Types and Brands of Dog Flea Medicine

"Many types of dog flea medicine can be used to protect your dog from getting fleas, and for treating a flea infestation if your puppy gets fleas. The most popular canine flea medicine is Program (use Sentinel as an alternative to also prevent against various worms and some forms of mange - see below), which is a tablet taken with food 1x per month. If you dog currently has fleas, combine a preventative with a product that works immediately to kill adult fleas such as a shampoo, dip or Capstar. "

When selecting a dog flea medicine, you need to think of getting rid of fleas where your dog lives and also protecting your dog. Flea medicines protect your dog by killing fleas that bite or could bite your pet. Since fleas don't live on your dog, but only jump on when they want to bite, you also need to clean where they live.

Use of dog flea medicine is the best way to keep adult fleas from biting your dog. Popular brands include Program (lufenuron), Frontline Spot On and Advantage. Note that some products are only good for adult dogs and may in fact harm puppies. Be sure to read labels carefully.

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Recommended Dog Flea Medicine Approach

If you have a puppy, check with your veterinarian as many dog flea medicine products cannot be used on dogs that are under 2 months.  A dog should be on a monthly dog flea prevention program.  Use an oral dog flea tablet (Program, Sentinel), or dog flea spot on (Advantage, Advantix or Frontline Plus) product.  Tablets are the most popular form.

If your dog already has fleas, use dog flea shampoo to kill the fleas that are on your dog.  

It is important to also remove fleas from your dogs and your home to avoid any re infestation.  Begin by vacuuming the entire area. Use a quality home disinfectant such as Benzarid. Wash all items including the dog bed.

In addition to the above a herbal flea, mosquito and fly shampoo could help to naturally repel fleas such as Botanical Flea Shampoo.

Types of Dog Flea Medicine

There are six types of dog flea medicine for getting rid of the fleas on your dog. When applying dog flea medicine be careful to avoid the eyes. Sometimes the face is easier to treat by putting the products on your hands and then rubbing it into your dog. Be sure not to miss any area of the dog with these products. Your dog should be completely covered.

Canine Flea Shampoo - Most dog flea shampoo products contain dog flea medicine that helps to kill fleas on your dog. The problem is that they do not prevent the fleas from coming back after the bath. Also is you don't bathe the dog correctly, the fleas will jump from the part you are washing to other parts osf the dog. To avoid this problem, soap your dog from the head going back. Use a flea comb through the hair, frequently dunking the comb under water to kill the fleas as you go. Once the foam is all over your dog, let it soak in for approximately 15 minutes before washing your pet off.

One product to consider is Botanical Flea Shampoo It is a new product that helps to deter fleas, flies and mosquitoes for dogs. 

Canine Flea Foam - A foam is similar to a hair mousse. It is easy to apply and doesn't require a bath. You need to rub into every part of the coat. The only disadvantage is that you are not cleaning your dog at the same time, so if their is any residual from the fleas, it will not be washed away.

Canine Flea Spray - Sprays tend to be easier to apply than other products and aren't messy. The best way to apply is to brush your dogs hair backward and then apply as close to the hair roots as possible. Avoid the face and eyes by spraying your hand and then rubbing into the face.

Canine Flea Powder - Very easy to apply. Just be sure to get the powder to the roots.  Powders are applied 2 to 3x per week and aren't good for dogs that then tend to lick their fur, as they will ingest the product.

Canine Flea Spot-on - These are oil based products such as Advantage and Frontline Plus that are put on one or two spots on your dog's back. This type of dog flea medicine is safe. You use gloves to avoid irritation on human hands. They work when you spread the oil throughout the skin, killing the fleas. These products are very popular since they last for several months (1 to 3), and many kill other parasites like ticks or heartworms. This type of treatment often needs a Veterinarian's prescription and can be expensive. Watch the area where it is applied since some dogs are allergic to the treatment. If your dog is allergic you will see some redness where the oil has been applied.

Some do not work immediately and cannot be used if your dog has recently taken a bath, since they require that there is enough natural oil in your dogs coat. To apply, create a part in your dog's hair and drip the oil right on the skin. Be sure to do it where the dog cannot lick it off such as where the shoulder blades are.

Dog Flea Medicine Spot-ons that you buy in the store are different than prescription spot-ons. Cheaper products use the drug permethrin (same as shampoos except the natural PetAlive product mentioned above). This chemical works against most, but not all types of fleas. Do not use this chemical if you also have cats.

Prescription and expensive products have a chemical called fipronil (kills fleas, dog ticks and deer ticks), imidacloprid or selamectin (also prevents heartworm, kills mites, dog ticks, ear mites).

Preventing Fleas with Dog Flea Medicine

There are 4 types of dog flea medicine for preventing fleas.

  • Dog Flea Collars: Although popular, they do not always work as they don't kill all fleas.  When you put a dog flea collar onto a dog, you should be able to slip 2 fingers under the collar.  Also, consider airing out a collar for a day, once it is removed from the box, to reduce the chance of any skin sensitivity to the chemicals used.  If you see any unusual symptoms in your dog such as diarrhea, drooling or an unusual walk, the collar should be discontinued.
  • Dog Flea Powder, Foam, Sprays: These products work, but do not last more than one to two weeks.
  • Dog Flea Spot-on (Advantage, Frontline Plus): See below. Tend to work for 1 to 3 months.
  • Dog Flea Pills (Program):  Taken by your pet 1x a month. These products are effective but can be beyond the budget of many owners. You need your Veterinarian to provide you with a prescription.

Brands of Dog Flea Medicine and Products for Dog Flea Prevention

Program (lufenuron)Program is the most popular dog flea medicine available. This method requires you to give your dog one tablet with food 1x a month. This method works when the flea bites the dog; a substance enters the flea that keeps flea eggs from hatching. If your dog already has fleas, Program can take 30 to 60 days to work. To speed up progress, combine this drug with a flea shampoo, Advantage,  Frontline or Capstar.

Note do not use Program with puppies that are under 6 weeks, but can be used on pregnant dogs.

Sentinel (Milbemycin Oxime, Lufenuron) - Canine Sentinel works like Program in that it comes in a 1x a month pill form and is administered with food.  It goes beyond what Program offers by having the added benefit of preventing canine heartworm, whipworm ascarids and hookworms.   It can also act as a miticide for certain kinds of mange.  If your dog currently has fleas, combine with a product like Capstar that will immediately kill adult fleas.

Capstar (nitenpyram) - Capstar is administered to dogs 1x per day, and works to quickly eliminate adult fleas.  The product does not prevent fleas, so it can be used with pregnant dogs.  Capstar works within 30 minutes and will provide protection for 24 hours.  It is often used with a longer term preventative such as Revolution as noted above. The product works by interfering with the nerve transmission of insects, which kills the fleas.  using the ingredient Nitenpyram.  Capstar is good to have on hand, since if your dog is re infested, just administer another tablet, not to exceed the 1x a day limit. 

Advantage, Bayer (imidacloyrid)Advantage Liquid that is applied between your dog’s shoulder blades 1x a month. After the liquid is put on your dog’s skin, 98% to 100% of canine fleas are killed within 12 hours. Very easy to apply and kills or debilitates adult fleas on contact. The good news is that Advantage is not toxic and not absorbed into your dog’s body. The medication does not harm people. Advantage for dog fleas  stops   Advantage stops fleas from biting in 3to 5 minutes, and it will kill between 98% to 100% of fleas in 12 hours. Advantage also will kill fleas before they lay eggs, so their life cycle is broken. 

The disadvantage of this approach is that Advantage does not repel fleas and if your dog gets wet, you should apply the treatment again. You can apply Advantage as much as 1x a week. Do not use Advantage on puppies that are younger than 7 weeks, on pregnant or female dogs that are producing milk.

Frontline Plus/Frontline Spray (fipromil, merial)Frontline Plus is a liquid that is applied to your dogs skin. It kills fleas in 24 to 48 hours. Unlike Advantage, Frontline still works if your dog gets wet. The product lasts for up to 90 days and also kills ticks for 30 days. Kills adult fleas, disrupts the flea life cycle, very easy to apply, kills ticks and the spray makes application easy.

Disadvantages include that Frontline Plus does not repel fleas. After bath some reduced effectiveness. Must give with food. Do not use Frontline on puppies that are younger than 10 weeks (spray 8 weeks). Ask your Veterinarian about pregnant dogs.

Advantix (Imidacloprid and 44% permethrin)k9 Advantix dog flea control  kills adult fleas on contact, interrupts life cycle, repels fleas, very easy to use and kills ticks and mosquitoes.  It is a topical that is applied to the dog's skin 1x per month.  Advantix stops fleas from biting in under five minutes and kills the fleas prior to the laying of eggs.  It also kills flea larva, so they don't grow into adult fleas.

K9 Advantix can be used with puppies after age 7 weeks and any size dog.  It also protects against ticks and mosquitoes.  

This is a good choice for dogs that are frequently going into water. Advantix for dogs does it ability to kill fleas after swimming or getting wet.  According to the manufacturer it will kill 97.9%-100% of ticks and 92.5%-100% of fleas. After bathing, it kills 97.4-100% of ticks and fleas.  

Revolution (Selamectin)Revolution for dogs is liquid that is applied 1x a month that prevents fleas and heartworm It does this by keeping flea eggs from hatching. Kills many internal and external parasites, kills adult canine fleas, larvae and eggs. Kills ticks and some mites. Very easy to apply. Does not repel fleas, some reduced effectiveness after bath.  This product is also used to treat dog ear mite Infestations, Sarcoptic Mange, and the American Dog Tick.

Adams Plus Flea Collar (Precor): The Adams Plus Flea collar for dogs can be helpful  If you live in an area where ticks are a problem. This particular collar will continue working for 5 months and does not lose effectiveness when wet.


Sarcoptes, Demodex, and Otodectes: Treatment Options
R.S. Mueller
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.

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