Frontline Flea & Tick Control

- My first choice for spot-on flea and tick control -

Summary: Frontline Top Spot (tm) and Frontline Plus (tm) are flea and tick control medication for dogs and cats with the active ingredient fipronil, Frontline Plus adds the growth regulator methoprene. Either Frontline can be used monthly but re-treatment this often probably is not necessary for most situations.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Frontline Top Spot or Plus (tm)?

Frontline (tm) is my first choice for spot-on flea and tick control on both dogs and cats. The main advantages of Frontline are: it can be used on both cats and dogs, effectively controls fleas for 90 days and ticks for 30 days, is waterproof, and does not contain permethrin, which is toxic to cats.

Frontline comes in small, measured-dose applicators where the amount of liquid is matched to the weight of the animal. Four dosage levels are available for dogs, one level for cats and kittens. Once applied the insecticide quickly spreads over the skin providing protection from bites for at least a month. Be careful to apply the liquid to the pet's skin not to the fur; see How to Apply Spot-on Flea Control. Also, please read over the General Information and Precautions before using any of the flea control products.

Frontline controls adult cat fleas

Adult cat fleas (1/5"-1/10") move between the host animal and "nest".

Fipronil, the active ingredient in all Frontline products, is not readily absorbed into the blood so there is less chance of side effects compared to systemic flea control medications. Package instructions say that monthly applications are allowed; however, unless fleas are frequently re-introduced into the pet's environment monthly applications probably are not needed. Re-apply only when fleas, "flea-dirt" or ticks are found.

If you live where heartworm has been reported your pets should be protected from this serious, often fatal, parasitic infection (see What is Heartworm?). Even though heartworm is transmitted by mosquito bites we believe that systemic heartworm medications like Heartgard are better protection than topically-applied mosquito repellents such as K9 Advantix.

Frontline Plus (tm) includes methoprene

A closely related product, Frontline Plus (tm), adds the insect growth regulator methoprene to the basic ingredient in Frontline. Frontline Plus has all of the advantages of Frontline including: can be safely used cats and dogs, is effective against fleas for 90 days and ticks for 30 days, is waterproof, and does not contain permethrin which is toxic to cats.

However, I believe methoprene works better when applied as a separate off-animal treatment rather than along with Frontline (see Why Methoprene Works Better as a "Nest" Treatment). So, while Frontline Plus is an excellent choice if you don't want to bother with a separate methoprene treatment, I prefer to apply these treatments separately.

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