Flea Control: Ratings of Sources
In this 2016 update, veterinarian Thomas B. McMillen discusses his current take on various flea treatments and medications for dogs and cats. Pluses and minuses are noted, as are which products are most effective for specific animals and situations. Top recommendations are explicitly named.
Eric Barchas, a veterinarian with over a decade of experience, names the flea treatments he considers safest and most effective for dogs. He says the topical treatments like Advantage and Frontline "work better than many products" and "have splendid safety profiles." He also warns against some topical treatments he feels aren't as safe. Dr. Barchas says the oral medicine Comfortis is reliable, but it may cause vomiting in some dogs.
The staff of Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital in West Carrollton, Ohio, discuss the flea's life cycle and list their recommended treatments. Their top picks are the oral medicines Comfortis and Trifexis and the topical treatments Vectra 3D, Frontline Plus, and Revolution. You can also find other helpful information, such as how to control fleas in your home or yard.
Vets at All Feline Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., say that flea-control products sold through vets are "almost all very safe and effective," but they are costly. They say the best over-the counter alternatives are Frontline Plus, Advantage II and Capstar. They also note that any flea treatment must be combined with rigorous vacuuming to remove fleas from the home. They warn against using any flea product with permethrins or pyrethrins on cats.
The staff at the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif., have assembled a comprehensive set of tables that lists all vet-dispensed flea treatments, their key ingredients, whether they are oral or topical, safety information and more. No explicit recommendations are made, however.
This article is the introduction to a discussion of flea control and flea-control products, though most of the content is available only to subscribers -- including specific recommendations. That said, there's plenty of good, free advice to be had here, such as sticking only to "oral medications and spot-on products made by the most reputable and responsible manufacturers."
Parasites & Vectors is an open access scientific journal offering peer-reviewed research into all facets of controlling pests and parasites, including fleas. There are a number of studies dealing with flea control products and their effectiveness on dogs and/or cats, though the most effective way to find them is to search by product. These studies are written for a scientific rather than consumer audience, so much of the information is hard to access, but clear, plain-English conclusions are often provided. Though the research is peer reviewed, some of the authors are employed by flea control product makers.
Amazon.com sells thousands of flea products, including some with thousands of user reviews. Sorting through reviews can be difficult, as different versions of the same product are often scattered across multiple pages, but worth the effort as the user write-ups here are often far more detailed than those found on similar sites. These pages focus on products for dogs, but a similar section, with similar pluses and minuses, is available for cats as well.
This head to head comparison attempts to determine which of the top spot-on flea treatments is best for your dog. Sara Logan Wilson notes that, while Advantage II is slight less expensive than Frontline Plus, it lacks the latter's tick protection. Advantage II also works faster, though both products claim to kill fleas within 24 hours. "Bottom line: If ticks are not a concern, Advantage II is the right route for you, but if you are worried about ticks, it's better to pay a bit more and go with Frontline Plus for your pup," Wilson says.
This online pet pharmacy sells many brands of flea control products, and many products have hundreds -- and some have thousands -- of reviews from pet owners. However, reviews tend to be much shorter than the ones we see at Amazon.com.
Though associated with 1800PetMeds.com, PetMedNews.com offers unbiased and helpful news and information on all things related to pet health and well-being. The Flea & Tick Preventatives channel includes articles on how to decide between oral and topical flea treatments, additional steps to eradicate fleas from your home, why it's a bad idea to use flea treatment for dogs on cats, and more.
Like Amazon.com, Petco.com sorts its flea and tick products into separate pages for dogs and cats (this is the landing page for dogs). The most popular products receive lots of feedback -- hundreds in some cases. However, the number of reviews isn't displayed on the main navigation page, so you'll need to click through to individual products to see whether a rating is based on lots of feedback, or just a few comments. Reviews tend to be short, and only a top rating is provided.
PetSmart.com is another large retailer of flea control and other pet products. The site's shortfalls are similar to Petco.com -- you need to click through to each product to see the number of reviews its rating is based on. Once again, flea and tick products are sorted into separate pages for dogs and cats, and this is the one for dogs.
In this free article, ConsumerReports.org notes that now that the patent on fipronil has expired, money saving generic versions of Frontline are available. But, while savings can be substantial, some cautions are shared about the least expensive generic products.
International Cat Care is an international organization devoted to the welfare of cats. Its staff recommends "spot on" treatments rather than powders, collars or sprays to control fleas in cats. They also say tablets "can be useful in some situations." However, they do not recommend any specific products over others. The authors warn against relying on "alternative" remedies such as neem oil, which may not be safe or effective.
The directory of flea-control products at SimpleSteps.org, sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council, rates the safety of both traditional flea-control products and "natural" remedies, such as essential oils and diatomaceous earth. This site evaluates safety only; there's no information about effectiveness or ease of use. Information is detailed, but not very current; several of the products on the list have been discontinued or replaced and newer products are not discussed.