why pet owners should watch out for any of the following indications that it’s not working:

1. There is a continued presence of fleas. Using flea medication requires some degree of patience, as one will not see full, immediate results. Once fleas appear on a pet it’s safe to assume that they’ve been exposed to thousands of eggs in their environment–which took anywhere between one and a half to two months to hatch. Flea medication works by killing the different life cycles of the flea, but this can take time. However, if after some time you still see fleas on your pet, your flea medication may not be working.

2. Your pet suffers red, irritated and itchy skin. Topical flea medication can sometimes cause an allergic reaction in a pet, leading to red, irritated, and itchy skin. When this occurs the skin condition that is caused normally prevents the medication from working effectively.

3. There is a loss of hair. Hair loss is the most common adverse side effect of topical flea medication and another indication that the medication is not working for the intended purpose.

4. The pet is biting around the base of their tail. When it comes to flea activities, the base of a pet’s tail is usually one of the biggest hot spots. A flea medication may appear to be working in many of the general areas of the pet’s body, but if the pet is biting around the base of their tail this is a clear indication that they need to be switched to a more effective solution. The explanation for this may be simple: the medication promises to fight fleas for a full thirty days but is actually only effective for about two or three weeks.

5. The pet is vomiting and lethargic. Topical flea medication is not safe for ingestion, which is why directions for application instruct owners to place it in a location on the pet’s body that is inaccessible to the pet. However, placement is sometimes tricky and pets can lick it off their own or each other’s bodies. In this case, they will display vomiting and lethargy, and will no longer be protected against fleas since the medication was licked off. 

The reasons why your pet’s flea medication isn’t working can include: the dose isn’t big enough for the size of the pet, your pet has a skin condition that impedes the effectiveness of the medication, the home or yard has not been treated and has reinfested the pet, the medication does not kill fleas in all stages of the life cycle, the medication wasn’t applied correctly, or some other reason. The best flea and tick prevention for your pets is simply that which works effectively, and this can vary based on the pet, your location and the season. For more information about the different types of flea medication and which one may work best for your pet, speak to your veterinarian.