Top critical review
Kills ticks...though a little late
March 6, 2018
My 65 pound lab mix loves to go for hikes in the woods every week, but in central PA our wooded areas have a massive tick problem. I bought the Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control liquid treatment because it has been recommended to me before, including by my vet. The product packaging also claims it will “kill 100% of adult fleas and 100% of all ticks within 48 hours.” It also claims to be waterproof for 30 days, and to “kill all eggs left on the dog’s coat.”
After applying the capsule to our dog’s back, we took her on the trails the following week and after checking her right after, we didn’t find any ticks. However, two days later she did manage to scratch a tick off of her and fling it onto the coffee table! The tick was full, like a berry, and utterly disgusting, but the product worked. The tick was dead, as promised.
It should be made known that although the tick was dead, and so it was unable (supposedly) to lay eggs on our dog (typically a tick will lay 50 eggs a day on your dog, I read, while Frontline claims to kill ticks within hours before this can happen), ticks can obviously still bite your dog with this product on them, which can still effectively expose your dog to Lyme disease. This bothers me, since the idea behind applying it in the first place was that we don’t want ticks biting her at all so she can avoid Lymes altogether. The product lost some points with me here.
The company, Merial, which manufactures Frontline, is a global company responsible for producing vaccines and medications for farm animals as well as pets. They seem to have a reputable track record, with 5 manufacturing sites in the United States as well as other countries. According to my research, and what is posted on the Merial website, Frontline Plus uses two major chemicals to achieve results of killing fleas and ticks. Both of the chemicals, S-Methoprene and Fipronil are harmless to mammals. According to one report I read online, however, about 5% of the fipronil does get absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, which can metabolate into a different compound which can be up to 20% more harmful to your dog than it is to the insects. The website where I found that information, Dogs Naturally Magazine, seems a bit biased, though, in its interests.
Further research showed that around 80 percent of the contents of Frontline Plus are not chemicals that fight pests, they are ethanol, glycol ether, and otherwise “inactive” ingredients. Since these “other” ingredients are inert, Merial doesn’t have to disclose much about them. I didn’t notice any weird side effects with my dog after using Frontline, but part of me still wonders if it’s the safest thing for her, since the company didn’t list the other ingredients in the product. It’s a bit off-putting.
After doing some research, it does appear vets have conflicting ideas about Frontline use. Some believe it is linked to major illness that can potentially be linked to a dog’s death, while others claim there is nothing to be concerned about. Many respond to the rumors that Frontline is not healthy for dogs by acknowledging that many people apply the product incorrectly to their dog, resulting in pets having a reaction. Also, you’re not supposed to put the product onto raw skin areas or open wounds on your pet, or feed it to your pet, as the box also warns.
The consensus among most veterinarians, and myself, is that while there are more natural ways of protecting your dog against ticks (some people suggest neem oil as a good alternative - whatever that is!), using more natural methods may result in your dog getting more ticks, which may then lead to higher risks of contracting tick-borne illness. In a place where the tick problem is so rampant, like where we live, I’d rather not take my chances. Not using a chemical prevention method is a tradeoff many pet owners feel is not worth the risk.
Overall, the product did what it said it was going to do, and for that it gets 5 stars. But because I don’t have a clear idea of what “other ingredients” are (the company does not disclose them on the packaging), and because the product didn’t kill a tick before it bit my dog, I give it an average of 3 stars. My expectations were higher than what the product delivered. Although, this was my pet’s first time using Frontline, so I’m wondering if more consistent treatment will lead to better results.