Advantage Flea Control for Dogs and Cat

Imidacloprid, an active ingredient in Bayer's Advantage , is a selective nervous stimulant in insects. Imidacloprid causes overstimulation of the flea's nervous system, causing a spastic paralysis and then death. It is a safe and effective topical product for the control of fleas in cats and dogs.

It acts on insect nerve receptors, causing excitation of the nerve and muscle contraction. It binds to this receptor and stimulates the nerves to fire off an impulse for a sustained muscular contraction.

This causes a spastic paralysis. Cat fleas display an intense trembling of the legs and pumping movements of the body. Imidacloprid then prevents any further nerve conduction. The prolonged contraction damages muscles and nerves, causing disintegration and leading to the death of the parasite.

The compound is extremely safe for pets and for humans applying it. Mammals have similar receptors, but at a much lower concentration and a different structure and function compared with insects.

Sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid are also detrimental, as they can repel the insects, halt feeding, prevent reproduction and reduce movement. Imidacloprid does not require the flea to bite the host to be effective. It is extremely lipophilic (fat-loving) and is absorbed through the insect's body wall and quickly transported to the target nerves.

"Trials have demonstrated that Advantage stops fleas biting within three to five minutes of application, and kills 98 to 100 per cent of fleas within 12 hours."

Advantage is registered for the treatment and prevention of fleas (Ctenocephalides spp) on dogs and cats. It will provide protection for dogs for a month and up to a month on cats. It controls adult and larval stages of fleas.

Imidacloprid itself is is not effective in preventing ticks. However, when combined with permethrin in Advantix, it is effective against all four tick types affecting dogs in the US (Brown Dog Ticks, American Dog Ticks, Lone Star Ticks and Deer Ticks) for a month.

Trials have demonstrated that Advantage stops fleas biting within three to five minutes of application, and kills 98 to 100 per cent of fleas within 12 hours. The benefits are particularly seen in flea-allergic animals, where flea saliva (injected when the flea feeds) induces the allergy. With the almost immediate cessation of feeding preventing further stimulation of an itchy pet's immune system, Advantage is indicated for use in cases of flea-allergy dermatitis.

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When applied in the "Top Spot" formulation, Imidacloprid is distributed over the skin surface of the treated pet within 12 to 24 hours of application (depending on the size of the animal), and into the fatty layer of the skin and over the hair for 28 days after application, ensuring it will remain effective for a month in both cats and dogs.

The product also provides environmental flea control when it is shed from the animal with hair and dead skin cells, as imidacloprid is also toxic to flea larvae. Advantage kills flea larvae within 20 minutes of contact and inhibits larval development by 99 per cent.. As flea eggs will fall from the animal in the same areas as hair and skin cells helps to ensure that the product concentrates the environmental control where it is most needed.

Advantage is reported to be water-fast, so swimming will not affect the effectiveness of the product. However, owners should note that shampooing may remove the fat layer carrying the product, so this should not be carried out more than once a week to avoid compromising efficacy.

Advantage is extremely safe in mammals, both pets and humans. When applied topically, only an tiny fraction is absorbed into the body, with the rest remaining in the lipid layer of the skin and the hair.

It is also safe to use in pregnant animals. It will not cause deformities of the young, nor trigger abortions, nor will it cause cancer in treated animals. It is not toxic if accidentally eaten, however the solvent base has an unpleasant taste and will probably cause frothing at the mouth, particularly in cats.

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This is why the product is applied on cats at the base of the skull, where they cannot lick it off. Skin reactions are rare and are generally a result of an allergy to the product rather than chemical irritation. If applied to an eye it can cause mild irritation for up to two weeks.

Advantage is registered as safe for use with pregnant and lactating animals and treatment can be repeated weekly in heavily-infested environments. While Advantage is known to be safe in young animals, it is not recommended for use with puppies less than seven weeks old, or kittens less than eight weeks of age. However, treating the mother while the young are still suckling will protect them as well. This is referred to as the 'umbrella effect' and is thought to occur due to the close contact between mother and young and the physical transfer of either the product or fleas affected by it.

There is no minimum age stated for use in ferrets or rabbits, although the persistent effect is shorter than in cats and dogs.

All formulations of imidacloprid are topical liquids, which should be applied at four-weekly intervals to the base of the skull with cats and between the shoulder blades for dogs. It is safe to apply the product more than this if required.

With large dogs of more than 25kg (55lb) the product should be applied in three areas: one between the shoulder blades, a second in the mid-line of the back between the hips, and a third in between the first two to ensure it is effective. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it prevents the flea treatment running off the animal's back, as there is quite a large volume to be applied, and secondly, it improves the transfer of the product around the body.

Owners should consult their veterinarian to discuss the most appropriate flea and/or tick control for your pet.

Kr ?r F., Mencke N. Flea Biology and Control: the biology of the cat flea, control and prevention with imidacloprid in small animals. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2001.
Advantage for Cats and Advantage for Dogs, BayerDVM website.
Advantage Product labels, Bayer Healthcare LLC, Animal Health Division, Shawnee Mission, Ks
Rust M.K. et al. Disruption of Adult Cat Flea Feeding by Imidacloprid. Suppl Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet. 24:4(B), pp 4-5, 2002.
Keil K. et al. Efficacy of Advantage in Controlling Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Cats. Suppl Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet. 24:4(B), pp 6-9, 2002.
Dryden M, et al. The Efficacy of Selamectin, Fipronil and Imidacloprid on Flea Egg Production and Viability. The British Veterinary Dermatology Study Group.

Advantage and Advantix are registered trademarks of Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Germany.