Best flea treatment for dogs 2022: Keep your pup scratch-free

flea treatment for dogs
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With so many brands claiming to have the best flea treatments for dogs, trying to decide which one to pick can feel more than a little overwhelming. From topicals and shampoos to tablets and flea collars, there's a dizzying array of products on the market that can make even the most savvy pet parent's head spin.

Thankfully, finding a high quality flea treatment for your canine companion needn't be a hassle. Just like the best flea treatments for cats, as a dog owner you're really faced with two main choices - a flea collar or a topical flea treatment, both of which come with their own unique pros and cons. 

The most popular options amongst pet parents tends to be topicals and if you've been wondering 'how do topical flea treatments work?' you'll be relieved to know they're very straightforward to use. Simply apply the contents of the pipette directly onto your dog's neck once every 30 days and you're good to go. 

Not only do topicals work to prevent flea infestations from occurring in the first place, they also have active ingredients that kill current outbreaks, meaning they're a great way of killing two birds with one stone. But, they do come with a downside and that's the cost - topicals aren't cheap, so if you're on a budget, you may find a flea collar a much better way to go.

While topical treatments have stronger ingredients, flea collars are without a doubt more cost-effective, making them a great choice in our current economic climate. Granted, they can't treat an existing outbreak, but you can pair them with the best flea medication for dogs to help clear up a current infestation. Easy to fit, flea collars provide up to eight months of protection, so they offer outstanding peace of mind.

When it comes to shampoos and sprays, we don't recommend relying on these as your sole line of treatment when it comes to fleas. They're great when used in conjunction with a collar or topical (make sure you check the label first though to make sure pairing the two is ok) as an extra layer of defence, but they're not strong enough or long lasting enough to be used alone. 

If you're in unsure about what flea treatment is right for your canine, talk to your vet who will be able to guide you in the right direction. When you're ready to make a choice, you'll find our picks below of the best flea treatments for dogs super handy in helping you make a decision. 

PetsRadar's pick of the best flea treatment for dogs

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Best flea treatment for dogs: Frontline PlusBest buy award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Frontline Plus

Best overall flea treatment for dogs

Specifications

Usage: both fleas and ticks
Type: Topical
Lasts: 30 days

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Waterproof
+
Recommended by vets
+
Kills ticks

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be expensive
-
Contains chemical pesticides

Topical flea treatments are typically applied once a month to a dog’s back or neck, and can provide weeks of protection against flea infestations. Usually effective against both fleas and ticks, their efficacy and how well they are tolerated by dogs depends on the active ingredients.

Frontline Plus is our pick for best flea treatment for dogs because it is easy to use, safe for dogs of almost all sizes, effective at killing both fleas and ticks at all stages of life, and waterproof (after 24 hours).

While some flea treatments are either effective or easy to use, Frontline Plus has been a veterinarian-recommended flea and tick treatment for years for its combination of effectiveness, ease of use and being well-tolerated by dogs.

Frontline Plus is a monthly, topical liquid that’s one-and-done for up to 30 days of protection against both flea and tick infestations. Frontline Plus contains two separate active ingredients that, combined, kill fleas and ticks and their eggs and larvae for up to 30 days with one application. If your dog doesn’t like to be fussed with, the once-a-month dosage is a boon.

Frontline Plus begins killing fleas after four hours, and within 12 hours kills 100% of fleas on contact, so a flea doesn’t have to bite your dog to be affected. However, the chemicals are hazardous to humans, so it’s important to avoid touching freshly-applied Frontline. Application on dogs with long-hair coats is more difficult than on smooth coat pups, as it’s important to get the solution close to the dog’s skin.

Advantix kills more insects than Frontline, proving lethal to mosquitos and lice in addition to fleas and ticks, but it’s more expensive – up to 30% more than Frontline Plus. Whether that extra coverage is worth it to you will depend largely on your environment and the likelihood that your dog will encounter mosquitos or lice often enough to warrant the prevention.

Hartz UltraGuard Dual Action Flea & Tick Topical Dog TreatmentPets Radar Approved Award

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Hartz UltraGuard Dual Action Flea & Tick Topical Dog Treatment

Best budget flea treatment for dogs

Specifications

Usage: Fleas and ticks
Type: Topical
Lasts: 30 days

Reasons to buy

+
Super affordable
+
Fast acting
+
Suitable for puppies over 12 weeks

Reasons to avoid

-
Ineffective against lice and mosquitoes

Topical treatments can be really expensive and when you consider that you have to reapply them every 30 days, the cost can soon add up. Thankfully, Hartz have created an incredibly affordable three-pack that you can pick up for under $6 - now that's what we call a bargain!

Effective against fleas and ticks, this topical treatment gets to work fast, killing any parasites on your dog's coat in just 15 minutes and preventing future outbreaks. It's waterproof 48 hours after application and can be used on puppies and dogs over the age of 12 weeks and weighing more than 5 lbs. 

While some pet parents report that this formula from Hartz isn't as effective as a brand like Frontline, others say they've had overwhelming success with this topical. Given how affordable it is, we feel it's well worth a shot if you're looking for an affordable way to keep fleas at bay.

Best flea treatment for dogs: Seresto flea and tick collarPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Seresto Flea and Tick Collar

Best flea collar flea treatment for dogs

Specifications

Usage: both fleas and ticks
Type: Collar
Lasts: 8 months

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Waterproof
+
Lasts 8 months

Reasons to avoid

-
Contains chemical pesticides
-
Should not be combined with other flea treatments

Flea collars offer a more budget-friendly way to protect your pup against flea infestations. As their name implies, they’re worn around a dog’s neck, though they’re not intended to act as a replacement for a tag-displaying collar.

Our pick for best flea collar, the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar by Bayer, offers eight months of protection with one application. And at a cost close to that of six months of topical treatments, Seresto can save you money. Applying it is as easy as putting the collar on your dog and leaving it there.

Seresto differs from most flea collars in its design. Made from a unique polymer matrix, it releases low levels of its active ingredients over long periods of time, maintaining its effectiveness for up to eight months. It starts killing fleas within 24 hours and controls them at all stages of its lifecycle.

Seresto is odorless, non-greasy, and kills fleas on contact, so they don’t have to bite your dog for it to work. Seresto is water-resistant, so it can be worn during baths or for swimming, although frequent exposure to water can reduce its length of effectiveness. Dog owners worried that a collar might catch or choke their pup will be pleased to know that Seresto features a two-way release safety feature. It also features visibility reflectors to help keep your dog safe at night.

If your dog has a thick, fluffy coat, a flea collar needs to be adjusted to get close enough to your dog’s skin so it can be most effective. One other caveat is while other treatments provide a monthly reminder to maintain your pup’s medication, it’s easy to lose track of how long your pup has been sporting its current collar. With a little extra vigilance (or at least a note on your calendar), a flea collar is an excellent, budget-friendly way to keep your dog flea-free.

Adams Plus Flea and Tick ShampooPets Radar Approved Award

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Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo

Best shampoo flea treatment for dogs

Specifications

Usage: Both fleas and ticks
Type: Shampoo
Lasts: 28 days

Reasons to buy

+
Contains soothing ingredients
+
Kills fleas and ticks in all life stages
+
Lasts for up to 28 days

Reasons to avoid

-
Not safe for puppies under 12 weeks of age

If you’re looking for a shampoo that will kill fleas, ticks, lice, and their eggs on contact but still be gentle on your furkid’s skin and coat, then this formula from Adams is a great choice.

Designed for sensitive skin but suitable for all skin types, it has a rich and creamy texture for the perfect lather and it comes packed full of aloe vera, lanolin, and oatmeal to soothe the skin.

Containing an insect growth regulator that kills and prevents flea development for up to 28 days and it’s infused with coconut oil for a clean and fresh scent. We love that this shampoo is safe for use on both dogs and cats (great if you have a multi-pet household!) and is suitable for ages 12 weeks and up.

As well as killing parasites, this deeply conditioning shampoo is also ideal for removing dandruff, dirt, and scales, and depending on the size of your pet, you’ll only need to use 1-2 tbsps per wash, so the bottle should last you a good while.

Flea medication for dogsPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: NexGard)

NexGard

Best easy to use flea treatment for dogs

Specifications

Usage: both fleas and ticks
Type: Chewable
Lasts: 30 days

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Lasts 30 days
+
No mess

Reasons to avoid

-
Contains chemical pesticides
-
Expensive
-
Not suitable for dogs under 4lbs or puppies under eight weeks

It always feels like you’re getting away with something when you trick your dog into thinking their medicine is a treat, but we can live with the guilt. Chewable flea treatments for dogs provide a mess-free option that your dog will genuinely enjoy and can last as long as (or longer than) other treatments. The downside is they can be expensive and can have more frequent side effects than other types of flea medications.

Our pick for the best chewable flea treatment is NexGard. NexGard is effective at killing adult fleas before they can lay eggs and it comes in a beef flavor that most dogs seem to like, making it one of the easiest flea treatments to apply.

The trade-off for that ease of use is a laundry list of possible side-effects. Because your dog is digesting the treatment, side-effects include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite. 

The only real way to know how your dog will react to NexGard is to give it to them and observe their behavior over the next 24-48 hours. Any negative reaction is usually temporary, but talk to your vet about it should you see any symptoms. NexGard is veterinarian-recommended and FDA-approved.

Vet's Best Flea and Tick Easy SprayPets Radar Approved Award

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Vet's Best Flea and Tick Easy Spray

Best flea spray

Specifications

Usage: Fleas and ticks
Type: Spray
Ingredients: Natural

Reasons to buy

+
All-natural ingredients
+
Acts fast
+
Proven effective

Reasons to avoid

-
Strong odor

If you're looking for a gentle and natural way to rid both your hound and home of fleas, this formula from Vet's Best is well worth a try. It's important to remember that once your dog has fleas, so too does your house, so a flea spray is a great way to treat your bedding, carpets and clothes, as well as your pooch.

This effective formula contains certified natural essential oils and plant-based ingredients that provide a safe and fast acting formula for flea and tick removal and prevention. It will also kill flea larvae and eggs, as well as mosquitos and the mist sprayer is gentle enough to be applied to dogs and puppies over the age of 12 weeks.

Capstar Flea Oral Treatment for Dogs pack shotPets Radar Approved Award

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Capstar Flea Oral Treatment for Dogs

Best oral flea treatment for dogs

Specifications

Usage: Fleas
Type: Oral tablets
Lasts: 6 days

Reasons to buy

+
Starts to work within 30 minutes
+
Safe for puppies
+
Kills adult fleas within 4 hours
+
Tiny and easy to swallow

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 6 tablets 
-
Slightly pricey

If you’re after a flea treatment for dogs that is fast-acting and will provide instant relief to your pooch, these Capstar Flea Tablets for Dogs are ideal. Formulated with the active ingredient of Nitenpyram, this makes them highly effective in getting rid of fleas in dogs. These fast-acting tablets start to work in just 30 minutes, and have a 90% success rate in killing adult fleas in four hours. 

The tablets are small and easy-to-swallow which makes them suitable to give to puppies four weeks and older. And while they may be tiny tablets, a single dose is strong enough to get rid of any parasite infestation in minutes. This should relieve the unpleasant scratching and discomfort your canine companion is experiencing. But they are also safe to give daily should your pooch get infested again.

The Capstar Flea Tablets for Dogs are slightly more expensive than other treatments on the market, and you only get six in a pack. However, these tiny tablets are fast-acting and provide long-lasting protection, making it a worthwhile purchase.

CapAction Oral Flea Treatment Small DogPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: PetArmor)

CapAction Oral Flea Treatment Small Dog

Best alternative flea treatment to Capstar

Specifications

Usage: Fleas
Type: Oral tablets
Lasts: 6 day supply

Reasons to buy

+
Safe and easy to use
+
Starts working in 30 minutes
+
Affordable six-pack

Reasons to avoid

-
For short-term use only

If your canine companion is currently crawling with fleas and you're looking for a fast, effective and affordable way to kick those hitchhikers to the curb, then these tablets from CapAction are just the ticket.

While rival Capstar has long dominated the market when it comes to oral flea medication, CapAction is beginning to bridge the gap, offering a product that is substantially more accessible and affordable for those on a budget while containing exactly the same ingredients.

Getting to work within 30 minutes, this pack of six tablets treats flea infestations fast and is suitable to use on puppies and dogs over four weeks of age and weighing between 2-25 lbs. Vet-recommended, CapAction is safe, easy to use and will have your hound feeling happy again in no time. 

Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Large DogsPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Chewy)

Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Large Dogs

Best flea treatment for large dogs

Specifications

Usage: Both fleas and lice
Type: Topical
Lasts: 30 days

Reasons to buy

+
Fast-acting and long-lasting
+
Specifically formulated to help disrupt the life cycle of fleas
+
Waterproof
+
Simple application

Reasons to avoid

-
Can leave greasy residue on fur 
-
Expensive

If your canine companion is on the larger size, then the Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Large Dogs is ideal. Specially formulated for dogs weighing 45 to 88 pounds, this fast-acting treatment will kill adult fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, chewing lice and ticks.

The long-lasting effects are due to its two active ingredients, fipronil and (S)-methoprene, that effectively disrupts the life cycle of fleas and prevents future infestations.

It’s simple to use with one application directly onto your canine companion. Part your dog’s hair between the shoulder blades, place the tip of the applicator above the skin and squeeze the contents of the applicator in a single spot. It’s advisable not to apply on top of the haircoat, and to avoid contact until dry. Another bonus is it’s waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about reapplying if your pooch gets wet. 

Although the treatment lasts for 30 days, you can always reapply afterwards for that extra protection against pesky fleas and parasites. You can buy from three doses up to eight doses for an 8-month supply.

One downside mentioned by a few customers is the treatment can leave a greasy residue on fur. But this will easily come off in a day or two. It’s also worth noting that it is rather expensive compared to other treatments. However, the Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Large Dogs is an effective, fast-acting, flea treatment that’s easy to use and will quickly solve your pup’s discomfort. Which makes it a worthwhile investment.

K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Prevention for Small DogsPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Prevention for Small Dogs

Best flea treatment for small dogs

Specifications

Usage: Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes
Type: Topical
Lasts: 30 days

Reasons to buy

+
Scent free
+
Starts working within 12 hours
+
Kills fleas, ticks and mosquitoes

Reasons to avoid

-
2 doses only

If you have a pint-sized pooch weighing between 4-10 pounds, then this topical treatment from Advantix is well worth considering. Easy to apply and offering 30 days of protection, this formula starts working within 12 hours of application, killing fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes on contact.

We love that this treatment is waterproof after 24 hours, so it's a great choice if your little one likes getting wet. The only downside is that unlike some brands that contain three applications, you'll only get two in this pack, although this is factored into the price, so don't worry, you won't be paying more for less! 

All-in-all, this is a really great topical treatment for small dogs from a reputable and well reviewed brand. Oh, and did we mention it's vet-recommended? Great for giving you peace of mind that you're using a safe and effective formula on your furkid. 

Advantus 30-Count Chewable Flea Treatment for Large DogsPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Advantus 30-Count Chewable Flea Treatment for Large Dogs

Best chew-form flea treatment for dogs

Specifications

Usage: Fleas
Type: Chew
Lasts: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Rich, savory flavor
+
Starts killing fleas within one hour
+
Soft and easy to chew

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for use as a preventative measure

Looking for a tasty way to supplement your dog's existing flea treatment? Then look no further than these tasty savory-flavored chews! Fast-acting and long-lasting, they contain the active ingredient Imidacloprid which spreads throughout your dog's body to kill fleas fast.

With a rich and meaty flavor, these chews are suitable for all breeds over 23 lbs and they have a soft texture, which makes them ideal if your pup has sore teeth or gums that makes chewing a challenge.

Available without a prescription, the ingredients in the chew get to work killing fleas as quickly as one hour after consumption. Safe and effective, you can give one soft chew every 24 hours and they can be used alongside can be used together with heartworm preventatives, dewormers, shampoos and antibiotics. 

Just one thing worth noting - the chews can only treat fleas, they can't prevent them. With that in mind, you'll want to make sure you invest in a flea collar or topical flea treatment to ensure your pup is protected from pesky parasites 24/7. 

flea treatment for dogsPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: PetArmor)

PetArmor Plus Flea & Tick Prevention

Best alternative to Frontline Plus

Specifications

Usage: Fleas, eggs, larvae, ticks, chewing lice
Type: Topical
Lasts: 30 days

Reasons to buy

+
Successfully breaks the flea life cycle
+
Waterproof
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs more doses to be effective

Looking for an alternative to leading brand Frontline Plus? Aimed at dogs aged 8 weeks or older, PetArmor Plus Flea & Tick Prevention is a waterproof treatment that is aimed at disrupting the flea lifecycle, taking effect within 24 hours to kill fleas, eggs, larvae, ticks, and chewing lice.

It's very easy to apply, with instructions included should you have any trouble. Each dose lasts for a month with a regular six-issue packet providing up to six months of protection. 

While the product has a successful track record of breaking the flea cycle and is lauded by pet owners for its ease of use, the high price may be a drawback for some.

How to choose the best flea treatment for your dog

Flea treatments for dogs come in a variety of application types, length of effectiveness and ingredients. To choose the best treatment for your dog, start with what’s most important to you. Things like budget, ease of use and the need for ongoing protection can all be factors in what makes a flea treatment the best for you and your dog. If you live in the city center, you may only need sporadic coverage, as opposed to someone living in a more rural area who wants to prevent fleas all year round.

Before you give your dog any kind of medication, talk to your vet to get their advice. If your dog already has a sensitive stomach, a chewable flea treatment may not be a wise choice. Similarly, if your pup suffers from skin problems, a topical treatment may make their condition worse.

It’s also vital to match the treatment to your dog’s weight. Using a dosage intended for a larger dog on a puppy could make them sick, or even kill them. Some flea treatments for dogs are also not suitable for cats, so if you have a mixed household, check with your vet. No matter which treatment you use, always use it exactly as directed.

Ultimately, the best flea treatment for your dog will be the one that successfully kills fleas. It’s that simple. That may require some testing, but with an array of options to choose from, you will undoubtedly find a solution that’s best for you and your dog.