Guidelines for Comparing Flea Products for Dogs

Fleas are a common problem for pet owners but, fortunately, there are many flea products for dogs available from veterinarians or at pet stores. Deciding which one is right for your dog may require a little research.

Pests Eliminated

One factor to consider is which pests are eliminated by the flea product you choose. For example, Program Flea Control doesn't kill adult fleas, but rather controls development, while Frontline kills adult fleas but does not control development. Thus, if you use Program for your dog already afflicted with fleas, you will also have to find another way to eliminate the existing fleas, whereas if you use Frontline you may have to apply more often. Frontline Plus both kills fleas and prevents development.

Some products also kill ticks, which is an important consideration if you live in an area where lyme disease is prevalent. Of the major flea preventatives, BioSpot, K9 Advantix, Vectra, Revolution, Promeris and Frontline do kill fleas while Advantage, Program, Capstar, Sentinel and Comfortis do not.

K9 Advantix is the only one that kills mosquitos, which could be important if you live in an area with a high instance of West Nile virus. BioSpot and Vectra repels mosquitos but does not kill them.

Revolution also kills ear mites, sarcoptic mange and heartworm larvae. Sentinel also kills hookworm, roundworm, whipworm and heartworm.

Dosage and Administration

Most major flea preventatives are applied topically. If you want a pill, you have to get that from your veterinarian. Program, Comfortis, Sentinel and Capstar are both available in pill form.

All major flea preventatives are best if administered monthly, though that varies a little depending on your veterinarian. Some recommend dosing more often in the peak of flea season while some recommended dosing less frequently to avoid putting so many chemicals in a dog's skin.

Additional Considerations

Flea preventatives are made with pesticides, many of which are known carcinogens to humans and cause mild toxicity in mammals if ingested. Many of them are also new to the market, so long term effects have not been tested. All were shown to be fatal in rats in excess amounts, so be sure not to overdose your dog with any of these products.

Program was the first to come on the market in 1994, and Advantage, Frontline and Sentinel have all been around since 1996-97. Capstar has been on the market since 2000, but the rest are relatively new and untested.

Comfortis should not be administered to dogs with seizure disorders and, before giving your dog Promeris, consult with a veterinarian because it may cause reactions with other medications.

Before giving Revolution or Sentinel, make sure your dog is negative for heartworms. If your dog already has heartworm, it can make the symptoms worse.

Give Sentinel and Program with food to reduce stomach upset.

Fleas are a problem for almost all pet owners and must be addressed for the health and comfort of their pets. However, all flea preventatives are made from pesticides and may have side effects. Do research and consult your veterinarian before administering a new flea medication.