Pesticides for Dogs

Pesticides for Dogs

Controlling fleas and ticks for our search and rescue dogs is an on-going battle! Here is a list some of the most common "commercial" treatments we use, followed by an explanation of active ingredients in the pesticides used. We focus mostly on treatments for ticks, as ticks pose the greatest risk to the health and well-being of our search partners.
For more information on natural alternatives, and for assessing the risks posed by pesticides:

An an example: 2009 was a BAD year for ticks in Virginia. K9 Cooper had over 100 ticks on him after two long weekends searching in May. (They all died within hours of biting him, but we still had to pull them off) *See NOTE below. 

Top Brands of Pesticides Used for Flea and Tick Control

  • K9 Advantix® II
    • WEBSITE:
    • ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Imidacloprid and Permethrin
    • CONTROLS: kills adult fleas and flea larvae, repels and kills ticks before they bite, and repels and kills up to 98.2% of mosquitos.
    • RISKS: Do NOT use on cats. Do NOT use on puppies under 7 weeks old. Do not bath dog for up to 2 days after treatment. obviously - do not swallow, wash hands after using, etc...

SPECIAL NOTE: K9 Cooper cannot tolerate K9 Advantix® II. Specifically: for 48-hours after treatment, he suffers from symptoms of poisoning: staggering, increased drooling, vomiting, and general lethargy. NO OTHER dogs in VSRDA have reported these problems. K9 Cooper now uses Frontline® Plus, which does not have a repellent.

  • Frontline® Plus
    • WEBSITE:
    • ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Fipronil and Methoprene
    • CONTROLS: Kills adult fleas, disrupts growth cycle of eggs and larvae and kills all stges of ticks.
    • RISKS: Do NOT use on puppies under 8 weeks old. Do not bath dog for up to 2 days after treatment. obviously - do not swallow, wash hands after using, etc...


SPECIAL NOTE: The Preventic collar is not recommended for use around small children, due to its toxicity and transferable residue. 


Active Ingredients in Pesticides Used for Flea & Tick Control

You can find a collection of active ingredients in pesticides here: and

Pyrethrums (natural) & Permethrin (synthetic)

These natural or synthetic insecticides are made/based-on dried Chrysanthemum flower heads. Wikipedia states “[Pyrethrins] are far less toxic to mammals and birds than many synthetic insecticides and are non-persistent, being biodegradable and also breaking down easily on exposure to light. They are considered to be amongst the safest insecticides for use around food.” NOT for cats! Permethrin can be harmful to dogs! Dr. FostersSmith states: " Permethrin is longer lasting and more stable than natural pyrethrin."


An insect growth regulator. Affects juvenile form and eggs of fleas.

  • CONTROLS: : juvenile fleas and larvae.
  • BRANDS: bioSpot: SPOT ON for Dogs®, Frontline® Plus, and Certifect
  • Methoprene FACT SHEET PDF


(aka Mitaban): Kills ticks in collar form and kills mange (mites) in the liquid form (dip). The dust from the collar is absorbed through the skin and into the oil and haircoat. Kills ticks before biting or within 24-hours of biting. NOT for cats. The Collar is Toxic! Do not let your pet eat any part of the collar. Best if kept dry - so remove before bathing. Collar must be in contact with the skin, but also allow 2 fingers between collar and neck.

  • CONTROLS: ticks and mange (1 collar is good for 90 days).
  • BRANDS: Preventic®, Promeris®, and Certifect
  • Amitraz FACT SHEET PDF


From Bayer. Not absorbed into blood or internal organs, so it will wash off with repeated bathing or exposure to water. It moves around the animal at the hair root level. Acts to over-stimulate the parasite's nervous system. Do not bath dog for up to 2 days after treatment.

  • CONTROLS: Repels and stops adult fleas from biting within minutes and kills adult fleas within 24-hours of application. Also kills flea larvae.
  • BRANDS: Advantage® and K9 Advantix® and Advocate® Preventic® (*note: K9 Advantix® does prevent against ticks because it also contains Permethrin)
  • Imidacloprid FACT SHEET PDF


Kills fleas by blocking their nervous system transmissions. Revolution® enters through the skin and stays in the bloodstream.

  • CONTROLS: heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, fleas, flea eggs, ear mites, some ticks and some gastrointestinal parasites.
  • BRANDS: Revolution® and Stronghold®
  • Selamectin FACT SHEET PDF


It sits in the oil glands of the skin and is slowly released over time. Acts to over-stimulate the parasite's nervous system, resulting in death. (*fleas might become a little over-active before dying) Does not contain pyretrhins/permethrins. Do not expose (dropper) treatment to UV light before using. Do not bath 2 days prior or after treatment.

  • TREATMENT: Spray, collar, spot treatment.
  • CONTROLS: Spray, collar, spot treatment. Do not bath 2 days prior or after treatment.
  • BRANDS: Frontline®, Frontline® Topspot™, Frontline® Plus™, Certifect and FiproGuard.
  • Fipronil FACT SHEET PDF


Acts to kill adult fleas already on pet. Only in pet’s body for 24-hours, so not a long term solution by itself.

  • TREATMENT: Tablets
  • CONTROLS: fleas.
  • BRANDS: Capstar® and Johnsons®
  • Nitenpyram FACT SHEET PDF



  • National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) . 2008. Pesticide Fact Sheets.
    [NPIC is a co-op between Oregon State University and the EPA]
  • Dr. Susan Brown, DVM. 2001. Flea Control.
  • Drs. Foster and Smith. 2008. K9 Advantix® Flea & Tick Control for Dogs.