When it comes to treating their dogs from fleas and ticks, most dog owners are familiar with treatments in topical form that are applied to a dog's skin and fur and work their magic through that medium.
However, did you know that some of the most effective flea medication is available in the form of pills nowadays?
Best Flea Pills For Dogs - (Our Top 5 Picks For 2023)
Top Pick: Capstar Flea Tablets for Dogs and Cats
Pick #2: SENTRY Capguard Oral Flea Tablets For Dogs
Pick #3: NexGard Chewable Tablets for Dogs
Pick #4: Credelio Chewable Tablet for Dogs
Pick #5: Flea Away Chewable Tablets For Dogs and Cats
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Amazon.com or Chewy.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
Best Flea Pills For Dogs - A Closer Look Into 3 Of Our Top Options
No Strict Schedule: With this formula from Capstar, you won't have to worry about sticking to strict dosages that have you give your dog medication multiple times a day for months on end.
All you have to do is give your dog one single dose which will last for around a good month or so.
At first you may find that you need to give your dog an increased dosage of somewhere around one pill a week, but that will gradually go down to one pill every weeks and then one pill every solid month or so.
Impressive Immediate Results: One of the things dog owners like most about this formula, and attest to first hand, is how incredibly fast acting it is.
While other products out there need days and sometimes weeks to go into full gear and start showing effects, dog owners have noticed fleas dying off as soon as 4 hours after they took the pill.
Important Note: A very important note must be made about this formula, being that it isn't a long term cure or treatment for a dog that contracts fleas.
All this pill will do is kill any and all fleas currently present on your dog within a few hours. Before purchase, many dog owners believed that this pill also serves as flea prevention, but this is not the case.
If your dog takes this pill and has all the fleas currently on them killed off, and then go back the next day to wherever they contracted the fleas in the first place, they will get the same case of fleas again assuming that the area is still not clean.
So, make careful note that when you give your dog this pill, it will kill off any fleas currently present on their skin during the same day, but it's up to you to prevent your dog from going back out there to the same place they contracted these fleas again if that area hasn't been properly treated since your dog took the pill.
This has to be made very clear because one too many dog owners buy a box of Capstar tablets thinking that they're going to prevent fleas from growing back on their dog's skin after they're killed off, which is certainly not the case, nor is it something advertised by Capstar themselves.
30 Minutes: If our #1 pick above impressed you with how fast its effects start kicking in and killing existing fleas on your dog, you'll be glad to know that this formulas has been reported by many to be even faster acting than the Capstar.
While a tablet from the Capstar formula above is reported to kick in as soon as 4 hours after it's swallowed, a tablet from this Sentry Capguard is reported to kick in as soon only as 30 minutes after it's swallowed.
Some dog owners go as far as claiming they started seeing positive effects as soon as 20 minutes in, which is very impressive to say the least.
So, if speed of results is a deal breaker for you when looking for flea pills for your dog, this may be a more suitable option for you to go with than the Capstar one mentioned above.
Food Before Administering: If you decide to go with this formula to treat existing fleas on your dog's skin, some users have noted before that their dogs got an upset stomach when given this pill on an empty stomach.
So, make sure your dog eats something prior to administering this pill to stay on the safe side and avoid any unwanted stomach aches.
Chewable Tablets: For any of you reading this with a dog at home that just refuses to take any sort of swallowable tablet medication, or if you just like to give them a chewable tablet instead for whatever reason that may be, this is our favorite chewable flea pill for dogs in today's doggy market, and the one we rate highest in its category.
And, with a dog-favorite flavor of liver, even the most stubborn of dogs will go crazy to get a chew on this tablet.
Not Just For Fleas: One of the positives we like about this formula is that it's not just designed to fight off fleas that your dog may be infested with, this formula was also designed to fight off ticks and mosquitoes (even though repelling the latter may not be of specific interest to you, it's still a good positive point worth noting).
Daily Dosages: If you decide to go with this chewable tablet formula, you have to know beforehand that you'll be required to give your dog their dosages on a daily basis and will have to stay consistent with the schedule for the product to do its job.
This is not as convenient as the standard once a month swallowable tablet you're often required to give your dog, so is something you should know about beforehand.
How Do Flea Pills For Dogs Work?
First thing's first, let's have a quick rundown on how flea pills for dogs work in comparison to the other most popular form of flea medication out there, which is topical treatment formulas.
Topical treatment formulas that deal with fleas and ticks on dogs are applied to a dog's skin and fur, after which the insecticides they're made from get absorbed by the dogs' skin, and the fleas and ticks present on the dog's skin are gradually killed over time.
This can be achieved by applying flea and tick medication on your dog's skin directly by using a flea and tick spray product, or having them wear a flea and tick collar that releases these insecticides on their skin following a set schedule and timing.
Flea pills work a little bit differently because there's nothing to be applied on a dog's skin through this form. Your dog swallows the pill orally and all the work is done through their bloodstream, after which any flea that bites your dog will instantly die.
Why Should I Give My Dog An Oral Flea Treatment?
Choosing to give your dog a flea pill instead of going with other forms of the same treatment has several benefits and advantages to it, ones we'll be covering in this list below.
Extra Safety: One of the most pressing problems associated with topical flea and tick medication applied to a dog's skin and fur is the toxicity associated with many formulas on the market today.
Many of these formulas have some sort of chemical ingredients in them (albeit to different degrees).
So, what's the problem, you ask? Well, most dogs out there have a habit of licking their own skin, and this habit tends to become amplified when you're regularly applying a topical treatment on their skin.
So, if your dog's licking their own skin and there's chemical ingredients on there, toxicity buildup is bound to happen inside their system and harmful effects are bound to show up sooner or later.
Because a flea pill is given to your dog orally, there's no risk of them getting poisoned due to licking toxic ingredients on their skin.
More Accurate Dosages: One of the other most important benefits you'll get by using a flea pill instead of a topical formula is being more reassured that you're using just the right dosages your dog should be getting.
Making dosages mistakes with flea pills is much harder than it is to do these mistakes with sprays that have to be topically applied on a dog's skin.
Sometimes you may apply a little bit too much, while other times you may apply significantly less than you should be.
With a flea pill, however, there's no reason any dog owner should be getting dosages wrong as all there is to it is having your dog swallow one or two pills once every month or so.
Fast Acting: Another reason many dog owners prefer flea pills over other forms of the same medication is how fast they act on any existing fleas your dog already has.
There's also evidence out there for us to believe that flea pills act significantly faster than some of the best topical flea medication formulas.
Because a flea pill only relies on your dog's bloodstream for the medication to work, you'll start seeing results significantly faster than you would with a topical treatment formula that relies on how fast your dog's skin can absorb that medication.
And, if you've got a dog that has thick fur that you like and don't want to get it trimmed, absorption of a topical treatment is going to be a fairly slow process.
With some of the top formulas on the market, fleas that bite your dog will begin dying as soon as a few hours after you give your dog the pill.
Double Power: This greatly depends on which brand and formula you're giving your dog, but the manufacturers of the best dog flea pills out there often manufacture these pills to be compatible with any flea topical treatment you're already using on your dog's skin.
This means that with most of the high quality flea pills on the market, you're able to have your dog take their necessary monthly dosage in addition to a topical treatment formula as well.
You have to keep in mind, though, that this isn't always necessary or good practice for all dogs with fleas.
This will depend on different factors, specifically how serious the condition of your dog's flea problem is, and whether they need double the treatment at the same time or not.
In most cases, your dog won't, but in the few cases that their flea problem is very bad, it's good for you to know that you can take advantage of this.
Allergies: Many dogs are known to be allergic to liquid flea and tick medication that gets applied to their skin, and their owners learn of these allergies the hard way after the damage has been done.
If your dog is allergic to liquid forms of flea medication, giving them flea pills instead is a great workaround to avoid these allergies while still getting the same effectiveness (if you choose only the best flea pills for your dog, that is).
How Can I Give My Dog A Flea Pill?
Depending on which option your dog tends to prefer and gives you less trouble with, you can either choose to give them a flea pill that comes in swallowable form, or you can give them a flea pill that comes in the form of a chewable tablet.
Some dogs prefer to just gulp down a tablet and get it over with, while other dogs look much more forward to a tasty chewable tablet they can satisfy a couple of cravings with, so it's up to you to learn what your dog responds to best and go with that form.
If it were up to us, we'd always recommend you go with the swallowable tablet form and not the chewable tablet form, simply because we believe the current swallowable flea pills are more effective than the ones in chewable tablet form in today's market (as is obvious from our list of top picks, with the first 4 being swallowable tablets).
If your dog gives you a hard time taking their swallowable pill, just wrap it in some peanut butter (or anything else you know they love to eat and that isn't toxic to them) and watch how they'll now go crazy for it!
Side Effects From Giving Your Dog Flea Pills
Just like there are side effects you should stay on the lookout for when giving your dog any other form of flea medication, be that topically or any other form that may be, there are some side effects you should also be actively monitoring for when you give them flea pills for their course of treatment.
The following shortlist makes note of the most common symptoms you should stay on the lookout for, but keep in mind that this is by no means a definitive list of these symptoms.
Always refer to the notes about side effects on the pack of the flea pill formula you choose to buy, as the manufacturer will almost always make note of common side effects on there.
- Red patches on your dog's skin that itch and make them want to scratch
- Loss of appetite
Shortcomings Of Flea Pills For Dogs
Just like everything else in life, nothing out there is perfect and there are shortcomings to possibly everything that could come to mind.
The following list makes note of some of the most important shortcomings associated with using flea pills as your dog's course of treatment, ones that could sometimes mean this form may not be the best option for your dog.
Kidney & Liver Disease: If you've got a dog that suffers from either kidney disease or liver disease, then you've got to be extra careful when it comes to giving them flea pills.
Because this form of medication is something that they have to swallow and then it works its magic throughout their digestive system, this can very well lead to worsening your dog's kidney or liver problems.
For this reason, you should always talk to your veterinarian before putting your dog on a course of treatment that revolves around flea pills, as they'll be able to properly advise you on whether this would be detrimental to their situation or whether sticking to specific dosages would be just fine.
Veterinary Prescription: Not all flea pills out there are over the counter, many require a prescription from a veterinarian.
Very Specific Action: Unlike topical formulas that are usually meant to target all kinds of fleas found on your dog's skin, different formulas of flea pills are usually designed to serve very specific tasks, either to kill any flea eggs on your dog's skin or to kill any adult fleas already there - and not both at the same time.
Not For Ticks: While these oral pills can perfectly take care of any fleas your dog's suffering from just fine, they aren't really designed to fight off any ticks your dog might have as well.
So, if you're looking for medication that deals with both ticks and fleas at the same time, stick to a topical treatment solution instead.