Compare The 3 Types Of Flea And Tick Medication For Dogs From Topical to Flea Pills for Dogs - Which One Is Right For Your Dog?

A Dog Scratching His Ear

With all of the different flea and tick medications out there, from topical and collars to flea pills, choosing can be a bit overwhelming. Here are 3 types of flea and tick medications compared so you can make a decision.

When it comes to flea and tick medications, there are three types of options out there. Some, like Nexgard, take care of fleas and ticks. Others, like Advantage Multi, work on fleas and various worms. Learn the differences so you’ll be able to quickly eradicate a parasite infestation on your pup.

1. Topical Flea and Tick Medication for Dogs

Topical flea and tick medication, like shampoos, powders, and spot-on treatments, eliminate fleas with varying degrees of success. Flea powders last up to one week, while shampoos kill fleas for about one day. Both only eliminate adult fleas and are best used when combined with pills or other treatment options.

Topical spot-on treatments are most effective, destroying adult fleas, larvae, and eggs, and other parasites, and lasting about 30 days.

Topical treatments for dogs should never be used on cats unless the medication specifically indicates.

Popular Flea and Tick Topical Treatments for Dogs Include

Advantage II

  • Eliminates flea infestations at all stages of the growth cycle
  • Effective against lice, but does not kill off ticks
  • Administered monthly, lasts up to 30 days
  • The waterproof one hour after application
  • Minimum pet age: 7 weeks
  • Ingredients include: Pyriproxyfen

Frontline Plus

  • Kills ticks, chewing lice, and fleas at all stages of growth
  • Eliminates fleas in up to 12 hours
  • Used monthly, effective for 30 days
  • Waterproof
  • Minimum pet age: 8 weeks
  • Ingredients include: Fipronil, S-methoprene

K9 Advantix II

  • Effective against ticks, lice, biting flies, mosquitoes, and fleas at all stages
  • Begins working within 12 hours
  • Applied monthly, lasting up to 30 days
  • Minimum pet age: 7 weeks
  • Ingredients include: Imidacloprid, Permethrin, Pyriproxyfen

Revolution for Dogs

  • Kills fleas, ticks, and heartworm!
  • Treats and controls the spread of ear mites and sarcoptic mange
  • Applied monthly, lasting up to 30 days
  • Quick-drying and non-greasy
  • Ingredients include: Selamectin

2. Flea Pills for Dogs

Flea pills for dogs typically guarantee the most successful in fighting off parasites, but there are a few points to consider when choosing this treatment. Some orally administered drugs will require a prescription from your vet and can come with side effects. And oral pills typically target either flea eggs or adult fleas, but not both, so you may have to pick up several drugs to eradicate the infestation. Currently, there are no oral medications that destroy ticks.

Flea pills are the fastest way to eliminate these pests, with some treatments killing off infestations within four hours. If your dog doesn’t like swallowing capsules, look for oral medications available in chewable tablets.

Popular Flea Pills for Dogs Include

Capstar Flea Killer

  • Kills off flea infestations within 6 hours
  • Administered daily, effective for 24 hours
  • Minimum pet age: 4 weeks
  • Ingredients include: Nitenpyram
  • Sold over the counter


  • Chewable, beef-flavored tablets
  • Kills fleas and flea eggs
  • Begins working within 30 minutes
  • Administered monthly, prevents fleas for up to 30 days
  • Minimum pet age: 14 weeks
  • Ingredients include: Spinosad
  • Prescription required

3. Flea and Tick Dog Collars

Flea and tick collars are most often used to prevent parasites from taking up residence on your pet. While preventative dog collars are most effective, some varieties of collars can also treat infestations by eliminating pests and their eggs via chemicals released into your dog’s skin. Look for the word “kill” on the package to ensure that the collar will treat an infestation, not just prevent it.

Flea and tick collars can last up to eight months and are ideal for treating tick problems. Because collars are fastened around the neck, they are more concentrated around the face and neck area, where ticks more often inhabit.

Flea and tick collars are especially useful when you are in the process of eliminating a pest infestation as they will help prevent a new outbreak, and most of them can be combined with other treatment options. (Talk to your vet before combining a Seresto flea collar with any other medications.)

Popular Dog Collars that Eliminate Fleas and Ticks Include

Seresto 8 Month Flea and Tick Collar

  • Eliminates fleas and ticks
  • Prevents and treats pests for up to 8 months
  • Available in small and large sizes
  • Minimum pet age: 7 weeks
  • Ingredients include: Flumethrin, Imidacloprid

Does Breed Matter for Flea and Tick Products?

If you are in the market to kill or prevent pesky fleas and ticks from bothering your pet, there are a few things to keep in mind while perusing the product isle. First and foremost, never give a cat a dog flea and tick medication or vice versa. Species matters.

What surprisingly doesn’t matter when choosing a treatment option? Breed. As long as you stick to buying separate products for cats and dogs, the heritage of your pet will not play a part in their specific treatment option. However, depending on your course of flea and tick prevention (shampoos, collars, spot-on treatments, or orals like Sentinel Flavor Tabs), physical factors such as hair length and skin sensitivity can come into play. For example, dogs with long hair often require a flea and tick comb in order to thoroughly check your pet’s mane for infestation.  

Note: for other kinds of medication (not flea and tick), like Ivermectin found in Heartgard, breed does matter. Certain breeds like collies may have serious sensitivities to certain drugs. Your vet will know this, however, and not prescribe them to your dog. When in doubt ask your vet if a medication is safe for your pet's heritage, but for flea and tick medication, breed does not matter.

Size does matter

Once you decide on a product, it is incredibly important to pay attention to the varying dosage levels based on the size of your pet. Smaller cats and dogs often require a smaller dose than larger animals for equal effectiveness (and safety). The correct dosage by weight is clearly marked on the box. Do not confuse age with size. Many flea and tick products cannot be used until your kitten or puppy is 8 weeks or older. Always read those labels! When flea and tick products are taken as recommended they are generally safe and very effective.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most effective flea and tick medicine for dogs?

Frontline Plus is arguably the most effective and widely used flea and tick product. Frontline Plus is a topical treatment that includes two potent active ingredients: fipronil and (S)-methoprene. By affecting the neurological system of adult fleas and ticks, fipronil kills them within 24 hours after administration. Additionally, it offers continued protection for up to a month, guaranteeing your dog's continued freedom from fleas and ticks. Conversely, the insect growth regulator (S)-methoprene disrupts the flea life cycle by limiting the development of flea eggs and larvae. Due to its dual action, Frontline Plus is a superb solution for both avoiding infestations and getting rid of fleas and ticks that have already been present. It is also water-resistant, so it keeps working even after being exposed to rain or a bath.

Do you really need flea and tick medicine for dogs?

Definitely, you do. Using flea and tick medicine for dogs is highly recommended to ensure their health and well-being. Ticks and fleas are more than simply annoying parasites; they also present serious health hazards to dogs. Fleas can cause excruciating itching, skin sensitivities, and even the transmission of diseases like tapeworm infestations and Bartonella (commonly known as cat scratch sickness). On the other side, ticks are known to be the source of serious illnesses, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Ehrlichiosis, which can cause organ damage, joint pain, and fever in canines. Protecting dogs against these parasites requires preventative measures, such as flea and tick medication. In order to minimize infestations and lower the risk of disease transmission, flea and tick treatments work by either killing or discouraging these pests. They come in various forms, including topical treatments, oral tablets, collars, and sprays, offering flexibility in choosing the most suitable option for your dog's needs. Periodic use of flea and tick medicine is particularly vital for dogs that spend time outdoors or in areas where these parasites are prevalent. Nevertheless, even indoor dogs are susceptible to exposure to fleas and ticks if they come into touch with other animals or if these pests are unintentionally brought inside by people.

What kills fleas in 30 minutes?

When it comes to quickly eliminating fleas in 30 minutes, Capstar is your go-to. Within 30 minutes of the administration, this oral medication begins to kill adult fleas. Capstar is said to get rid of about 90% of adult fleas within four hours for dogs and six hours for cats after intake. Capstar is a good choice for giving pets with flea infestations immediate relief due to its quick action. It is significant to remember that Capstar is only intended to kill adult fleas; it does not affect fleas in their later life stages, such as eggs or larvae, and has no lasting effects. As a result, it is frequently used as a supplement to other long-term flea control medications or as a short-term fix to reduce the flea population on your pet drastically. As with any medication, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian before using Capstar to ensure it is appropriate for your pet and to discuss the most effective and comprehensive flea control plan for your specific situation.

What kills fleas and ticks naturally?

Pet owners who desire to avoid synthetic pesticides may choose natural means of eradicating fleas and ticks. Natural remedies can support further preventative measures even if their efficacy may vary. One natural method is to utilize essential oils, which are recognized for their ability to ward off fleas and ticks. Examples include cedarwood, lavender, peppermint, and lemon eucalyptus. Making a DIY spray or applying these oils to your pet's fur after diluting them in water will help repel these pests. However, it's critical to keep in mind that if used wrongly, essential oils may be poisonous to pets, so you should speak with a veterinarian before using them and make sure they are suitable for your particular pet. Another natural method is the use of diatomaceous earth (DE), a fine powder made from fossilized algae. DE can be sprinkled on your pet's bedding, carpet, or outdoor areas to dehydrate and kill fleas and ticks upon contact.

Will coconut oil repel fleas?

Yes, coconut oil has been suggested as a natural flea repellent. However, its effectiveness may be a bit limited. While lauric acid, an insecticide, is present in coconut oil, it may not have much of an impact on the effectiveness of coconut oil to deter or eliminate fleas. More often than not, coconut oil is used for its nourishing and moisturizing effects on the skin and coat of pets. While applying coconut oil to your pet's fur may make it difficult for fleas to move around, it should not be a reliable standalone solution for flea control.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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