Best Flea Treatment for Dogs: A List of Treatments and How They Stack Up

Your beloved dog is miserable and itchy so like a good human, you're on a quest to find the best flea treatment for dogs. Kudos to you!

The good news is that it's fairly easy to kill fleas on dogs. The bad news? Even after you kill the fleas currently living on your dog, they can come right back unless you take other measures. Which is why getting rid of fleas on dogs requires a multi-pronged approach.

So it's a lucky thing that when it comes to flea control for dogs, there are a lot of options. There's sprays, collars, powders, shampoos and so on and so on.

But what's the best flea treatment for dogs on the market?

Well, there is no one answer. Each dog flea treatment has its own pros and cons which is why many of them work better together. For example, some flea treatments only kill adult fleas so you'll want to combine it with another treatment to kill flea eggs and larvae as well.

To help you decide the best flea treatment methods for your dog, here's a handy list of your best options, what you can expect from them and how they stack up!

FLEA SHAMPOO FOR DOGS

Pros:

  • Works fast and provides immediate relief
  • Very affordable, usually less than $10 per bottle
  • Easy to use
  • Can kill fleas in all life stages

Cons:

  • Doesn't kill 100% of flea infestation

A quick lather and rinse may not be your idea of an effective flea treatment, but the truth is that flea shampoos are a simple, effective way to quickly get rid of fleas on your dog. You can think of it as the first line of defense to reach for since it'll kill off a good chunk of the flea infestation and give your dog some immediate relief.

You want to choose wisely since you don't want to irritate your dog's already bitten, itchy and irritated skin - look for a flea shampoo that has a combination of insecticides that'll kill flea eggs as well as adult fleas and soothing ingredients like oatmeal and aloe vera. What's the best flea shampoo for dogs?

The only thing is - most flea shampoos won't completely kill all the fleas living on your dog. At most, expect even the best flea shampoo to wipe out around 90% of the flea population on your dog the first time around. To quickly get rid of a flea infestation, it's best to combine it with other treatments.

Tip: When you flea shampoo your dog, the fleas will try to flee up to your dog's face. To prevent this, first wet and lather all the way around your dog's neck to create a sort of flea roadblock and then lather up the rest of your dog's body. 

FLEA COMBS FOR DOGS

Pros:

  • 100% natural and non-toxic
  • Very affordable

Cons:

  • Time consuming and labor intensive, requires consistency
  • Removes - not kills - fleas and flea eggs
  • Usually not enough by itself, best used alongside other flea treatments

Using a flea comb to remove fleas from dogs has the perk of being all natural but it comes with the downside of being time consuming - the process itself can take awhile and you'll want to do it everyday until the infestation is gone.

If you go this route, you'll most likely want to do it outside as it can dislodge dead fleas, flea eggs and other nasties you don't want in your home. To prepare, you'll want to fill a bucket with hot and soapy water - make sure that it's deep enough so a flea cannot jump out of it.

Thoroughly comb your dog's fur and remove any fleas into the hot, soapy water. When you're finished, dump the flea-infested water down the drain or if you combed outside, hose down the area you dumped the water to make sure no fleas escape alive.

Go through with a flea comb and remove any fleas or flea feces you come across. Kill any flea that you find immediately.

ORAL FLEA MEDS FOR DOGS

Pros:

  • Easy to use, works fast (around 4 hours) and provides immediate relief
  • Can't be licked off by your dog like topical applications
  • Lets you effectively kill off fleas that combs and shampoos can miss

Cons:

  • Only kills adult fleas, not flea eggs or larvae
  • It is a one-time treatment that does not prevent new fleas

Oral flea medication is one of the fastest ways to get rid of fleas on dogs. The thought of feeding your dog a form of insecticide may freak you out, but the truth is that it's the fastest way to wipe out a flea infestation that's driving your dog crazy. As long as your dog is over 4 weeks old and weighs more than 2 pounds - you can feed him a tablet for quick relief.

Capstar's flea control tablets start working almost instantly and will kill almost all adult fleas living on your dog within 4 hours, letting you accomplish in 24 hours something that normally takes a week or two to achieve.

So what's the catch? For starters, Capstar only kills adult fleas, which means flea eggs and larvae are still left to hatch and wreak havoc in the future. On top of that, Capstar only kills the fleas for a day. To repeat: it's a fast flea kill pill that will get rid of fleas on dogs fast but it will not prevent fleas from coming back.

So use it to quickly wipe out the fleas that are currently torturing your dog but make sure to combine it with other flea treatments that may not be as instantaneous but last longer.

Note: Fleas go berserk when they're dying off, getting more vicious in their final moments so you'll want to make sure your dog is confined in a safe space before administering treatment where they can't harm themselves in their moment of agony.

SPOT-ON FLEA TREATMENT FOR DOGS

Pros:

  • Kills 100% of fleas
  • Kills fleas in all life stages
  • Is preventative and each application keeps fleas off for 30 days

Cons:

  • Doesn't work immediately
  • Is pricey, ranging from $10 to $50 per monthly dose
  • Topical treatment that can get on your skin

Spot-on flea treatment are liquid flea meds that you apply directly onto your dog, usually between your dog's shoulders. They aren't as fast-acting as oral meds like Capstar but they are effective and work pretty quickly, killing nearly all fleas within 18 hours of applications.

More good news? Spot-on treatments like Frontline Plus doesn't just kill adult fleas, but it also wipes out flea eggs and larvae, offering a more complete solution. It's also waterproof and lasts for 30 days so it's an effective monthly treatment to keep your dog free of fleas for good.

SPOT-ON FLEA TREATMENT FOR DOGS

Pros:

  • Provide long-lasting protection - one flea collar can last up to 8 months
  • Extremely convenient to use
  • Effective and affordable

Cons:

  • Doesn't kill pre-adult fleas
  • Can cause irritation and adverse reactions
  • Doesn't work immediately

Spot-on flea drops for dogs are long-lasting and highly effective but they can add up pretty quickly, especially since you're re-applying every 30 days. Flea collars, on the other hand offer an easy, affordable solution that can provide up to 8 months of flea-killing protection. 

The most effective flea collars for dogs contain insecticide but instead of floating around your dog's neck area (like the older, gas-release models), the pesticide gets gradually absorbed into your dog's skin, making them essentially flea-proof.​

The biggest perks are effectiveness and convenience: You simply strap it on man's best friend and you're ready to roam anywhere and everywhere, from the paved neighborhood streets to the wilderness. The downsides? Flea collars don't kill pre-adult fleas, only the adults and as with anything with pesticides, can cause irritation and adverse reactions. 

FLEA POWDER FOR DOGS (WITH PESTICIDES)

Pros:

  • Effective for killing fleas
  • Cheaper than spot-on options
  • Can use on pets and around the house, i.e. on carpets

Cons:

  • Dogs can get sick if they lick the powder off their fur
  • Only kills adult fleas, not flea eggs or larvae
  • Powder can irritate pets with allergies

Do you like the long-lasting, flea-killing effects of spot-on treatments but don't want to fork over $10 to $50 per monthly dose? Flea powder for dogs might be perfect for you. 

Flea powders for dogs are on the cheaper side of flea control since a bottle is usually less than $10 and will last you awhile. 

Application is also easy and since these powders contain insecticides, they are effective at killing fleas. The downsides? Most flea powders only kill adult fleas and lack the Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) that targets pre-adult fleas as well. 

Also, since it's in powder form, it can irritate pets with breathing allergies as well as dry out your dog's skin. The biggest concern, though, is the fact that it is topical and can be licked off and ingested by your dog. 

NATURAL FLEA POWDERS & SPRAYS FOR DOGS

Pros:

  • Totally natural and non-toxic for you and your dog
  • Can use on pets and in the home

Cons:

  • Not very effective against killing flea infestations
  • Does not kill fleas in all life stages
  • Requires consistent reapplication
  • Takes awhile to work

If you're feeling put off by all the chemical options and want a natural flea remedy for dogs, natural flea powders and sprays can be a good option...as long as you're patient and don't mind putting in a little consistent work.  These natural flea powders usually combine natural flea killers like diatomaceous earth, which dehydrates fleas to death, with essential oils like peppermint and clove to kill and repel fleas.

The obvious perk of natural flea powders and sprays is that they're totally natural so you don't have to worry about potentially harming your dog. The downside? Powders fall off more easily so constant reapplication is needed. Sprays also lose potency over time so consistent application is necessary.

Plus, diatomaceous earth is very effective for killing fleas but they do have to make direct contact with the substance and even then, it takes awhile for death by dehydration to happen. As for essential oils, they may be effective for repelling fleas but they won't necessarily wipe out a flea infestation.

As such, natural powders and sprays for dogs may be non-toxic but they are in no way a quick and easy solution.

FLEA DIP FOR DOGS

Pros:

  • Fast acting, can knock out a flea infestation quickly
  • Long-lasting, one treatment can last up to 30 days

Cons:

  • Concentrated form of potent pesticides, can be too strong for your pet and you
  • Only kills adult fleas, not flea eggs or larvae

Flea dips are pretty controversial and not typically used anymore because of health concerns. Which makes sense since it's a concentrated chemical that you dilute in water and then apply to your dog's fur. It's not like a shampoo bath that you rinse off your dog - it's a concentrated, potent chemical product that you apply on your dog and let sit.

This comes with obvious downsides, such as coating your dog in flea dip makes it easy for him to lick it which can cause him to get sick and even lead to toxic reactions. Overall, flea dip is an affordable, effective way to kill fleas but there are now safer, better options. If you must go this route, we recommend only using it for severe infestations and very infrequently.

Leave a Comment: