You love your pets, and you want to make sure that you can protect them and the rest of your family from those pesky fleas and ticks. Selecting from the different flea preventatives in pill form can be overwhelming and intimidating.
As there are so many choices in oral products, and there is a significant price range. how do you know which is the best?
Best Flea Pills for Dogs: What Brands to Know & Why Oral Flea Medication for Dogs Works
There are several well-known methods that can be used to eradicate and prevent flea infestations on your pet. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian which would be best for your dog.
One method is the use of pills, which usually come in the form of a flavored chewable tablet. These products have compounds that are absorbed systemically to kill fleas when they bite your pet.
A second method used to prevent a flea infestation involves the use of a topical treatment that is applied to one area of the skin where it is distributed cutaneously. These products generally come as a small vial of liquid that is applied to the skin behind the neck. There are several commonly used brands of topical flea treatments with various modes of action.
Other methods of flea control involve the use of long-acting flea collars such as Seresto or baths with flea shampoo. Additionally, there are several spray products that can treat the environment once fleas have invaded.
While every situation is different, the use of pills is often the simplest and most convenient method to kill fleas on your pet and prevent infestations. There are several oral products available for flea control, and a very commonly used class of these medications is part of what is called the isoxazoline group.
These products target certain receptors that will ultimately render the fleas (and often ticks) paralyzed and kill them. Commonly used Isoxazoline products are Bravecto and Nexgard. These products can rapidly kill fleas on your dog.
So, What’s Better? Flea Pills for Dogs or Spot-on Treatments
Studies have been aimed at evaluating the efficacy of oral vs topical flea treatment. Both modes of treatment have been shown to be very effective when used properly. However, oral preventatives may lead to better outcomes as they are often easier to administer to your dog.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Flea Pills for Dogs
- Advantages: As mentioned, oral products can be more effective as they are easier to administer as directed. Additionally, Fluralaner-based products such as Bravecto are longer-lasting, so you only need to remember to treat your dog every 3 months instead of every month. Some oral products can also prevent and control mange, which is a skin mite infection.
- Disadvantages: The isoxazoline group of oral Flea products is not recommended for dogs with a history of seizures, and may potentiate neurological issues in some dogs. Additionally, some dogs may have temporary vomiting or diarrhea from oral products.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Topical Treatments
- Advantages: Some topical products have a repellent action, and also can have a rapid effect in killing fleas.
- Disadvantages: The efficacy of topical treatments can decrease with swimming and frequent bathing of your dog or when it is not applied exactly as directed. Additionally, there is a greater safety issue with the frequent handling of pets. Other family members, especially children, and other pets, can be contaminated by exposure to topical products when in contact with the dog.
There are many flea pill products, but here we will cover some of the popular and highly-rated flea pills for dogs:
Bravecto for Dogs
Bravecto: Flea Pills for Dogs
Bravecto is a meat-flavored oral chew that is best suited for dogs and puppies over 6 months of age and over 4.4lbs. A single dose of Bravecto can last up to 12 weeks, so 4 doses can provide a year’s worth of protection.
Bravecto: How It Works
Upon oral administration, Bravecto’s active compound – Fluralaner, will spread through your dog’s body. In a short period of time, the active compounds settle within the tissue and fluids just beneath the dog’s skin. Bravecto kills most fleas within 12 hours of administration and will kill over 99% of ticks rapidly as well.
Cost of Bravecto
Many veterinarians sell Bravecto in their office, which is convenient to purchase at your dog’s annual examination. It can also be purchased with a prescription online at different pet pharmacies, such as 1-800-PetMeds, or from some local pet stores like PetSmart. The cost of Bravecto is based on your dog’s weight range, and it is often more affordable than monthly products, as each dose lasts for 3 months.
Bravecto Side Effects
It’s important to remember that every dog is different. So, not all dogs will be affected by medications equally. It is possible that Bravecto can lead to an increased chance of:
- Loss of balance
While these potential reactions can be concerning, according to the FDA, this product is safely used in the majority of dogs.
Unsure if Bravecto is right for your pooch? Let’s look at the benefits.
- Bravecto kills adult fleas, as well as fleas that may have recently emerged from the larvae-egg stage.
- Bravecto claims that a single dose of their treatment can last up to 12 weeks.
- Bravecto eliminates ticks.
- Bravecto claims to be safe for use on pregnant and lactating bitches.
- Studies have shown that Bravecto is one of the safest chewable pills.
Bravecto for Dogs Reviews
Not sure if Bravecto is right for your dog? Here’s what customers say about Bravecto on PetMeds.com.
“The topical treatment didn’t work for our dogs, with Bravecto, within a few days, they stopped itching, and we didn’t find any fleas. SO RELIEVED!.”
“Started Bravecto 10 days ago, and so far, no signs of anything! No adverse effects either!”
The Verdict on Bravecto
An overall of 4.7 out of 5 and overall of 4.8 out of 5 for effectiveness.
Nexgard for Dogs
Nexgard: How It Works
The main active ingredient in Nexgard is Afoxolaner.
Afoxolaner is similar to Fluralaner as they lead to nerve damage and paralysis in the ectoparasites that consume them. When your dog consumes a single tablet, the product will rapidly be absorbed into its bloodstream.
The result? Your dog will be protected for 30 days, and fleas and ticks will be killed within 24 hours.
Nexgard Chewables for Dogs
Nexgard chewable tablets aim to eliminate and prevent adult flea and tick infestation. Nexgard is often quite easy to administer as it contains a delicious beef flavor that is sure to appeal to your pup.
Nexgard tablets are administered orally once a month.
Nexgard: Walmart and Other Stores to Buy This Dog Flea Pill
Nexgard can be purchased at many veterinary hospitals as well as most local pet stores with a prescription from your veterinarian. The average cost of Nexgard varies depending on your dog’s weight class. It’s important to remember this product is very affordable when compared to the treatment of your dog and house if you have a bad flea infestation.
Nexgard Side Effects
Nexgard is often considered safe to use, however various field trials have stated that the following reactions may occur:
- Dry skin
- Flaky skin
Studies claim that there are no serious, long-term adverse reactions to Nexgard products. However, a small percent of the canine population with or without a history of seizures may experience neurological events such as seizures or tremors when taking Nexgard.
Nexgard Pros and Cons
Does it work? Yes. Nexgard is proven to effectively eliminate ectoparasites, fleas, and ticks. k. As an added benefit, Nexgard is known to kill fleas before they lay eggs.
What if my dog is on heartworm pills? The amazing thing about Nexgard is that it will not interfere with most medications. In fact, it can be used alongside heartworm medications.
What if I have a fussy dog? Owner compliance is an important factor that will determine the efficacy of Nexgard. However, Nexgard chewable tablets are small and beef flavored, and most dogs will like the taste and will readily eat it.
Will Nexgard repel other insects? Unfortunately, Nexgard does not repel other insects, such as mosquitos and biting flies. When a repellent is needed, it’s recommended that owners use certain topical treatments that will repel other insects.
How does it work? In order for Nexgard to be effective, fleas and ticks must first bite the dog and ingest the active compound. This means that your dog may still initially be irritated by the flea bites, but they will die before passing the disease onto your dog
Is it pricey? Nexgard can be costly, especially if you have a larger breed dog.
Still not sure about how effective Nexgard will be for your pooch? Well, here’s what happy customers on 1-800 PetMeds say:
“My 3-year-old has been on NexGard since I adopted him 2 years ago. I’ve kept him on year around and have never seen 1 single flea, even through the hottest days. I really do recommend it to your furbaby.”
“This was quick and easy to get for my dog, and she enjoys taking them very much. Doesn’t fight me at all.”
The Verdict on Nexgard
Some resources state a whopping 4.5 out of 5 stars for the product and 4.6 out of 5 for effectiveness.
Bravecto vs. Nexgard
Both Bravecto and Nexgard have active compounds that fall under the class of isoxazolines. Therefore they both eliminate fleas by causing excitation within the central nervous system of the flea, paralysis, and eventual death, and they are both highly effective. For both medications, prescribed dosages are based on your dog’s body weight
Bravecto is labeled to be given once every three months. However, there are some tricks that it is only effective at killing for 8 weeks, and it has been questioned if the overall efficacy decreases during the third month after administration. Nexgard is administered once a month; thus, it is possible that the afoxolaner may be better at eliminating fleas and ticks as the result of constant, uniform exposure.
Comfortis for Dogs
Comfortis: How It Works
Although Comfortis is not in the Isoxazoline group of flea products, it is another popular brand of flea pills for dogs in a beef-flavored chewable tablet form that should be given with food. This product kills fleas and prevents further infestations by killing fleas before they can lay eggs.
The active compound in Comfortis is spinosad. Spinosad affects the nervous system of the flea; it causes excitation, paralysis, and death. Comfortis can be used on both cats and dogs as prescribed by your veterinarian.
Note: If used on puppies and kittens, you would need to make sure that they are above 14 weeks of age and above certain weights.
Comfortis: Amazon and Other Stores to Get These Flea Pills for Dogs
When available, Comfortis can be purchased from your veterinarian and other stores or online pharmacies and platforms.
The cost of Comfortis is based on your dog’s size, and it can vary somewhat based on where you buy it, costing approximately $200.00 for a one-year supply for a 50-pound dog.
Comfortis Side Effects
Comfortis is FDA-approved, but owners should always consult their veterinarian to learn if this product is best for their dog.
Comfortis, like other medications, may cause:
- Change in appetite
Comfortis Pros and Cons
- A single table can last up to 30 days and will kill fleas within 30 minutes to four hours of administration.
- Comfortis kills fleas before they can lay eggs.
- The active ingredient, Spinosad, has low environmental toxicity.
- The best part! Comfortis comes in a beef flavor, making it more appealing to fussy pets.
- Like other preventatives, Comfortis can be costly.
- Comfortis will not kill flea eggs or larvae, so they need to grow into adult fleas to be eliminated.
- As with other preventatives, Comfortis infrequently causes side effects as listed above. .
So, what do happy customers say about Comfortis?
“Purchased this for my pet, and within a day, I saw the results! No fleas, the bites were healing, and his skin was clearing!”
“I have a dog, and my roommate has multiple dogs and cats, even if all his animals are infected with fleas, my dog is flea free when I give her Comfortis.”
The Verdict on Comfortis
Rated an overall of 4.5 out of 5 on PetMeds.com with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 for effectiveness.
Capstar for Dogs
Capstar: How It Works
Capstar flea tablets contain an active ingredient known as nitenpyram, and this product is used to kill adult fleas on both dogs and cats. If you’re looking for a quick and near-immediate fix to your itchy dog, then Capstar is the one for you.
Capstar is a safe alternative if a dog cannot take the other flea products, but it will only kill fleas on the dog for 24 hours, and it will not control fleas in the environment While there is a possibility of side effects, overall, Capstar is well tolerated by dogs.
Capstar: Walmart and Other Stores to Buy Flea Control for Dogs
Capstar is available without a prescription and is quite a popular flea pill for dogs brand in the USA. You can find Capstar flea treatment products at your local Walmart or Petsmart. Capstar can also be purchased online at Amazon or 1800PetMeds.com.
Capstar is relatively inexpensive to purchase. For example, 6 doses for a 50-pound dog is approximately $60 on Amazon.
Capstar Side Effects
All flea pills for dogs are FDA-tested and approved. Capstar is one of those products that are safe to use on kittens and puppies above 4 weeks of age and greater than two lbs. Again, Capstar is well usually tolerated with minimal side effects.
Nevertheless, every animal is different, and no drug is perfectly free from side effects. Possible side effects listed on the Capstar insert with dogs are:
- Decreased appetite
- Lethargy or hyperactivity
- Trembling or seizures
- Change in appetite
Capstar Pros and Cons
- Capstar is safe to use on kittens, puppies, cats, and dogs over 4 weeks of age and weighing over 2 lbs.
- Capstar is also safe for use on pregnant or lactating pets.
- Capstar has an immediate effect! It can be given once daily and will kill fleas within 30 minutes.
- Capstar is a cheaper alternative per pill to other tablet flea treatments but only lasts for one day.
- Capstar may need to be given daily in order to kill and control fleas.
- Capstar only kills adult fleas. It will not eliminate larvae or eggs.
- Capstar is unflavored, so it may be possible that your dog will not take it willingly.
Capstar seems to have the lowest rating among all the products discussed, possibly because it has to be given daily, and it is difficult to maintain environmental control of fleas with it. However, it still is considered an effective product. Here’s what happy customers have to say:
“Capstar can be used with a wide variety of other flea meds, I’ve been able to treat occasional flea outbreaks safely. It works very quickly, and she’s never had a reaction to the med.”
“I was leery about giving this to my dogs, but it did the trick. Killed all the adult fleas. I then washed all bedding and used natural flea killer on carpets, and put down sea salt to kill any live fleas. It works as long as you take care of the environment. I give a pill about every two weeks and do everything all over again. No flea infestation. The product is a bit expensive for a one-shot kill. You cannot kill every flea in the house only control them, they multiply so fast.”
The Verdict on Capstar
A modest, overall of 4.2 out of 5 and 4.2 out of 5 for effectiveness.
7 Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Brand for Flea and Tick Pills for Dogs
So, now that you’re well equipped with a short basic background on the various over-the-counter flea tablets, we can narrow down a choice by creating a brief list to help you choose the best flea pills for your dog.
- All Fleas Are the Same, but Ticks Are Not: For example, Bravecto is considered to be a broad-spectrum treatment. If you’re in an area where ticks are prevalent, consider using Bravecto. However, Bravecto eliminates fleas as well as Deer ticks, the American dog tick, and the brown dog tick for 12 weeks. It only eliminates the Lone Star tick for 8 weeks, and this tick can cause serious illness in dogs.
- Know the Age of Your Pet: A three-month dose of Bravecto is safe for dogs and puppies older than 6 months of age. Nexgard is best suited to dogs and puppies above 8 weeks of age. Comfortis is recommended for dogs and cats above 14 weeks of age, and Capstar is suited to puppies and kittens above 4 weeks of age.
- The Cost of the Pill: Flea pills for dog products can get pricey. The cheapest flea treatment product is Capstar, but each dose only lasts for 24 hours, so it is important to evaluate the length of efficacy with the cost of each dose. The most expensive flea tablet seems to be Comfortis, averaging at nearly $90 per box.
- Your Dog’s Weight Class: Each flea treatment can only be used for a certain weight class. Make sure you know your dog’s weight before you make a purchase. If using a prescription product, your veterinarian will give you this information.
- Does your Dog have a History of Seizures: Dogs with a history of seizures may have an increased risk of episodes should they use a flea product from the Isoxazaline group of preventatives.
- Owner’s Compliance: We love our dogs, but sometimes we can be quite forgetful about medicating our pets properly. If you have a busy schedule, then Capstar may not be the best choice for you since you will need to give one pill daily. Several companies that produce flea and tick products have websites that enable you to sign up for email reminders when it is time to medicate your dog.
- Do You Have Cats who May Also Be Affected by Fleas or Ticks: If you’ve got cats in your home, then chances are they are likely going to contract fleas or ticks with their doggie friends. In such a case, it’s important to consider using flea products for dogs and cats.
So What are the Best Flea Pills for Dogs?
All of the flea treatments listed above will do what they are designed for. Ultimately, the choice of choosing the best flea pills for dogs depends on the owner’s preference, their dog’s medical history and lifestyle, and the budget of the owner.
Dr. Lisa Steinberg says, “New flea and tick products are frequently evolving for pets, so it is important to consult with your veterinarian to know which is the best current product for your pet and situation. Most available products work very well with minimal side effects, and some topical products also have repellent. A product should be chosen based on what is safe and easiest to administer and will have the best chance to work.
For example, a topical product will not be fully effective if you have your dog bathed and groomed frequently or if your dog swims regularly. Many people are nervous about using these chemicals, but the truth is that the diseases that fleas and ticks carry can cause far more severe diseases than these products.”