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Revolution vs. Frontline: Which Flea & Tick Treatment Is Better?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Revolution vs. Frontline

Review Summary

Keeping fleas and ticks off of your dog can feel like a full-time job, and so can researching effective parasite treatments. To make your life a bit easier, we’ve taken a look at two of the top formulas out there, Revolution and Frontline, to determine which is best for your pup.

Available by prescription only, Revolution is one of the most far-reaching and versatile treatments on the market, and it will protect your mutt against a few more bugs than Frontline will. That may not be useful, though, depending on which parasites are in your area.

The biggest advantage that Revolution offers is protection against heartworms; this makes it more expensive, but if it saves you from having to purchase a separate heartworm product, it may be well worth it.

There’s more to consider, of course, which is why we looked at both products in more detail below.

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Revolution

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Revolution Revolution
  • Protects against heartworms
  • Effective against fleas and ticks
  • Kills ear and scabies mites as well
  • Runner up
    Second place
    Frontline Frontline
  • Sold over the counter
  • Kills fleas in all life stages
  • Protects against 4 different species of tick
  • Frontline vs Revolution: What Are the Differences Between Them?

    Both products are topical solutions, but they vary widely in many ways beyond that.

    Method of Application

    Each treatment comes in a little vial that you snap open. You part your dog’s fur to reveal bare skin, then squeeze out the contents of the vial and rub it in.

    Both are applied at the base of the neck, between the shoulder blades. It shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to perform the application, but it can be difficult if your dog is uncooperative.

    Also, both will leave the application area sticky and greasy for a day or so after application.

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    What Are Their Active Ingredients?

    Frontline contains three active ingredients, Fipronil, S-methoprene, and Pyriproxyfen, while Revolution uses something called Selamectin.

    Selamectin and Fipronil are similar in that they’re both nerve-paralyzing agents. Basically, what happens is that a flea bites your dog, gets a dose of the nerve agent, and is paralyzed. Unable to eat, it dies and falls off your pup.

    It should be noted that the other two ingredients in Frontline are designed to inhibit the growth cycle, which kills off eggs and larvae. Revolution doesn’t have this capability.

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    Which Kills Fleas Better?

    Both kill adult fleas extremely well and quickly. They’re relatively indistinguishable in that regard.

    However, since Revolution doesn’t affect eggs and larvae, you may still see fleas on your dog after the first month’s application. This is because any eggs or larvae that were already on your dog were allowed to hatch, becoming adult fleas. Frontline, on the other hand, works within 24 hours.

    The good news is that Revolution should kill the fully-grown fleas before they have a chance to lay more eggs, stopping their life cycle. After two months, both Frontline and Revolution should completely eliminate any existing infestation.

    Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

    Which Repels Fleas Better?

    Neither treatment is designed to repel fleas.

    What Kills Ticks Better?

    Both are incredibly lethal to ticks and should kill them off within 48 hours.

    However, Revolution is designed to only target one species of tick, the American dog tick. Frontline kills off four different species: the American dog tick, Lone Star tick, deer tick, and brown dog tick.

    This may or may not matter, depending on what kind of ticks live in your area. If you’re not sure (and you don’t feel like finding out), you may be better off opting for the more comprehensive protection that Frontline offers.

    Which Repels Ticks Better?

    Neither one will repel ticks.

    What About Other Pests?

    One of the biggest advantages that Revolution offers is protection against other parasites besides fleas and ticks.

    It doubles as a heartworm treatment, and it can also control ear mites and scabies mites, the latter of which can be difficult to diagnose and kill off.

    Frontline is mainly focused on just the fleas and ticks, but both also eradicate sarcoptic mange and lice.

    Which Is Safer?

    Both have been shown to be safe, and both are safe to give to pregnant or lactating dogs.

    Neither one often causes side effects, but there’s a chance that you may see irritation or fur loss around the application site. If that happens, you may want to consider switching to a different treatment.

    Both are safe for cats, but the manufacturers make a separate formula for felines, so use that instead of the canine version for your kitty.

    Which Is Cheaper?

    A box of Frontline is a good deal cheaper than a box of Revolution. However, using Revolution can eliminate the need for a separate heartworm treatment, so it may be cheaper overall with that cost factored in.

    Which Lasts Longer?

    Each formula is designed to protect your dog for 30 days, and both are generally good about lasting that entire time, if not longer. Both are waterproof as well, although frequent shampooing can reduce their effectiveness.

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    Quick Rundown of Revolution:

    Revolution Topical Solution for Dogs

    Although it’s a relative newcomer to the pest control game, Revolution is quickly becoming a favorite of many dog owners due to its versatility and effectiveness.

    • Protects against heartworms
    • Effective against fleas and ticks
    • Kills ear and scabies mites as well
    • Doesn’t kill flea eggs or larvae
    • Only eliminates one species of tick
    • Available by prescription only

    Quick Rundown of Frontline:

    Frontline Plus Flea & Tick X-Large Breed Dog Treatment

    Frontline is one of the best-known flea and tick treatments on the market and has been used to protect dogs for quite some time.

    • Kills fleas in all life stages
    • Protects against four different species of tick
    • Sold over the counter
    • Doesn’t protect against heartworms
    • One of the greasier formulas

    What the Users Say

    It’s always advisable to do your research before buying or using any parasite treatment, and one of the key elements of research is finding out what other users have to say. To that end, we examined user feedback across the internet to get an idea of the experiences that other people have had with both products.

    Many pet owners love that they can give their dog a single treatment of Revolution to control fleas, ticks, and heartworms, making it extremely convenient to treat their pets for a variety of parasites.

    While each box of Revolution is fairly expensive, the fact that it allows you to stop purchasing a separate heartworm treatment makes it cost-effective as well. This also eliminates the need to remember to buy and apply a different treatment regularly.

    However, a few users have said they believe the heartworm medication isn’t as effective as a standalone medicine would be, and many vets recommend continuing to use a heartworm treatment in conjunction with Revolution. This can vary depending on where you live, though.

    However, there’s far less feedback on Revolution than there is on Frontline. This is partly because Frontline’s been around longer; however, the fact that it’s available over the counter while Revolution is prescription only also helps.

    Since both are topical treatments, we found complaints about messiness with both, although Frontline seems to be a bit worse in this regard.

    One thing that most everyone seems to agree on is the fact that both serums remain effective throughout the entire 30-day protection period, with some users saying that they can even wring a few extra days of effectiveness out of both formulas.

    Keep in mind, though, that only Frontline kills eggs and larvae, so if you’re trying to kill off an existing infestation, you’ll likely see more immediate results from using it.

    Ultimately, both products are extremely effective at killing fleas and ticks, and the consumer feedback bears this out. The difference seems to hinge on whether you feel the hassle saved by not needing a separate heartworm medication is worth the hassle of going to the vet to get a prescription for Revolution.

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    Revolution and Frontline are two of the most-recommended flea and tick serums available today, as both are extremely effective at killing a variety of parasites. They’re similar in many respects, but they do have a few key differences.

    We feel that Frontline is better for dealing with existing flea problems, as it kills eggs and larvae, whereas Revolution only takes out the adult bloodsuckers. However, if you’re looking to prevent future problems, you may want to go with Revolution, as it will take care of heartworms, as well as fleas and ticks.

    You’re not going to go too wrong with either product, though. The important thing is to just choose one and remember to use it regularly.

    Featured Image: S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

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