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Topical Treatments vs. Oral Treatments for Fleas and Ticks

By Roberta Wilson Subscribe to RSS | December 8th 2011 | Views:

Choosing the right flea and tick medication for your pet can be a challenging task. There are so many products on the market today and many of them seem to be equally effective. What are the differences between the different medications? Should you choose a topical medication or an oral one? In this article, we'll compare and contrast topical treatments versus oral treatments to help you make the right decision for your pet.

Topical Treatments

Topical flea and tick medications include Frontline Plus for dogs and cats, Advantage for dogs and cats, Advantix for dogs only, TriForce for dogs and cats, and Revolution for dogs and cats. Here's a closer look at these brands:

Frontline Plus for dogs and cats: The active ingredient in Frontline Plus is fipronil. Fipronil is a slow-acting poison that interrupts the central nervous system of both fleas and ticks. The secondary ingredient also kills flea eggs and larvae. When the ointment is applied to your pet, Frontline Plus for dogs and cats will kill the parasites within about twelve hours.

Advantage for dogs and cats: There are a number of different Advantage products on the market. Here's the breakdown:

Advantage Multi treats fleas, heartworms, and intestinal worms

Advantage II treats fleas in cats and dogs

K9 Advantix II treats fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes in dogs

TriForce: Although the name TriForce isn't as recognized by consumers as Advantage or Frontline Plus for dogs and cats, TriForce kills fleas and ticks and repels mosquitoes. Unlike Advantix, which repels mosquitoes only for dogs, TriForce is one of the few topical treatments with a mosquito option that's also available for cats.

Revolution: Revolution is also available in both dog and cat formulas. Fighting fleas, ticks, heartworms, and ear mites, Revolution has the additional advantages of fighting mange in dogs and intestinal worms in cats. Revolution requires a prescription.

Oral Treatments

There are a number of reasons why pet owners choose oral medications for flea and tick control rather than the topical treatments. For starters, there are so far fewer side effects reported with oral medications than with the topical ones. Some topical ointments have also been known to wash off.

Other pet owners point out the fact that the topical treatments come with a strong unpleasant smell. Watching their children rub or pet their animal, they also worry about the medication being accidentally ingested by their family. Oral medications do not have these disadvantages.

Here's a look at the top oral medications on the market for flea and tick control:

Comfortis: Expensive but reported to be extremely effective, Comfortis is a monthly pill designed to stop fleas in dogs only.

Capstar: Capstar kills adult fleas on dogs and cats. It is not designed to control other parasites.

Program: Program is designed to prevent new fleas from infesting your animal by killing flea eggs. Unlike Capstar, it does not kill adult fleas. Some pet owners combine Capstar and Program for maximum effectiveness.

Keeping Your Animals Safe

All of the products listed above can have side effects for your dog or cat; in rare cases, side effects can even be life-threatening. Understanding the potential dangers of long-term use of these medications, a wise approach to flea and tick medications is to use them only when needed. You can also cut down on the possibility of your pet contracting parasites by using nematodes or other natural methods to reduce the flea and tick population in your yard.

By following a common sense approach and using one of the medications listed above for short-term relief, you'll get the most out of your topical or oral medication while still protecting the health of your pet.

Do you prefer oral treatments or topical treatments for your animals? Share your experiences below.

Roberta Wilson - About Author:
A former pet shop manager and life-long dog lover, Robbie Wilson has extensive experience in helping people with their dogs, cats and other pets. Keeping pets healthy and pet medications like Frontline Plus for dogs are her favorite topics. For information on the latest pet treatments, she often turns to

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