How Do I Choose the Best Cheap Flea Medicine?

Mike Howells

Fleas are among the most common problems encountered with household pets. Though they may seem like a minor, if unpleasant, issue, fleas can pose a serious threat to the health of a pet through the diseases they carry. Many people look for cheap flea medicine to combat the problem, but some cheaper products have fewer features and might use chemicals that are harmful or toxic to animals. Choosing the best cheap flea medicine involves balancing price with efficacy and safety.

A flea.
A flea.

There are several different strategies for dealing with fleas, each based around one of the four stages of a flea's life cycle. Beginning as an egg, they progress to larva, pupa, and finally the adult stage, known as imago. A comprehensive, lasting solution interrupts the life cycle and prevents development at all stages. Cheap flea medicine options typically only target one stage, whereas more expensive options contain numerous medicines to target different parts of the life cycle in a single treatment.

While pills can be a cheap treatment option, they normally do not kill living adult fleas.
While pills can be a cheap treatment option, they normally do not kill living adult fleas.

A flea bath is typically the first step in treating an infested animal. Most flea shampoos contain some form of insecticide that kills fleas living on a pet's body. While cheap flea medicine may contain chemicals that are toxic to host animals themselves in large doses, more expensive products use advanced medicine that is not harmful to mammals. They also generally provide a lasting effect and continue to kill adult fleas on the skin for as much as a month or more. More expensive shampoos typically include soothing ingredients and are less prone to irritating a pet's skin.

For ongoing prevention, many people use a combination of collars, pills, and spot treatments. Cheap flea collars generally only kill adult fleas, but more expensive collars include growth inhibitors that prevent laid eggs from developing as well. Spot treatments, so called because they are administered on a spot between a pet's shoulder blades, have the same effect but last a full month and do not leave the powdery residue inherent with flea collars. Pills, whether an expensive or cheap brand, normally only target the development of fleas and do not kill living adults.

As with many discount products, cheap flea medicine generally does not have the same refinements and overall quality as more expensive options. While cheap flea medicine can be effective when used with care, the focus should be on safety before price when possible. Given the lasting effectiveness of more advanced and expensive treatments, comparing by price alone rarely results in the best value for flea medicine.

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