It’s natural for dogs to have the occasional itch, but when it persists, pet owners may wonder whether their canine has a case of fleas.
For dog owners and their pup, fleas are easy to contract and can be tricky to eradicate. That is why we have compiled a guide to the best flea and tick treatment for dogs.
Throughout the guide, we will take a closer look at the different types of treatments that kill fleas and the products available for pets that can help with flea prevention.
The Best Dog Flea & Tick Medications Summary
Types of Flea Control Products
The pet market offers various flea control products, and each has its pros and cons. Here are the different types of anti-flea products:
- Topical treatments – popularly called spot-on products are excellent choices for killing fleas and preventing flea infestations. They are applied directly to the skin and usually last about 30 days. However, they can cause skin irritation in some pets and are not suited for dogs that are frequently exposed to water.
- Oral medications – also known as flea pills, are given by mouth and are highly efficient. Some pills have lasting effects of up to several months, while others need to be given as frequently as every day.
- Flea Collars – as suggested by the name, flea collars are worn around the neck. They are usually efficient for several months, thus making the ideal choice for owners who dislike monthly treatment renewals. However, not all dogs are willing to wear a collar 24/7.
- Flea Shampoos – are efficient in killing the fleas that are currently inhabiting your dog‘s fur. However, once the bath is over, they have no residual effect meaning your dog is once again susceptible to flea infestations. For lasting effects, you can use flea shampoos in combination with other preventives.
- Flea Sprays – need to be applied on the skin and fur. They used to be popular in the past, but today they are rarely used. This is because flea sprays are harder to use than most treatments and do not have residual efficacy.
Best Topical Flea & Tick Treatment for Dogs
Summary: K9 Advantix II is a powerful topical treatment that can be used to kill fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, lice, and even biting flies at all stages of their life. The treatment starts to work within 12 hours of application and can be applied monthly. It is safe for dogs 7 weeks old or above.
- Kills pests on contact
- Starts working within 12 hours
- Safe for young puppies
- Needs frequent re-application
Review: We like the efficacy and the broad spectrum of pests it can kill and repel. We dislike the potential toxicity for cats and the efficacy decline before the marketed 4-week timeframe.
Summary: Advantage II is a topical treatment that kills fleas at any stage in their life and lice. It can be administered monthly as it lasts for up to 30 days. Advantage II is waterproof one hour after application, meaning it doesn’t matter if your furry friend takes a dip.
- Easy-to-use product
- Lasts for one month
- Protection against fleas and lice
- Waterproof formula
- Does not protect from ticks
Review: We like the topical form of the product and the waterproofness. We dislike that it does not offer protection against ticks.
Summary: Frontline Plus kills fleas, ticks, and chewing lice in only 12 hours. Administered monthly like the other topical treatments, Frontline should only be given to dogs 8 weeks or older.
- Protects against fleas, ticks, and lice
- Waterproof formula
- Suitable for dogs older than 2 months
- Lasts up to one month
- Comes in feline sizes, too
- Can interact with certain medications
- Can cause skin irritation
Review: We like the broad specter of protection, the waterproofness, and cat-friendliness of the product. We dislike the potential skin irritations and drug interactions.
Summary: Frontline Gold has a triple action formula that kills fleas at all ages, including adult fleas, flea eggs, larvae, and ticks. Administered monthly, the topical treatment lasts for up to 30 days and should only be given to a pet 8 weeks old and onwards.
- The latest innovation by Frontline
- Triple-action formula
- Kills flea eggs, larvae, adult eggs, ticks, and chewing lice
- Starts working within 30 minutes
- Safe for pregnant dogs
- Can interact with medications
- May cause skin reactions
Review: We like the combination of different active ingredients and that the product is safe for pregnant pets. We dislike the price tag and potential side effects.
Summary: Revolution (selamectin) is effective in killing fleas, ticks, and even heartworm. It has also been proven to affect controlling the spread of ear mites. Applied monthly and lasting up to 30 days, Revolution is a quick-drying topical treatment and doesn’t leave your pet greasy.
- Effective against various parasites
- Safe for pups older than 6 weeks
- Available in various potencies for large and small dogs
- Quick-drying and waterproof formula
- Safe for pregnant and nursing dogs
- Not a budget-friendly option
- Requires a prescription
Review: We like the wide range of parasites the topical kills and its safety for young pups and pregnant and nursing dogs. We dislike the hefty price tag and the need for a veterinary prescription.
Best Oral Flea & Tick Treatment for Dogs
Summary: Capstar is an over-the-counter, oral medication with nitenpyram as an active ingredient. It needs to be administered daily, usually with food and is effective for up to 24 hours. Capstar is safe to use in dogs 4 weeks or older.
- Kills adult fleas within 6 hours
- Safe for puppies
- Easy to use
- Can be used with other treatments
- Available without prescription
- Does not kill flea larvae or eggs
- Not effective against other pests
- Lack residual efficacy
Review: We like the fast-acting nature of the product, the ease of use, and the availability. We dislike that the product is ineffective against other parasites and different flea life stages and the lack of residual protection.
Summary: Bravecto is a chewable flea and tick killer that starts working within 8 hours after administration and features fluralaner as an active ingredient. It is also used off-label to manage scabies and demodicosis. With residual efficacy of 3 months, your pup gets a full year of protection in just 4 doses.
- Chewable formula or topical formula
- Efficient against fleas and different types of ticks
- Kills fleas instantly when they feed
- Residual efficacy of up to 12 weeks
- Comes in chews with different potencies for different dog sizes
- Puppy formula is suitable for puppies at least 8 weeks of age and weighing 4.4 lbs or more.
- Can cause skin irritations
- Not all dogs like the taste
Review: We like the treatment form of the product and that its efficacy lasts for up to three months. We dislike the side effect in the form of skin irritation.
Summary: Nexgard is a popular flea and tick treatment that requires a prescription. With afoxolaner as an active ingredient, it kills fleas, paralysis ticks, black-legged ticks, brown ticks, and bush ticks. The treatment comes in the form of a chewable treat and needs to be given monthly.
- Broad-spectrum efficacy
- Safe to use around cats and kids
- Lasts for one month
- Beef-flavored bite
- Requires prescription
- Can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Not suited for pregnant dogs
Review: We like the safety and efficacy of the product as well as the dog-friendly flavor. We dislike the hefty price tag on the product, the need for a veterinary prescription, and the fact you cannot use it on pregnant dogs.
Summary: Using spinosad as an active ingredient, Comfortis kills fleas and flea eggs and begins working within 30 minutes. It is prescription available and is administered monthly as it can prevent fleas up for up to 30 days. The minimum pet age for Comfortis is 14 weeks.
- Starts killing fleas within 30 minutes
- Lasting for up to one month
- Beef-flavored chew form
- Safe to use around children
- Mess-free administration
- Not efficient against other pests
- Contains pork protein
- Requires veterinary prescription
Review: We like the beef flavor and the fast-acting nature of the active ingredient. We dislike the limited efficiency.
Best Flea Collars for Dogs
Before reviewing the top three flea collars for dogs, we should note the controversy surrounding this product.
This is because of the collars’ ability to release chemicals over a prolonged time, which can negatively impact the environment.
However, according to AVMA, “manufacturers have defended the collars as safe and effective, and veterinary experts say they have seen no cause for alarm.”
Summary: The Seresto Collar lasts for as long as 8 months and is powerful against adult fleas and flea larvae, four tick species, and chewing lice. It can also manage mites. The collar is lightweight and available in two adjustable sizes.
- Has a repellent effect
- Protects for 8 months
- Lightweight and easy to wear
- Safe for puppies as young as 7 weeks
- Adjusting the size can be tricky.
Review: We like the long-lasting efficacy of the product and the fact that most dogs do not mind wearing the collar. We dislike the availability of only two sizes and the potential risk for children.
Summary: The Hartz UltraGuard Pro Collar is effective against all flea life stages and ticks for 7 months. The scented collar is available in one adjustable size and can be worn simultaneously with the regular collar.
- Kills and repels fleas (adult, larvae, and eggs) and ticks
- Protects for up to 7 months
- Features reflective strips
- Freshly scented
- Only one size is available
- Not safe for pups under 12 weeks of age
- Should not be used around children
Review: We like the efficacy, the fresh scent, and the reflective design. We dislike that the product is not safe for pups that have not reached the age of 3 months.
Summary: The PetArmor Flea Collar offers protection against fleas and ticks for 6 months and is safe for pups older than 12 weeks. Each package contains two collars meaning with one purchase, you can keep your dog pest-free for one full year.
- Protects from fleas and ticks
- Waterproof formula
- 2 collars per package
- Lasts for 6 months when worn continuously
- A cost-effective alternative
- Can cause skin irritation
Review: We like the budget-friendly price and the fact you get two collars with one purchase. We dislike the skin irritations some owners report after starting to use the collar.
Best Flea & Tick Shampoos for Dogs
Summary: The Adams Plus Shampoo contains an insect growth regulator (IGR) and is excellent for managing ongoing flea infestations but does not work as a preventative. It also contains aloe, lanolin, coconut extract, and oatmeal, thus providing skin nourishment.
- Kills fleas instantly
- Gentle and nourishing formula
- Pleasantly scented
- Toxic to cats
- Require frequent usage
Review: We like the shampoo’s ability to deal with current flea infestations and the inclusion of skin-friendly and nourishing ingredients. We dislike the lack of residual efficacy and the fact it cannot be used around cats.
Summary: Using pyrethrum, a natural insecticide made from flowers, Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Shampoo is safe for dogs over 12 weeks old. It kills fleas and ticks on contact and
- Contains natural insecticide
- Relieves itchiness and inflammation
- Has cleansing and exfoliating effects
- Soap and paraben-free
- Leaves a fresh and lasting scent
- Safe around cats and other pets
- Some owners say it makes their dog’s fur dry
- Large and non-easy-grip bottle
Review: We like the vet-grade formula, the quality of the ingredients, and the soothing effect. We dislike the packaging that makes the use a bit challenging.
Summary: Made with natural ingredients, Richard’s Organic Shampoo is free from harmful parabens, soaps, and dyes. It features various components with pest repelling properties and is safe to use on puppies as young as 12 weeks.
- Gentle and safe formula
- 100% natural ingredients
- Soothes inflamed and irritated skin
- Does not wash off spot-on treatments
- Not suited for cats
Review: We like that the shampoo kills fleas and ticks and repels mosquitoes for up to four weeks. We dislike the fact it poses a risk and should not be used around cats.
Best Flea Control Products for Puppies
Summary: Capstar is the best choice for flea and tick treatment for puppies. This is because the active ingredient, nitenpyram, is safe for pups as young as 4 weeks of age and as small as 2 pounds of body weight.
- Efficient against adult fleas
- Starts killing fleas within 30 minutes
- The oral tablets can be used with food
- Does not require a prescription
- Entails daily administration
Review: We like this product’s safety for young puppies and its fast-acting activity. We dislike the lack of residual effects and the need to repeat the treatment daily.
How We Selected the Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Dogs
To compile this list, we have reviewed dozens of different products. These are the main factors we considered when selecting the best flea and tick treatments for dogs:
- Quality: The first thing we considered when reviewing the products in this article was their quality. A high-quality pest preventive needs to act quickly while being 100% safe for your pet. Quality usually comes at a price, but there is no room for negotiations regarding your dog’s health.
- Effectiveness: By effectiveness, we mean the product needs to successfully kill a larger number of pests in a relatively short time frame. Ideally, the product will be effective against different parasitic life stages. For example, it will kill adult fleas, flea larvae, and flea eggs.
- FDA and EPA-approved: The only way to ensure the product is efficient and safe for you, your dog, and the environment is to have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Delivery Method: Some treatments are applied topical, others are given in the form of edible treats, and some need to be worn as collars. Some pet owners find certain delivery methods more straightforward than others.
- Range of Efficacy: Depends on the type of active ingredient used in the product. Some active ingredients are powerful against fleas and ticks, while others protect from additional parasites like lice, mosquitoes, and flies. The type of active ingredient also determines the longevity of the product’s residual activity.
- Ease of Use: Considering the frequency of using the preventive, it is simpler to choose a product that is easy to administer and readily available (Amazon, Chewy). Products that require wearing gloves during the application or keeping your dog away from cats or children after use are considered hard to use.
What to Look For in Best Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs
As you can see, there is a wide array of flea control products for dogs – different types, different brands, and different methods of use.
Since not all products are made the same, finding the right one can be tricky. To make the shopping process simpler, we have compiled a checklist of the things you need to look for in a flea & tick treatment:
- Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter: For some treatments, you will have to visit the vet’s office and get a prescription, while others are easily available over-the-counter.
- Using Preventatives Year-Round: All preventives need to be used all year round, meaning you will need to reapply the treatment as soon as its efficiency finishes. Some treatments have longer-lasting effects, while others need monthly renewals.
- Not all Products are Created the Same: Just because the product has a dog and a flea picture does not mean it is safe and efficient. Make sure you purchase the treatment from a reputable brand.
- When in Doubt, Consult your Veterinarian: If your pet suffers from a chronic condition or is on long-term medications, you should consult with your trusted vet before using a product for flea and tick prevention. treatment.
- Some Products may be Used Together: It is also possible to combine different types of products. For example, a shampoo kills fleas immediately, and then a topical treatment can be applied for more lasting infestation prevention.
What You Need to Know about Fleas and Ticks in Dogs
As a quick reminder, parasites can be classified into two groups:
- Internal (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, heartworms)
- External (fleas, ticks, lice, mosquitoes, flies)
When it comes to external parasites, fleas and ticks are the most widespread and imminent danger.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Racine, “Fleas and ticks are not just pests – they also transmit harmful diseases, including diseases that can affect humans, like Lyme disease. Keeping these parasites off your pets and out of your home is essential to the health of your whole family. Year-round flea and tick prevention, as recommended by your veterinarian, is the best way to ensure your pets are protected.”
Namely, fleas and ticks are dangerous on several levels:
- Their mere presence causes irritation and inflammation of the skin that causes itchiness and can trigger secondary skin infections and hair loss.
- They feed on blood and, if present in larger numbers or on smaller dogs, can cause anemia.
- More often than not, they carry pathogens and are responsible for Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, tick paralysis, etc.
Managing flea and tick infestations is much more challenging than investing in a high-quality – safe, and efficient prevention product.
Our Final Thoughts on The Best Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs
There are many ways to prevent your pet from contracting the parasites, with the most common form of prevention being a flea and tick collar or topical or oral treatment that has a long-lasting effect.
If your dog has fleas or ticks, or you want to prevent them from getting the parasites as all pet parents do, then hopefully, this guide has given you all the information you need to make the best choice for your dog.