There’s nothing worse than seeing your dog itch and scratch continuously!
A flea infestation is irritating and detrimental to your dog’s health –  as well as your own if they should invade your home. Sometimes, there are flea and tick products that don’t work as effectively and some that have been deemed unsafe.
Today, consumers are looking for long-lasting, safe, and effective flea and tick treatments. When it comes to our dogs and flea products, we also want the best!
Fleas transmit diseases, cause allergies, and anemia in pets.  With over 2,200 species of fleas that are recognized today, there are fortunately only a few species within U.S homes.
Two common flea species include:
- cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis), and the
- dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis). 
With fleas having the ability to result in an enormous amount of aggravation, causing severe irritation in both animals and humans, it’s best to use preventative measures to stop fleas in the first place. Good flea treatments need to be safe, effective, and easy-to-use.
Choosing the right flea treatment
That said, how does one find the right flea treatment to use?
The best flea and tick treatments need to be safe to use around children, people, and other pets. They should also be priced reasonably and be effective for at least 30 days. It’s best to first research the ingredients before purchasing a new product to make sure that they are safe to use on your dog.
Today, there are still three main types of flea and tick treatments, which are the most popular and widely used throughout the world.
Dr. Matt Carriker answers some common questions regarding flea treatments
Oral Flea Medications
These are terrific in that they are easy to administer without any mess. Flea meds contain insecticides that are delivered into the dog’s bloodstream  in a short amount of time. When fleas and ticks do bite your dog, they will die right away because they are ingesting the insecticide.
These work by applying the concentrated liquid formulas between the dog’s shoulder blades. The medication takes 24-hours to dissipate into the dog’s skin oils, thus killing all fleas that come into contact with the skin.
The spot-on is effective for up to one month and helps prevent new outbreaks for the same period of time.
These work by killing fleas when they come into contact with the medicated product. Before using another flea treatment product in conjunction with the flea shampoo, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for advice.
These shampoos contain chemical ingredients which may be harsh on your dog’s skin, so it’s vital to follow the recommended directions when using any flea shampoo. Most flea and tick medications make use of a pesticide, and it’s always recommended that you research the pesticides, although they are all approved by the EPA.
The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) discusses using pesticides on pets, and all the side effects that these pesticides may cause. The NPIC also advises that all directions need to be carefully read and followed. If your pet should become ill after administration of the pesticide you are asked to report the incident to the NPIC.
Too many shampoos to choose from? Check out our top choices for dog shampoos.
Best dog flea treatments reviewed
Once you’ve educated yourself on all the possible side effects these products may lead to, you are now armed with the knowledge to choose the best one for both your dog and personal circumstances.
We’ve taken the liberty of reviewing a few products and made a list of our top choices for your consideration and in the interest of your time.
Wondercide | Flea / Tick / Mosquito Control Spray for Dogs
This is a 100% natural product that is safe and effective in killing and preventing fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. It is effective for the entire flea cycle and will terminate the larvae, egg, and pupae stages of the fleas that are on your dog.
This is an essential consideration as 95% of all fleas that are on your dog are in the pupae stage. There is only a 5% adult fleas present at any given time.
- Natural and safe
- Contains cedar oil, which blocks octopamine
- Helps with coat sheen and health
- Lemongrass scent
- Kid and pet safe
- Price effective
- Safe for pups and kittens
- No deet,  pyrethrins, or pyrethroids
- No chemicals
- No clove and eugenol
- One product for both cats and dogs
- Kills full lifecycle of fleas and insects
- Strong smell
This product has a solid rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars. Customers found that it worked well on fleas and ticks, and for flea infestations. They loved how natural this product was, and how it could be safely used on kittens and pups.
Frontline Plus | Flea and Tick Treatment for Small Dogs
Frontline Plus flea and tick treatment is a topical flea ointment for small dogs. This product contains 9.8% Fipronil, and 8.8% Methoprene. Easy-to-use, pet parents need to only part their dog’s hair between the shoulder’s and apply the spot on treatment. This product is effective for 30 days. Frontline Plus is a very well-known brand.
This product eliminates fleas, flea eggs, and ticks. It’s safe enough to use on puppy’s eight weeks and over, weighing up to 22 pounds. Since this is topical, it’s easily applied between a dog’s shoulder blades. No worrying as to whether your pooch has swallowed his flea meds. Some pooches may get a slight irritation at the site, but it’s usually not serious. Fleas disappear soon after application.
There are 3, 6, or 12 months dosing packages available for pet parents to choose from, which makes it considerably more economical if you have a multi-dog home.
- Can be used on pups eight weeks and older
- Reasonably priced
- Contains fipronil and methoprene
- May have some temporary irritation
- Not a mosquito repellent
This product scored a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Customers should purchase this product directly from their veterinarian, or make sure that they are not buying a generic. The authenticity of this product was questioned quite a bit at one stage, as well as the effectiveness of the product overall.
Bayer | Advantage II Medium Dog
Bayer Advantage 11 Medium Dog is the new and improved formula. It can be used for dogs up to 20 pounds. The main ingredient is imidacloprid which paralyzes the nervous system of the flea and kills them within 12 hours of application.
This product also contains the ingredient pyriproxyfen, which regulates and prevents flea eggs from hatching. It is also waterproof.
- Kills all flea life stages
- Prevents fleas from infesting the home
- Kills fleas after 12 hours
- Kills reinfesting fleas after 2 hours
- Works through contact
- Reasonably priced
- Cannot be used on cats
Customers found that this product worked well, and their dogs stayed flea-free and rated it with 3.9 out of 5 stars. Dog parents commented on how they stayed flea-free for close to 30 days after using Bayer Advantage 11 Medium.
Bayer | K9 Advantix II Large Dogs
K9 Advantix works to fight fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. This product works by contact and destroys all flea life stages, and becomes effective after 10 minutes. A waterproof product that is a monthly topical flea, tick, and mosquito treatment.
Bayer K9 Advantage II for Large Dogs is for dogs that weigh between 21-to 55 pounds. This product does not require a prescription.
- Veterinarian recommended
- Monthly treatment
- Reasonably priced
- Works fast
- Kills mosquitoes and lice
- Repels fleas, ticks, and mosquitos from future attacks
- Fights against fleas during all life stages
- Works within 2 hours
- May develop skin sensitivity to the product
This product earned a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars, with great reviews, and customers found it to be effective and started working within 2 hours. There were some complaints of side effects including scabbing, diarrhea, and vomiting. Good reviews about how this worked well on ticks.
Bayer | K9 Advantix II Flea/Tick/Mosquito Prevention for Extra Large Dogs
This product works for dogs over 55 pounds. It kills fleas, ticks, and mosquitos just by contact, and starts working within 10 minutes of application. It is a waterproof product that cannot be used on cats. It is effective on multiple flea life stages and is topical. This is a trusted, well-known brand and works well for dogs that prefer the outdoors.
- Effective for 30 days
- Effective within 10 minutes
- Can be used on dogs and puppies seven weeks and older
- Kills mosquitos
- Reasonably priced
- Cannot be used on cats (not a problem for dog owners 🙂 )
This product earned a rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars. Customers enjoyed the fact that it killed mosquitoes as well. They also liked the fact that it was effective on dogs that spent a lot of time outdoors on farms. There was minimal scratching in dogs from fleas after application of K9 Advantix.
Dangerous ingredients to avoid
Pesticides, which make up the main ingredient of most all tick and flea products, can cause various adverse reactions, and it’s best to do your homework regarding these poisons. It is best to avoid the ingredients mentioned below and check the packaging for the inclusion of these in your products.
Pyrethroids  are organic compounds comparable to natural pyrethrins found in some flower blooms, such as the Chrysanthemum. These compounds are found in a large amount of commercial household insecticides, and overexposure in humans can lead to the following symptoms:
Tetrachlorvinphos  is an organophosphate and overexposure may cause serious side effects like:
- possible coma and death.
It’s important to read up on all flea and tick collar ingredients before using them on your furry best friend.
A mixture of six chemicals which are lethal to insects and some documented side effects to humans and pets.  Pet owners need to educate themselves about the pros and cons of certain flea and tick meds prior to applying or using on their dogs.
Tips from the NPIC when using flea & tick products
Here are some tips from the National Pesticide Information Center to keep in mind when using flea treatments on dogs:
- follow the label closely
- never give more than the prescribed dosage
- certain pesticides are more toxic than others
- products made for adult dogs should not be used on puppies
- pet parents need to wear protective clothing if is necessary like gloves
- do not use a flea/tick shampoo on your dog’s skin, and combine it with another flea and tick product
- for multiple pets using flea and tick spot-on products or shampoos, it’s best to separate them to avoid licking and ingesting the product from each other
- it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian as to their recommendations.
Multiple flea and tick products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and because some of these are considered pharmaceuticals, you can look them up on the FDA website. 
Finally, if your dog has life-threatening side effects like:
- unconsciousness, or
- inability to breath,
. . . it’s vital to visit your closest emergency veterinary clinic. The NPIC also has an emergency helpline number to call in case of an emergency (1-800-858-7378).
Final say on flea treatments for dogs
Dogs should always be checked for fleas and ticks, most especially after they’ve been outside for a long walk. Pet parents should remove ticks with a tweezer. By brushing your dog regularly, you’ll be able to check for ticks and fleas.
All dogs need to be treated regularly with an effective, safe, tick and flea control product. If you’re living in a tick-infested area, it’s best to ask your veterinarian about the vaccination, to help prevent Lyme disease. 
Another good preventative measure: Best Flea Collars for Dogs.
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- Ahn, Kyu-Sung et al. “Ctenocephalides canis is the dominant flea species of dogs in the Republic of Korea” Parasites & vectors vol. 11,1 196. 20 Mar. 2018, doi:10.1186/s13071-018-2769-9
- Karadzovska, Daniela et al. “A randomized, controlled field study to assess the efficacy and safety of lotilaner flavored chewable tablets (Credelio™) in eliminating fleas in client-owned dogs in the USA” Parasites & vectors vol. 10,1 528. 1 Nov. 2017, doi:10.1186/s13071-017-2469-x
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- “Assessing intermittent pesticide exposure from flea control collars containing the organophosphorus insecticide tetrachlorvinphos.” M.K. Davis. J.S. Boone. J.E. Moran. J.W. Tyler. J.E. Chambers. Nov. 2008
- Pyrethrin I – PubChem
- US Food and Drug administration – Animal and Veterianary
- “Diethyltoluamide (DEET) insect repellent toxicosis.” D.C. Dorman. March 1990
- Bjurman, Natalie K et al. “Lyme disease risk in dogs in New Brunswick” Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne vol. 57,9 (2016): 981-4.