Fleas are the worst enemies not only of street animals but also of pets who literally are ready to peel their own skin off just to get rid of these bloodthirsty insects. A pet can get fleas even if it doesn’t go outside, as you can bring fleas’ eggs on shoes. This happens very seldom, but happens nevertheless. Yes, fleas don’t settle on humans, but who would be indifferent to their pet’s suffering from such a problem. Bloodsuckers have to be rid of by all means! In addition, these disgusting insects can bite humans, and they also can transmit infections and thus contaminate humans. Here you'll learn how to get rid of fleas on dogs and what are the best flea medicine, drops, sprays and shampoos.
Table of Contents:
- 5 Signs of Flea Infestation on Dogs
- Collars and Combs
- Why Is It Necessary to Comb Your Dog?
- The Best Flea Medicine for Dogs
- The Best Shampoo
- The Best Drops
- The Best Sprays
Primary infection is not easy to identify unless you pay careful attention to the mood of the pet and to its fur. Your dog or cat doesn’t have to scratch; it may bite certain body parts or lick them thoroughly. If you pay attention to this in time, you’ll be able to find small white grains which look like salt or rice in the fur or furniture and which are in fact flea eggs. Also, it will be useful to read about how to get rid of ticks on dogs.
If you’re a bit late, the eggs in the fur, carpet, on the floor and in the furniture will become larvae, pupae and finally they’ll grown into adults. That’s when having them becomes obvious:
- The pet often itches (pay special attention to the back and to the belly).
- There are small wounds after scratching.
- The pet is anxious, it shrugs often as the bloodsuckers’ bites are very painful.
- It loses the appetite, looks worse and some fur loss may occur locally.
- Besides white eggs, the fleas’ black feces can be found in the fur. The fleas can’t yet dispose of their waste without it going unnoticed. The threat of feces is that the larvae, which are unpretentious, feed on them and thus gain energy to grow up and enter the “army” of grown nippers.
These signs are not hard to notice and they certainly can’t be ignored. There are enough flea control products on the modern market, such as collars and combs, treatment tablets, shampoos, drops and sprays.
How to Get Rid Of Fleas on Dogs According to the Scientists
Scientists distinguish such effective pet treatments as shampoos, dusts, combing, oral and topical treatments such as imidaclioprid (Advantage™ for cats and Advantix™ for dogs) and fipronil (Frontline™).
- Drops. The experts from the University of California consider topical treatment the most state-of-the-art and effective control product: The spot-on formulations available from veterinarians or via the Internet are much easier to use than baths or sprays and are more acceptable to the animal and pet owner. A few drops of the spot-on formula applied to the animal’s shoulder blades move through the animal’s coat or are absorbed into the animal’s skin, providing whole-body treatment.
- Dusts are considered safer than shampoos or sprays because they have no solvent to carry pesticide through skin, but dusts have their own problems. Dusts or powders can’t be controlled and can become airborne or ingested by pets during grooming, as warn the University of Florida specialists.
- Flea collars (insecticidal or IGR) are short-term treatments, and should only be used for six days or less.
- Oral Treatments are suitable if your pet is fond of swimming and you are afraid that another anti-flea product will get washed off. In that case opt for Nitenpyram (Capstar), which provides rapid knockdown of fleas right on their host within 30 minutes. The effect lasts for about 48 hours. Your second option is to use the insect development inhibitor lufenuron (Program) that can be given as a pill to dogs or as a food additive for cats once a month to suppress flea population growth. It doesn’t kill adults, but does prevent insect reproduction.
- As for the popular vitamin B, brewer’s yeast, or garlic no scientific proof of their effectiveness exists.
How Flea Control Products for Dogs Work
|Type||Ingredients||Action||Peculiarities and Restrictions|
|Drops||Permethrin, imidacloprid, fipronil, dinotefuran||Act on the parasites' CNS and kill within 12-18 hours on contact||This is the most effective and safe topical treatment.|
|Tablets||Nitenpyram||Fast killing effect within four hours||A quick and effective oral treatment. A single Capstar (nitenpyram) tablet is enough for killing adults.|
|lufenuron (IGR)||Prevents egg and larvae from developing into biting adults.||Is used strictly as a preventive measure.|
|Collars||Imidacloprid, flumethrin||Repel pests||According to the scientists, cannot be used for over six days.|
|Combs||–||Manual elimination of adult fleas, eggs and feces||A supplementary measure. Comb your pet as often as possible until there are no traces of parasite presence.|
|Shampoos||Permethrin||Act on the parasites' CNS and kill on contact||A supplementary measure for small-scale infestation. Repeat once in a few days.|
|Organic Sprays||Clove extract, peppermint oil, pyrethrins||Kill on contact||Requires caution. Spray it on your pet's skin and fur in places that your dog cannot reach to lick. It can be used both on home surfaces and outdoors.|
|Chemical Sprays||Fipronil||Kill on contact and maintain repelling effect for up to 30 days||Requires caution. Spray it on your pet's skin and fur in places that your dog cannot reach to lick.|
|Dusts||Permethrin, Diatomaceous Earth||Kill on contact||Requires extreme caution! Dust should never enter a pet's body.|
As you might have noticed, there is a great number of external flea control methods for dogs. Drops are more powerful than shampoos - few drops will be enough. Bayer Advantix are considered to be the best flea drops.
Bayer K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Control Treatment for Dogs
This topical treatment is supposed to wreck the fleas’ breeding cycle, i.e. kill the eggs, the larvae and adults, and to repel the fleas from your dog within a month afterwards. Repeat the cycle after a month. Judging by over 2600 customers’ reviews and high customer rating, the product is really good. Many dog owners use it as a preventive measure for years, and their pets have forgotten what ticks and fleas are.
As for the possible drawbacks, they are the same as usual. Any external use product can cause a skin allergy, that’s why it is recommended to first test it on the skin. If all is well, apply Advantix Flea Drops on the withers and the surface of the dog's shoulders and on back down to the tail. In this way, you should apply the drops where a dog cannot lick them off, so belly and feet are out of question!
The main active substance is the above mentioned permethrin (which makes up for 44% of the whole product). Mind that products with high permethrin concentration cannot be used for cats.
By the way, the drops are waterproof and don’t lose their properties after the dog gets washed. You can pick a pack according to the weight of the dog and to the required amount of ampoules in a pack (from 2 to 6 for each month).
Price: ~ from $32 to $54 Check the current price
Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for 45 to 88-Pound Dogs and Puppies
A single pack of this best-selling product for ~$34.19 contains 3 doses of drops, each of which will provide a whole month of pest protection for your pet. The drops’ active ingredients are fipronil and S-methoprene. The former kills adult fleas, ticks and lice, while the latter is an IGR and prevents eggs and larvae from hatching and growing.
Frontline drops are applied on the withers and between shoulder blades. Spread the fur and apply some drops on your pet’s skin. The drops are water-resistant, so don’t be afraid that they will wash off when washing or swimming in a pond. They promise to kill 100% of adult fleas within eighteen hours and 100% of ticks within 48 hours after use.
The feedback concerning the product varies greatly, but this fact doesn’t prevent Frontline Plus drops from remaining a #1 Best seller in the Dog Flea Drops category on Amazon.com. You can read over 1700 customer reviews to find out what the dog owners think of these drops.
Frontline manufactures drops for dogs of various weights, starting with the tiniest breeds.
Price: for 5-22 Pound Dogs: ~$31 Check the current price
Price: for 23-44 Pound Dogs: ~$34.94 Check the current price
Price: for 45 to 88-Pound Dogs: ~$34.19 Check the current price
You should start combating fleas when they are still nowhere to be seen. That’s why any dog which goes outside occasionally needs to have a flea collar. It can’t kill huge amounts of bloodsuckers, but it does well as a repellent. Naturally, it has certain chemicals, but they are mild enough no to provoke irritation even if worn for a long time, for several months, for example.
We won’t elaborate on the for a long time and we’ll simply cover the best collar for dogs, Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Pet. This is a #1 Best seller in the Basic Dog Collars category on Amazon.com. This collar can be worn for 8 months, but if the animal often takes a swim, this period is reduced to only 5 months. The active ingredients are imidacloprid and flumethrin, which are the most common insecticides for getting rid of fleas approved by the EPA. The collar costs ~$53.55 (large), the price depends on the size of your dog.
If the dog already has fleas, the collar will be an additional sanative measure. In that case the first thing to do is combing. You have to comb the dog as often as possible if you want to get rid of fleas. Comb along and against the fur, raise the fur carefully and look for small and dark grains. Take a sheet of paper and make combing on it, as all of the findings will be well seen on a white background.
If you sport some black dots and spots on the fur, and you’re in doubts whether it is dirt or fleas, you can carry out the following test. Flea feces are the pet’s undigested blood, so if you dissolve it in water, the water will redden. This will help you make sure that this is really flea infestation.
You should comb both cats and dogs with special combs with stiff and frequent bristle like Safari Flea Comb with a Double Row of Teeth. This cut-rate brush with two rows of bristles has become #1 Best Seller of all similar products on Amazon.com because of its efficiency and price of ~$4.33. Customers recommend cleaning the comb in a cup with soapy water while brushing the animal and replacing the water until is stays pure without any eggs, fleas or their feces. The users say: «It's cheap. It's sturdy. It's easy to clean», and even such a reserved praise for the product is a proof of its reliability. This comb has 85% of positive customers’ reviews, and you can read over 1400 reviews on Amazon.com.
At this point, when the infection has not yet become a large-scale one, it is also important to have time to take advantage of natural flea repellents, which are dog tablets.
You may and you should combat the fleas not only on the outside, but also on the inside with the help of special chewing tablets. Here are some brief facts about them:
- They usually smell attractive for animals (like meat, for example);
- They contain vitamins for health and beauty of the pet;
- Once they are in the animal’s body, the skin begins to exude a strong odor which repels fleas but cannot be felt by humans;
- For a lingering effect it’s important that a dog either follows a course treatment or is treated with a single-use tablet. That’s why it’s important to read the manual carefully!
Novartis Capstar Flea Tablets for Dogs and Cats - Fast Knockdown
This ~$21.89 product with active ingredient Nitenpyram is a fast knockdown. To get rid of fleas on your dog a single dose is enough. The tablets are designed for the animals weighing from 2 to 25 lb. They can be given to both cats and dogs as early as 4 weeks after they are born. A single dose is a single tablet (regardless of how much exactly the animal weighs within the range of 2-25 lb). The manufacturer promises that it works in 4 hours for dogs and 6 hours for cats. But don’t think this is enough though. It is necessary to comb the animal to get rid of the remnants of feces and eggs.
Price: ~$21.89 Check the current price
The same manufacturer took care of larger dogs. Another product, Novartis Capstar for Dogs over 25 lbs GREEN, works just the previous one, but it is effective for larger breeds. They need another dose of active chemicals. The main thing is to keep in mind that this measure is supplementary to other abovementioned activities. The manufacturers allow feeding these tablets to cats… But it won’t be easy to find a cat of the relevant size!
Price: ~$20.99 Check the current price
Program Oral Treatment for Small Dogs 14.5 - 44 Lbs
Unlike Capstar, French Program tablets do not kill adult fleas. Their active ingredient, lufenuron (IGR), does not cause an immediate effect as, just like any other IGR, it takes time to fully stop the breeding.
A ~$36.90 pack contains six tablets for use once a month. Judging by the satisfied reviews, this is indeed effective, as some dog owners have been using Program successfully for several years. They claim that this oral treatment relieves them from any need to use any topical products. These tablets are suitable for any dogs heavier than 14.5-44 lbs, including pregnant females and pups. Give this treatment to your pet with a piece of solid food for best effect. Don’t forget to wash your hands after touching these tablets!
Larger breeds require tablets with a different dosage, such as Program Oral Treatment for Large Dogs for ~$42. if your pet weighs over 90 lbs, give two tablets per month instead of one.
Price: Program for small dogs: ~$36.90 Check the current price
Price: Program for large dogs ~$42 Check the current price
If your dog has few fleas, you can use insecticide shampoos which paralyze and kill fleas. This method is less popular as not all dogs like getting washed and since the effect of the shampoo only lasts for a few days. You’ll have to reapply the product then, but some of the animals are not as diligent as others and thus are not willing to sit tight for a couple of minutes before washing off the shampoo. That’s why this is often used on puppies who are easier to keep in place (make sure you read the manual before using the shampoo, as there may be age restrictions for use. You should also test it for allergies: when you use it for the first time, mix the anti-flea shampoo with a regular one and check if there’s any skin reaction).
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor
Adams Plus Shampoo is a #1 Best Seller in the Dog Flea Control Shampoos category on Amazon.com. This ~$8.19 shampoo kills fleas at any age, ticks and lice, and provides 28 days of pre-adult flea control.
Its complex effect is explained by a powerful combination of its active ingredients. Adams contains pyrethrins, Precor (S-methoprene), and piperonyl butoxide. Pyrethrins are organic insecticides killing parasites on contact. Piperonyl butoxide enforces pyrethrin action. S-methoprene, being an IGR, destroys the parasites’ life cycle causing them to stop procreating. This shampoo also contains such care ingredients as aloe, lanolin, coconut extract, and oatmeal.
Adams Plus is permitted for use on pets older than twelve weeks approximately once a month. Apply 1-2 tablespoons of shampoo on their body, add some water, shake thoroughly (without touching the face, eyes and ears) and leave for five minutes. Then rinse with lots of water.
The users warn that dead parasites will be falling off your pet for a day or two following the treatment. That is why you should either keep your dog outside for this period if possible, or constantly comb it with a special comb. Otherwise, your house will be scattered with dead insects and the blood inside them. Read over 500 customer reviews to learn more helpful tips about Adams Shampoo use.
Price: ~$8.19 Check the current price
Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo
At first sight, it might seem that this ~$15.68 Adams Shampoo is identical to the previous product, but this is false. According to the manufacturer, its formula will not only cope with eggs, larvae and adult fleas, lice and ticks but will also prove “very useful in cleansing and also deodorizing”.
This shampoo contains pyrethrins, killing adult parasites, and piperonyl butoxide improving the rate of insecticide penetration of parasite bodies. S-methoprene has been replaced with another IGR, Pyriproxyfen. Like S-methoprene and other juvenile hormone analogues, Pyriproxefen is responsible for interrupting parasites’ egg and larvae development. Note that in comparison with the previous Adams shampoo, this one is less concentrated, i.e. the percentage of all active ingredients is lower.
The shampoo promises to protect your pet from repeat contamination for 30 days. Use it on animals over twelve weeks old about once a month. The users recommend washing your pet with it once in two or three weeks. Sometimes, even a single use can be effective in case of an early stage contamination.
Price: ~$15.68 Check the current price
Sprays are convenient to apply to a dog’s body, but you always have to make sure it has reached the pet’s skin by carefully moving the fur to the side.
There is a certain difficulty in using the spray, which is totally offset once you get over it. As a rule, sprays require longer application (30 minutes at the very least, read the manual for details). You’d better take your dog for a walk or play some games with it… do anything that will keep your pet from licking itself!
Vet's Best Flea & Tick Pet & Home Spray 32 oz
We love introducing best sellers to you, as we trust them greatly. In this case Vet's Spray is considered to be #1 Best Seller in the Dog Flea Spray category.
This spray for only ~$9.49 contains 2 natural active substances: clove extract and peppermint essential oil, and contains neither pyrethrins nor permethrins. The only non-organic components of the spray are preservative and an additive which makes it soapy. That’s why it can be considered safe for use, with a single “but”: pets can be allergic even to organic products, so make sure you first check the reaction on a small skin area!
Sprays kill fleas and ticks on contact. Since it is organic, you don’t have to wash it off, which is a huge advantage. Its safety made it a favorite with both cat (it can be used for kittens older than 12 weeks) and dog owners.
Among a huge number of positive reviews, you can come across some negative ones. They are connected with the fact that the reality didn’t meet people’s expectations, and the fleas didn’t disappear anywhere. This isn’t a good thing, but it happens. Those customers that were able to get rid of their pets’ fleas all agree that careful treatment of a pet’s fur and constant vacuum cleaning of floors and carpets will lead you to success. You may also read over 3900 customer reviews in order to decide whether it is worth buying for your pet and your house.
Price: ~$9.49 Check the current price
Organic spray is hard to compete with, but in order for our review to be fair, here is a fiprinol-based spray.
Frontline Flea and Tick Treatment Dog/Cat Spray, 8-1/2-Ounce
We won’t talk about essential oils here. The active component is fiprinol, a well-known insecticide which is used for exterminating various insects, including fleas and ticks. It only makes up 0.29% of Frontline Flea Treatment Spray composition, but it is powerful enough to exterminate adult lice and their eggs.
Frontline Spray is also quite popular as the customers claim it’s really cost-saving. Despite its high price of ~$28.99, the dog owners believe that this is good value for money.
Price: ~$28.99 Check the current price
10 Best Flea Drops, Collars, Combs, Tablets, Shampoos & Sprays Comparison Chart
|Product||Type||Active Ingredient||How to Use||Price|
Bayer K9 Advantix II
|Drops||Permethrin||Apply on the skin between shoulder blades.|
Merial Frontline Plus
|Drops||Fipronil and S-methoprene (IGR)||Apply on the skin between shoulder blades.|
Bayer Seresto Collar
|Collar||Imidacloprid and flumethrin||Use as a preventive measure.|
|Comb||–||Comb your dog regularly until full flea elimination.|
|Tablets||Nitenpyram||One dose is one tablet.|
Program Oral Treatment
|Tablets||Lufenuron (IGR)||One tablet per month.|
Adams Plus Shampoo
|Shampoo||Pyrethrins, S-methoprene (IGR) and piperonyl butoxide||Apply on your pet's skin and fur, leave on for a few minutes and then rinse.|
Adams Cleansing Shampoo
|Shampoo||Pyrethrins, pyriproxyfen (IGR) and piperonyl butoxide||Apply on your pet's skin and fur, leave on for a few minutes and then rinse.|
Vet's Best Home Spray
|Spray||Clove extract and peppermint essential oil||Spray on your pet's skin and fur in places that your dog cannot reach to lick.|
Frontline Spray Spray
|Fipronil||Fipronil||Spray on your pet's skin and fur in places that your dog cannot reach to lick.|
If your dog suffers from fleas regularly and severely, don’t try to treat it yourself, speak to a vet so that he/she could examine the animal and prescribe some medicine.
Read more about cat treatment: How to get rid of fleas on cats
Once you save your beloved pet from fleas, begin sanitizing your whole house immediately (or better, while still treating your pet), as they could contaminate your favorite carpet or bed. Read the instruction on how to do this properly and which products to use in our How to get rid of fleas in your house guide.