Oral Flea Treatments for Dogs

Oral flea treatments are a convenient method of flea treatment.
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The most common cause of your pooch's itching is the annoying flea. Flea powders, sprays, shampoos and other topical applications are ubiquitous on the consumer market, along with oral treatments available over the counter and by perscription. Nitenpryram, Lufeneron and Spinosad are three canine oral flea medications on the market.


Nitenpryram, or the brand name Capstar, kills fleas within 30 minutes of ingestion and continues to work for 24 hours. If your pup has an infestation of fleas, nitenpryram produces quick results without subjecting your dog to a flea dip. You can begin treatment as soon as you see fleas and anytime thereafter, but no more than once a day. The best way to give the tablet is to place it directly in your dog's mouth or hide it in his food.

Pet dermatologists also use nitenpryram to control flea allergy dermatitis, an allergic reaction to fleas. Dosage \is one tablet daily.


Lufenuron, or the brand name Program, is an insect growth regulator or insect development inhibitor. It stops flea eggs from developing into mature insects. It is meant for flea control, not for flea infestations. If your dog has a flea infestation, you want to consider a flea dip or other veterinary-approved insecticide. Lufenuron is a prescription drug; you can obtain it only from your veterinarian. Give the tablet once a month. Lufenuron is a flavored tablet that you should give with food; your dog's weight will determine dosage, as the medication comes in four strengths


Spinosad, or the brand name Comfortis, is the first FDA-approved tablet for the treatment of flea infestations and flea prevention. It provides a full month of protection and begins to kill fleas within 30 minutes of ingestion. However, it is most effective if given a month before flea season. The manufacturer, Elanco/Lilly, suggests all dogs and cats in a single household be treated with the product. It is safe for dogs and puppies 14 weeks and older. Comfortis is available through your veterinarian. It is a chewable flavored tablet that you can give with or without food.

Side Effects

Laboratory and clinical studies of Capstar (nitenpyram) showed that it was safe for puppies as young as 4 weeks old and at least 2 pounds in weight. Studies indicated that it was safe for pregnant and nursing dogs. The only side effect listed was that dogs might scratch as the fleas exit and die.

Program (lufenuron) has some side effects -- vomiting, lethargy, itchy skin and diarrhea. Lufenuron may interact with other drugs, so discuss this with your veterinarian. It is considered generally safe and effective when your veterinary prescribes the correct dosage.

Comfortis (spinosad) has some side effects, as well: vomiting, excessive salivation, fatigue and loss of appetite. The manufacturer suggests that you give the tablet after your dog eats. Because of side effects, low dosages are prescribed.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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