It’s normal for dogs to get the occasional itch, but if he’s scratching all day it could be cause for concern. The reason for your dog’s constant scratching could be anything from dry skin to allergies. Or it could be something worse – fleas. Fleas are every dog owner’s nightmare because a handful of these insect pests can quickly get out of hand and turn into an infestation.
So, how do you protect your dog from fleas?
Most vets agree that a monthly flea preventive, also known as flea medicine, is the best way to protect your dog from fleas. Flea medicine generally works for a month at a time and they can be taken by mouth or used as a topical application. If you’re not sure which flea medicine to use for your dog, try one of the 10 best flea medicines for dogs that we’ve reviewed below:
Here are our top 10 picks for the best Flea Medicines for Dogs:
#10 Bayer Advantus Soft Chew Tablets
If you’re looking for a dog flea medicine that works quickly, look no further than these Bayer Advantus Soft Chew Tablets. These soft-chew tablets contain the active ingredient imidacloprid which starts to kill fleas within an hour. These soft chews come in two different formulations, one for dogs 4 to 22 pounds and another for dogs 23 to 110 pounds. Simply choose the right one according to your dog’s size.
Not only are these Bayer Advantus Soft Chew Tablets fast-acting, but they are much more palatable for dogs than typical oral flea medications. Each soft chew has a savory flavor so your dog won’t even know he’s taking medicine. Plus, the active ingredient is mild enough that you he can take the treatment daily, as needed, for stubborn flea infestations. Best of all, however, it is available without a prescription and it comes in packages of 7 or 30 soft chews.
Pros: Savory flavor, two formulas for dogs of different sizes, starts to kill fleas within an hour, safe to be taken daily, no prescription needed
Cons: Not for dogs under 4 pounds
#9 Sentry Fiproguard Plus Dog Flea Medicine
Monthly topical flea and tick preventives can be costly, but Sentry Fiproguard Plus Dog Flea Medicine is an affordable option. This dog flea medicine costs less than the leading flea medicine but still offers excellent results and long-lasting protection against insect pests. This medicine is made with fipronil, the number-1 veterinarian-recommended active ingredient, as well as s-methoprene to protect not only against adult fleas but flea eggs, larvae, ticks, and chewing lice.
This Sentry Fiproguard Plus Dog Flea Medicine is incredibly easy to use. Simply snap open the vial and apply the liquid to the back of your dog’s neck. It is safe for use on puppies 8 weeks and older, plus it comes in four different formulations for dogs under 22 pounds up to 132 pounds. This product kills fleas and ticks for up to 30 days and stops the life cycle of flea eggs and larvae for up to 12 weeks – including ticks that transmit Lyme disease. Plus, it is waterproof so you don’t have to worry about it coming off when your dog baths or swims.
Pros: Kills fleas and ticks for up to 30 days, contains two powerful active ingredients, easy to administer, stops flea life cycle for up to 12 weeks, multiple formulas for different size dogs
Cons: Not for puppies under 8 weeks, may not be as effective as the leading brand
#8 PetArmor Plus Flea Medicine
Sold in a convenient six-month supply, PetArmor Plus Flea Medicine is an excellent solution against fleas, ticks, and chewing lice. Each application lasts for a full 30 days, relying on the power of the same active ingredients used in the leading product. This flea medicine contains both fipronil and s-methoprene to not only kill adult fleas and ticks, but to stop the insect life cycle, preventing eggs and larvae from developing for a full 30 days.
This PetArmor Plus Flea Medicine works quickly. It starts killing fleas and ticks within 24 hours, though serious infestations may take up to 48 hours. The formula is waterproof, so you can still bathe your dog as needed, and the shelf-life is a full five years. This product comes in four different formulas for dogs under 22 pounds up to 132 pounds and it is surprisingly affordable and available without a prescription.
Pros: Contains two active ingredients, protects for a full 30 days, stops the insect growth cycle, easy to apply, waterproof, comes in 4 formulas for different sizes
Cons: Not for puppies under 8 weeks of age, not for dogs under 4 pounds, may take 48 hours to work
#7 VetGuard Plus by Vetguard
If you’re looking for a monthly flea medicine that does more than just kill adult fleas, try this VetGuard Plus by Vetguard. This monthly flea medicine offers a triple action formula to kill and repel fleas as well as lice, mosquitos, and ticks for a full 4 weeks. It can also kill and repel mites, so you are fully covered against biting insect pests.
Plus, it comes in a 4-month or 6-month supply at a surprisingly affordable price. VetGuard Plus by Vetguard comes in different formulas for dogs of different sizes and it is waterproof so you don’t have to worry if your dog gets wet.
Pros: Fast-acting and long-lasting, triple action against biting insects, kills up to 92% of fleas within 24 hours of application, easy to apply, prevents flea eggs from developing
Cons: Not for dogs under 5 pounds, not for puppies under 12 weeks
#6 Advecta II Flea Medicine
When it comes to getting flea infestations under control quickly, Advecta II Flea Medicine is a great option. This flea medicine starts working on contact and effectively breaks the flea life cycle, stopping flea eggs and larvae from developing into biting adults. This product is sold in several formulations for dogs 3 to 10 pounds, 11 to 20 pounds, 21 to 55 pounds, and over 55 pounds, so you can choose the one right for your dog’s size and know that he will be safe.
Advecta II Flea Medicine contains the same active ingredients as the leading brand – imidacloprid and pyriproxyfen. These ingredients kill fleas and lice within 12 hours of application and prevent reinfestation for up to 4 months. This flea medicine is fragrance-free and waterproof, so you can still bathe your dog and not worry about losing protection. Simply put, if you’re looking for an affordable flea medicine that works quickly, try this Advecta II Flea Medicine.
Pros: Starts working within 12 hours, prevents reinfestation for up to 4 months, two active ingredients, stops flea life cycle, multiple formulas for dogs of different sizes
Cons: Not for dogs under 3 pounds, not for puppies under 7 weeks
#5 Sentry Pet Care Capguard Tablets
If you’re not sure about using a topical application on your dog, try Sentry Pet Care Capguard Tablets. These tablets treat and prevent flea infestations quickly and easily – just give your dog the tablet. This fast-acting formula starts working within 30 minutes, killing adult fleas on your dog with active ingredients like nitenpyram.
It is safe for daily use and gentle enough to use on puppies as small as 2 pounds and as young as four weeks. Plus, you can buy it over-the-counter without a prescription and it comes in a 6-count package.
Pros: Kills adult fleas within 30 minutes, safe for daily use to control reinfestation, can be used on puppies as small as 2 pounds, safe for puppies over 4 weeks, no prescription needed
Cons: Doesn’t kill flea eggs or larvae, no long-term protection against reinfestation
#4 Novartis Capstar Tablets
While topical applications may take 12 hours or longer to work, these Novartis Capstar Tablets kill fleas fast – within 4 hours of application. If you worry about using a topical treatment on your dog’s sensitive skin, these tablets might be a safer option.
They kill adult fleas within a few hours and the formula is safe to administer daily if your dog gets reinfested. Novartis Capstar Tablets contain the active ingredient nitenpyram which is safe for puppies 2 pounds and larger and 4 weeks and older. Plus, it comes in several formulations for dogs of different sizes so you know your dog is getting the right dose.
Pros: Kills adult fleas within 4 hours, safe for daily use if needed, different formulas for different sizes, contains active ingredient nitenpyram
Cons: Doesn’t kill flea eggs or larvae, no long-term protection against reinfestation
#3 Bayer Advantage II Flea Medicine
For long-lasting flea and tick prevention from a brand you can trust, try Bayer Advantage II Flea Medicine. This topical application contains the active ingredients imidacloprid, permethrin, and pyriproxyfen to kill adult fleas and ticks on contact and to stop the insect growth cycle.
This prevent eggs and larvae from developing into biting adults for a full 30 days. Unlike some products, Bayer Advantage II Flea Medicine starts protecting right away and it doesn’t require insects to bite your dog in order for it to work. Simply apply the flea medicine and you’re covered for a full 30 days.
Pros: Contains three active ingredients, kills all biting insects, kills adult fleas and ticks on contact, stops the insect growth cycle
Cons: Not for puppies under 7 weeks, not for dogs under 4 pounds
#2 Merial Frontline Plus for Dogs
If you’re looking for a flea medicine that works quickly and offers long-lasting protection against fleas and ticks, consider this Merial Frontline Plus Flea Medicine. This flea medicine contains the active ingredients fipronil and s-methoprene, so not only does it start killing adult fleas on contact but it also stops the growth cycle of flea eggs and larvae, offering a full 30 days of protecting against reinfestation.
This Merial Frontline Plus Flea Medicine comes in several formulations for dogs of different sizes so you know your dog will be getting the right dose. It is fast-acting, long-lasting, and waterproof so you don’t have to worry if your dog gets wet. It comes with three doses per box and application couldn’t be simpler – just cut the top and apply the flea medicine to the back of your dog’s neck.
Pros: Two powerful active ingredients, works quickly to kill adult fleas, stops insect growth cycle for eggs and larvae, different doses for different sizes, three doses per box, easy to apply
Cons: Not for puppies under 8 weeks, not for dogs under 5 pounds
#1 Bayer K9 Advantix II Flea Medicine
Easily the most popular dog flea medicine on the market, Bayer K9 Advantix II Flea Medicine is also one of the brands most trusted by veterinarians. This flea medicine kills fleas, ticks, and lice in all life stages so your dog will be fully protected. It contains two powerful active ingredients – imidacloprid and pyriproxyfen – to kill adult insects on contact and to stop the insect growth cycle. This keeps eggs and larvae from developing for a full 30 days.
This Bayer K9 Advantix II Flea Medicine is available in four formulations for dogs from 3 pounds to over 55 pounds. It kills fleas within 12 hours of initial contact (your dog doesn’t have to be bitten for it to work) and keeps working for a whole month. This formula is waterproof as well, so your dog is still protected if he gets wet. Plus, it comes with 4 doses per box.
Pros: Contains two powerful active ingredients, kills adults within 12 hours, prevents eggs and larvae from developing, 30 days of protection, 4 doses per box, waterproof
Cons: Not for dogs under 3 pounds, not for puppies under 7 weeks
Fleas are a common problem in dogs and cats, but many dog owners fail to understand just how big a problem they can be. These tiny insects can infest your dog in a matter of days, going from a few to hundreds in no time at all.
Once your dog has fleas, the chances are good that they’re already all over your house. You’ll need to do some serious cleaning to get rid of them, but you should start with your dog. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about ridding your dog of fleas and how to keep them from coming back.
What Do Fleas Look Like?
If your dog spends any time outside, you’ll probably find a few bugs on him from time to time. Don’t assume that every insect is a flea but know how to identify them.
Here’s what fleas look like:
- They’re about 1/18th inch long
- They are dark brown in color
- They have hard bodies
- They do not have wings
- Their back legs are longer than their front
- They cannot fly
Though fleas may look harmless due to their small size, they are parasites which means that they actually feed on your dog’s blood. By biting your dog, fleas can cause skin irritation and some dogs even develop an allergic reaction. There is also a small possibility that fleas could transmit some kind of disease to your dog – primarily tapeworms.
How to Kill Fleas on Your Dog
As soon as you suspect that your dog has fleas, you need to take immediate action. A single flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, so even if your dog only has a couple of fleas now, he’ll have hundreds (or thousands) by tomorrow.
Not only that, but the fleas themselves won’t stick to your dog’s skin or fur so they can fall off in his bedding, on your furniture, and on the floor. This means that the infestation will spread throughout your house in a matter of days.
So, how do you kill fleas on your dog?
There are several different products you can use to kill fleas on your dog as the first stage in the war against infestation. Most veterinarians recommend a topical flea medicine or flea control tablets to kill adult fleas. Many products start working within an hour, though it may take up to 24 hours for total protection. Look for a product that also contains an insect growth regulator to prevent flea eggs and larvae from developing into biting adults.
If you don’t like the idea of using chemicals on your dog, there are also flea baths and flea shampoos that may help kill existing fleas. Just know that many of these products don’t offer long-lasting protection against reinfestation, so you may need to use them frequently to keep your dog protected as you work to get rid of the fleas in your house.
Tips for Ridding Your Home of Fleas
Once you’ve taken care of the fleas on your dog, your next step is to get rid of the fleas in your house. Here’s what you need to do:
Thoroughly wash all of your pet’s bedding – including any blankets he may have come into contact with. You may also need to wash your own bedding if your dog sleeps in your bed.
Vacuum the carpets in the house to pick up flea eggs and any that have developed into larvae – make sure to empty the vacuum immediately after and dispose of the bag outside the house.
Treat your house with a pesticide that is safe for pets (or find somewhere else for your dog to stay for a while) – make sure it contains an insect growth regulator otherwise all of those eggs are just going to hatch and restart the infestation.
Wait for the pesticide to dry – this could take 3 to 5 hours (or more) – before you go back inside or bring your dog back home. It’s important to let your home air out so you’re not inhaling the chemicals. You should also read the directions to see if you need to avoid cleaning the treatment area for a week or two after.
Once you’ve taken these steps to get rid of fleas in your home, you need to take precautions against reinfestation. Treating your dog with a monthly flea and tick preventive is a good way to go. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations or try one of the flea medicines for dogs reviewed above.
What Else Can You Do?
In addition to taking these steps and treating your dog for fleas, there are things you can do inside and outside the house to prevent them from coming back. If you have a yard, make sure your lawn and shrubs are mowed and trimmed on a regular basis. This gives fleas fewer places to hide where they might be able to hitch a ride on your dog. And don’t leave any dog food outside either because that could attract all manner of insect pests.
When your dog comes home from a walk or from playing in the yard, give him a quick brush to get rid of any fleas that might have hitched a ride. If your dog has long fur, the risk is higher that he’ll bring insect pests inside, so take extra precautions. You may also want to wash your dog with flea shampoo once a month or so as a preventive measure.
Keeping your home clean is another simple way to prevent infestation. You don’t have to become obsessive with your cleaning ritual, but regularly vacuuming your carpets and rugs can really help get rid of insect pests like fleas. You should also clean your hardwood flooring and your baseboards. Using a natural cleaning product that contains lemon is a simple way to repel fleas while also leaving your home smelling fresh and clean.
By now you have all the information you need to keep your dog (and your home) flea-free. So try one of the best flea medicines for dogs listed above and see how well it works!