Spot-On Flea & Tick Control

- Correct application is essential -

Summary: New spot-on flea control medications like Frontline must be applied correctly to be effective. The liquid must reach the pet's skin and must be placed where the pet can't lick it off.

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

Applying spot-on flea & tick medications

I'm a big fan of "spot-on" flea and tick medications like Frontline (tm) and Advantage (tm) (see Frontline Flea Control or Advantage Flea Control) but based on my own experience it is fairly easy to misapply and waste these expensive medications. The biggest problem I've had is getting the liquid on our dog's skin, rather than in her fur. The liquid must come in contact with the skin to work correctly.

The following steps outlined below should help. Try to position the applicator tip as shown. After application the fur around the site can be a little oily, this is normal but try not to touch the area until the oiliness disappears in about a day.

It is also important to apply these liquids where the pet can't lick them off because if ingested they can make your pets sick. The animal's natural reaction will be to try to lick off the "offending" oily liquid. The best spot is usually on the back, at the base of the neck. Watch your pet closely after the application to be sure it is not getting to the spot.

applicator tube for Frontline flea control medication

Frontline (tm) applicator. Open the applicator by bending and breaking the narrow tube at the scored line.

Steps to correctly using spot-on flea meds

Start by removing your pet's collar and leave the collar off until the medication is fully absorbed, usually 12-24 hours. Open the applicator tube by bending and breaking the narrow tip. Now separate the fur at the application site so that you can clearly see bare skin (see below). Gently press the tip of the applicator against the skin and gently squeeze the tube until empty. You can apply the liquid in more than one spot if you want to reduce the size of the oily patch at any one application site, be sure your pet can't lick the application site. This oiliness will disappear in about a day.

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applying flea and tick control #2
applying flea and tick control #3

Separate the fur at the application site (base of neck) until you can see bare skin.

Apply liquid by gently squeezing tube with the tip pressed against the skin.

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