A lot of people don’t have issues in giving their dogs over-the-counter flea treatments. An understandable decision, if you weren’t planning on using the best dog flea treatment available for your dog’s specific requirements, or if you don’t know how to pick one to begin with.
In this article, you’ll be able to quickly brush up on the different types of flea treatments – how they work, how long they last, as well as how to pick one that caters to your dog’s size, breed, weight, and age. Because yes; these things matter a lot.
Best Dog Flea Treatment
Best Dog Flea Treatment Reviews
1. Advantage II Small Dog
The Advantage II for small dogs is a Bayer product known for its ability to handle all forms of fleas. It uses one of the most powerful active ingredients on the market and offers a good amount of residual control too.
You can use Advantage II on any dog as long as it’s over seven weeks of age. The formula features some waterproofing too, for use about one hour after application. However, washing your dog afterwards is still not advised. At least not until the signs of infestation have severely decreased.
The main ingredients are Imidacloprid (9.10%) and Pyriproxyfen (0.46%). One box of Advantage II contains four tubes, each one carrying .4ml of formula. Along with killing fleas in all growth cycles, this treatment is great because it’s easy to apply and because it helps deal with other parasites too.
It will also prevent lice infestations as well as treat them. In addition, it’s been shown to be effective at fending off ticks. Note that it won’t kill ticks outright, but it will act as a deterrent. Due to the concentration of the main active ingredients, each tube should be enough for one month in small dogs and puppies.
Any product that’s safe to use on poor flea-infested puppies is good to have on hand. But, the Advantage II goes one step further in this sense as it offers a solution specially formulated for puppies, less toxic, and less dependent on weight than other products.
This may not be the ideal solution if you own a large breed dog. Whilst still feasible, it may be trickier or more expensive to get the correct dosage. Not to mention that applying two tubes at the same time will be difficult.
2. Direct Protect Plus Medium
As you might have guessed, the Direct Protect Plus Medium has been formulated for medium-sized dogs between 23 and 44lbs. It’s a powerful formula that has superior waterproofing, and that offers impressive residual control.
The active ingredients are 9.8% Fipronil and 8.8% (S)-Methoprene, both of which are usually staples of high-end multipurpose flea treatments. These two ingredients, combined with the rest, can handle flea eggs, larvae, and adult fleas. This means that they can take care of a flea infestation from top to bottom.
The formula is also effective against mosquitoes, ticks, and lice, but it isn’t a tick killer, more of a repellent. With this treatment, you can also provide protection from reinfestation. One small Direct Protect Plus Medium applicator contains 0.135oz of formula, which is enough for three applications, over a duration of about six months.
You can use this treatment for any dogs older than eight weeks. It will take roughly that long to develop a strong immune system for the dog to handle the potent formula. What’s also great is that you may not have to bother your dog with a smelly collar either, given the long-lasting residual effect.
The long-lasting effect is perhaps the main selling point here. It doesn’t happen often that 0.045oz of flea treatment will kill and protect for up to two months. On top of that, being able to still take your dog out for a walk after applying the treatment, even if it’s pouring outside, is a nice quality of life feature.
There aren’t that many important drawbacks to mention except for the wonky applicator. It’s not the easiest to use if you’re in a hurry, and you may experience some issues when trying to reseal it.
3. Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo
It’s hard to imagine a dog that doesn’t like taking a bath, right? If your dog can’t wait for his next trip to the bathtub, then you might want to kill two birds with one stone and use this Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo as your number one flea treatment option.
The formula is a lot more powerful than you might think, hence the reason it’s recommended against fleas, lice, and even ticks. It contains (S)-Methoprene, Pyriporoxyfen, as well as other ingredients. Even though this formula doesn’t have high concentrations of these active ingredients, it’s still recommended for dogs of 12 weeks or older.
If you’re worried about covering too much of your dog’s skin with the treatment, you should know that it has an aloe component, which gives it a soothing effect. It will also allow you to get it in deeper into thick coats.
After rinsing away some dead fleas, some live fleas, and the shampoo, the formula keeps working. It provides up to 28 days of residual control, which means that all the eggs should eventually die off. Just make sure that you leave the shampoo on for at least five minutes for it to start working its magic.
The two-in-one action of a shampoo and flea treatment is what makes this product one of the most attractive, and potentially best dog flea treatments for any dog that loves its water. It’s very easy to use, and it also contains some of the most powerful active ingredients on the market.
The dosage on this shampoo is a bit unclear. Although the recommended application is one or two tablespoons of shampoo for a bath, it doesn’t specify for what weight. This means that you may have to repeat the process after about 10 days if you’re not seeing any improvements.
4. Dog MD Maximum Defense QuickTabs
This is a Nitenpyram-based formula designed for dogs between 2lbs and 25lbs. Each box contains six tablets, which makes it a good value pack when planning long-term.
If you’re looking for something that works quickly, then the Dog MD QuickTabs may be for you. These tablets start working in under 30 minutes and can easily take care of adult fleas, larvae, and eggs. Granted the tabs aren’t pleasant, and you may find it hard to feed them to your dog, but the rate of dispersal through the bloodstream and kill rate is nothing short of impressive.
You should also know that because these take care of the problem so quickly, the tablets don’t feature an insect growth regulator too. In a way, this makes them less toxic to the animal than other similar products, but it also means that you’ll need to apply something else for infestation prevention.
A flea collar might be enough. The effect of the pills lasts for a few hours, maybe one day, depending on what your dog’s weight is in the recommended weight class. This means that you might want to isolate your pet in a room that hasn’t also been infected so that new parasites can’t move in once the effect of the pill wears off.
If all you need is something that works very fast and can deal with some fleas before their family can be classified as an infestation, then the Dog MD QuickTabs are some of the fastest-acting flea treatments on the market, for all growth cycles.
The lack of residual control may be an issue in cases of extreme infestations. When the pill effect wears off, other fleas from around the house can claim your dog’s coat.
5. Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment
Another faster-than-light type of oral treatment comes courtesy of Capstar. These small oral tablets are easy to give to your dog by tricking him with a treat or two first, and the effects start showing in roughly half an hour after administration.
Quick and painless best describes how this treatment works. The first adult fleas start falling off after 30 minutes, with most larvae and eggs soon to follow. You get six tablets in one pack, which means that you can treat your dog for up to six days.
You should note that this formula doesn’t offer residual control since it doesn’t feature insect growth regulators. But, this also means that there’s less risk of a toxic buildup in the dog’s system. Hence why you can use it a few days in a row.
The recommended dosage is 11.4mg for dogs up to 25lbs and 57mg for dogs between 25.1lbs and 125lbs. However, it’s unclear exactly how much you should give a medium- to large-sized dog. Also, keep in mind that even though this formula is also recommended for cats, it seems to take a bit longer to work when used on cats, so it may not be as efficient.
In normal infestations, nothing too severe, most fleas and eggs should die in about four hours after administration. This is a very good timeline considering how affordable the treatment is.
No residual control is far from ideal if you’re dealing with a whole house infestation. It will force you to clear out the house of fleas entirely before this formula starts being effective. Failing to do so will just have you repeat the treatment day after day, which is not good in the long-run.
Best Dog Flea Treatment Buyer’s Guide
Here are some of the highlights you should keep in mind when comparing flea treatments for dogs. Not all of them use the same ingredients, and not all of them deal with infestations in the same way.
Types of Flea Treatment
There are two main types of flea treatments, systemic and topical. The main difference between them is in how they work and spread.
Systemic flea treatments are treatments that can be applied on the skin or ingested orally. After being applied, the substances in the treatment will be absorbed into the bloodstream and will begin infecting fleas as soon as they take a bite. These treatments can come in the form of pills or drops.
Topical treatments cover a wide range of products such as drops, powders, gels, shampoos, and pretty much anything else that doesn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream. These treatments are preferred when dealing with all types of parasites, including larvae and eggs, and also when you want more residual control.
Special mention – flea collars
Although a lot of people might recommend you use a collar as a flea treatment, you should know that most self-respecting vets won’t share the same thoughts. Flea collars are very inefficient at killing fleas or eggs.
But, they’re still a type of treatment because they provide damage control. After giving your pet a topical or systemic flea treatment that kills the fleas, using a collar is a good way of preventing new fleas from settling in and starting a big family.
Because they’re less toxic to dogs, one big advantage of flea dog collars is that you can use them on puppies too, since the majority of them don’t release any toxins on the skin or coat.
This is where you have to weigh your options carefully as some systemic flea treatments can be very targeted and may not offer a complete treatment. Sometimes using a combination of two treatments in succession is recommended, like using a flea killer and then a collar to repel future parasites from settling in.
Duration of Treatment
How long will the treatment last, and how long until it starts working are two of the most common questions dog owners ask their vets. The thing is, the answers always differ from one product to another.
Since you’re dealing with two durations, let’s break things down. How long a treatment lasts is also referred to as residual control, or how long does the formula keep working in case other fleas decide to move into your dog’s coat.
Some treatments can last up to one month after application. Others may only work for a couple of days. Depending on what you’re looking for, some will have better value for you than others. You should also keep in mind that different types of treatments offer various levels of residual control. Systemic treatments rarely last as much as topical treatments.
When it comes to kill speed, again, things differ based on the active ingredients and on how you apply the treatment. For example, systemic treatments are very efficient. But, you’ll have to wait until a flea bites your dog for it to die. Believe it or not, fleas won’t constantly bite your pet even though they’ve set up shop in his coat.
Topical treatments can kill in an area of effect. When fleas get to where you’ve spread the solution, they’ll die fairly quickly without even getting to taste some blood. But, the coverage provided by topical solutions is smaller compared to systemic treatments that get spread through the bloodstream all over the body.
With that in mind, the duration of treatment or kill efficiency is not the only factor you should be basing your decision on.
Application and Usage
Dogs are very resilient and willing to take a lot from their owners. These animals love roughhousing but also have a highly developed sense of smell. Trying to keep your dog still so that you can apply a topical flea treatment on the skin at the back of his collar won’t be the easiest thing to do. Some treatments smell so bad that even humans can’t stand them for too long.
That’s why the method of application is just as important as anything else. For systemic treatments, it’s sometimes recommended to use pills. You can grind them up and mix them with food to trick your dog into eating them. No-fuss, no muss.
But solutions that get absorbed through the skin, may not be as easy to apply.
Size of Dog
One of the most crucial aspects of buying the best dog flea treatment is finding the right formulation and dosage. Some dog breeds are very different than others and respond better to specific substances. That’s why it’s always best to check with a vet before you buy anything.
Also, keep in mind that most flea medication comes in standardized bottles or containers. This means that the doses aren’t already made for specific age groups and sizes. You should accurately weigh your dog before you give him anything.
But, the weight of your dog may also impact your purchase, just as his breed might. That’s because some flea treatment formulas are so potent, that they may be too much for your dog to handle. Or the other way around
Extent of the Infestation
The extent of the infestation is a tricky subject. On the one hand, it should matter a lot. That’s because the more fleas your dog has, the more dangerous the situation. Not only that, but the risk of spreading the infestation all over the house and to other pets is even higher.
In a situation like this, you’ll probably be inclined to pick a flea treatment that’s super aggressive and can take care of business in a matter of days. On the other hand, using a product that’s too strong may not be good for your dog’s health.
So how do you weigh this all up? Always make your dog’s health your main priority. Even if a flea infestation is way out of control, don’t use a product that’s too powerful unless recommended. Less potent flea killers can still work, and will work just fine, they’ll just take longer to complete the task.
But, you’ll still be able to see daily improvements in the form of more dead fleas around the house and less scratching from your dog.
Dog Flea Treatment FAQ’s
How Important are Your Dog’s Weight and Age When Choosing a Tick and Flea Prevention Product?
It depends on what type of flea killer you’re using. If you’re using a topical flea prevention product, then the weight and age of your dog may not matter as much. But, for systemic products, age and weight is are highly important.
Keep in mind that some weight considerations are important even with topical products. One of the clear indicators is the fact that dog flea treatments, even topical ones, aren’t recommended for cats due to the obvious size and weight differences.
Getting the correct dosage will be essential if you want to avoid harming your dog. That’s because systemic flea treatments are absorbed into the bloodstream. They then poison and kill fleas and ticks after biting the animal, as opposed to when they come in contact with a treated surface.
You should also pay special attention to puppies younger than six or eight weeks. Most vets won’t recommend a systemic flea treatment as their organism is not yet developed enough to handle toxic flea treatments.
Can I Use Flea Treatment if my Dog is on Other Medication?
It’s not uncommon for a flea treatment to be in the same class of medications as other products your dog may be taking. It’s usually best to avoid giving dogs systemic flea treatments if they’re on medication.
It’s also very important not to combine different types of flea treatments. Doing so can lead to a buildup of toxins in the dog’s system.
How Often Should I Give my Dog Flea Treatment?
This will depend on what the recommendations are for the specific treatment you’re using. Some treatments are very powerful and shouldn’t be reapplied less than one month after the first application.
Others can be applied again after one or two weeks if the flea infestation is out of control. But, at the end of the day, it’s always best to stick to the instructions on the label and the vet’s recommendation. Not all flea treatments can be used in the same way and with the same frequency.
How Long do You Have to Wait to Wash a Dog After Flea Treatment?
Believe it or not, there are some products that actually suggest washing a dog after applying a flea treatment. But, in order for most flea treatments to be effective, waiting two or three days before washing your dog will be important.
Some flea treatments take a long time to sink in. If your dog has a thick coat, you might want to wait even longer before the treatment is absorbed. Therefore, you may also be asking yourself, how do you deal with a dirty, stinky dog that also has a flea infestation?
If that’s the case, then an anti-flea shampoo could be your solution. Instead of using a separate treatment, use a hybrid formula that lets you wash your dog, scrub him down really well, and also introduces a substance that kills fleas.
How Long Does it Take for Fleas to Die After Flea Treatment?
The efficiency and speed of flea treatments vary wildly between products. The type of treatment, oral or systemic, the weight and age of your dog, the potency of the formula, the specific substances used, and even the degree of infestation all play their part in this.
Some treatments can kill fleas within 24 hours. Others may take a couple of days before they kill all fleas.
Another thing you should be aware of is whether or not the treatment you chose will also work against larvae and eggs. Residual control is very important if your pet spends a lot of time outside, or if you didn’t use a flea treatment on your carpets and bedding.
The Direct Plus Medium is a strong best dog flea treatment contender. With its only minor drawback being a clunky applicator, it’s hard to look past all the solid selling points like the fast-acting formula, premium ingredients, and impressive residual effect.
That’s not to say that the other treatments in this article aren’t also very good in certain situations. The tablets kill fleas faster than anything, while the shampoo makes the experience a lot more enjoyable for your pet.
Pick the one you think will work best based on your dog’s personality and the features explained in our buyer’s guide.