As temperatures rise, so does the urge to get outdoors and start adventuring. This means trips to the lake, the ocean, the woods, and even to wide-open fields. There will be cookouts, hikes, and picnics. The more time spent outdoors, the better. And every time you head out for any of these activities, you’ll be mindful of one unpleasant side-effect of being outside during the warm months: bugs. Specifically, you’ll worry about mosquito bites, but there will also be the nagging fear of ticks. Naturally, you’ll remember to spray yourself down with some excellent bug spray and be on your way. But what about your dog?
Unfortunately, tick populations are on the rise. In fact, ticks that carry Lyme disease are now in half of all counties in the U.S.. It’s a pretty serious problem due to get worse. Even flea populations are rising due to climate change. If you have a dog and you want to take them with you on any of your outdoor activities, it’s absolutely essential that you treat them with some kind of flea and tick prevention.
The two heavyweights in the topical flea and tick prevention category are Bayer’s K9 Advantix II and Merial’s Frontline Plus. They’re the most-recognized names in the business, and the ones most trusted by vets. We recommend that you discuss any treatment options with your vet before you make your decision, but it can be helpful to have a few points of comparison when shopping.
We’ve compared Frontline to Advantix to help you decide which will work best for your dog.
If neither of these options will work, check out our list of the top five best flea and tick prevention products for dogs here.
1. Frontline vs. Advantix: Price
Both Frontline and Advantix are meant to be used once a month, and both are sold in multi-packs. Additionally, both are available in packs of six or 12. Their smallest packages differ, however. You can get a three-pack of Frontline, whereas the smallest pack of Advantix is a two-pack. Generally speaking, the smaller the pack, the more expensive the dose, with the Advantix two-pack for 21 to 55 pound dogs the highest at $17.50 at the time of this writing.
You have to be wary of the weight of your dog, too. The two brands have slightly different weight classes for their dosage, which might affect your buying decision, assuming price is your biggest concern. If your dog is 50 pounds, you’ll probably want to go with Advantix six-month for 21 to 55 pound dogs, which is $9.44 per dose. By comparison, Frontline six-month for 45 to 88 pound dogs is $11.99 per dose. The same is true for the smaller packs, as Frontline is $12.33 per dose in the three-pack for the same weight, while Advantix is $11.74.
Still, if overall package price is the concern, the three-packs are probably the sweet spot, with Frontline’s three-pack being $10 cheaper overall. The doses are more expensive, but if you only have less than $40 to spend today, that’s a good option. It varies somewhat depending on the weight of your dog, but on the whole, the two products are more or less competitively priced. A little hunting around can net you a savings, but brands other than these two are still likely to be cheaper. Additionally, prices vary almost daily depending on sales and where you shop, so what’s cheapest today might be the more expensive option tomorrow.
Advantage: Advantix for per-dose pricing on some weights and packs.
2. Frontline vs. Advantix: Adverse Reactions
With either product, the occurrence of side effects is very low. The most common side effect is very temporary irritation at the treatment site. This generally clears up quickly and leaves no permanent marks. Bayer says that in a very small percentage of dogs, burning, tingling, itching, redness or numbness of the skin can begin one to two hours after treatment when using Advantix.
Additionally, Advantix could be a concern for multi-pet households. Advantix contains permethrin, which is totally fine for dogs, but lethal to cats. Cats should never be given Advantix directly (instead, you’d want Bayer Advantage), and can also pose a problem if your freshly-treated dog plays or cuddles with the cat. Some online sources report that vets have seen cases where someone has inadvertently treated their cat with Advantix instead of Frontline when they had both on hand. If you have a cat, you’ll probably want to avoid Advantix altogether.
3. Frontline vs. Advantix: Reviews
According to ratings on Amazon, Advantix scores better across the board. With the exception of the dose for dogs 89 to 132 pounds, Frontline has a rating of no better than 4.1 out of five stars, while Advantix has a 4.3 out of five rating. Additionally, Frontline suffers from a higher percentage of one-star ratings for all weights. Even on 1800PetMeds.com, Advantix has a 3.7 out of five rating versus Frontline’s 3.4.
Some of this is due to people’s opinions on the efficacy of fipronil, the active ingredient in Frontline. Some claim that it loses its effectiveness over a period of time. This is highly variable to the dog, though, so you should try it with your animal and discuss with your vet if you suspect that it isn’t working. Frontline appears to have more variance from batch to batch, with longtime users claiming it suddenly stopped working. On the other hand, the permethrin in Advantix is more often praised for its ability to kill pests, but the rare skin irritation does render negative reviews.
4. Frontline vs. Advantix: Effectiveness
While the efficacy of both products will depend on their proper use, various resources suggest a few trends when comparing these products.
First, Advantix has a broader scope of what it kills and repels. Advantix kills and repels fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, kills lice, and repels biting flies. By comparison, Frontline kills but does not repel fleas, ticks, and lice, but has no effect on mosquitoes nor biting flies. On the other hand, one major advantage of Frontline is that it will work on flea eggs, not just hatched fleas. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that Advantix repels them in the first place. In this case, Frontline might be better if you already have a flea infestation, whereas Advantix is the choice to repel everything before an infestation or bite occurs.
Second, there is some debate over whether or not Frontline resistance is a growing problem. It hasn’t been well-studied or documented, but reports of dogs being attacked by ticks even when treated with Frontline aren’t hard to find given a cursory look around the internet. Still, lacking concrete evidence, it’s hard to say if improper application might have something to do with a perceived drop off in flea and tick prevention. Conversely, Bayer has tested Advantix for resistance and found none. Ask your vet to go over the data with you, if this is a concern.
Some buyers don’t trust Frontline’s active ingredient of fipronil, but for every account that it doesn’t work, I’ve seen several that swear by it. My advice is to not read too much into the hype about a given chemical without trying it. Obviously, in the case of Advantix, if you have cats, it will certainly be much less useful to you since it could possibly endanger the health of your other pets.
One other thing to consider is the slight, but significant, differences in what weights each product serves. Frontline can be used on very small dogs, while Advantix cannot be used at all for dogs under four pounds. Frontline’s weight distinctions are: zero to 22 pounds, 23 to 44 pounds, 45 to 88 pounds, and 89 to 132 pounds. Advantix has options for four to 10 pounds, 11 to 20 pounds, 21 to 55 pounds, and over 55 pounds. Overall, this shouldn’t make much of a difference, but if your dog is on the cusp of a weight class, this might push you into a different consideration.
Some vets believe that Advantix works slightly quicker, but that by the end of the 30-day window, the performance is roughly the same. Bayer’s claim is that Advantix works within 12 hours, while Frontline claims to work within 18, so this impression is probably correct.
Advantage: Anecdotal evidence suggests a slight edge for Advantix.
5. Frontline vs. Advantix: Conclusion
Based on the factors we’ve compiled here, Advantix is likely the product to choose for your dog — if you don’t have cats. Both products have been in successful use for years, so either is a solid option to consider. Increasingly, people have been adopting a multi-layered approach that combines the use of a topical agent with a repellent collar. The combination may help shore up weaknesses in any given product.
For my two dogs, who are 60-70 pit mixes, we’ve switched between both brands depending on what the vet had on hand at the time. Both seem to work equally well, but it should be noted that my dogs rarely spend time outside unsupervised or in situations where untreated dogs may be present. We live in a suburban area and walk them on sidewalks for the most part. They only play with dogs we know to be treated with similar products, thereby decreasing their risk of infestation. Neither has had an adverse reaction to either product, and we have yet to find a tick on either dog, even when we have hiked with them in the woods. My experience is merely anecdotal, so your experience, combined with the information above, will help you make the best decision for your pet.
Be sure to discuss treatment options with your vet before applying any of these products to your pet. It may take some experimentation to find the best flea and tick prevention treatment for your dog in your area of the country. Given the growing threat of fleas and ticks, these products are virtually mandatory for the modern pet owner.