Sand Flea Rake

Many surf fisherman use a sand flea rake to catch sand fleas for use as live bait. Sand fleas, also known as sand crabs and mole crabs, are the preferred bait choice for fisherman looking to capture certain types of fish.

sandflearakeIn the Gulf of Florida, sand fleas are prized by fisherman attempting to catch the Pompano and other game fish because they are attracted to these creatures. The sand flea rake allows individuals to reach these sand crabs buried in the wet sand along the beach shoreline.

Design of the Sand Flea Rake

Solidly constructed sand flea rakes are usually constructed out of aluminum sturdy enough to dig and pull through the heavy, wet sand and capturing them in a basket.  The basket is filled with holes allowing the sand to fall through and leave the sand fleas.

The most common design of the sand flea rake consists of a rectangular basket welded to the handle that will usually be 48 or 54 inches in length, though this can vary considerably.  Other models feature a triangular basket, but they are not as common or popular.

Make sure that you purchase your sand flea rake from a manufacture who uses a corrosion resistant aluminum or other materials that resist rusting.

Homemade Sand Flea Rakes

Many old school fisherman still swear by catching sand fleas by hand.  Don’t worry, sand fleas do not bite!. And others still prefer to make their own homemade contraption to catch the sand fleas.

One of the more popular methods is to take a 5-gallon water jug with a handle and cut the top off.  They will then drill holes in the bottom to allow the sand to fall out.  I personally think it is easier to catch them with the rake and allow the next wave filter the sand out of the rake and leave the sand fleas clean and ready for baiting.

Another homemade method is to use wire mesh, rivets and metal scraps to assemble the rake.  Personally, it seems like more hassle than it is worth when you can buy a solidly constructed one in the $40 price range. But, that is just me.


QOTD: Is it safe to use Frontline for puppies?

Welcome to our latest installment of our Question of the Day feature.

Question of the Day: Is it safe to use Frontline for puppies?


Many people consider a dog to be a puppy until it reaches its first birthday.  Most flea and tick control products can only be used on dogs that are 8-12 weeks in age. Frontline Plus can be used on puppies who are at least 8 weeks of age.  If you are buying your dog from an ethical breeder, you will not be able to take them home until they are at least 8 weeks of age, anyway.  It is illegal for breeders to separate pups from their mothers any earlier than that.

If you are bringing a puppy into a home that does not have any pets, you may want to delay your first topical application for a while.  Assuming, you keep your home and yard clean and orderly, take preventative measures with your landscaping and do not take your puppy into public places or open space, the odds of it being exposed to fleas or flea bites is probably fairly slim.

Note: Many people generally refer to Frontline Plus as simply being Frontline.  There are several products for cats and dogs marketed by Frontline and it is easy to get them confused when so many people simply refer to Frontline as a catch-all for all their products.  You may want to read our Frontline vs Frontline Plus review page to learn how the new and improved formula replaced the original formula. Learn whether or not Frontline Plus is the best flea treatment for your dog.


Generic Frontline Plus: Accept no substitutes!

Want to save a buck with a generic Frontline Plus brand flea medication?

Providing your cats and dogs with monthly flea and tick prevention medicine is expensive and many people think they might be able to cut some corners by buying another brand that claims to be the generic Fronline Plus equivalent.

I’ll be honest — I am kind of a tight-ass. So, I don’t blame you for trying to save a few bucks whenever possible. While I can’t speak for you and make a definitive statement about other brands claiming to be generic forms of Frontline Plus, I will give you some reasons why you may or may not want to go that route.

First and foremost, you have to understand the difference between the marketing pitch and reality. And the only way we can get to that point is if you understand what a generic drug really means.

What makes a generic drug a generic?

The simplest and easiest way to explain what makes a generic drug a true generic is by looking at the active ingredients of the products. A generic must have the same active ingredient composition as the original.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on research and development of drugs and treatments. Our economic system promotes this research and development by giving these companies proprietary and exclusive use of these drugs for a period of time by way of patents. When these patents expire, any other company can use the same drug(s) and create their version of the product and compete against them. But there are rules:

By law, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can approve generic versions of brand-name drugs without requiring that research be conducted to prove them safe and effective. However, compared with a brand-name drug, a generic drug must demonstrate that it (a) contains the same active ingredients; (b) is identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration; (c) is bioequivalent; (d) has the same clinical use indications; (e) meets the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality; and (f) is manufactured according to the same FDA regulations. The most important aspect of generic drug development are the concepts of bioavailability and bioequivalence. According to the concept of bioequivalence, if a drug product contains an active ingredient that is chemically identical and is delivered to the site of action at the same rate and extent as another drug product, then it is considered to be clinically equivalent and can be substituted for that drug product.

So, in conclusion, any product claiming to be generic Frontline Plus must have the same active ingredients, have the same strength and be delivered to the patient or pet in the same way. Therefore, any product claiming to be generic Frontline Plus must contain at a minimum, the active ingredients of fipronil and (S)-methoprene.

What is the difference between generic and non-generic medication?

This has been covered at length a few different places at Flea Bites 101 and will only briefly discuss it here. The difference between generics and non-generics is the composition of the inactive ingredients. These ingredients perform various functions such as flavoring and coloring, as well as the time-release of the medication. It is quite possible that two people will react differently to the same generic drug, but actually respond identically to the name brand product. For more detailed coverage of this topic please see the following pages:

Generic Frontline Plus – Who are the pretenders?

Since Frontline Plus is arguably the world’s best-selling brand of cat and dog flea and tick medication, a lot of copycats are out there pretending to be Frontline Plus or trying to sound like they are Frontline Plus. This is done through their naming, marketing strategies, and the way they package and label their products.

For example, Parastar Plus contains the word “Plus” in its name and trumpets their use of fipronil as an active ingredient in their packaging. Frontline lost its exclusive right to use fipronil in its products and so you now see some products like Sentry Fiproguard implying they are the generic equivalent of Frontline. Prominently displayed on the packaging of Sentry Fiproguard is the following text:

“Contains Fipronil – the active ingredient in Frontline Top Spot for dogs”

When you investigate Sentry further and take a look at their line of products, including Fiproguard Max, you will see that they have a page on their website devoted to comparing their product specifically to Frontline. Notice how they do not compare their products to Frontline Plus — but instead to just “Frontline”. As I mentioned on our page discussing Frontline vs. Frontline Plus, there is no longer a product in the marketplace that is just called Frontline.

So, essentially, Sentry Fiproguard has creatively positioned its products against the Frontline “family” of products because they all contain fipronil. What they conveniently forget to mention is that the Frontline Plus product also contains a second ingredient that theirs lacks.

Verdict: Generic Frontline Plus: Accept no substitutes!

If you are looking for a true generic Frontline Plus formula, there isn’t one on the marketplace. So, do not fall for any marketing gimmicks trying to convince you otherwise. I am not saying you should not try these other brands. That is your decision to make. I am merely cautioning you against trying another product under the guise that it is the generic equivalent of Frontline Plus – because it most assuredly is not.


Is Frontline Plus at Walmart the same thing that the veterinarian gives me?

Many people buy pet supplies and medicines at the veterinarian, but wonder if a product like Frontline Plus at Walmart is the same exact thing the vet will sell them.

First and foremost, they want to make sure that their cat or dog gets the best medicine so that their beloved family member doesn’t endure unnecessary pain and discomfort. Secondarily, and almost just as importantly, pet owners want to save money whenever possible.  Generally speaking, veterinarian offices and animal care clinics markup pet medicines and supplies a fairly decent amount and odds are you can get a better deal purchasing your products online at Amazon, Walmart, etc.

Rest assured, the product offered by your veterinarian is the same formula of Frontline Plus at  Walmart or any other reputable retailer. If you ever have any doubts, just look at the active ingredients.  Frontline Plus for dogs contains 9.8% fipronil and 8.8%  (S)-methoprene.  Frontline Plus for cats contains the same active ingredients, but vary in the percentage of each ingredient used.  The formula for cats contains 11.8% (S)-methoprene and the same percentage of fipronil. Please see our blog post explaining how Frontline works for more information.

While this is a common question you have to consider the massive potential for negative reaction by the public if they thought they were being sold a “different” product under the same label at Walmart or other retailers.  It just isn’t worth the hassle.

I do not mean to disparage all veterinarians nor do I wish to suggest that all of them are trying to separate you from your hard-earned dollars.  But, you should also understand that Merial, the manufacturer of Frontline Plus, and other companies will work to aggressively support and protect their veterinarian distribution channel.  You may often see Frontline Plus coupons stating that if you buy 6 doses from your veterinarian you will get two free doses.  By encouraging customers to get their product from their local veterinarian they are hoping and expecting that local veterinarians will continue to recommend their product to their clients.


How does Frontline work?

When I first started researching spot-on topical flea and tick treatments for cat and dogs, and in particular Frontline Plus, I asked, “How does Frontline work?”

This is really a two part question in my mind. First, you need to know the Frontline Plus ingredients and how they work together to kill fleas and prevent flea bites.  Second, you need to understand how the medicine is applied and distributed across the entire body of the animal.

Formula & Ingredients: How does Frontline work?

In a previous post on the Flea Bites 101 blog, we discussed Frontline Plus ingredients and how they work.  So, I will not get too involved here and simply provide a brief summary.

The Frontline Plus formula contains fipronil and (S)-methoprene.  You can learn more about what they do in the post linked above.  In short, fipronil kills adult fleas and (S)-methoprene kills flea eggs and larvae.  Because it kills in all stages of the flea life cycle, Frontline Plus is arguably the market leader in the flea control market. Please see our review of the leading players in the spot-on topical treatment category so that you can find the best flea treatment for dogs and cats.  The results may surprise you.

How does Frontline Plus spread from one spot to the entire body?

Though I earned an A in anatomy and physiology while in college, I am not a science whiz.  When I first heard about spot-on topical treatments I was incredibly skeptical about how effective they could be.  The directions for Frontline Plus state that you are supposed to apply the entire dosage to one area on the back of the neck.  A quick aside – K9 Advantix II should be applied in multiple areas per directions.

So, how does the medicine mysteriously work its way across the entire body to provide protection and relief from fleas and ticks?

Through a process called translocation, the medicine is absorbed by sebaceous glands. These glands secrete an oily/waxy matter, called sebum, which lubricates and waterproofs the skin and hair of mammals. The flea medication essentially mixes with the sebum and is transported throughout the body similarly to how the American railroad system connected the United States.

You will often read on packaging for spot-on treatments that the medicine is waterproof.  That is because the medicine is absorbed into the body and cannot be washed away.  However, you are usually discouraged or advised to refrain from bathing your cat or dog for at least 24 hours after administering the dosage so that you can ensure that the medicine is fully absorbed.

One more important note.  Make sure that when you apply the medicine to your cat or dog that you part the coat and apply it directly to the skin  You do not want to simply apply it to the outer coat or in the middle of the coat as this will delay or hinder absorption.




Frontline Plus Side Effects: Should I be concerned?

Every pet owner should be concerned about the potential for Frontline Plus side effects — not because they are likely to occur, but because you want to ensure that your cat or dog is not one of the rare ones that responds negatively to the medicine.

The simple fact of the matter is that all medications have some side effects.  And Frontline Plus is no different.

Again, it is a question of severity and frequency when we speak of these matters.

In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they had received more than 40,000 complaints about various spot-on topical flea treatment products. As a result, they issued a warning to consumers and the public to remind them to follow directions as labeled on respective boxes and to remain hyper vigilant when using the products to make sure they catch any potential problems right away. While I in no way want to diminish the pain and suffering of these pet owners nor minimize their concerns, one must place these within the proper context and perspective to have a healthy discussion.

There are literally tens of millions of cats and dogs in America and each month millions of them are given flea and tick medication.  We are talking about a microscopically small percentage of animals having bad reactions.  And we don’t even know how many of these 40,000 cases involved human error of some kind.  This could have occurred when someone gave a flea medication formulated for dogs to their cat, bought and used a product meant for a larger dog on a smaller dog, or even used the product more often than instructed and thus created an overdose situation.  Another example of human error would be the incorrect application of the medicine.  Perhaps, instead of placing the drop on the back of the neck so that their cat or dog could not lick themselves and ingest the chemicals, they instead applied the flea control product to a different part of the body.  Responding to the irritation of the flea bites, the animal bites and licks the area that also now has the medicine directly applied to it.

Frontline Plus Side Effects

Though you should not be paralyzed by unreasonable levels of fear you should by all means, be wary of potential side effects when using Frontline Plus. Here is a list of some of the things you should be watching after applying the medicine to your dog:

  • Skin irritation – One of the most commonly reported complaints is some sort of reaction to the medication manifesting itself in the form of skin irritation. This may result from an allergic reaction by the dog to one of the inactive or active ingredients found in the medication.
  • Nausea and vomiting – Though rare and infrequent, there is evidence that suggests ingestion of the treatment medicine by cats and dogs cause nausea and/or induce vomiting.
  • Lethargy – Owners who have reported deaths of their cats and dogs often report signs of lethargy in their animal.  If you feel your pet is behaving abnormally or becomes listless, seek a professional consultation with your veterinarian.
  • Hypersalivation – Ingesting improperly applied treatments may cause excessive drooling.

If you search long enough, you will find stories by owners claiming that Frontline Plus killed their cat or dog.  When we are talking about tens of millions of animals and tens of millions of doses, it is highly likely that there will be some unfortunate circumstances.  And while no promises or guarantees can be made about your particular situation, the odds of any Frontline Plus side effects seriously harming your cat or dog are infinitesimal.

Tips to Avoid Frontline Plus Side Effects

There are a few things you can do to prevent your cat or dog from suffering any side effects from Frontline Plus.  First and foremost, make sure you are providing your cat or dog with clean water and a healthy, well-rounded diet.  If you are using cheap dog food and letting your dog drink out of green slime infested water dishes, you are compromising their immune system.  Many pet owners swear by adding various natural ingredients to their dog’s water and food to make them healthier.

A healthy dog will stave off flea infestations much easier and also not be as prone to react negatively to medicines.

Additionally, and especially if you are applying the treatment to your cat or dog for the first time (e.g. puppies and kittens), keep a daily log of what your animal ate, exercise routine, trips into the yard, out of the yard, walks and any other details so that you can have a record of how your cat or dog was behaving and what they were doing before and after the application of the flea treatment.  By keeping a log you can isolate potential causes of any negative reaction and possibly determine whether or not the medication is a contributing factor or coincidental occurrence.

Finding the best flea treatment for your dog or the best flea treatment for your cat requires you to take into consideration the potential risks of negative side effects.  Though I personally feel the risks of spot-on topical treatments are incredibly low, you may not feel similarly.


Frontline Plus Ingredients:
What are they and what do they do?

Many people often wonder what the Frontline Plus ingredients are and what they do exactly when it comes to killing fleas and ticks. You should be aware of the fact that Frontline Plus for dogs and cats contain the same ingredients.  However, the formula for cats and dogs varies in the amount of each ingredient used.

Although this has been covered in a couple of other places at Flea Bites 101, it is worth going over once again.  On the page comparing Frontline vs. Frontline Plus products for dogs, we explained how the new and improved Frontline Plus product was formulated differently and was more effective at killing fleas and preventing flea bites. You can read all of our reviews of various spot-on topical treatments for dogs.

Frontline Plus Ingredients

Frontline Plus contains two active ingredients whereas the original Frontline formula only had one.  Both products contain a chemical called Fipronil and it is used in dozens and dozens of different types of products all across the world.  In ultra simplistic terms this is the chemical that kills fleas and ticks and it does this by destroying an insect’s central nervous system and creating a state of hyperexcitation where muscles cannot relax.

However, it only kills adult fleas.

Around 2001, the manufacturer of Frontline  sought to introduce a more effective medication that not only killed adult fleas, but flea eggs and larvae.  This superior killing power attacked the entire flea life cycle and minimized the length of the infestation and the chances of re-infestation from occurring. The new product, Frontline Plus contains a second ingredient called (S)-methoprene.

(S)-methoprene is an insect growth regulator (IGR). Insect growth regulators like (S)-methoprene keep the levels of juvenile growth hormone in flea eggs and larvae artificially high.  Eggs and larvae hatch and grow through hormone signals.  When levels of juvenile growth hormones decrease to a certain level they undergo changes in their growth pattern and maturity.  (S)-methoprene keeps flea eggs and larvae juiced up on juvenile growth hormones and thus they fail to receive any signals to hatch or grow — essentially freezing the metamorphosis causing the eggs and larvae to die.

Formula Differences in Frontline Plus for Cats & Frontline Plus for Dogs

The active ingredients in Frontline Plus for Dogs is identical to the active ingredients listed in Frontline Plus for Cats.  We have no idea what, if any, differences there are in the inactive ingredients of each product.  On our pages where we reviewed the best flea treatment for dogs and the best flea treatment for cats, we discussed inactive ingredients as follows:

Active ingredients are the actual medicinal components that make you or your animal feel better. These are pharmacological components that actually have a therapeutic effect. The inactive ingredients are things that control the time-release duration of the drug, the size or shape of the pill, the consistency of the solution, taste and a wide range of other characteristics.

In most cases, as long as the active ingredients are the same patients will experience the same benefits of each drug (brand name vs. generic). However, some people may have different reactions to generics versus the name-brand product because of these inactive ingredient differences. In fact, some people may have allergic reactions to generic formulas and others just have bodies that respond differently.

Even though the list of active ingredients is identical, their respective formulas are slightly different.

Frontline Plus for dogs is 9.8% Fipronil and 8.8% (S)-methoprene.  Frontline Plus for cats is 9.8% Fipronil as well, but has a higher level of (S)-methoprene which clocks in at 11.8%.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please fully understand the following.  Each product has the same ingredients, but the ratio of each ingredient in the formula is different.  Also, the dosage amount differs in that dogs are given a larger dose of medicine.

Think of it in terms of ordering a pizza.

With Frontline Plus for dogs you would give your pooch a larger pepperoni and sausage pizza.  With Frontline Plus for cats you are going to give your kitty a small pepperoni and sausage pizza with extra sausage.


Welcome to Flea Bites 101 – the Blog Edition!

Hello and thank you for taking a moment to visit my website.

As I stated in the “About” section, this website came about quite by accident when I set out to buy some flea and tick medication for my dog.  When I went to the store I found it incredibly confusing to understand all the different options and why one product was better than the other.  This caused me to do a ton of research.

After doing all that research, it occurred to me that many other people might have an interest in reading about what I learned and my take on these products.  So, there you have it.

I am not sure how this site will evolve, but I hope you find it useful.