Flea Product Comparison
Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DABVP
Confused about flea protection? This FAQ compares the three popular "topspot" flea control products to assist you in determining which is right for your situation, and concludes with a look at "integrated pest management" with insect development inhibitors such as lufenuron (Program) or insect growth regulators like methoprene.
How young can the pet be for application?
Revolution: Puppies - 6weeks, Kittens - 6weeks
Advantage: Puppies - 8 weeks, Kittens - 9weeks
Frontline: Puppies -10weeks, Kittens -12 weeks
Approved for use in pregnant or nursing mother dogs/cats?
Advantage: not in this country but in other countries yes (U.S. EPA does not recognize testing done for other countries and testing in pregnancy/lactation has not been done in the U.S.)
How long does it take to kill all fleas after first application on an animal that has fleas?
Revolution: 42 hours to zero fleas counted
Advantage: 24 hours to zero fleas counted
Frontline: 42 hours to zero fleas counted (24 hours to spread all over animal's body and 18 hours to kill the fleas)
Does it wash off?
Revolution: No - this product is an "endectocide" which means it is absorbed internally and spreads throughout the body including back to the skin. Because it acts internally it cannot be washed off.
Advantage: Yes - this product will be washed off completely with a degreasing shampoo. It can withstand one bath between applications and swimming once a week between applications but no more
Frontline: No - this product remains topical but is stored in the oil secreting glands of the skin. If the pet gets wet, the skin layer of product can be washed off but will be replaced as the oil producing glands re-secrete it.
How soon after bathing can it be applied?
Revolution: As soon as the pet is dry
Advantage: As soon as the pet is dry
Frontline: Manufacturer recommends waiting 2 days after bathing before applying. The product can be applied sooner but will take longer to spread over the body if there is inadequate oil on the skin as would be the case just after a bath.
Does it kill ticks as well as fleas?
Revolution: Yes, but because this product is licensed as a drug and not as an insecticide, it can only make label claims against the species of tick it was tested for. There is no reason to think other tick species would not be sensitive. The species it was tested against is Dermacentor variabilis.
Advantage: No, there is no tick activity at all. This product is highly specific for fleas.
Frontline: Yes, this product was tested specifically against 4 tick species: the deer tick, the lone star tick, the American dog tick, and the brown dog tick. There is no reason to think other tick species would not be sensitive.
Activity against parasites other than fleas and ticks?
Revolution: Yes, product is active against ear mites
, sarcoptic mange mites in dogs, roundworms and hookworms in cats.
Advantage: Fleas only
Frontline: Fleas and ticks only
How long does a single application last?
Revolution: one month
Advantage: one month
Frontline: one month for ticks, one month for fleas in the cat, one to three months for fleas in the dog
Does the pet need an office call in the last year to get the product?
Revolution: Yes, this is a prescription drug.
Advantage: No, this is an insecticide, not a drug, but the manufacturer sells its product for resale only through veterinarians so that proper usage etc. can be explained.
Frontline: No, this is an insecticide, not a drug, but the manufacturer sells its product for resale only through veterinarians so that proper usage etc. can be explained.
Is the product safe for use on sick, elderly or debilitated patients?
Revolution: Manufacturer specifically cautions against such use.
Advantage: Product should be safe for such use provided the patient is receiving veterinary care
otherwise. If the pet is inactive or hospitalized in a cage, the product may not spread around the body as rapidly as usual.
Frontline: Product should be safe for such use provided the patient is receiving veterinary care otherwise. If the pet is inactive or hospitalized in a cage, the product may not spread around the body as rapidly as usual.
Cost of product to clients?
Revolution: Comes in a 6 pack (3 pack for puppies / kittens). Approximately $13 per dose
Advantage: Comes in a 4 pack or a 6 pack, approximately $10 per dose
Frontline: Comes in a 3 pack or a 6 pack, approximately $12 per dose
It is important to note that with the advent of popular "topspot" treatments for fleas, special attention should be paid to the development of resistance to these products. Experience with other insects tells us that resistance can develop in 12-15 generations. In order to preserve these new insecticides, it is important to consider what is called "integrated pest management." What this means is that insecticides should be rotated or combined with insect development inhibitors such as lufenuron or insect growth regulators like methoprene. Fleas that are resistant to the topspot treatments must not be allowed to pass on their genes for resistance. Lufenuron (Program) or similar product ideally should be used in combination with any of the popular effective topicals.
BRAND NAME: PROGRAM
AVAILABLE AS ORAL SUSPENSION AND IN 45 mg, 90 mg, 204.9 mg, & 409.8 mg TABLETS. ALSO AVAILABLE AS INJECTABLE FOR CATS AND IS INCLUDED IN SENTINEL HEARTWORM PREVENTATIVE FOR DOGS
The U.S. market had been long in search of a flea product that was safe, convenient, and effective and many companies were racing to bring out their new product first. Ciba Animal Health (now renamed Novartis Animal Health) won this battle in 1995 with the approval of "Program" for use in U.S. pets. Their product had already been in use for five years in some 35 other countries and the U.S. welcomed this product with open arms. This medication was first licensed as a prescription drug, meaning that an animal had to have a legal patient/doctor relationship with the veterinarian in order to obtain it; however, in January of 1997, Program gained "over-the-counter" status. In April 1998, an injectable form became available for cats.
Novartis Animal Health feels strongly that in order to use Program effectively some understanding of how it works is needed, thus they will only distribute their product through licensed veterinarians.
HOW THIS MEDICATION WORKS:
Insects are protected in the world by a hard exoskeleton made of a material called "chitin." Lufenuron, Program's active ingredient, inhibits the production of chitin in insects.
By the time a flea has reached adulthood and is taking blood meals from a pet, it has made all the chitin it needs and is not directly affected by the lufenuron it is drinking in the pet's blood. The female flea, however, is largely drinking blood to support egg-laying (up to 40 eggs daily) and the larvae developing inside these eggs must make chitin in order to chip their way out of the egg. If the mother flea has passed along a healthy dose of lufenuron to her larvae, they will not be able to hatch.
Adult fleas feeding on a pet will be continually producing the black specks of digested blood called "flea dirt." This material is highly nutritious for larvae developing in the environment but if this flea dirt is packed with lufenuron, the larvae will not be able to grow normal exoskeletons and they will die.
The injectable formula for cats was designed as an alternative to the relatively unpopular oral liquid. Like the oral product, injectable Program is stored in body fat. One injection is effective for six months.
SIDE EFFECTS OF MEDICATION
Program must be given on a full stomach thus many people (especially those with pets who nibble their food throughout the day) must resort to feeding a large "treat-like" meal in order for their pet to have a full stomach. Feeding large "treat-like" meals may lead to an upset stomach.
Since Program works on enzymes systems that are unique to insects, no other side effects have been reported even in animals fed hundreds of times the recommended dose.
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER MEDICATIONS
Program does not interact with other medications. Program is therefore compatible with all other treatments.
CONCERNS AND CAUTIONS
In order for Program to work, fleas must necessarily bite the pet. This means that Program may not be the best product for pets that are allergic to flea bites.
Program must be given on a full stomach.
Pets must be at least 6 weeks of age to begin Program.
For more information see the Program Web Site provided by Novartis: http://www.petwellness.com/dog_program_home.asp