After six weeks of trying less expensive solutions, I resigned myself to buying Frontline, and I have to admit that the result have been spectacular and wonderful.
This story is not a happy one until the end. Earlier this summer I realized that it was going to be a bad flea year. But our finances are really tight and I tried to solve the problem with inexpensive means. I spent a lot of time spraying surfaces with two kinds of flea spray, washing the furniture covers and bedding often, and buying a flea collar. All of these were pretty ineffective. I was combing the fleas off poor Maggie twice a day, and usually getting 25-30 of them each time before she said “enough!” I knew how miserable she was because she would even let me hold and comb her lower legs and feet, and she really hates to have those touched.
So then I went on a hike. I am very sad to report that other family members were apparently not very observant. When I came home, Maggie had lost at least five pounds. She was skin and bones. She had chewed numerous raw spots on her legs and tail, and scratched matching ones on her ears, tummy and neck. She is a dog of very little hair and had licked and scratched and stressed out so much that her tummy, lower legs, and genital area and had almost no hair left. She was covered with fleas.
Wow! Well, something had to be done. So I just swallowed the lump in my throat and bought the pack of Frontline. It comes with three doses, to be applied in three consecutive months. The product comes in a plastic bubble pack shaped like a small bottle. You snap off the neck end and squeeze the liquid between the dog’s shoulder blades, all in one spot, trying to get it on the skin below the hair. Within 12 hours, Maggie was resting calmly without scratching, and that evening when I combed her for fleas I found only ONE!
The next morning I found one more. I’ve been working to wash all the blankets, etc, again, and vacuum the spots where she likes to sleep. I find these results nothing short of amazing. The package says it works fast, and I actually agree with that- I’m usually very cynical about such claims.
Frontline works differently from other flea control products such as collars or sprays. The active ingredients are fipronil and (S)-methoprene. Now, I’m not crazy about putting insecticide on the skin of my dog. Her reaction to the Hartz spray was terrible, and I was concerned that she might possibly hate the Frontline as much. She did not object to the Frontline at all... didn’t even try to rub the wet spot against the furniture or anything. She just gave me some sad eyes and went back to her chair.
The fipronil is a broad action insecticide that disrupts an insect’s central nervous system and kills adult insects. The methoprene is a growth regulator that stops juvenile insects from being able to proceed through their larval/pupal/adult stages.
It is possible that the fipronil can cause poisoning, but Maggie needed relief from the flea situation that was causing her serious health problems. One always has to make choices. Symptoms to watch for in a dog on which Frontline was used are seizures, vomiting and agitation. If such reactions are observed, take the dog to the veterinarian.
Frontline controls fleas, ticks and chewing lice. It works by collecting in the oil and hair follicles of the dog’s skin, where it continues to be released for a month when another application may be needed. Be sure to read the package and choose the correct one for your dog’s weight and age; there are about five different choices.
In the long run, if I had bought this product in the first place the summer would have been much better for poor Maggie and all of us.
Update On Sep 05, 2009: I did some more research about how Frontline works, and you can read How Frontline Plus for Dogs Kills Fleas and Ticks if you are interested