11 Best Flea Treatments for Dogs to Get Ahead of the Tell-Tale Scratching

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

Who needs a human life partner when your dog is well-socialized and loves to travel? Well, there’s one thing that humans have over even the sweetest and smartest canines: People don’t get fleas during the first summer heat wave like dogs do. With the correct treatment for your specific pup, you can take care of their pest problem and walk right off into the sunset together.

How quickly do flea treatments begin working?

The type of treatment you use will determine how quickly it works. Some liquid topical treatments activate within 12 hours. Others, like an environmental spray, work best if used regularly over time. It can take up to one month (or about 30 days) for a flea life cycle to be interrupted, so don’t despair if it doesn’t seem to work like magic right away. One thing to look out for? Fleas sitting on top of your dog’s coat. This is good and means the treatment is working! Rather than sticking close to your pup’s skin, the pests are coming up the strands of fur as they die.

What type of flea treatment is best for my dog?

It’s imperative to ask yourself what your dog prefers when it comes to medicine or bath time. If they hate taking baths, don’t bank on a flea shampoo to get the job done. If they refuse to eat anything that isn’t their favorite treat, don’t rely on chewables. No matter what, check the dosage you administer. More often than not, flea treatments aren’t meant for puppies younger than eight weeks. Your dog’s size and weight will also determine which treatment to use. A toy breed may not want the weight of a flea collar while daily chews may not be as fiscally ideal as a monthly tablet for large breeds.

With any treatment, keep a close eye on your pet after ingestion or application. Topical treatments may irritate skin, but things should be back to normal within a day or two. Be mindful of products with recalls or have been deemed dangerous but are still on shelves (like Seresto Flea and Tick Collars). If you notice unusual behavior in your dog (excessive vomiting or seizures) contact your vet immediately.

best flea treatment for dogs frontline

1. Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatments

Best Overall

Frontline has long been the go-to flea and tick treatment for dog owners. Not only does it kill adult fleas, but it also annihilates flea eggs, flea larvae, chewing lice and ticks. It goes on easily (between the shoulder blades where your pup can’t lick it off) and is completely waterproof within 24 hours. Each application offers 30 days of protection. This is also approved for use in dogs who are breeding or currently pregnant or nursing!

best flea treatments for dogs advantix

2. K9 Advantix Ii Flea & Tick Spot Treatment

Fastest Acting

A few dabs of this liquid along the ridge of your dog’s back and within 12 hours the formula kills ticks, fleas, chewing lice and mosquitoes. It’s waterproof, too, so even a web-footed, surf-diving, water dog can use it without issue. Pet owners recommend buying multiple months’ supply at once, so that you don’t let a few days lapse between monthly applications (which is when breakthrough infestations happen). Be sure to purchase the treatment best suited for your dog’s size.

best flea treatments for dogs tropiclean

3. Tropiclean Maximum Strength Natural Flea & Tick Shampoo

Best Natural Shampoo

If your pet’s been tromping through some areas where the wild things are, even with an oral or topical anti-pest treatment, you’ll want to use a pet wash that also has some anti-flea power. This all-natural wash not only smells fresh thanks to essential oils, it also contains cocoa to soothe your dog’s skin (because heat rashes can cause itching too, poor things). The formula’s anti-flea (and anti-tick!) properties are active for up to a week. Use every two weeks for maximum effect.

best flea treatments for dogs nexgard

4. Nexgard Soft Chews

Best Monthly Chewable

“We’ve been using Nexgard seasonally for the last 6 years as advised by our vet,” says one die-hard user. “Our dog is very dark with lots of hair and is loooow to the ground. (Low Rider lol) so she’s hard to check for ticks. We have not once found a tick on her, dead or alive.” Indeed, these bite-sized, meat-flavored chewables are favored by pet owners who have had bad luck with topical pesticides, or who don’t want their indoor cats (or toddlers) to come into contact with pesticides. The treatment lasts a full month. Not only is it recommended by vets, the FDA approved it to kill fleas and prevent Lyme disease by killing ticks.

best flea treatment for dogs pethonesty

5. Pethonesty Flea & Tick Defense Soft Chews

Best Natural Chewable

Tastes like hickory-smoked bacon, repels fleas, mosquitoes and ticks like its chemical counterparts. These all-natural chews rely on ingredients like coconut oil, garlic and brewer’s yeast to keep pests at bay year-round. Plus, these chews help boost your dog’s immune system and reduce inflammation. PetHonesty products are vet-reviewed and free of chemicals. The only downside is these must be administered daily (one to three chews, depending on your dog’s weight). But, at only $27 for a 90-day count, this isn’t a bad deal, especially if your pup is under 25 pounds (that’s just $9 a month)!

best flea treatment for dogs wondercide

6. Wondercide Yard & Garden Flea & Tick Spray, 32-oz Bottle

Best Outdoor Spray

Lucky enough to have a yard for your pup, but unlucky enough to find it crawling with fleas, ticks and other pests? Opt for this treatment, a spray that uses active ingredients and essential oils like cedarwood oil. Attach the bottle to your garden hose and spritz it around, killing bugs at all stages. It’s biodegradable and safe for animals and people. “We had a bad flea infestation over our back patio after a 100+ degree heat wave. I knew I couldn't let our pets out without doing something about it,” one reviewer says. “It took a couple sprays over a few days because of the eggs hatching, but in just a week they were pretty much gone. The smell was also pleasant.”

best flea treatments diatomaceous earth food grade flea tick powder

7. Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade Flea & Tick Powder

Best Multi-Pest Killer

We like this natural pesticide, which is actually a dust made of fossilized sea creatures called silica, for its versatility and how many bug species it can kill. This particular diatomaceous earth is “food-grade,” which means you can add a small amount to your pet’s meal each day. (There are non-food grade DE options with larger particles that cause lung irritation, so purchase the correct version.) Or, dust your yard with it to control bug populations (it’s all natural). It’s effective against a veritable who’s who of other home and garden pests: Ants, Bedbugs, Silverfish, Flour Beetles, Cockroaches, Slugs, Earwigs, Centipedes, Millipedes, Sowbugs, Pillbugs, Carpet Beetles, Spiders, Crickets, Colorado Potato Beetles and Caterpillars.

best flea treatments for dogs lemongrass spray

8. Wondercide Topical & Indoor Flea & Tick Spray

Best Indoor Spray

A natural alternative to flea and tick collars as well as chemical topical treatments, this spray has cedarwood, lemongrass and sesame oil as active ingredients, so when you spray it around your home (or apply it to cat or dog fur), the aroma evokes more of a high-end counter spray than a chemical soup. “We had a dog who had a reaction to traditional flea/tick meds and our vet recommended we try this instead,” says one reviewer. “Now all of our babies use this and the lemongrass scent is our favorite.” The makers recommend spraying on your hands and rubbing together, then wiping around your pet’s mouth and eyes so it gets an even application without stinging. It’s safe to use on hardwood, fabric and pet bedding.

best flea treatments for dogs precor shampoo

9. Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo With Precor

Longest-Lasting Shampoo

Want to control your dog’s flea and tick problems with a powerful potion? This shampoo does the trick with pyrethins—a naturally occurring chemical compound found in chrysanthemums that attacks insects’ nervous systems. And though the formula is made to kill fleas, eggs and larvae for up to 28 days, it’s enriched with moisturizing oatmeal, coconut extract, lanolin and aloe to help condition the skin and coat. (So bonus, you won’t need canine dandruff shampoo on top of this.) “We use this once [a] month on our household of 5 cats and 1 dog, which are all indoor/outdoor, and fleas haven't appeared since,” reports one satisfied user, who likes the sweet, faint scent of oatmeal it leaves on fur.

best flea treatment for dogs flea comb

10. Hartz Groomer’s Best Flea Comb

Best Flea Comb

This fine-toothed comb works on all coat types to de-tangle mats and scoop out fleas. Every tooth has a safety tip so there’s no fear of scratching your pup or irritating sensitive skin. Not only will it gather fleas as you run it through the fur, it’ll pick up flea eggs, dirt and debris. Hundreds of reviewers agree this is the best tool for flea control.

best flea treatment for dogs onguard

11. Onguard Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment

Best Budget

Flea and tick treatment can get very pricey, especially for large breeds or dogs who eat prescription diets or have other health issues. Onguard makes a six-month supply of their spot treatment for just $28. Say goodbye to fleas and ticks of all ages (including tick larvae!) and species (including ticks that cause Lyme disease). Onguard also recently revamped their applicator, which means it’s easier than ever for you to keep your pup safe.

dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...