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Frontline vs. Advantage II for Dogs: Which Is Better?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

frontline plus vs advantage 2

Review Summary

Frontline and Advantage II are two of the most common flea and tick treatments on the market today, so it’s likely you’ve seen both on the shelves of your local pet store. But have you ever stopped to wonder which is better?

We compared both treatments side-by-side, and based on our findings, we ultimately feel that Frontline is the better product. This is due to its ability to kill ticks, which is something Advantage II lacks.

That’s not to say that Advantage II might not work better for some owners, however. It tends to be a bit less expensive, and it contains a flea repellent, whereas Frontline does not. So, if you’re mainly worried about fleas and don’t think your dog is likely to bring home any ticks, you might be better off going with Advantage II.

If you’d like to learn even more about the differences between these two products, read on.

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Frontline Plus

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Frontline Plus Frontline Plus
  • Kills fleas and ticks quickly and effectively
  • Good value for the price
  • Works on all flea life cycles
  • Runner-Up
    Second place
    Advantage II Advantage II
  • Kills fleas at every stage of life cycle
  • Also works on lice
  • Non-greasy formula
  • What Are the Differences Between Them?

    The two products are similar in terms of how they’re used, but they differ wildly in other respects, such as active ingredients and effectiveness.

    Method of Application

    Both are topical oils that you rub into your dog’s exposed skin. Each comes in a little applicator, and you simply break it open, spread your dog’s fur, and squirt the liquid onto their scalp.

    It’s fairly easy to apply this medication, but if your dog is a squirmer, things can get messy. You’ll also need to be careful when petting them for a day or so after the application, as the liquid may take a while to soak in fully.

    You apply the entire vial of Frontline to a spot between your dog’s shoulder blades, regardless of their size. If you have a larger-breed dog and want to use Advantage II, however, you’ll likely have to apply it in several spots down the spine. This makes it a bit more difficult to put on.

    We generally find that Advantage II is less greasy than Frontline, but that shouldn’t be an issue after about 24 hours.

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    What Are Their Active Ingredients?

    There are three active ingredients in Frontline: Fipronil, S-methoprene, and Pyriproxyfen. Fipronil kills adult fleas and ticks by shutting down their nervous systems, whereas the latter two interfere with a flea’s development, helping to kill off eggs and larvae.

    Advantage II only has two: Imidacloprid and Pyriproxyfen. Imidacloprid causes a flea’s nervous system to misfire, and Pyriproxyfen (which is also found in Frontline) takes care of juvenile parasites.

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    Which Works Best on Fleas?

    Though neither product is designed to repel fleas, both should kill 99% or more of all fleas on your dog within 24-48 hours. Advantage II claims to start working within 12 hours, whereas Frontline says that it takes up to 24 hours for full effectiveness.

    That’s not a huge difference, but if for some reason, you need your dog to be flea-free in less than one day, Advantage II might be the better bet. It’s close enough to be a draw, however.

    Which Works Best on Ticks and Other Pests?

    Neither one repels ticks. Frontline kills ticks within 48 hours, but Advantage II doesn’t kill them at all, so this category is pretty easy to call.

    Both products can kill lice as well as fleas, and Frontline is also effective at controlling sarcoptic mange.

    happy golden retriever in grass

    Which Is Safer?

    Neither one should pose any danger to your dog unless you have a pooch who’s pregnant or nursing. Then you should stick with Frontline.

    Both occasionally cause mild irritation at the point of application, but it’s usually not serious and clears up quickly.

    You shouldn’t have a problem with either formula if your cat gets some on them by accident, but don’t apply either one to your kitty; instead, use one of the specially-designed cat formulas that both manufacturers make.

    Which Is Cheaper?

    They’re close in terms of price, although Advantage II is a bit cheaper.

    That may not be apparent upfront, though, as you’ll probably pay more for a box of Advantage II. However, that box will contain a four-month supply of flea treatment, whereas Frontline usually comes with only a three-month supply.

    Which Lasts Longer?

    Your dog will be protected for one month by both treatments. However, we’ve found that sometimes Advantage II wears off a few days early, so you’ll need to monitor your dog to find out when to reapply it. Frontline, on the other hand, often remains effective for several days after its nominal expiration date.

    Both should be waterproof as well, so feel free to let your dog take a dip in the pool or frolic in the rain once the oil has dried (of course, we say this because we’re not the ones that will be drying them off).

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    Quick Rundown of Frontline:

    Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Small Breed Dog Treatment, 5 - 22 lbs

    Frontline is one of our favorite flea and tick treatments, as it’s both effective and affordable. It’s also one of the few that’s been approved for use on pregnant or lactating dogs.

    • Kills fleas and ticks quickly and effectively
    • Good value for the price
    • Works on all flea life cycles
    • Doesn’t contain any repellent
    • Not effective against mosquitoes

    Quick Rundown of Advantage II:

    Advantage II Flea Treatment for Small Dogs

    Advantage II is an extremely effective pesticide, albeit one that’s fairly specialized. If fleas are your only concern, though, it’s certainly one of your best options.

    • Kills fleas at every stage of life cycle
    • Also works on lice
    • Non-greasy formula
    • Not effective against ticks
    • Sometimes wears off prematurely
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    What the Users Say

    So far, we’ve looked at these two treatments based on the clinical literature and our own experiences, but we find it’s often helpful to see how other users have fared with the products. After all, it’s hard to replicate every single variable, so it becomes essential to see what issues other users have encountered.

    There are pitfalls with this approach, however. If you look up either product online, you’ll see many users complaining about how they do nothing to repel fleas or ticks. This is true because they weren’t designed to. While this is a limitation, we feel that it’s one you should be aware of when making your purchase, so we don’t ding the products on that basis.

    Since neither contains any repellent, they might not be suitable for dogs who spend a great deal of time traipsing through the woods in rural areas. If that describes your dog, you might be better off finding a different treatment altogether; that being said, if you had to choose one of these, Frontline would be better, as Advantage II doesn’t kill ticks at all.

    dog carrying a big stick

    Reviews were largely split in terms of ease of application; many people appreciate that you only have to target one spot with Frontline, but they feel it’s generally messier and greasier as well.

    Dogs with sensitive skin seem to have fewer reactions with Advantage II, so that’s something to consider when making your purchase.

    Users generally have positive things to say about both products’ effectiveness, although some claim that Advantage II needs to be paired with a product that treats fleas in the home as well. If this is the case, then Frontline would be the more effective of the two.

    Overall, the consensus seems to line up with our own experience in that Frontline is the better all-around product. Advantage II is still an excellent flea killer, though, and it may be your best bet if your dog doesn’t take well to strong chemicals.

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    The Bottom Line: Frontline Plus or Advantage II?

    Frontline and Advantage II are both excellent flea killers, but Frontline is the more versatile of the two. If you have other parasites in your area to worry about besides fleas, then Frontline should be your choice.

    However, Advantage II does have certain advantages. It’s a bit less expensive, it’s not quite as messy, and it’s gentler on dogs with sensitive dispositions. That’s not enough to merit choosing it if your dog is crawling with ticks, of course, but if you’ve only ever seen fleas on your pooch, then buying Advantage II is perfectly defensible.

    You’re not likely to go too wrong with either formula, but if you’re willing to spend a couple of bucks more for superior protection, we’d recommend buying a box of Frontline.

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