Which is Better: Advantage or Frontline Plus?


Dr. Barchas,

What is your take on Advantage vs Frontine Plus? We used Advantage once on our little 6 month old yorkie/brussels griffon and then switched to Frontline Plus because of vet said it was better. After switching to Frontline Plus, we noticed our puppy scratching a lot more.

We ended up finding fleas on him, we kept using the Frontline Plus as instructed for 3 months, but the fleas kept coming back – even after numerous baths and going through his hair with the special comb.

I went online and saw that some people were complaining about how they thought Frontline Plus didn’t seem to work as well as it has in the past. We live in Washington state, so are thinking of switching back to Advantage. Is there one brand you think works better?

Auburn, WA

Jessie, the short answer to your question is no, I don’t think one brand is better than the other.

Anyone who knows anything about evolution knows that eventually fleas will become resistant to any commonly used flea preventative. Advantage and Frontline Plus are both commonly used, to be sure. But I have yet to see any evidence (personally or in scientific reports) of resistance to either product.

The treatment failures I’ve seen with both products so far have related to improper use. People sometimes buy ineffective counterfeit products online or at pet stores. These products don’t work.

Other people buy the real products but don’t apply them properly. Here is the very most common cause of Frontline Plus and Advantage “not working”: a pet owner allows their flea product to lapse. Fleas infest the pet and lay millions of eggs. The eggs molt, progress through their life cycles, and become indestructible pupae. Nothing — no chemical, no nuclear bomb, probably not the rigors of outer space — can kill a flea pupa. Eventually the owner realizes that his pet has fleas and applies Advantage or Frontline Plus. All of the adult fleas die but the pupae aren’t touched. As pupae hatch and infest the pet, they are killed (over a day or so) by the product, but the owner still notices them. The product is working fine but appears not to be for 3 – 6 months as the pupae hatch.

If you want your pet and house to be free of fleas, here is what I recommend. Buy Advantage or Frontline Plus from a reputable source (read: your vet). Apply it religiously every month. Be patient while flea pupae hatch, since there’s nothing you can do to kill them. Continue to use the product after the pupae are gone, and there will be no more fleas.

Jessie, it sounds like you have been using both products correctly, so I am suspicious that you may have wound up with some counterfeit Frontline Plus. That’s much more likely than the only other possibility — that evolution is finally catching up with flea products.

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