The #2 product on the market for flea control is Advantage, but being second doesn’t make it any less effective than its top competitor (Frontline Plus). Advantage uses a different active ingredient to kill fleas, and it is highly effective for use on cats and dogs. However, it does not claim to kill or repel any other pests, so if fleas are your only concern this product will be great for your needs. Like Frontline Plus and any other insecticide, there are possible side effects to its use, so you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of reactions to the topical treatment. And as always, contact your vet before purchasing any new medications to make sure that the product will be safe to use on your particular pet.
Advantage is a topical solution produced by Bayer that is available for cats and dogs. There are two dosage sizes for cats (one for cats under 9 lbs. and one for cats exceeding 9 lbs.) and four for dogs (puppies and dogs 10 lbs. and under; dogs 11-20 lbs.; dogs 21-55 lbs.; and dogs over 55 lbs.). For cats, you apply the solution to the base of their skull, parting their hair to try and apply the product as close to the skin as possible. Putting it on the back of their skull reduces the likelihood that your cat will groom itself where you applied the medication, which can cause some negative side effects (such as salivation). For dogs under 20 lbs., you can apply the solution between their shoulder blades, and for dogs over 20 lbs., you need to apply the solution on multiple spots along their back, from the shoulder blades to their tail. Following these simple instructions increase the effectiveness of the medication while minimizing the likelihood of causing ill side effects for your pet.
Advantage uses Imidacloprid as its active ingredient for killing and repelling fleas. This chemical has the same effect as Fipronil (Frontline products), which is to over-excite nerves and muscles in fleas, which causes paralyses and effectively kills the fleas. Unlike Fipronil, Imidacloprid seems to work on adult as well as immature fleas, and it also seems to act as a repellent. This means that fleas do not have to bite your pet in order for it to be protected, which is great for pets with flea allergies (as it is the flea’s saliva that induces the reaction). Advantage claims to protect your pet for a full month, which is mostly true. The product will last for a month, but tends to lose its efficacy by three weeks (which means your pet is still protected, but that the repellant / killing power is wearing thin). Thus if you have a flea infestation, this product will work better than Frontline Top Spot as it kills both immature and adult fleas. But if you have concerns about other pests, you may want to shop around and find a product that meets your needs.
Imidacloprid is an insecticide, and like other insecticides is designed specifically to kill insects. However, side effects can occur, which you should be aware of. Like Fipronil, Imidacloprid can be absorbed into the body at a marginal rate. Also like Fipronil based products, the main reaction to Imidacloprid is skin irritation at the site of application. Other side effects are rare and include fatigue, twitching, cramps, and weakness that could lead to asphyxia. If your pet is very young, very old, or has any type of medical condition, talk to your vet about what products may be best to use. Also, make sure you always apply the medication as instructed.
Personally, I think Advantage is probably a safer alternative to Frontline Plus or even Frontline Top Spot, as the active ingredient Imidacloprid seems to be a bit safer than Fipronil. There is no evidence that Imidacloprid causes cancer or affects the endocrine system of rats, which cannot be said of Fipronil. There does seem to be some evidence that Imidacloprid causes thyroid problems in rats and high blood cholesterol in dogs, so there are definitely some long-term effects you should be aware of. Any insecticide has the potential to cause problems for your pet, so talk to your vet about any concerns you may have.