Q: Topical flea control vs. pill form?

May 26, 2009 | By Alli | 8 answers | Expired: 2437 days ago


Was wondering what the difference in price and more so, effectiveness that pill flea control had vs topical ointment. I use Advantix and it kind of controls fleas, but puppy is still itching (prob sand fleas?)

I recently rescued a kitten who was a ball of fleas and now has infested all my cats in my house - dealing with that today.

What I was wondering if I should switch Mattie to the pill flea stuff or stick to Advantix?

Readers' Answers (8)
Wendy L.

May 27, 2009

There advantages and disadvantages to both - a topical medication often takes longer to work because the medication has to work its way through the exoskeleton to paralyze then kill the flea (while its roaming around, biting your pet, and laying eggs, though these medications often claim to repel, we all know that OFF doesn't work perfectly for us when mosquitoes are horrible!), whereas the pill versions are in the blood... meaning that the flea does have to bite (and irritate) your pet to get the medication, but because its in their system immediatley, they often die very quickly, before they get a chance to lay eggs and continue their life cycle, and stop biting your pet faster. Comfortis claims to kill fleas within 30 minutes. Liquids can be hard to apply or may get rubbed off before fully absorbed, whereas pills may not be absorbed well if given with a meal. Following the medications' administering instructions is important.

This is the rundown of medications that we sell at our clinic:
Frontline Plus - starts at $13 a dose, is waterproof, kills fleas & ticks. Safe on cats and dogs.
Advantage - starts at $13 a dose, NOT waterproof, kills fleas. Safe on cats and dogs.
K9 Advantix - starts at $15 a dose, waterproof, kills/repels fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and biting flies. Safe for DOGS ONLY
Advantage Multi - starts at $17 a dose, water proof, kills fleas, ear mites, and has heartworm prevention (moxidectin). Different versions for cats and dogs. (whether or not this is cheaper than a separate flea prevention and heartworm preventative depends on the weight size of the dog at our clinic).
Promeris - starts at $15 a dose, waterproof, kills fleas and ticks for dogs, just fleas for cat version.
Comfortis - starts at $12 a dose, waterproof, kills fleas (and though they don't claim it, ticks often don't stay on for a full meal, often detaching before they can transmit disease). NOT safe for dogs with seizures or that are breeding. NOT safe for cats.
All products are active for at least 30 days.

No matter which medication you get, you will probably continue to see fleas for sometime - if they're in the environment, nothing (flea sprays, bombs, etc.) will kill the pupae (coccoon) stage, so any eggs or pupae in the environment will grow up in about 2-3 weeks and become biting adults, which is why its important to continue flea treatment for at least a couple months. If its bad, I recommend Siphotrol or Tolstar for the environment.

ALWAYS get your medications from a licensed vet. We have heard plenty horror stories about eBay and 1800petmeds and other online sites. If you have a good vet and the medication stops working, most vets will take back the remaining unopened portion of the product for a credit. Heartgard is only guaranteed if its purchased at a licensed vet for a reason - they'll even pay for heartworm treatment as long as proof is made that the pet was heartworm negative prior and has had it purchased regularly.... because they don't trust those companies or sources either!

Best of luck!

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bobbie c.

May 27, 2009

I have tried frontline and advantixs and finally tried the pills this time around and they seem to work faster and better then the topicals. less itching within a 10 hr span and the pill dont leave that greasy residue on their fur. the pills a bit expensive but worth it.

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May 27, 2009

Everyone has given you plenty of good information. I just thought I would give my 2 cents!!

If you have an animal (like the little kitten that you found) that is COVERED in fleas, I usually start by giving them a dose of Capstar. It starts to kill the fleas in about an hour, so it does a great job of some quick relief. Capstar does not have any long term effects so you will need to get another type of treatment started immediately. I usually follow it up with a topical, such as Advantage or Revolution. Revolution gives you the added benefit of protecting against internal parasites like heartworms and also protects against ear mites.

And like everyone else has said ALWAYS get your medications from a licensed vet. You can never be too careful when it comes to your pets health. And if for some reason (God forbid) your animal has a reaction to the medications (which is very rare, but it does happen), you will want to have your vet be involved and know what was given to the animal and when.

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