What Do You Need to Know About The Flea Products out There?

Word on the street is that Fipronil, the flea killing active ingredient in Frontline has gone off patent.  This means that generic products are being rushed to market as we speak.  I think the first one has already made an appearance at Wal-Mart. 

From what I’ve gathered on VIN (the Veterinary Information Network), the patent on the other parts of Frontline is good ’til 2015.  These other parts include the S-Methoprene, and the carrier molecule that makes it spread across the skin.

S-Methoprene is the “Plus” in Frontline “Plus”.  It makes it not only a killer of adult fleas, but it sterilizes them too so their eggs don’t hatch and kills the larvae. 

What this means is that the generic products will not be identical to Frontline Plus.  The generic stuff says it’s got S-Methoprene in it, Merial (the company that makes Frontline) says they’re suing over the whole patent thing, and that the molecule isn’t exactly the same.  Who knows who’s right, but I’d be a little leery of it with regard to effectiveness and safety. 

Also, the fact that the carrier agent is different means that it might not be as effective because it may not spread the same way all across the dog, or it may be irritating. I don’t know any of this for sure, since I don’t think many people have started to use the products yet, but these are things I’d worry about. 

Just so you know, there’s not much benefit for us to carry Frontline in house since you can buy it anywhere now.  It’s a great product, but we just don’t have the shelf space for it.

We will continue to carry Vectra 3D, a topical product that kills fleas and larvae, sterilizes them and kills and repels ticks.  The feedback I’ve gotten is that it’s a superior tick control product to Frontline.  It’s also got a nifty application system that (in my opinion) is easier to use.   Sometimes it gives dogs an “oogey” feeling when it’s spreading across the skin and definitely do not use the dog product on cats!

If you don’t like the idea of chemicals on your dogs skin and fur, we also carry Comfortis.  This is an oral pill. 

The discovery of Spinosad, the active ingredient, is kind of a cool story.  Some guy from 3M was vacationing somewhere in the Caribbean.  He was getting chewed up by sand flies at the beach.  Then he goes on a tour of the local rum distillery and realizes that he’s not being bitten by sand flies. 

Being the scientist that he was, he decided to pick up a soil sample and smuggle it back to his lab and see what was going on.  He discovered that a fungus in the soil contained this spinosad stuff that repels bugs. 

According to the company, you can put spinosad on agricultural crops and still label them as “organic” because it’s a naturally derived pesticide. 

And just so you know:  I don’t use any flea products on my dogs on a regular basis.  I’m a reactive flea control person.  This means I’ve decided to just take my chances and use less chemicals on my dogs.  They do get Heartgard once a month to prevent heartworms. 

By reactive, I mean that if they get fleas, I’ll put something on them.  (Probably Comfortis so that I don’t have to deal with exposing my kids to chemicals via the dogs skin).  If ticks are the problem, then I guess I’ll go with Vectra because Comfortis doesn’t control ticks.  If I get flea infestation, I’ll treat the house with boric acid (available at your local do-it-yourself pet store), treat the yard with beneficial nematodes and put stuff on the dogs. 

If I can get through two lice outbreaks with my kids I can get through fleas.  I’m just not 100% comfortable putting chemicals on my dogs every month that I don’t think they need. 

Fortunately, in 13 years of living in Collin County, my dogs have never had fleas.  Once, about 9 years ago, my MinPin got one tick and I put one dose of Frontline on her and gave her Doxycycline for 10 days (in an effort to prevent tick borne disease) and that was it.

If you feel that fleas are filthy disgusting creatures second only to bedbugs in evilness, then by all means, put something on your pet.  Or if you are in a situation where fleas are common (lots of wildlife in the area, live near forests, lakes, or apartments, townhomes, etc where there are lots of dogs sharing the same area, have had flea issues in the past), then use a regular flea/tick product. 

My dog Mia goes with us to Galveston, and fleas and ticks are more prevalent down there (I grew up in the Houston area).  So she gets dosed with Vectra before she travels.

We also carry Sentinel and Revolution.  These are heartworm preventatives that help control fleas as well. 

Bottom line is there is a lot of stuff available to help battle the little critters.  Let us help you figure out what is best for your pet, that’s what we’re here for. 

Not sure if the Wal-Mart guy is gonna be quite as knowledgeable… 😉


2 thoughts on “What Do You Need to Know About The Flea Products out There?

    1. We carried it for awhile before it was recalled by the FDA due to some safety concerns. I gave my dog one injection of it and she vomited (and the drug insert says if the dog vomits on the first shot, don’t give it again). My concern about the drug is purely personal, I worry about any drug/chemical that stays in the body for that duration of time. Heartgard is given, absorbed and does its job in one day. It allows the dog to be infected with heartworms in the previous 30 days, but it kills all those bugs on on a monthly basis (and if you go too far over thirty days, then you run the risk of the heartworm larvae maturing beyond the point where Heartgard can kill them). ProHeart gives constant blood levels of drug, killing the heartworm larvae constantly. I haven’t looked at the studies, and I’ know they’ve been using it in Australia for years, but I have concerns about cancer, disease, etc from having constant chemical levels in the blood 365 days a year for the lifetime of the dog. I suppose if client demand for the stuff goes up, I’ll look into the Australian cancer, lifespan, etc statistics.

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