Expert Q&A

My veterinarian recently suggested that I give my dog a new oral medication to control fleas. How do oral medications differ from the topical flea control products that I normally use?

Your veterinarian probably found a lot of fleas on your dog, which is why an oral medication was recommended. This treatment starts to kill fleas almost immediately, and all fleas on your pet should die within four hours. The prevention lasts for up to a day after your dog ingests the pill.

The active ingredient -- an insecticide called nitenpyram -- short-circuits the nervous systems of fleas, causing almost instantaneous death. Tests indicate this is safe for dogs older than 4 weeks and weighing at least 2 pounds, but your veterinarian should advise you.

Once the infestation subsides, you could return to a more regular flea control regime (e.g., applying a topical liquid product monthly). Be sure to clean your home often to get rid of flea eggs, which can hatch and start the miserable cycle all over again.

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