Flea Control - Making Sense of The New Stuff
New stuff isn't always better - our office eschewed Revolution, which was good since they recalled it.
Making sense of the new Flea control arsenal


The last several years have seen some amazing developments in the area of pet care. For the first time in history, large, publicly-held companies are investing heavily in high technology research and development, and then spending millions more in marketing their new merchandise.


Two examples are the twelve million dollar pricetag in the development and marketing of Ciba Geigy's relatively new Program, and Bayer's twenty million dollar investment in their new Advantage flea control product.

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As the two giants duke it out on national television and in the printed media, other upstarts such as Rhone Merieux enter the fray with a new fipronil "Frontline" spray and topical monthly product for dogs and cats. The pet owner is left alone to decide which one product is best for them, while some unscrupulous Veterinarians decide that all three should be purchased and used by all clients.


The facts indicate that each product has a strong point in the market, and by examining their strengths and weaknesses, you can strategize complete flea control on a small budget.


Fipronil spray - Frontline - Rhone Merieux

Frontline Upside

This spray is a potent adulticidal spray which can resist wetting, is safe for puppies and kittens and remains effective on the coat for (literally) weeks. It stands out from all other sprays because of it's duration of effect. It also makes a big impact in the market because of it's broad label (puppy/kitten) safety.

Frontline Downside

To its detriment, it is over ten dollars per bottle and only kills adult fleas, without interrupting egglaying and reproduction of environmental fleas. It is impeded by an unduly high price tag and a very small bottle.


Program - Lufenuron tablets - Ciba Geigy

Program Upside

Widespread use in North America, sales are booming because it actually works. Given once per month, the compound takes up residence in the adipose (fat) tissue and skin and is ingested by biting fleas. After ingestion, the gyrase (lufenuron) inhibits chitin synthesis, impeding egglaying but most especially, egg hatching. If you start the season with only a few fleas, you will end the season with only a few fleas because a population explosion is averted by the Program.

Program is entirely safe for humans and animals, with nominal toxicity. Program can be used with all other flea control measures because it is *not* an insecticide.

Program Downside

Program is impeded by a high price tag for multiple pet households. If treated animals share their ranges with untreated animals, its effect is impaired. Some owners who do not attack the *adult* flea population are disturbed by the continued presence of adult fleas , therefore they may become frustrated.

Advantage - Bayer corporation

Advantage Upside

Advantage is truly a biological weapon against fleas. At ridiculously low levels, the compound blocks nicotinic nervous transmissions and kills fleas. The compound is very stable and resists wetting. The compound is presented in a small tube which is opened by twisting off the cap, breaking a seal and applying the liquid to the skin at the base of the neck. Large dogs (55# plus) require two tubes be applied. Customers with animals that do not get bathed very often, and are principally indoors, are reporting *zero* flea populations after 48 hours, and results are excellent for four to six weeks post application.

Advantage Downside

Advantage is at a *great disadvantage* where pets are frequently bathed, or are soaked by rain or pond water on a regular basis. Advantage is cost prohibitive for large dogs, over 55 pounds, because four tubes cost about thirty dollars and it takes two tubes per treatment.

Recommendations:

**Pups and young cats - Fipronil spray or Frontline Topical is safe and effective. Here is where that small bottle can go a long way.


**Indoor cats who avoid the bathtub - I recommend Advantage (not Advantix, read labels carefully, not everything is safe for application to cats)


**Indoor dogs with nominal flea problems who avoid the bathtub and have little outdoor exposure - Either Program *or* Advantage will keep you smiling.


**Indoor dogs who are frequently bathed - Program is the only way to fly. Advantage would be washed off and re-application would get costly. Fipronil spray can be used for touch up as fleas are seen. Frontline Topical lasts better in water.


**Large dogs - Program is the only way to fly. Advantage is too expensive for the jumbos. Frontline Topical is great on the rarely bathed dog. Fipronil spray can be used for touch up as fleas are seen.


**Any pet starting Program with a sizeable flea burden should concurrently get Frontline plus for the first few months to stop adult fleas. Once the adult flea population has been knocked down, then the Program can be relied upon to singlehandedly quell any uprising.


**Any pet with nominal flea burden should be on Program to prevent an eventual surge in flea numbers. It is very cost effective (even for huge dogs) and in the case of fleas, and ounce of prevention is worth a literal pound of cure.
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