The Benefits of Oral Flea Treatments for Dogs

September 5, 2019
Some oral flea treatments can last up to three months - we'll look at your best options here.

Our pets are constantly exposed to a variety of parasites that can, in some cases, be seriously dangerous. Fleas are one of the most common, and a real nightmare. Luckily, there are some great oral flea treatments for dogs out there. They’re easy to administer, and extremely effective.

Nowadays, there are lots of products you can use to fight ticks and fleasThat includes everything from pills, sprays, spot-on treatments, and special collars. But, having such a variety to choose from also makes a lot of pet owners question their choices, and many people just end up choosing randomly, or going for the cheapest option.

When you’re deciding between oral flea treatments and topical ones, your main consideration should be what your vet says. They’ll evaluate how exposed your dog is to fleas, and take into account possible negative reactions to the medication, based on your dog’s age and size.

How to pick out the best oral flea treatments for dogs

Most of these medications have chemical ingredients with properties that can help you figure out exactly how effective they’ll be. Here are some of the most common ingredients:

  • Lufenuron: this works specifically against flea larvaeIt’s harmless against adult fleas and ticks. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approves its use with both dogs and cats.
  • Nitenpyram: this is a fast-action insecticide for both fleas and ticks. Vets tend to prescribe this one as a way to get rid of fleas if your dog already has them. It’s not as good for prevention because it doesn’t last long. The FDA also approves its use with cats.
Fleas crawling on a dog's stomach.

  • Spinosad: this medication kills adult fleas by overstimulating their nervous system. It doesn’t do anything against ticks. The FDA recommends using it only for dogs without epilepsy. It has also made its way into some human medications, like the anti-lice medication Natroba. 

The advantages over topical treatments

Oral flea treatments generally come as pills or chewable tablets. This is partly because of how hard it can be to give a dog a liquid medication. Over time, lab scientists have started to improve the taste and smell of these medications, too. This makes it so that dogs will associate them with treats or food instead of medication.

But if the one you choose doesn’t have a very good flavor, you can “camouflage it” by mixing it in with the rest of your dog’s food or inserting into something like peanut butter.

The quick, simple application of oral flea treatments are one of their main advantages. But you definitely can’t discount their long-lasting effects. Most oral treatments last between 1-3 months, especially if your dog isn’t exposed much.

That long-lasting quality makes them the most practical option compared to topical treatments that interfere with bathing schedules.

An owner soaping a dog's head.

Smell is one of a dog’s strongest senses. That’s a big disadvantage when it comes to topical treatments. Lots of them have a smell that can make your dog extremely uncomfortable. From there, it may start to act strangely even just hours after you apply the treatment.

Sensitive skin

Also, just like with humans, dogs can have sensitive skin or allergic reactions to the chemical compounds in the topical treatments. This is less of a problem with oral flea treatments.

In general, it’s always best to follow your vet’s recommendations and do trial and error with the medications to see what works best. The individual characteristics of your dog and its degree of exposure (or the time of year) can play a part in how the medication works, potentially decreasing its effectiveness.

Don’t take any risks when it comes to your dog’s health and happiness. Find the right medications for your dog to keep flea- and itch-free!

  • Kvamme, J. (S.f). PetMD. Types of Flea & Tick Control Products. Recuperado de https://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/evr_multi_types_of_flea_tick_control_products
  • Murphy, K. (2019). Hill’s. Flea and Tick Medication: Oral vs. Topical Treatments. Recuperado de https://www.hillspet.com/pet-care/healthcare/flea-and-tick-treatments-oral-topical