Choosing the Best Flea Pill for Dogs

Traditionally, flea preventatives have been given in topical form. However, dog owners now have the option of administering a flea pill. There are several benefits of choosing flea pills over topical insecticides, but dog owners need to be familiar with this type of medication before choosing which flea pill regimen to give their dog.

How Flea Pills Work

Most dog owners are familiar with the traditional topical insecticides, such as Frontline, but because flea pills are somewhat newer, many dog owners are unsure of exactly how they work and whether or not they are safe for their dog. Regular flea insecticides are applied to the skin, where the insecticide is absorbed by the dog’s skin and hair cells. The insecticide is then released over time and kills fleas within 24 to 48 hours.

Flea pills, however, work by circulating through the bloodstream, and fleas are killed on contact as soon as they bite. The major difference between these two products is the way in which they work to control flea infestations in dogs.

Flea Pill Benefits

Now that flea pills have become more available, a large majority of dog owners are turning to the advantages of flea pills over traditional insecticides. Perhaps the largest benefit to choosing a flea pill for your dog is that you can be sure that your dog is receiving the precise dosage amount. With insecticide flea control products, there can be application errors, sometimes resulting in suboptimal dosing. However, with flea pills, the pill is administered once a month, and there is no question as to whether or not the dog received the intended dosage amount.

Another benefit of choosing flea pills for dogs is that they act much quicker. Because topical agents rely on the skin and hair cells, there is lag time associated with how long they actually take to kill off fleas. Yet, flea pills are nearly instantaneous. The pill is ingested, circulated throughout the bloodstream, and fleas are killed as soon as they bite the dog.

Choosing a Flea Pill

The best way to choose a flea pill for your dog is to consider your dog’s needs. Some pills are available in chewable format, others must be swallowed whole. All flea pill tablets come as flavored tabs to promote easy administration. Some of the brand flea pills available include:

  • Sentinel
  • Comfortis
  • Capstar
  • Program

While all of these flea pills work rather quickly, Capstar promises to begin working within 30 minutes of administration, with nearly all adult fleas being killed off within 4 to 6 hours. Sentinel and Capstar also report that their products are safe for use in pregnant, breastfeeding, and breeding dogs. Most flea pill medications can be used in conjunction with traditional topical agents as well.

Side Effects of Using Flea Medications

Side effects can happen with any type of flea preventative, whether in pill or topical format, but the side effects of flea pills for dogs tend to be rare. They can include:

  • itching
  • redness of the skin
  • nausea
  • lack of appetite

Because flea pills work through the digestive tract, it is important to consult a veterinarian before administering them to dogs with kidney or liver disease.