Fleas and ticks are the most common external parasites of dogs and cats, and consequently most ectoparasiticidal drugs target these parasites. Many of these drugs are also effective against lice, mites, mosquitoes and other less important parasites.
Based on their efficacy and reliability, there are two large groups of commercial products to control these parasites, "hard" products and "soft" products.
"Soft" products are mostly shampoos, soaps, sprays, powders and the like that kill or repel more or less quickly and effectively (70-80%) these parasites immediately after application, but offer no real protection against re-infestation (i.e. no residual effect). This may require frequent re-treatments during the parasite's season. These "soft" products contain often the same pesticides than the "hard" products, but in less sophisticated formulations. They also contain more or less natural insecticides, often with a partial but sufficient efficacy. Registration of these products is often rather easy and most of them have not been thoroughly investigated regarding efficacy and safety. They are sold mostly over the counter. And there are thousands of brands and hundreds of manufacturers of these "soft" products.
"Hard" products are mainly:
- Spot-ons (pipettes, squeeze-ons) for topical administration
- Tablets (pills, chewables, capsules, etc) or suspensions for oral administration
- Insecticide-impregnated collars
- Injectables (very few)
All these "hard" products have in common that they are highly effective (usually >90%) against the parasites and offer at least about 1 month protection against re-infestation. In contrast with the soft products most of these products have been thoroughly investigated regarding efficacy and safety because registration requirements are rather strict in most countries. For this reason most of the original products are marketed by large to medium pharmaceutical or agrochemical companies (e.g. BAYER, ELANCO, MERIAL, ZOETIS, etc.). Some of these products need a prescription and are sold only in pharmacies or veterinary clinics. Another common feature of these "hard" products is that they are often substantially more expensive than the "soft" ones.
Active ingredients used in flea + tick products
Very few active ingredients are effective against all external parasites and all their developmental stages. For these reason numerous brands contain mixtures of active ingredients.
A typical mixture is adulticide + IGR (=Insect Growth Regulator). Most insecticides are adulticides, i.e. effective mainly or exclusively against the adult parasites, whereas IGRs are effective against immature stages, and not against the adults. Most common IGRs used in these products are methoprene and pyriproxyfen that are added to ensure that fleas that may survive the adulticide do not reproduce. These IGRs have no effect whatsoever on ticks or mites.
Another typical mixture is insecticide + tickicide. Several excellent flea killers (e.g. imidacloprid, indoxacarb, spinosad, etc.) are not effective against ticks. To add tick efficacy they are often mixed with a synthetic pyrethroid (e.g. permethrin, cyphenothrin, etofenprox, etc.) or with amitraz. But all these active ingredients are rather toxic to cats, and as a consequence most of these mixtures are only for dogs. Synthetic pyrethroids are often also effective against mosquitoes.
Flea and tick control in dogs and cats is the largest single Animal Health market worldwide, and a verx profitable one. Consequently all large and small companies have fought and are still fighting fiercly to get their share of it. This has resulted in numerous new active ingredients of different chemical classes fruit of massive investments in R&D by the large laboratories. And it has also resulted in numberless generic brands, once patent protection expired for the most successful active ingredients, particularly for fipronil.
This section includes articles on the most popular "hard" products marketed in most English-speaking countries. You can select one article from the tables below or from the corresponding menu:
- Topical spot-ons
- Oral tablets or suspensions
- Collars impregnated with insecticides
Spot-ons with fipronil alone
Spot-ons with fipronil + IGR
Spot-ons with fipronil + tickicide
|Effitix||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US, UK, IR||Fipronil + permethrin|
|Fiproguard Max||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US||Fipronil + cyphenothrin|
|Fiproguard Max||Ca||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US||Fipronil + etofenprox|
|Frontect||Do||Fl, Ti, Mo||UK||Fipronil + permethrin|
|Parastar Plus||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US||Fipronil + cyphenothrin|
|Petarmor Pro Advance||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US||Fipronil + permethrin|
|Pronyl OTC Max||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US||Fipronil + cyphenothrin|
|Pronyl OTC Max||Ca||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US||Fipronil + etofenprox|
Spot-ons with fipronil + IGR + tickicide
|Certifect||Do||Fl, Ti, Li||Int.||Fipronil + methoprene + amitraz|
|Frontline Tritak||Ca||Fl, Ti, Li||Int.||Fipronil + methoprene + etofenprox|
|Frontline Tritak||Do||Fl, Ti, Li||Int.||Fipronil + methoprene + cyphenothrin|
Spot-ons with imidacloprid
|Advantage||Do, Ca||Fl, Li||Int.||Imidacloprid|
|Advantage II||Do, Ca||Fl, Li||Int.||Imidacloprid + pyriproxyfen|
|Advantix||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||Int.||Imidacloprid + permethrin|
|Adventure Plus||Do, Ca||Fl, Li||US||Imidacloprid + pyriproxyfen|
|Clear Double Action||Do, Ca||Fl, Li||UK||Imidacloprid|
|ClearSpot||Do, Ca||Fl, Li||UK||Imidacloprid|
|Crossblock II||Do, Ca||Fl||US||Imidacloprid + pyriproxyfen|
|Evance||Do, Ca||Fl||NZ||Imidacloprid + pyriproxyfen|
|K9 Advantix||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||Int.||Imidacloprid + permethrin|
|K9 Advantix II||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||Int.||Imidacloprid + permethrin + pyriproxyfen|
|Solimo||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US||Imidacloprid + permethrin + pyriproxyfen|
|Tevrapet Activate II||Do||Fl, Ti, Li, Mo||US||Imidacloprid + permethrin + pyriproxyfen|
|Tevrapet Actispot II||Ca||Fl||US||Imidacloprid + pyriproxyfen|
|Vetality Advotect II||Ca||Fl||US||Imidacloprid + pyriproxyfen|
|Vetality Avantect II||Do||Fl||US||Imidacloprid + pyriproxyfen|
|Clear Flea||Do, Ca||Fl||UK||Nitenpyram|
|Comfortis||Do, Ca||Fl, Ti, Li||Int.||Spinosad|
|Credelio for Cats||Ca||Fl, Ti||Int.||Lotilaner|
|Palatable Flea Control||Do, Ca||Fl||AU||Pyriproxyfen|
|Program Tablets||Do, Ca||Fl||Int.||Lufenuron|
|Program Oral Susp.||Ca||Fl||Int.||Lufenuron|
|Sentry Capguard||Do, Ca||Fl||US||Nitenpyram|
|Simparica||Do||Fl, Ti, Mi||Int.||Sarolaner|
Flea Injectables & Oral Suspensions
Dips & Sprays
|Aludex Dip||Do||Mi||UK, IR||Amitraz|