I recently noticed fleas on my pets.

What is the difference between the kinds of flea medicines and are over the counter products safe?

There are two basic types of medications available for flea control, adulticides and insect growth regulators (IGRs).  Adulticides are medications that kill adult fleas which ceases flea reproduction. Insect growth regulators act to prevent the development of egg and larval stages, thereby controlling adult flea populations. Both are effective and available in either a topical or pill form. Flea dips and shampoos are no longer recommended since they only kill the fleas that are present and do not have any residual effect.  Additionally, they contain harsh chemicals that can cause irritation your pet’s skin and respiratory tract. Flea preventatives purchased from your vet are safe FDA regulated prescriptions that control fleas for a full month without harmful side effects. Extreme caution is advised when purchasing flea medicines over the counter for cats since many contain pyrethrins (or permethrins) that are toxic and can result in damage to your cat’s liver and central nervous system. In addition, over the counter flea controls are usually not as effective as their label may claim.  For your pet’s safety, always consult your veterinarian before administering any medications, even flea control.