I have rescued and fostered many pets over the years. Keeping my pets healthy and happy is my number one priority.
There is nothing worse than your dog itching and scratching while you struggle to get rid of their fleas. Treating fleas can be very expensive, despite there being some great medications out there. If you have to add the cost of a vet visit into the expense, then your costs may get into several hundreds of dollars.
While there are many great prescription flea medications out there, you can also buy some effective flea medications over-the-counter. One of the best over-the-counter, non-topical medications that I recommend is the Capstar pill.
How Does Capstar Work?
Capstar contains an ingredient called nitenpyram which becomes toxic to fleas once it is ingested by your dog and has entered its bloodstream. The chemical is actually similar to nicotine. When the fleas bite your dog to ingest its blood, they get a dose of the chemical which then attacks the fleas' nervous systems and kills them almost instantly.
The insecticide's effect lasts for about 24 hours, which gives your dog (and you) some relief from the itching.
How to Use Capstar
Capstar does not build up in the dog's system, so it is safe to use daily for as long as it is needed. However, it is not really a good long-term solution to a dog's flea problem.
The best way to use the product is in conjunction with some other treatment plan for fleas. Capstar can be safely combined with select over-the-counter and prescription flea treatments. Thankfully, you can still effectively treat your dog's flea problem if you are only looking for over-the-counter products.
Other over-the-counter flea control methods to consider using with the medication are listed in the table below.
Over-the-Counter Flea Medications That Can Be Used With Capstar Pills
No vet visit needed.
May not be as strong as vet-prescribed medications.
Cheap and easy to use.
May not protect your dog from reinfestation unless used several times a week.
Over-the-Counter Flea Collar
Quick to put on and starts working immediately.
Some chemicals in flea collars cause nervous system damage or are carcinogenic.
Can comb out active fleas and flea eggs.
May not work on dogs with dryer or longer fur. Must be done daily.
Why Use Capstar If You Need to Use Something Else as Well?
Even though it may add a bit of an expense, one of the reasons that you should consider using Capstar with another treatment method is because it gives other flea preventatives a kick start.
Even over-the-counter topicals such as Revolution or Advantage can take anywhere from a few hours to half a day to begin working.
By killing all the active fleas, you give the medication time to work and give your dog more relief than just using the topical alone. Once the new flea eggs that are in the environment begin to hatch, the other medication is in place and ready to kill the newly emergent fleas.
You can also give Capstar for several days in a row with no adverse effects. That means that as you are fighting fleas and the flea cycle, Capstar is ensuring that the adult fleas do not live long enough to lay eggs and set the environment up for a new generation of fleas.
How to Give Capstar to Your Dog
Capstar is a pill that can be administered in the same way that you may administer any other medication to your dog. You can give it to the dog directly by opening their mouth and dropping it in the back of their throat, or you can hide the pill in their food.
Some of the ways to disguise the pill include:
- Hiding the tablet inside of a pill pocket.
- Putting the pill inside human food such as cheese or bread.
- Placing the tablet in a small amount of canned food.
If you use any of these methods, make sure that the dog actually takes the pill and does not spit it out. Capstar enters the bloodstream quickly, so you can also easily tell if the dog has really ingested the pill because the fleas will begin to fall off soon after the medicine is administered.
Where Can I Buy Capstar?
The treatment can be purchased primarily at three locations in the United States:
- At your vet's office
- At a pet supply store
You want to make sure that you are purchasing Capstar from a reputable organization that you can trust. I have found that the prices for the product can vary wildly from one supplier to the next.
I have consistently found that Amazon usually offers the cheapest prices on the product. It often costs as much as five to seven dollars less per box than the next cheapest method.
2. Vet Office
Surprisingly, my vet's office was the next cheapest place to purchase Capstar. If your vet office also sells over-the-counter products, it does not hurt to stop by or call them and find out how much the Capstar will cost per box. You should not need to schedule an appointment, but some vets may not sell you the product unless you are an established patient so be sure to ask.
3. Pet Supply Store
I found that pet supply stores such as PetCo or PetSmart were actually the most expensive place to buy a box of Capstar. Their price was up to ten dollars more than the Amazon price and a few dollars more than my vet's price. It's a good option if you need it immediately, but if you can hold off for a few days, buying it online is probably your cheapest option.
Safety Concerns While Using Capstar
While any kind of chemical or pesticide has the risk of side effects, the ingredients in Capstar do not accumulate in the body and are mostly discarded through the dog's urine.
You will always have the crowd that believes that natural flea control is the only way to go. The truth is that flea products that have been developed over the past few years are fantastic for both getting rid of and controlling fleas. For the first time ever in pet ownership, it is possible to have a dog without fleas.
While natural ingredients may be something you can try, sometimes adding a little bit of science to your flea control problems is a good idea.
If you have any concerns about treating your dog's flea problem, it is best to talk to your vet and find out what he or she recommends for your particular situation. You should always follow label instructions carefully as well.
Other Tips for Fighting Fleas
Using Capstar pills in conjunction with another over-the-counter product can make your dog and your home flea-free in a short period of time. It is important to remember to take proactive steps to clean up anywhere that flea eggs may hide.
During an active flea infestation, fleas lay eggs in the dog's fur. These eggs then can fall off and stick to bedding, carpet or even hide around baseboards.
Once you begin treating your dog, make sure that you wash all its bedding, thoroughly vacuum any space it occupies and consider a flea spray to use around the baseboards. You may need to repeat this process daily or every few days depending on how bad your flea infestation is.
The usual life cycle of a flea from egg to adult is about three weeks. However, flea eggs can lie dormant for even longer than that which makes it tough not to get discouraged sometimes. Some people use flea preventative weekly or every few days until they feel they've gotten the flea infestation under control. Since the product is not cumulative, this can be a safe, alternative method.
- Capstar is an effective over-the-counter product.
- It is safe to use.
- Use it in conjunction with another method for the best results.
- Make sure to buy the correct size for your dog.
- Amazon usually has the best deals on the product.
- Make sure to treat the dog's environment while you are treating the dog.
I have had good luck using Capstar in combination with topicals. My vet's office, where I also board my dog, often gives the dogs that are boarded there medication when they come to stay at the kennel. They find it to be a quick method to get rid of fleas and to keep their facility flea-free. This product can really help in your fight against fleas.
A Vet Offers Tips for Giving Your Dog a Pill
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2013 L C David