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Fleas are some of the most persistent and truly irritating ectoparasites known to bring disease to man’s best friend. And while there are numerous medications that have been formulated over the years, these pesky creatures have somehow learned to adapt. Additionally, the ever-increasing number of side effects brought about by the prolonged use of these products underscores the growing need for an effective yet safe treatment to administer. That is why we’re sharing with you the 10 best flea treatment for dogs in the hope that you’ll be more empowered to care for your pooches and protect them against these critters.
Bayer Animal Health has been producing a lot of high quality veterinary products for a long time and its K9 Advantix II simply carries on this tradition of excellence. The Advantix II’s main advantage is in its fast parasitostatic action, helping stop fleas from biting within 5 minutes of application. While it takes 12 hours for Advantix II to start exerting its killing effect, this is still relatively faster than the average 24 hours of other brands, making it a favorite flea and tick treatment for dogs among serious dog owners.
Unfortunately, K9 Advantix II has not shown any improvements in the duration of its action, mimicking the industry standard of 30 days. It would really be amazing to see advance this further to 60 or even 90 days. Regardless, with easy application and excellent waterproofing, it sure can help protect your dog whether it is a 7-week old pup or a lumbering senior.
Contains imidacloprid, permithrin, and pyriproxifen
Parasitostatic mechanism of action within the first 5 minutes
Starts killing fleas, ticks, and lice within the first 12 hours
This flea treatment is delivered in tablet form which your dog swallows. It is approved for use in pups and adult dogs who weigh more than two pounds and are aged over four weeks. It is also safe for pregnant and breeding dogs. You only need a single dose of the tablet which contains the active ingredient Nitenpyram. It is highly effective at killing adult dog and cat fleas but is not effective against eggs. For that you will need another product.
It starts to act very rapidly, some effect can be seen within 30 minutes of ingestion and it has been shown to kill 90% of adult fleas within hours. Soon your dog will be feeling a lot less itchy and uncomfortable. You avoid the mess and odor associated with topical treatments and it is very easy to administer. You can keep giving a daily dose until all the fleas have been eliminated.
A highly effective treatment against fleas, ticks and chewing lice, this product gets to work right away on adult dogs and pups aged over eight weeks old who weigh between 45 and 88 pounds. This is a liquid which needs to be applied topically (to the skin) between the shoulder blades of large breed dogs. It keeps working for 30 days and does this by destroying eggs and hatching larvae. Therefore, your pooch is protected from re-infestation from eggs on their coat.
There are two powerful ingredients in the solution. The fipronil content is highly effective against the adult fleas and ticks. Some studies have shown that within 12 hours it had killed all live adult fleas. The second active ingredient is (S)-methoprene which gets to work on the flea eggs and larvae and keeps going for a whole month. The active ingredients work together to break the flea life cycle and keep your pooch protected as well as helping to prevent the transmission of Lyme Disease.
A very useful product that treats your dog and your home at the same time. If you are concerned about residual fleas lurking in your carpet or on your sofa and leaping back onto your dog, this would be the product for you. It contains a blend of natural ingredients which are kind on your dog and your home but harsh on fleas! The formula comprises peppermint oil, Eugenol (clove extract) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which are all natural and plant-based ingredients.
It will help to control adult fleas as well as flea eggs and, as an added bonus, it is highly effective at repelling both ticks and mosquitoes. There are no chemical pyrethrins or permethrins which cause some dog owners concern. It is safe to use as a fine mist on all surfaces in your home including furniture, bedding and carpets. It is non-staining but it may be wise to patch test a small area first. You can also apply it directly on dogs and pups aged over 12 weeks of age but avoid the eyes and face because it will cause irritation. It cannot be used on pregnant or nursing dogs.
A big solution for extra-large dogs that are being bothered by fleas! Different packs are available to suit dogs from 4 pounds to 132 pounds. It’s a topical solution that you squeeze onto your dog. It starts to act very quickly. The active ingredients are fipronil and (s)-methoprene which work together to offer both rapid and long-lasting relief from the misery of flea bites and the irritation that they can cause to the skin. This is because it can kill the adult fleas but will also work on the flea eggs and flea larvae that have hatched. It will arrest the development of flea pupae too so it carries on having an effect for 30 days.
It is waterproof and helps to control diseases that are spread by fleas and ticks including Lyme Disease so it can protect the whole family. It is also useful for sarcoptic mange and several species of ticks including deer ticks and American dog ticks.
Suitable for extra-large dogs
Contains fipronil and (s)-methoprene
Lasts for 30 days
Can be used on sarcoptic mange and several species of ticks
A topical treatment to use once a month on adult dogs and pups aged over 7 weeks old and who weigh 11 to 20 pounds, this is ideal for medium-sized breeds. Once it comes into contact with the fleas it starts to have an effect within 12 hours. It kills all the life stages including eggs, larvae, lice and adult fleas. This helps to break the life cycle and stops your dog from getting infested over and over again. The formula is waterproof so it will continue to be effective even if you have to bathe your dog or if they go swimming.
The active ingredients in the product are imidacloprid and pyriproxyfen and it is not suitable for cats. If your dog is pregnant or nursing pups, speak to your vet before using it.
Suitable for medium-sized breeds
Only for pups over 7 weeks old
Active ingredients are imidacloprid and pyriproxyfen
This is a pack of single dose topical treatments that can be used on adult dogs including breeding, pregnant and nursing dogs. Dogs weighing between 45 and 88 pounds can be treated. It cannot be used on pups under 8 weeks old and is only suitable for dogs and not other animals. It kills all of the life stages of fleas including the eggs. It is also highly effective against chewing lice and sarcoptic mange mites so you will probably only have to use the one product to keep your dog fully protected.
The ingredients that do the job are fipronil and (S)-methoprene so it starts working immediately and remains active for up to 30 days. This enables it to break the life-cycle and the trap of continual re-infestation. You can use it to bring relief from dermatitis caused by flea allergies as well as Brown dog ticks and the Deer ticks that carry Lyme disease. Because it is waterproof, you are free to bathe your dog and let them play out in the rain without affecting the treatment.
Suitable for dogs weighing between 45 and 88 pounds
Kills all of the life stages of fleas including the eggs
Active ingredients are fipronil and (S)-methoprene
Made in the USA from natural and gentle plant-based ingredients, this flea treatment is provided in the form of disposable wipes. You use them by wiping them over your dog’s coat including their paws and tail but avoiding the eyes and genitals as they can cause irritation. Then you massage the product into the coat so it penetrates the skin. You can repeat this as often as you need to. You can also use them on surfaces within your home including countertops and pet bedding. Wipes are a very easy and clean way of applying flea control to your pet and your home.
The wipes contain no plastic resins and use only the natural action of peppermint oil and clove extract to kill fleas as well as flea eggs, and ticks. It has a clean, fresh odor with no artificial fragrances added and is great for repelling mosquitoes as well as killing several other parasitic pests. It’s safe for the pets and humans in the home.
Suitable for dogs and your home
A pack of wipes containing natural pesticides
Active ingredients are peppermint oil and clove extract
An effective spray treatment that is suitable for dogs and cats and needs to be used every 30 days. It contains an effective pesticide called fipronil which will kill all the fleas and ticks living on your dog’s coat and causing them huge irritation and distress. It works so well because it can also kill the fleas before they have a chance to lay eggs, so your dog will not get infested again within the 30 days. Then you simply apply it again to continue the protection and keep your pet parasite-free.
Tests have shown that it is effective at destroying all fleas on a dog within 24 hours so it has a rapid action. It is also suitable for the cats in the household. During the 30 days when it is active, it remains waterproof so bathing your dog is not a problem. It comes in a spray bottle so it is very easy to apply even if your dog is not co-operative. You can use it on pups as long as they are aged over 8 weeks. As well as killing all stages of the flea species, it is also an effective defense brown dog ticks and American dog ticks as well as deer ticks. This makes it a useful weapon in the fight against Lyme Disease (which can infect humans as well) and flea allergy dermatitis.
A highly effective flea treatment provided in an aerosol spray that will cover and treat 2,100 square feet of carpet, rug etc. in your home. The treatment is for your home and needs to be used at the same time as another treatment that you apply to your dog. This will break the continual cycle of re-infestation that can be so bothersome to dogs and owners. It contains pyrethrins, permethrin as the active ingredients and also contains pyriproxyfen which is a powerful insect growth regulator. It stops fleas from developing for up to 7 months giving your dog exceptionally long-lasting protection from annoying pests.
These ingredients also get to work rapidly to reduce the infestation of adult fleas. Then it prevents any newly hatched fleas from developing into the adult stage when they start breeding and jumping back on your dog to bite them. It reaches the fleas around your home so it controls infestations in rugs, drapes and floor cracks which makes your treatment even more effective. There is no unpleasant odor and the product is not sticky.
A squeeze-on flea control solution that is suitable for adult dogs that weigh between 45 pounds and 88 pounds and pups aged over 8 weeks. It contains the powerful active ingredient used in Frontline Top Spot, namely Fipronil. This ingredient is a well-established and proven compound in the fight against canine flea infestations and has proved to be highly effective.
It will kill adult fleas and ticks and will also get rid of chewing lice. It is effective at breaking the lifecycle of the flea and stops re-infestations and the cycle of itching and scratching. It will also destroy flea eggs and flea larvae for up to 12 weeks after application. It gets to work very quickly and is waterproof so it cannot get washed off. You will need to re-apply after 12 weeks.
Based on the powerful active ingredients etofenprox, (s)-methoprene and piperonyl butoxide, this is an effective flea control solution. It is supplied in a handy spray bottle and can be applied twice a month. You ruffle your dog’s coat before spraying and use four sprays per pound of your dog’s body weight. Dogs with short coats will need less of the product. The coat needs to be dampened with the spray for it to work but does not need to be soaked.
It gets to work right away and provides instant relief for your pooch. The life cycle of the fleas will be broken as the product will kill adult fleas as well as flea eggs. You may also need to treat the house as it often gets infested with eggs. It will carry on working for two months during which it provides continuous protection. Even mosquitoes will be repelled by this product.
Contains etofenprox, (s)-methoprene and piperonyl butoxide
Complete protection for your pooch, this is a natural product made in the USA and a great way to keep pesky parasites at bay. It is made from a carefully blended formulation of plant-derived ingredients such as peppermint oil and clove extract. It has a fresh, pleasant scent but is a powerful pesticide. It will kill all stages of the flea life cycle including adult fleas and eggs. It will also repel mosquitoes very effectively if you live in an area where this is an issue.
The product is supplied in a spray container so it is easy to apply to your dog although it is also safe for use on cats. You can even use it on surfaces in your home that you think may have been infested. It can be used on adult dogs and pups who are over 12 weeks old.
The pesticide in this product is delivered to your dog in a delicious and chewable beef-flavored tablet that you will have no problem administering to your dog. You can also hide it in their food. It is safe for dogs and pups aged over 8 weeks old and who weigh more than four pounds. The tablets need to be given once a month and will last for the whole period in between.
Each tablet contains 136 mg of afoxolaner which kills adult fleas before they have time to lay any eggs. This interrupts the life cycle and prevents infestation from starting all over again. It is also highly effective at killing several species of ticks that can bite dogs including the black-legged tick, the American dog tick and the Lone Star tick.
This is a multi-ingredient treatment that combines compounds that will treat flea infestations as well as dealing with worm infestations. It will prevent heartworm disease in dogs as well as treating and controlling adult hookworm. The formulation is also effective against roundworm and whipworm which are common in dogs. As their owner, you get total peace of mind that your four-legged pal is fully protected from pesky parasites. It comes in a tasty, beef-flavored tablet that your pooch takes once a month. It’s a hassle-free way of providing protection.
It can be given to dogs and pups over 8 weeks old and who weigh more than five pounds. The tablets are available in different strengths to suit dogs with different body weights so you must choose the right dose for your pooch. The active ingredients are Spinosad and Milbemycin Oxime which are able to kill fleas on dogs in 30 minutes and have killed all the fleas on a dog’s body within 4 hours. It continues to be effective for a month.
Advantus have thought of everything when it comes to the production of this flea treatment. We all know that dogs are not big lovers of medication – especially when they have much more sensitive tastebuds than us. Well luckily, there’s a way around that with Advantus’ flea treatment soft chews. The idea behind this flea treatment design is to help your pup to feel more like they’re being given a treat, as opposed to medication. The best way to go about administering the soft chew treatment is to have your dog perform a task or trick that would ordinarily result in them receiving a treat, such as asking them to sit or lie down.
Not only does the soft chew formula help to curb the difficulty of medication administering, but the many thousands of customers that have purchased this treatment have had nothing but good things to say about it. The treatment takes effect within an hour of ingestion, with most owners saying there wasn’t a flea in sight by the following day. The potent and highly effective formula of these chews makes it the ideal candidate for dogs that have flea allergies, helping them to avoid a severe reaction. Just be sure to check the recommended dosage, as you will need to purchase the strength that matches your dog’s current weight.
Each bottle contains 30 soft chews.
A single chew works to kill adult fleas on dogs.
Available in small & large doses.
Starts to kill fleas within one hour of ingestion.
If you go to your favorite pet supplies store you can easily understand why a lot of dog owners, especially first-timers, are at a loss as to which product they should use for their pets. You are essentially bombarded with a variety of options from the more traditional spot-on topical applications to the newer yet equally controversial tablet preparations as well as other types of flea meds for dogs. We understand how you feel. That’s why we’ve prepared this buyer’s guide to help you make better-informed decisions related to the control and management of flea infestation, not only in your dog but also in your home.
Why Does My Dog Need Flea Treatment?
One of the questions that most dog owners ask themselves is whether or not their pooches really need flea treatment. The answer can be a very straightforward ‘yes’ or it can also be answered as ‘it depends’. The best way to help you decide whether your dog needs flea treatment is by understanding what fleas are especially the life cycle of fleas.
Fleas are very resilient and hardy critters. These creatures live outdoors and can survive for up to 5 days in temperatures as low as 33OF. Within this period, it can easily catch a ride on your dog’s fur. They don’t fly, but they are mighty jumpers, able to propel their bodies up to distances that are 50 times the length of their bodies. So when Fido enters your house, these creatures will already have access to the warmth of your living room.
The adult flea can then lay eggs on your mutt’s skin. Throughout the life of a female adult flea, it can lay up to 5,000 eggs, possibly even more. Since flea eggs don’t have legs to latch onto your pet’s skin or hair, they fall to the ground. These can fall on your carpet, your floor, or any other surface the Fido likes to frequent.
Within 2 weeks, these eggs hatch and become larvae. These juvenile fleas are particularly averse to sunlight so they are mostly found in dark and humid places such as cracks and crevices on your floor. They also love to hide under your pet’s bedding as well as under your carpets and rugs. And if they get in touch with your pet’s food, they naturally grow into pupae.
The pupa actually just waits for the right trigger for it to come out from its cocoon. These can include vibrations, heat, and increased carbon dioxide levels. All of these actually indicate the presence of a suitable host nearby. When this is triggered, it transforms into an adult flea. All of these can occur within just 4 days although it may take some time for it to transform into its adult version if adverse conditions are present.
So, why does your dog need flea treatment?
Well, fleas are very hardy critters and tough to get rid of. You may think your pet doesn’t have them but they may already be hatching and developing into larvae and pupae just waiting for the right moment for them to come out into the open. Given that there’s no way of telling how many fleas may have latched onto Fido when it ventured in your backyard, it would be safe to assume that your pooch has at least one.
Once fleas bite, they can introduce microorganisms into your pooch’s bloodstream and cause a variety of health conditions and diseases. The following are some of the more common diseases caused by fleas.
Flea bite dermatitis: This is one of the most common issues pooches have whenever there is a flea on their skin. It develops because of the inflammatory changes that occur secondary to tissue injury related to the flea bite. The skin becomes reddish and sometimes swollen and very uncomfortable for dogs. And because inflammatory chemicals are released, primarily histamine, these produce severe itching which, when vigorously scratched by your pet, can lead to loss of skin integrity. Cuts occur on the skin and these can become entry points for other microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and other parasites which can then lead to other health problems.
Typhus: Fleas are known carriers of several species of the bacteria Rickettsia which is the principal causative agent of typhus. While the primary target is rats, dogs and humans alike are not immune to its infectious nature. This can lead to fever, joint pain, vomiting, and even muscle pain. All of these can make your pooch sick, will not want to eat, or become depressed.
Plague: The causative agent of plague, Yersinia pestis, is basically transmitted by fleas to rats and other mammals. While the incidence of plague has been significantly reduced, there are still thousands of cases reported every year. Some of the symptoms of plague include fever and severely swollen lymph nodes. The problem is that death often ensues without warning. It is for this reason that pets that are suspected of having plague should be brought immediately to the vet for management. Also, strict isolation must be observed to prevent the spread of the disease.
Tapeworm: The tapeworm Hymenolepis nana has been shown to be carried by fleas, although direct human-to-human transmission also occurs. Dogs can ingest adult fleas when they lick their fur or surfaces that contain tapeworm-infected fleas. Children are especially vulnerable as they can accidentally swallow an infected critter. The good thing is that this infection can be easily treated.
Hemobartonellosis: Bartonella henselae is most commonly found in ticks although it can also be found in fleas. The danger in hemobartonellosis is that the bacteria invade the red blood cells. This disrupts the cells’ ability to carry oxygen and deliver it to the tissues. This leads to anemia which can make your pet lose its appetite, lack energy, and lose weight.
These are just some of the more common health issues associated with fleas. There are plenty more. It is exactly for these reasons that many pet owners give only the best flea medicine for dogs. And you should, too.
Where Do Fleas Hide On Dogs?
Fleas are incredibly small that you would definitely want to part the hairs on your pet’s fur to really visualize them. These creatures can thrive on any part of your pet’s body. However, they do have the tendency to hide in areas where there is some degree of protection, especially from scratching by your pooch.
As such, you may want to start looking for these mini jumpers at the base of your pet’s tail as most dogs cannot scratch this part of their bodies. Additionally, the natural curvature of the tail bone gives these pests some degree of protection. Other areas where these pests can hide in your dog include the neck, the belly, and the chest. The space in between toes on your pooch’s paws can also be excellent habitats for these ectoparasites.
Can I Use Flea Treatments When My Dog is on Other Medication?
It is understandable that you may have reservations about using flea treatments while your mutt is on other medication. Generally speaking, you should never combine medications as there is no way of telling what effects will come out of the drug interactions. A safer way is to consult with your veterinarian what medications are contraindicated on your pooch if you do decide to give it flea treatment. You can also ask your vet if it is safe to give your mutt a certain brand of flea medication if it is already receiving other medications. Your veterinarian understands drug interactions in canines a lot better than other resources.
Nevertheless, here are some tips you can consider when considering any treatment:
When searching for the right combination, you may want to read the labels of each product and focus your attention on the drug interaction section.
If you wish to combine pesticides for your pet, it is a lot better to combine a flea-only medication with a tick-only treatment.
Never give to your mutt more than what is recommended.
Do not double up on your treatments. For example, giving a flea medication on top of another flea medication.
How Often Do I Need to Give My Dog a Flea Tablet?
One of the most innovative solutions in the fight against flea infestation in pets is the development of a tablet form of these flea medications. There are many benefits of flea tablets, pills, and chewables that other forms of treatments simply cannot provide. For instance, these are considered to be more effective than traditional spray-on or topical preparations since there is no guaranteeing all of the active ingredients will be absorbed by the dog’s skin. Since tablets go directly to the digestive tract where these are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, there is a greater concentration of the active ingredient present in the blood. These medications are a lot more convenient to administer, too. Some actually come complete with all-in-one protection that helps protect pets against heartworms and intestinal parasites, not just ticks and fleas.
But the question most pet owners ask is related to the duration of action of these formulations. Most spot-on treatments require re-application within 30 days, some as short as 15 days while others promise a 90-day protection.
Similarly, the duration of effectiveness of flea tablets depends on the brand. For instance, Capstar is known to be a very potent anti-flea medication that can kill these pests within 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last that long. If your pet gets reinfested within the day, you can give another tablet of Capstar. Without additional effort on your part to control the environmental factors affecting flea growth, you’d end up with a more expensive treatment as you will need to give your mutt.
On the other hand, Bravecto’s 90-day protection is spectacular for a flea tablet. While it doesn’t work as fast as Capstar, it is still a lot faster than traditional spot-on medications. If you do use Bravecto, then you will have to give your pet at most 4 times a year.
This is dependent on where you live. If you live in areas where fleas thrive all year round, then you will have to treat your pet for the whole year. However, if you live in an area where these pests display seasonal patterns, then you will only give your mutt these tablets at most twice a year.
Again, depending on the product that you give to your mutt and the prevalence of flea infestation in your locality, the number of times you will give a flea tablet can range from as short as daily to about 3 months.
Tips on Preventing Fleas at Home
Regardless of how aggressive you are in your application or administration of the best flea medicine for dogs or how meticulous you are in removing these critters off of your pet if you are not going to do something about their natural habitat, then you will still face the same problem year in and year out. As we have already explained, there’s no way we can track the movement of these pests from the outside environment to our homes. We often only realize that they have invaded our homes when your pet begins to scratch. By then, many of these fleas would have already laid eggs. Some would already be in their larval and pupal stages. In a few more days, they will turn into adult fleas.
That is why it is imperative that you should also know how to prevent fleas at home. Here are some tips.
Start cleaning your backyard. Since they love hiding in crevices and cracks where there is plenty of moisture, you may want to start spraying your backyard with an appropriate pesticide so that these pests are killed even before you or your pet has a chance to bring these inside your house. Covering crevices and cracks on the ground and keeping everything neat and tidy should also help minimize infestation. This also means you have to mow your lawn and to keep the shrubs well-trimmed.
Safeguard your property by putting appropriate electric fences for dogs that will help prevent the entry of feral animals into your backyard. Remember that fleas don’t just rely on dogs as their hosts. Other mammals are excellent hosts, too. So, don’t give this curious wildlife a reason to be nosy in your property. Don’t leave food scraps or even your pet’s food outside as these are natural magnets for feral cats, raccoons, and other creatures. Also, seal off possible entry points such as crawl spaces, sheds, garages, and even under decks as these can be used by other animals as nests.
Call a professional to fog your home properly. Many of the chemicals used in fogging can kill fleas in all stages of development, including the very hardy pupae. These substances can also last as long as 7 months, so it may be wise to plan the fogging so that when it does wear off most of the fleas will be less active. If you have a large property, getting 2 to 3 foggers should do the trick.
Keep your shrubs well-spaced. The more sunlight that gets through to each leaf or any other structure in your plant should help kill the larvae of these pests. Improving ventilation also helps.
Use a pet hair vacuum, sweep, and mop your floors and other surfaces to help remove eggs, larvae, pupae, and even adult fleas. Make sure to reach in baseboards as these critters love the dark. With each vacuum, dispose of the bag immediately. Remember that vibrations can ‘awaken’ pupae and turn them into adult fleas.
Wash the beddings and other items of your pet. Leave these to dry under the hot sun. This should kill these ectoparasites. Include your mutt’s toys.
Managing fleas and preventing them from ever coming back requires multiple approaches. The best flea medicine for dogs is just one of the approaches that you will have to employ. You will also have to include in your regimen environmental control and sanitation to help prevent reinfestation. Preventing reinfestation will help you prevent the development of a variety of diseases in your pet. To make the most out of these treatments, it is best not to combine them with other medications. If you think you need to, then talk to your vet about it. These 10 best flea treatments for dogs will start you on the right foot.
Sharon is a Ph.D. scientist and experienced pet content writer. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a Cockapoo puppy. She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and turning it into easy-to-understand articles that offer practical tips. When it comes to our furry friends, she knows that there is always something new to learn!