What every best Flea Control has:
- Works quickly and reliably.
- Kills adult fleas, eggs and larvae.
- Causes few side effects.
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.
This article is the first of a series that discusses different types of flea treatment for dogs. It delves into prescription oral medications that kill adult fleas, discussing ingredients, effectiveness, potential side effects and more. Another article on the site deals with prescription treatments that also kill eggs and larvae, as well as over-the-counter oral products. Articles that cover spot-on treatments are also promised, but are not yet available on line.
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.
Reviews.com offers a comparative review of flea treatments for dogs. Starting with just under 70 products, the editors do research and speak with experts to eliminate products that have ingredients with potential "scary side effects" as well as those that come in a form that makes it difficult for owners to use. They also looked to positives, such as the ability to kill ticks and to kill eggs and larvae in addition to adult fleas. The finalists (13 in total) are subjected to hands-on evaluations, however, those seem to focus solely on ease of use and similar factors as all are judged to be effective. Elsewhere on the site, you can find a similar review that focuses on flea treatments for cats.
In this blog post, Whole Dog Journal editor Nancy Kerns relates her own recent experience with a flea outbreak, and the steps she took so that "the flea riot was stopped in its tracks." A couple of products are named as helping eliminate the infestation. She admits that "This may make me sound like a shill for the pesticide companies, but my dogs have had far more health problems related to fleas than the flea-killing products," and adds that she's never had "much luck" with the various natural remedies.
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, 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.
Veterinarian Jon Plant, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist who runs the SkinVet clinic in Oregon, provides his take on the various flea control products. This discussion includes notes on the treatments, their effectiveness, additional parasites killed, and any downsides or special considerations.
Amazon 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.
Though associated with 1800PetMeds, Pet Health News 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, Petco 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. Reviews tend to be short, however.
PetSmart is another large retailer of flea control and other pet products. Once again, flea and tick products are sorted into separate pages for dogs and cats, and this is the one for dogs. We see a little less feedback here than at similar sites. The most popular products typically get up to 100 reviews or more, but others get only a handful.
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 Smarter Living, sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 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, but the information is fairly detailed.
This article, which was reviewed by veterinarian, provides tips on spotting and getting rid of fleas. Several products are listed, but an overall best product is not named.
In this older, free article, Consumer Reports 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.