Best Dog Flea Treatment 2021: Vets Share Their Advice

Whether you’re new to dog ownership or have a longtime puppy companion, keeping your four-legged friend flea free is of the utmost importance.

It is easy for your dog to come into contact with fleas, whether from other animals or while walking in the woods. Nick Sutton, science communication advisor at the Kennel Club, says that because of their strong hind legs, fleas can “jump easily from host to host or environment to host,” meaning they can spread very quickly.

It’s important to catch them early because “Fleas can not only cause discomfort but also cause serious illnesses in cats and dogs, including flea allergic dermatitis and even anemia,” notes Sutton. “They can also carry tapeworm larvae, which can infect your pet if they accidentally eat fleas while they are cleaning.”

The tell-tale signs include your dog itching much more than usual or biting itself, says Dr. Luke Gamble, CEO of Worldwide Veterinary Service. And if the infestation becomes severe, “patches of hair loss can even develop,” he adds.

If you suspect your dog has fleas, Dr. Gamble to take a close look at his skin. “You can see some tiny, dark insects moving,” he says, or the skin itself can look “red and bumpy” and there may be evidence of tiny black spots that are flea “dirt” (excrement) .

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However, Kathleen Pohl, a veterinarian at My Family Vets, told The Independent that “some pets will tolerate large numbers of fleas before they show signs of irritation,” which means there can be a large infestation before realizing the problem are aware. Therefore, “prevention can be easier and more effective than treating an outbreak,” she says.

“It’s easy to protect your dog from fleas, and flea treatments come in a variety of forms – usually collars, spot-on solutions, or tablets,” says Pohl. The problem is, most people don’t know that many of the products that you use on your pet only kill the adult fleas, which are small in number when compared to huge numbers of larvae and eggs. “These immature stages of life often require household treatment to effectively prevent them from re-infesting your pet,” she adds.

Pohl recommends: “If you have difficulty controlling a flea break, think carefully about your surroundings and where fleas are lurking, and remember to treat your car or the house of your relatives if your dog visits there frequently” .

When looking for preventive treatment, PDSA veterinarian Nina Downing recommends buying from a “reputable pet shop or online retailer” and looking for the “products that are categorized as ‘NFA-VPS'”, which means that they are “only” sold by a veterinarian, pharmacist or a suitably qualified person ”.

While these leading veterinarians cannot recommend specific products, we asked them about the details of each type of treatment so you can figure out which is best for your pet. From topical medications to home treatments, these are the options to keep your four-legged friend free of fleas.

Topical flea medication or spot-on treatments

One of the most common flea treatments is punctual or topical medication that “is applied to the dog’s skin with a pipette,” says Pohl. They work because the active ingredients “are absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, skin glands or the fat layer under the skin and kill the dog’s live fleas and prevent future infestation,” says Downing.

A popular brand for this type of treatment is Frontline (from £ 39, which is categorized as “NFA-VPS” and can be purchased based on your dog’s weight: small (2-10 g), medium ( 10-20kg) or large (20-40kg).

(Front line)

With such treatments, “you might notice a greasy stain on your dog’s neck for a day or two, but don’t worry, that’s normal,” advises Pohl. And the “fleas usually begin to die within 12 to 24 hours of application.”

An alternative to Frontline is the Virbac Effipro Duo spot-on treatment (from £ 25, which is also NFA-VPS categorized and can be purchased based on your dog’s weight – small (2kg- 10 kg), medium (10-20kg), large (20-40kg) or extra large (40-60kg). It should be applied between your dog’s shoulder blades.


“Always make sure to wash your hands after use,” advises Pohl, and after using it, “it is important not to let your dog swim in water for up to four days, as the product can damage marine life. If your dog swims or is bathed frequently, this can also reduce the effectiveness of the products. “

Flea collars

Another possibility is a flea collar – Pohl says that these work by “an active ingredient is embedded in the collar itself”. “This is released when the collar comes into contact with your pet’s skin. The product then moves into the skin to cover your pet and protect them from fleas. ”“ Ideally, look for a product that not only kills live fleas and ticks, but also repels them, ”says Downing.

This Beaphar Canidhield collar (from £ 13, is an NFA VPS product and is available for both small and large dogs.


The brand recommends that you use it at least a week before your dog is likely to be exposed to ticks for the best results. It’s also said to be a good option if you’re traveling abroad where your dog is at risk of leishmaniasis. It is suitable for puppies from seven weeks.

Based on Downing’s advice, if you want a flea collar that will repel live fleas and ticks, reach for the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar (£ 24,, also available for small dogs.


Oral treatments

“The final treatment option for fleas is oral treatment,” says Pohl, “which is available in capsule and tablet form.” Would you like to know how they work? The active ingredient is “absorbed from the intestines and absorbed into the bloodstream, which kills fleas if they bite your pet,” she explains.

“Different drugs use different chemicals – some work very quickly, but only last a few days, others can work for several months,” adds Pohl. Many of these treatments require you to get a prescription from the veterinarian, which you then need to upload to the retailer’s website to make a purchase.

But program tablets (from £ 28.90, can be bought without a prescription – they should be given to your pooch camouflaged in their food once a month during flea season for at least six months.


Flea treatment for your home

With 95 percent of fleas living in the household, “it is always recommended that you treat your home with a flea spray when trying to control an infestation,” says Downing. Flea sprays are effective in killing live fleas, larvae and eggs, thereby interrupting the life cycle of the fleas.

One option is this Virbac Indorex Household Repellant Flea Spray (£ 7.57,, which kills adult fleas and dust mites for up to two months after use. The brand also says it prevents flea eggs and larvae from developing for up to 12 months.


When using, hold the can at arm’s length and direct the spray at the area to be treated. It is recommended that you apply the product with a sweeping motion and hold the can about 90 cm from the area to be treated.

Downing recommends using a flea spray “after thoroughly cleaning your home and washing pet bedding and home textiles at high temperatures.” It’s important to regularly clean your dog’s litter and vacuum furniture and floors to kill the fleas at every stage of their life cycle.

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