Fleas are big business. According to Transparency Market Research, the market for flea and tick products worldwide reached $1.48 billion in 2017 and will grow by 5% per year for the foreseeable future. These products can take the form of ‘spot-ons,’ sprays, oral pills, shampoos, powders, and collars. Topical spot-ons are the fastest growing segment because of their effectiveness (68% of cat owners and 60% of dog owners buy them).
Each month, a liquid is squeezed onto the cat’s or dog’s skin between the shoulder blades and is absorbed through the skin and hair. Not only are fleas killed, but the life cycle of the flea is broken. Because of the strength of this chemical treatment, some versions are only available with a veterinarian’s prescription, and pet owners should monitor their pets for side effects.
Sprays and oral medications can also be effective. Shampoos, powders, and collars all have their use as external tools to control fleas. Besides fleas, some products control ticks and heartworm (in dogs) as well.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulate the different products.
Insurance Coverage and Wellness Plans
Standard pet insurance policies do not cover flea treatment. Wellness plans often do, but the annual allowance may not be meaningful. Here are some of the wellness plan allowances we found:
- Embrace Wellness Rewards covers flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, with no deductible and offers annual allowances up to $400.
- PetFirst's Routine Care Riders provide $50 to $100
- Nationwide provides $50 to $75
- ASPCA (Prime) provides $50
- Pets Best provides $50 to $65
- Healthy Paws has no wellness plan with coverage
Most pets will require some form of protection against fleas as well as ticks and heartworm. It is worth examining the costs of the different wellness programs to see if their allowances even make sense for this benefit.
What are the Costs Related to Flea Treatment?
Costs vary greatly with the type of treatment chosen. The spot-ons are the most expensive. They exist in cheaper over-the-counter versions, but the more effective versions require a veterinarian prescription.
They can cost from $10 to $23 per monthly treatment from online discount houses for the more popular Revolution, Frontline, and Advantage brands. The new 90-day Bravecto for dogs or cats runs about $50 (Prices at the vet can be twice as high). Dog and cat versions are different; dosages (and prices) also vary by your pet’s weight.
Why is Flea Treatment Important?
Besides being uncomfortable, flea bites can introduce microorganisms into your pet’s bloodstream. Your pet may be allergic to flea saliva and, if so, the resulting dermatitis can cause severe itching. Scratching opens the skin to bacteria, virus, and other parasites. Fleas are also part of the life cycle of tapeworms when pets ingest tapeworm-infected fleas as they clean themselves.
What Is Flea Treatment?
Should you see fleas on your pet, they are a minor part of the infestation. The rest of the life cycle (eggs, larvae, and pupa) will be throughout all the soft surfaces of your house, plus floorboards and cracks in baseboards.
Besides treating your pet, your house will need extensive cleaning, vacuuming, foggers, and sprays. Natural means, such as spreading boric acid powder and diatomaceous earth, are possibilities for people concerned that spot-ons might be toxic to pets.
The key is to break the life cycle of the fleas somehow.