Why Is Dog Flea Treatment Not Working?

Updated on March 22, 2019
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Dog flea treatment not working
Dog flea treatment not working | Source

Why Are Dog Flea Treatments Not Working?

So you purchased an expensive topical flea product and Rover is still scratching? This is sadly a common occurrence. The truth is that there is more to eradicating the flea population than applying a product on your pet. There are several issues you need to take into consideration before ridding your pet, and possibly your home, of fleas.

Increased scratching after applying a topical product: "I just applied a topical flea product and my dog is scratching more than ever!" I used to get these frantic phone calls when I worked for the vet's office. The answer to why this is happening is good news. The dying fleas tend to move a lot, which causes a temporary bout of intense scratching. Not to worry, this is sign the product you are using is actually working! Indeed, according to Frontline, the fleas get hyper excited, which draws them to the top of the coat. This makes them more visible to pet owners. Keep in mind that it takes about 12 hours for the fleas to die in most cases.

Fleas are still present on the dog: If you are using some cheap over-the-counter product, it may not be as effective as prescription products. Many fleas have become resistant to over-the-counter products. You may also be underdosing your dog if you do not know their exact weight. Make sure you weigh your dog carefully before purchasing a flea product. Many vets allow you to use their scales for free. You should also avoid bathing your dog within 24 hours of applying topical flea products. If you are applying the product after a bath, make sure your dog is completely dry. Last but not least, make sure you are applying the topical product on your dog's skin and not the coat alone. It is worth noting that many cats and dogs have developed adverse reactions to cheap over-the-counter flea products.

Fleas are still present in the dog's environment: If you are already using a prescription product and you are still seeing fleas, consider that it takes time for the fleas in the dog's environment to die. According to Frontline, several flea eggs may be present in the dog's environment, which is causing the flea population to continue growing. It takes consecutive monthly applications of topical products to completely eradicate the flea population. This is because the female flea lays up to 50 eggs per day. These eggs take about 21 days to develop into adult fleas. Once you see adult fleas, you are generally three months behind getting them under totally control. The fleas you find on your dog are only a tiny percentage of the whole population.

The dog is still scratching despite doing everything right: If you have applied flea products both on your dog and in your home, why is your dog still scratching? It could be your dog is suffering from flea bite dermatitis. Just one bite from a flea may cause your dog to be miserable and the effects may be lingering for some time even after successful treatment. According to Pet Education, studies have shown that up to 40% of dogs may test positive for flea bite allergies. However, if your dog is still scratching and there are no signs of fleas, consider your dog may be suffering from some other type of allergy.

How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home

Flea treatment goes beyond simply getting rid of the specimens on your dog. If a treatment only shows temporary relief, it is possible that fleas are living somewhere in your home and are getting on your pet after treatment. If you find that there are fleas in your home, here is what you can do.

  • Vacuum your house. Using a vacuum can get rid of fleas as well as their eggs. Be sure to focus on areas where your dog frequently hangs out. You should especially target carpets, furniture, and cracks in wood flooring. These are good hiding spots for fleas. If the infestation is severe, you should vacuum daily.
  • Steam clean carpets. If there is a major flea problem in your home, you may have to steam clean your carpets. This will kill adult fleas, but it may not remove all the eggs. Multiple cleaning may be necessary.
  • Use hot and soapy water to clean dog bed. If your dog sleeps indoors, you should use hot, soapy water to wash their bedding. This will kill the fleas. If your dog frequently lays in other beds, you should give that bedding the same treatment.
  • Use an insecticide. You can potentially use a spray for indoor flea treatment. You should do this when no one is inside and should make sure there is no contact to the sprayed areas until it is dry. Use a spray that contains permethrin, which kills adult fleas, as well as methoprene, which kills eggs, larvae, and pupae.

How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your Yard

If your dog spend a lot of time outside, they may be susceptible to fleas that are present outdoors. Any treatment you give them will be in vain if any infestation in the yard is not dealt with. Here is how you can eliminate fleas from your yard.

  • Flood your yard. Flooding your lawn will kill any fleas living there. It will also wash away their feces, which flea larvae eat. Be sure to flood areas around any trees, fences, and where your doghouse is.
  • Spray insecticide. Be sure to use an environmentally-friendly spray and to avoid spraying anything your dog or any children can come into contact with. Spray the area your dog usually hangs out in as well as under any decks, patios, or around shrubs. A good insecticide to use is diatomaceous earth. This chemical works by absorbing all the moisture from the exoskeleton of the fleas and dehydrates them.
  • Place nematodes in your yard. Nematodes are worms that feed on flea larvae, as well as other pests like termites. You can purchase them and spread them around your yard. Put them in shady areas where the fleas are located.
  • Put cedar chips in your yard. Fleas hate the smell of cedar. You can spread some chips where you have located fleas. This is a great method to prevent new fleas from coming into your yard.

How to Test for Flea Dirt

How can you tell if those black specks on your dog's coat are just debris or actual flea droppings? There is an easy way to find out. Collect the dirt and place it on a wet paper towel. If the dirt "bleeds" out and becomes red when rubbed, then you are looking at flea droppings, which are made of digested blood. If the color remains the same, then you are very likely dealing with actual dirt or debris.

Another good way to catch fleas and flea dirt if your dog has long hair is to brush your dog with a flea comb and look at what you collect. You may find actual live fleas or some traces of flea dirt. In this case, drown the live fleas in a bucket of water.

Which Products Work Best?

You may feel slightly overwhelmed by all the dog flea products on the market. The table below will help you compare one product from another so you can the best deal for your money.

  • Frontline Plus contains fipronil, which kills adult fleas within 12 hours. It also contains the insect growth regulator methroprene, which kills fleas before they hatch out of the eggs.
  • Advantage II is a topical product that kills adult fleas It stops them from biting within five minutes and kills them within 12 hours. The insect growth regulator pyriproxyfen prevents fleas from developing into the next stage.
  • K9 Advantix is a topical product that kills fleas, ticks, lice, and flies. The imidacloprid and permethrin in the product paralyzes and kills adult fleas while the pyriproxyfen prevents the flea from developing to the next stage.
  • Comfortis is one of the most effective products on the market for killing fleas. It's an oral pill that not only kills fleas but also prevents fleas from developing into adults. It's given to dogs just once a month. Here's some more information.
  • Program is an oral pill that stops the flea reproduction cycle. It inhibits the development of flea eggs. It must be used with a flea adulticide if adult fleas need to be killed.
  • Capstar is an oral pill that has a 90% effectiveness against adult fleas on dogs, which were killed within four hours. However, it does not have an effect on fleas in the dog's environment.
  • Vectra 3D is a topical product that kills adult fleas and other pesky parasites. It has pyriproxyfen, which prevents fleas from developing into the next stage.

Compare Dog Flea Products, use bar to scroll

PRODUCT
ACTIVE INGREDIENT
METHOD OF ADMINISTRATION
KILLS ADULT FLEAS?
CONTROLS FLEA DEVELOPMENT?
KILLS OTHER PARASITES?
DOSAGE
 
FRONTLINE
Fipronil
Topical
Yes, works within 12 hours
No
Ticks
Once a month
 
FRONTLINE PLUS
Firponil and Metho- prene IGR
Topical
Yes, workis within 12 hours
Yes
Ticks
Once a month
 
ADVANTAGE II
Imidacloprid and pyriproxyfen IGR
Topical
Yes, works within 12 hours
Yes
Lice
Once a month
 
k9 ADVANTIX
Imidacloprid, permethrin pyriproxyfen
Topical
Yes, works within 24 hours
Yes
Ticks, mosquito,flies, lice
Once a month
 
PROGRAM
Lufenuron
Oral pill
No
Yes
No
Once a month
 
CAPSTAR
Nitenpyram
Oral pill
Yes, works within 30 minutes
No
No
As needed
 
VECTRA 3D
Dinotefuran,Permethrin,Pyriproxyfen
Topical
Yes, works within 2 hours
Yes
Ticks mosquitoes lice, mites sand fly.
Once a month
 
COMFORTIS
Spinosad
Oral pill
Yes, works in just 30 minutes
Yes
No
Once a month
 
Compare different products against dog fleas

Are Fleas Only Annoying?

The answer to this question is no. They may cause flea allergy dermatitis and also hot spots. Fleas may also occasionally enjoy a bite of human flesh, often attacking the ankles. Worst of all, should a dog ingest an infected flea it can get tapeworms. You can read more about tapeworms, how dogs get them with accompanying graphic pictures of what they look like, in the blow link:

Dog Tapeworms: the Monsters inside your Dog

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      JONNA 

      7 weeks ago

      Anthony, Im a retired pet groomer and I use to use the Zodiac dip on many dogs and it was the best back then before frontline and advantage came out.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      7 months ago from USA

      Steve, you may need to use products to kill the flea eggs hiding in areas around the home.

    • profile image

      Steve 

      7 months ago

      My 2 dogs still have fleas after I gave them frontline plus almost 3 weeks ago

    • profile image

      Anthony 

      18 months ago

      What about the Zodiac brand? It is sold my central Garden & pet company

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      6 years ago from USA

      We used to sell program and it sold pretty well, not too sure why it's not as popular as before. I will have to stop by and look at your hub, thanks for stopping by.

    • SmartAndFun profile image

      SmartAndFun 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I have used Program on my dogs for probably about 20 years. It works wonderfully, and there's no poisonous insecticide to worry about. We have zero fleas! I like it so much I wrote a HubPages article recommending it. Several years ago doctors figured out it helps protect against ringworm and yeast, also. I think it's a shame vets don't recommend it much anymore. It seems like hardly anyone has heard of it, even though it works great and is very safe.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      I'm sorry but please do not use tea tree oil or any essential oil on cats or dogs. It is extremely toxic and will cause irreversible damage to the animals kidneys and liver. You will not see an immediate reaction but the organs will be damaged and in the case of an older animal with impaired liver and kidney function could cause complete failure and death.

      If you need further info please look on my hub pages.

      kind regards Peter

    • profile image

      Lindsay 

      6 years ago

      Oral flea preventatives tend to be more effective. Frontline was once a great product, however, we are starting to see some resistance because it's been out for several years. Products such as Trifexis and Comfortis are the most effective and it's much easier than the topical options. Don't waste your money on the stuff at Walmart and Petsmart. There's a reason those products are sold there and not at a lot of vet clinics. Shampoos are great for getting rid of live fleas, but don't act as a preventive agent. Most importantly, have your dogs on heartworm prevention! Heartgard is a great product, and Trifexis, which I mentioned earlier, is actually a combination flea and heartworm prevention.

    • Zens-Media profile image

      Carla Kohlhase 

      6 years ago from Corpus Christi, Texas

      Tea tree oil is another great alternative to assist in ridding flea infestations. It's also soothing to the animals skin. The chemical based treatments can be harsh on a dogs skin. I usually try to find a shampoo that is natural, as well as soothing to the irritations afterward. An anti-itch, or oatmeal shampoo works great when tea tree oil can't be used.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      6 years ago from USA

      Be careful with the garlic though as long term it can cause heinz anemia. Read here:

      http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/ask-the-expert/ask-t...

      https://hubpages.com/animals/Why-Garlic-is-Dangero...

    • JubePlaysGames profile image

      JubePlaysGames 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I used to use Advantage, and while it is effective, it's also poison and can cause some really bad side effects.

      Now I feed my dogs garlic and they haven't had a single flee or tick in 2 years. For my 35 pound guy I give a 1/2 small clove every second day, and my 85 pound guy gets a full decent sized clove every second day.

      As for heartworm... I have them tested every year and give them Black Walnut during the spring and summer months to prevent heartworm.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      7 years ago from USA

      It does sound like she has flea bite dermatitis which causes those crusty wounds you are most likely seeing. Treating the yard is very important, especially under decks where the fleas thrive. Make sure you use an insect growth regulator . If there are fleas in the yard, it just takes one flea to get on her and bite her before dying and she is off scratching and biting. Sure sounds like a challenge!

    • beadreamer247 profile image

      beadreamer247 

      7 years ago from Zephyrhills, FL

      Alexadry, first of all thanks for responding to my question in regards to my dog's problem (and mine)! I've read all this before on the internet - all this is familiar to me and I never had any issues with previous dogs. Now I have 3 dogs, but with just one of them I have the severe problem that absolutely nothing is effective. All the medication you mentioned I have tried and others (except for the last one in your chart - must be newer). Also tried the ones over the counter, shampoo, have treated the home again and again etc.....After treatments always the same result....latest within a week of treatment I have fleas on her and I do see them. I had times when I actually "overdosed" her, because I had no other choice and the situation was so bad.

      Because she tries to rub off any topical treatment because of the smell (even when my other dogs got treatment she roams around trying to get rid of the odor)I thought for a while that was the reason and switched to oral treatment, which was praised so highly by so many who I spoke with....Revolution. The result - fleas after a week again. But as usual only her but not my other dogs, they were fine! In addition she reacts strongly to fleas and bites herself bloody - she never really looks nice and healthy.....always full of wounds.

      The only think we have never done is treating the yard - that's what we will try as the last hope.....to bring some relief.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)