You love your pets and want to make sure they are well protected from those pesky fleas and ticks. Walking into your local pet store- examining all those flea pills for dogs available over the counter can be quite intimidating.
So many choices with such as range of prices. How do you know which is the best?
Best Flea Pills for Dogs: What Brands to Know & Why Oral Flea Medication for Dogs Works
There are two well-known methods used to eradicate ectoparasites such as fleas and ticks.
The first method is the use of flea pills which acts systemically where the main active compounds will be absorbed by the animal’s body.
The second method involves the use of a topical treatment where the active compound is placed and distributed cutaneously.
When looking at various flea pills available, the most common active compound is Fluralaner.
The science behind how fluralaner works can be quite complicated!
So to keep things simple, Fluralaner simply has an inhibitory function which means that when it enters the flea’s body, the chemical targets certain receptors that will ultimately render the fleas and ticks paralyzed. This same method of actions is common to nearly all another active compound present in flea and tick treatments.
When looking at topical flea treatments, the most common active compounds are Permethrin and Pyrethroids. In general, both active compounds are absorbed into the skin layer.
Studies done using Fluralaner based oral tablets demonstrated will immediately begin killing of ticks once it’s been orally administered.
So, What’s Better? Flea Pills for Dogs or Spot-on Treatments
A study published in 2016 aimed to compare the efficacy of pill based and topical flea treatment. The study concluded the following results.
Advantage and Disadvantage of Flea Pills for Dogs
- Advantage: Fluralaner based products are longer lasting and more effective as they spread systemically throughout the animal’s body allowing for consistent distribution.
Advantage and Disadvantage of Topical Treatments
- Disadvantage: Efficacy of topical treatments decreased with increased exposure to water (bathing, swimming).
- Advantage: Permethrin based topical products can have an immediate effect. It was seen that products containing 65% permethrin were able to eliminate 75%-100% of fleas on first application.
- Disadvantage: Permethrin is able to effectively prevent flea reinfestation, however fleas that are repelled by the compound may develop a short immunity to permethrin.
Let’s cover the most popular and best-rated flea pills for dogs:
Bravecto for Dogs
Bravecto: Flea Pills for Dogs
Bravecto is a beef flavored oral chew that is best suited to dogs and puppies over 6 months of age and 4.4lbs. A single dose of Bravecto can last up to 12 weeks, so this means that 4 doses can provide a year’s’ worth of protection.
Bravecto: How It Works
Upon oral administration, Bravectos active compound- Fluralaner, will systemically spread through your dog’s body. Within 2 hours, the active compounds settle within the tissue and fluids just beneath the dog’s skin. Bravecto claims that within 2 hours over 98 to 100% of ticks and fleas will be terminated. This claim is supported by various studies.
Bravecto Cost At Walmart and Other Stores to Buy This Flea Medicine for Dogs
While Bravecto is not on the Walmart shelves, it can be purchased online or from your local Petsmart. In Petsmart, the average cost of Bravecto is $50 and this applies to dogs of all weight class. Bravecto can also be purchased online at 1-800 PetMeds for the same price.
Bravecto Side Effects
It’s important to remember that every dog is different. So, not all dogs will be affected by medications equally. It is possible that Bravecto can lead to an increased chance of:
Now don’t let these scare you off from the product. According to the FDA and various studies, Bravecto is not known to cause any adverse reactions.
Unsure if Bravecto is right for your pooch? Let’s look at the benefits.
- Bravecto kills adult fleas, as well as fleas that may have recently emerged from the larvae-egg stage.
- Bravecto claims that a single dose of their treatment can last up to 12 weeks.
- Bravecto is able to eliminate ticks.
- Bravecto claims to be safe for use on pregnant and lactating bitches.
- Studies show that Bravecto can be one of the safest chewable pills as it isn’t likely to cause adverse reactions.
Bravecto for Dogs Reviews
Not sure if Bravecto is right for your dog? Here’s what customers say about Bravecto on PetMeds.com.
“The topical treatment didn’t work for our dogs, with Bravecto, within a few days they stopped itching and we didn’t find any fleas. SO RELIEVED!.”
“Started Bravecto 10 days ago and so far no signs of anything! No adverse effects either!”
The Verdict on Bravecto
An overall of 4.7/5 and an overall of 4.8/5 for effectiveness.
Nexgard for Dogs
Nexgard: How It Works
The main active ingredient in Nexgard is Afoxolaner.
Afoxolaner is similar to Fluralaner as they lead to nerve damage and paralysis in the ectoparasites that consume them. When your dog consumes a single tablet, the product will be nearly immediately absorbed into the bloodstream of your dog.
The result? Your dog will be protected for 30 days and fleas and ticks will be killed within 24 hours.
Nexgard Chewables for Dogs
Nexgard chewable tablets aim to eliminate and prevent adult flea and tick infestation. Nexgard is often quite easy to administer as it contains a delicious beef flavor which is sure the appeal to your pup!
Nexgard must tablets are administered orally once a month, thus allowing for the uniform distribution of afoxolaner.
Nexgard: Walmart and Other Stores to Buy This Dog Flea Pill
While Walmart doesn’t sell Nexgard, it can easily be purchased from your local pet store. The average cost of Nexgard varies depending on your dog’s weight class and chewable count. The average cost of a 3 month supply (3 chews) is about $58.30. Whereas the average cost of a 6 month supply is $112.
Nexgard Side Effects
Nexgard is often considered safe to use, however various field trials have stated a few common reactions may occur. This includes:
- diarrhea within the first hour of treatment
- vomiting with or without blood
- dry skin
- flaky skin
Studies claim that there are no serious, long-term adverse reactions to Nexgard products. However, a small percent of the canine population that may have a history of seizures may experience an increased amount seizures when taking Nexgard.
Nexgard Pros and Cons
Does it work? Nexgard is proven to effectively eliminate ectoparasites such as the American dog tick, lone star tick, and deer tick. As an added benefit, Nexgard is known to kill fleas just before they lay their eggs.
What if my dog is on heartworm pills? The amazing thing about Nexgard is that it will not interfere with most medications. In fact, it can be used alongside with heartworm medications.
What if I have a fussy dog? Owner compliance is an important factor that will determine the efficacy of Nexgard. However, Nexgard chewable tablets are small and beef flavored with no known bitter taste. This means that your doggie is sure to eat it write up.
Will Nexgard repel other insects? Unfortunately, Nexgard is not known to repel other parasitic insects such as mosquitos and biting flies. In such a situation it’s best recommended that owners use a topical treatment in order to repel other insects.
How does it work? In order for Nexgard to be effective, fleas and ticks must first bite the dog and ingest the active compound. This means that your dog may still be quite irritated with the flea bites.
Is it pricey? In addition, Nexgard isn’t a cheap product. On average a single pack can cost up to $59-$70 depending on your dog’s weight.
Still not sure about how effective Nexgard will be for your pooch? Well here’s what happy customers on 1-800 PetMeds say:
“My 3-year-old has been on NexGard since I’ve adopted him 2 years ago. I’ve kept him on year around and have never seen 1 single flea even thru the hottest days. I really do recommend it to your furbaby.”
“This was a quick and easy to get for my dog, and she enjoys taking them very much. Doesn’t fight me at all.”
The Verdict on Nexgard
A whopping 4.5/ 5 stars for the product and 4.6/5 for effectiveness!
Bravecto vs. Nexgard
Both Bravecto and Nexgard have active compounds that fall under the class of isoxazolines. Therefore they both eliminate fleas by causing excitation within the central nervous system, paralysis, and eventual death.
Bravecto products are often 25 mg/kg of fluralaner. Whilst the dose of Nexgard often contains 2.5 mg/kg of afoxolaner.
Studies showed that fluralaner effectively eliminated 98.7% to 100% of fleas.
However, Bravecto is often administered once every three months. It was seen that by the third month, the concentration and efficacy of Bravecto decreased. Nexgard is administered once a month, thus studies indicate that the afoxolaner may be better at eliminating fleas as the result of constant, uniform exposure.
Comfortis for Dogs
Comfortis: How It Works
Comfortis is another popular brand of flea pills for dogs with chewable flea tablet that claims to not only eliminate fleas but to also prevent infestations.
The active compound in Comfortis is spinosad, similar to most flea treatment compounds previously discussed. Spinosad affects the nervous system of the flea it causes excitation, paralysis, and death. Comfortis can be used on both cats and dogs.
Note: If you used on puppies and kittens you would need to make sure that they are above 14 weeks of age.
Comfortis: Amazon and Other Stores to Get Flea Pills for Dogs
Comfortis can be purchased from your local Petsmart. It does not seem to be available at Walmart and Amazon but can also be purchased online from 1-800 PetMeds.
On PetMeds, the average cost for Comfortis ranges from $89.24 for a 6 pack supply.
If choosing to purchase from Petsmart then bare in mind that the average cost can range anywhere from $88.15 for dogs between 5 to 10 lbs to $97 for dogs above 60 lbs.
Comfortis Side Effects
Comfortis is FDA approved, so, for the most part, it’s not likely going to cause severe clinical signs and adverse reactions for your pet.
However, owners should always consult their veterinarian should their pet have a history of seizures; as dogs and cats that have a history of seizures may be prone to an increase in seizures.
Additionally, Comfortis like most drugs may cause:
- episodes of vomiting after administration
- decreased appetite
- frequent coughing
- potential redness of the skin
Comfortis Pros and Cons
- A single table can last up to 30 days and will kill fleas within 30 minutes to four hours.
- Comfortis is able to eliminate adult fleas as well as fleas that are just about to lay eggs.
- The active ingredient, Spinosad is said to be environmentally friendly.
- The best part! Comfortis comes in a beef flavor, making it more appealing to fussy pets
- It’s pricey
- Comfortis will not kill flea eggs or larvae
- Consumption of Comfortis tablets may result in a few side effects and an increase in seizures in animals who may have a history.
So, what do happy customers say about Comfortis?
“Purchased this for my pet and within a day I saw the results! No fleas, the bites were healing and his skin was clearing!”
“I have a dog and my roommate has multiple dogs and cats, even if all his animals are infected with fleas, my dog is flea free when I give her comfortis.”
The Verdict on Comfortis
Rated an overall of 4.5/5 on PetMeds.com with an average rating of 4.7/5 for effectiveness.
Capstar for Dogs
Capstar: How It Works
Capstar flea tablets contain an active ingredient known as nitenpyram, the product is used to kill adult fleas on both dogs and cats. If you’re looking for a quick and near immediate fix to those pesky flea problems then Capstar is the one for you.
Capstar: Walmart and Other Stores to Buy Flea Control for Dogs
Capstar is quite a popular flea pills for dogs brand in the USA, as such you can expect to find Capstar flea treatment products at your local Walmart or Petsmart. Capstar can also be purchased online at Amazon or PetMeds.com.
Capstar is relatively inexpensive to purchase. The average cost of Capstar can range anywhere from $22.86 at Petsmart to $27 for a 6 pack on PetMeds.com.
Capstar Side Effects
All flea pills for dogs are FDA tested and approved. Capstar is one of those products that is safe to use on kittens and puppies above 4 weeks of age and greater than two lbs. The various studies summarized by the FDA demonstrated that there were no known clinical adverse reactions.
Nevertheless, every animal is different and no drug is perfectly free from side effects. As such some possible side effects of Capstar can include:
- increased heart rate
- upset stomach
Capstar Pros and Cons
- Capstar is safe to use on kittens, puppies, cats, and dogs above 4 weeks of age and weighing over 2 lbs.
- Capstar is also safe for use on pregnant or lactating pets.
- Capstar has an immediate effect! It can be given once daily and will kill fleas within 30 minutes.
- Capstar is a cheaper alternative to other tablet flea treatments.
- Capstar may need to be given daily in order to prevent and kill fleas.
- Capstar only kills adult fleas. It will not eliminate larvae or eggs.
- Capstar is unflavored, so it may be possible that your dog will not take it willingly.
Capstar seems to have the lowest rating among all products discussed. However, it still is considered an effective product. Here’s what happy customers have to say:
“Capstar can be used with a wide variety of other flea meds, I’ve been able to treat for occasional flea outbreaks safely. It works very quickly and she’s never had a reaction to the med.”
“I was leery about giving this to my dogs but it did the trick. Killed all the adult fleas. I then washed all bedding and used natural flea killer on carpets and put down sea salt to kill any live fleas. It works as long as you take care of the environment. I give a pill about every two weeks and do everything all over again. No flea infestation. The product is a bit expensive for a one-shot kill. You cannot kill every flea in the house only control them, they multiply so fast.”
The Verdict on Capstar
A modest, overall of 4.2/ 5 and 4.2/ 5 for effectiveness.
7 Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Brand for Flea and Tick Pills for Dogs
So, now that you’re well equipped with a short basic background on the various over-the-counter flea tablets. We can start narrowing things down by creating a brief list to help you choose the best flea pills for dogs.
- Know what flea and tick species are roaming your area. For example, Bravecto is considered to be a broad spectrum treatment. If you’re in an area where ticks are more prevalent, consider using Bravecto. Bravecto claims to eliminate fleas as well as four tick species such as the Deer, American, Brown and Lone star tick.
- Know the age of your pet. Bravecto is suited to dogs and puppies older than 6 months of age. Nexgard is best suited to dogs and puppies above 8 weeks of age. Comfortis is recommended for dogs and cats above 14 weeks of age and Capstar is suited to puppies and kittens above 4 weeks of age.
- How much would you be willing to spend? Flea pills for dogs products can get pricey. The cheapest flea treatment product is definitely Capstar which averages at $26.99 on PetMeds.com. The most expensive flea tablet seems to be Comfortis, averaging at nearly $90 per box.
- Your dog’s weight class. Each flea treatment can only be used for a certain weight class. Make sure you know your dog’s weight before you make a purchase. For example
- Does your dog have a history of seizures? Dogs with a history of seizures may have an increased risk of episodes should they use Capstar, Comfortis, and Nexgard
- Owner’s compliance. We love our dogs but sometimes we can be quite forgetful with medicating our pets properly. If you’re on a busy schedule then Capstar may not be the best choice for you since you will need to give one pill daily.
- Do you have cats who may also be affected by fleas or ticks? If you’ve got cats in your home then chances are they are likely going to contract fleas or ticks for their doggie friends. In such as case, it’s important to consider using flea pills for dogs and cats.
So What’s the Best Flea Pills for Dogs?
At the end of the day, all the flea treatments listed above will do what they are designed for. Ultimately, the choice of choosing the best flea pills for dogs depends on the owner’s preference, the history of their dog, and the budget of the owner.