How to Apply Flea Meds to Dogs and Cats?

by | Jul 26, 2021 | Preventative Care

Flea allergy dermatitis is common in dogs that are not on flea preventatives. Flea infestations are probably one of the most aggravating things to deal with. To ensure that your pet is happy and healthy, you should understand the potential health risks of not using flea and tick preventatives.

You also may be wary about applying flea and tick meds on your cat or dog. If so, you’re not alone. Some of these products may have side effects, so educating yourself on which flea products to use and how to apply them properly is vital.

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned pet parents and veterinarians about the neurological risks, including seizures, ataxia, and muscle tremors in pets treated with specific flea and tick pet meds.

This warning applied to all flea meds in the isoxazoline class- products like NexGard (afoxolaner), Bravecto (fluralaner), Simparica (sorolaner), and Credelio (lotilaner) Revolution Plus that was recently added in 2019, which is a combination of selamectin and sorolaner. Today, isoxazoline carries a warning on its label in both the U.S. and in Canada. 

How Do You Get Rid of Fleas?

You should always reach out to your veterinarian for the best advice regarding which flea and tick product to use on your pet. Some parents prefer using a non-toxic natural flea shampoo, together with a flea comb, to help get rid of pesky fleas.

Although this involves a tad more work, it may be well worth it for your pet. Always read the label on your pet’s flea and tick meds before applying, and make sure that you understand the side effects of every flea and tick product before applying. Using a flea and tick pet med is necessary, especially during the spring and summertime when these little critters are abundant. 

All pups and dogs should begin flea treatment during puppyhood, and this should be maintained year-round for the absolute prevention of fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease, as well as for the treatment and control of intestinal worms.

You should try to apply the flea and tick meds at the same time each month for optimal efficacy. If you’re slightly reluctant about using a topical flea and tick pet med, reach out to your veterinarian to discuss which products are the safest for your pet. There are also product videos that you can watch.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Not only do fleas cause flea allergy dermatitis, but fleas will also affect your family and home. As a concerned pet parent, you should learn everything you can about parasite prevention so that you can learn how to apply it correctly and safely without harming pets or family members. 

If you’re like us, you may be interested in natural flea preventatives that may not have serious side effects. Sometimes these may not be as effective, but today some excellent natural products work and prevent flea and tick infestations on your dog and home.

 As a pet parent, it’s essential to take flea control measures seriously so that your dog does not get fleas or ticks. If your pup has fleas, you should first eliminate fleas in all life stages on your dog and in your home.

If you’re using topical flea treatments, these can take from 12-36 hours until the medication has spread sufficiently to kill all the existing fleas. 

In-home studies demonstrate the need to treat the environment itself with newer topicals and oral flea-control products.

 When using these products on your furry best friend, it’s possible to get rid of fleas at home, yet it’s key to remember that the amount of time needed to maintain flea control will vary in life cycle and environmental conditions. 

Occasionally, it may take as long as six weeks to 3 months to control a flea-infested area. That said, when there’s an enormous flea infestation, you’ll need to treat your home to get rid of the fleas. This means that you’ll have to treat the outside areas that he frequents if your dog spends time by the pool or in the garden. When doing that, it’s best to read up on product safety to ensure your children and pets are safe outdoors.

Fleas are common parasites that can irritate pets.


Fleas are one of the most common types of parasites found in the U.S. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) adds that fleas can irritate pets, causing severe skin problems and even disease. They add, “Modern medicines make treatment, control, and prevention of many external parasites much easier than in the past.”

Signs of Fleas

Once your pet has fleas, they can spread quickly and everywhere that your dog goes. This includes other pets and your home. Bayer adds that fleas can apply in just 30 days, and ten fleas can become an infestation of up to 250,000 adult fleas on your dog and in your home.

In some pets, a flea bite can result in an allergic reaction called flea bite hypersensitivity. This is also called flea allergy dermatitis(FAD). It’s important to prevent flea infestation because fleas can also result in severe health conditions like anemia and tapeworm infections. AVMA says that if your pet ingests a flea carrying tapeworm egg, he may become infected with certain types of tapeworm.

There are various signs that your pets has fleas

Treatment and Control

An effective way to ensure that your dog or cat does not carry fleas is to use a monthly product year-round to kill and treat flea infestations. If you’re using year-round flea protection, there will be no gaps in the prevention treatment, providing the most effective treatment year-round.

From chews, pills, shampoos, and collars, there are numerous options to choose from to keep your cat or dog healthy throughout the year. You should also remember to check for ticks during the spring and summer after your pet has been outdoors.

Essential Tips for Using Flea Treatments

Insect growth regulators (IGRs) are an essential ingredient in flea treatment. IGRs will inhibit flea eggs from developing and interrupt the flea cycle. 

Products like K9 Advantage include this, but you should consult with your veterinarian before opting to use a specific flea product to discuss all your options. Here’s the take on how to use topical flea treatments:

  • Let your vet know which flea products you’ve used and how recently you’ve applied them.
  • Always follow label instructions carefully. 
  • You should not apply a dog flea product on a cat or cat flea product on a dog.
  • If your pet is chewing excessively and has skin irritations, hot spots, and hair loss, consult with your vet.
  • If you have multiple pets and one is infected, make sure to let your vet know. You may need to treat all your pets for infestations.
  • Always work with your vet to control any flea infestation situation to be done safely without harming your pet.
  • Ensure prompt veterinary treatment for flea issues to avoid serious health issues and lessen your pet’s discomfort.

How to Apply Flea and Tick Medication

  • Reach your dog or cat’s skin with the applicator tip. It’s important to note that your dog or cat’s coat hair because hair cannot absorb the topical flea meds.
  • Slide the applicator beneath your dog’s fur (instead of parting his hair with your hand) 
  • Apply the flea topical along your cat’s or dog’s back where your pet cannot reach and lick it off.
  • You can apply the topical to one spot or several spots (check product instructions and weigh your pet before using any flea product)
  • Applying the topical above and below the pet’s collar with numerous cats and dogs may be beneficial.
  • For easy-going felines, use the topical at the base of the cat’s skull instead of along the back. If your fur baby can lick it off, the flea solution won’t work, and your cat may get side effects.
  • You should not rub the tick or flea product into the skin or coat.
  • Keep your fingers away from the applicator tip so that your pet, and not you, receive the dose.
  • Squeeze the tube empty.
  • Praise your pet for sitting still.
How to apply flea medication.

How to Use a Flea Control Shampoo

Numerous dog flea and tick shampoos for dogs and cats can be safe and effective when used correctly. Parasite protection is not “one-size fits all.” Different factors will affect the type and dose of a flea product. 

This includes the age, species, breed, health, your pet’s lifestyle, and any pet meds they may be getting. Veterinarians recommend using caution when opting for a flea product for your furry best friend, most especially if they’re young or old. 

The AVMA explains, “Use a flea comb on puppies and kittens that are too young for flea/tick products. Some products should not be used on very old pets. Some breeds are sensitive to certain ingredients that can make them extremely ill. Flea and tick preventives can interfere with some medications, resulting in unwanted side effects, toxicities, or even ineffective doses. It’s important that your veterinarian is aware of all of your pet’s medications when considering the optimal flea and tick preventive for your pet.”

Flea dog shampoos may feature a variety of ingredients that your pet may be sensitive to. It’s best to reach out to your vet to discuss flea preventatives before purchasing them. Your vet will help you make the best choice, all the while taking your pet’s health and age into consideration.

  • Bathe your adult dog with a high-quality flea-control shampoo made for dogs.
  • You should leave on the shampoo for at least 10 minutes before rinsing. (read the directions)
  • Flea shampoos crafted with a natural insecticide called d-limonene are safe and effective for pups and senior dogs to use.

If your furry best friend has a skin irritation, you should not apply a topical flea preventative. These should only be used for healthy skin in pets. Keep in mind that the topical meds will not be carried to the epidermis if your pet has thick or dry skin.

Your pet should be on a healthy diet combined with omega-three fatty acids and flaxseed oils for optimal skin and coat health. Another effective practice is to bathe your pets regularly and frequently wash your pet’s bedding to prevent flea contamination. As usual, always have pet insurance so that you can provide your pet with a long, happy, and healthy life.

If you have an issue or need to report a pet flea product, reach out to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) for advice. If your pet has an adverse reaction to a product, you can call 1-888-FDAVETS.

How often should you be taking your pet to the vet? Read more here.

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