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Cheapest Alternatives to Frontline Flea Medication for Pets

L.C. has experience working with stray cats and managing their health and overall wellness.

Dr. Mark, U of Missouri Veterinary Medicine grad and 40+ years working with dogs, exotics and livestock

Read on to discover the cheapest flea treatment alternatives to Frontline Topical Flea Medication, including numerous natural flea treatment alternatives and sarolaner and Bravetco.

Read on to discover the cheapest flea treatment alternatives to Frontline Topical Flea Medication, including numerous natural flea treatment alternatives and sarolaner and Bravetco.

In 2011, the patent for fipronil—the active ingredient in Frontline for dogs and cats—expired. Since then, there have been numerous generics available. But what are the cheapest generics for cats and dogs and how does fipronil work to control fleas and ticks?

After researching the generic choices, here are the best brands at the cheapest price, but first you should understand what kind of product this is.

It is important to discuss any kind of flea control and medication with your vet before changing products. Some products work well for some pets and not well for others. It is also important that each pet gets the correct dose.

Here is a review of the product and what to look for when choosing a generic alternative.

Other relatively inexpensive natural flea treatment alternatives are also discussed, including diatomaceous earth, sulfur, light traps, and good old-fashioned vacuuming and steam-cleaning.

Finally, two additional alternative flea treatments, sarolaner and Bravetco are mentioned along with informative. links.

Fipronil for Dogs

Barricade Spot On Treatment for dogs contains 9.7% fipronil, the same amount as in the original Frontline brand. When looking for a generic alternative, you will want to make sure that it does contain this amount of the fipronil in order to be effective.

The chemical fipronil adheres to the oils found naturally in your dog's skin and will continue to be released for up to three months (for fleas) and up to a month (for ticks). The flea treatment can be applied every month if needed and this is recommended for those that live in high-infestation areas such as the southern United States.

Fipronil for Cats

Cats can also benefit from the ingredients found in Frontline alternatives. If your cat is an adult and over a certain minimum weight (usually 1.5 pounds), then the fipronil dosage is usually the same. Sentry tends to have the best deal, per dosage, for cats.

Fipronil also bonds with the natural oils found in the cat's skin and is stored in the hair follicles to be released over time.

Most cats respond well to the fipronil chemical and it can keep your cat flea-free for up to 3 months. If your cat goes outdoors, you may want to consider using the treatment every month.

How to Apply Topical Flea Medication

To apply topical flea medication, first read the package instructions or consult your vet for guidelines. Some medications need to be administered all in one place and some should be dotted along the back in three or four places.

If the topical is to be administered in one place:

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  1. Part the hair at the back of the neck, in an area your pet can't lick.
  2. Make sure you can see the pet's skin.
  3. Squeeze all the contents directly on the skin, trying to get as little as possible on the fur.
  4. Discard the container and wash your hands.
  5. Monitor your pet for any adverse reaction and contact your vet if they develop vomiting or lethargy.

If the topical is to be administered in more than one place:

  1. Make sure you pet is calm and still.
  2. Start at the base of the neck and part the fur, exposing the skin.
  3. Squeeze a small amount of the medication in the spot.
  4. Move 4 to 6 inches down the spine, part the fur and repeat.
  5. Continue for the amount of application sites recommend on the package (usually 3 to 4).
  6. Discard the container and wash your hands.
  7. Monitor for your pet for any kind of reaction and contact your vet with concerns.

How to Apply Any Flea Topical

Other Considerations

As with any flea medication, fipronil is a toxin that is meant to control pests such as fleas and ticks. Although most animals are not bothered by the chemical, it is important to figure out what works for your individual pet and its needs.

If you have been treating your pet for years with Frontline or other fipronil products and begin to have problems with fleas, you may need to switch medications for six months to a year.

According to a 2008 study by Jill Maddison and Stephen Page, some fleas can develop a resistance to fipronil over time. By alternating medications, you can help to eliminate the ability of the insect to adapt and resist.

You can also add an oral medication such as Comfortis to boost the power and combat the fleas with two different products at once.

As always, ask your vet about the right treatment plan.

Chemical Structure of Fipronil.

Chemical Structure of Fipronil.

How Does Fipronil Work?

Once fipronil is ingested, it goes to work on the nervous systems of insects, targeting a chemical structure and glutamate-gated chloride receptors, something that mammals don't have.

Because the chemical is slow-acting, insects can infect their nests and lairs as well (a consideration when treating an insect such as a cockroach).

According to, fipronil targets adult fleas, basically speeding up their nervous system before killing them. So if you are treating a pet that already has fleas, you may see the fleas running around at high speed on your pet before dying.

It is important to remember that fipronil does not target eggs or larva so, if you already have fleas, it may take several weeks for your pet to become completely flea-free as the chemical targets them once they become adults.

What About Natural Alternatives?

Just as the market of natural products for people has exploded in the past few years, so has the market for pet products and alternative flea medications for cats and dogs.

Some have had good luck with products such as Diatomaceous (diametrious) Earth products which is a natural product that is toxic to insects but harmless to pets. This product is usually sprinkled in areas where there are flea infestations.

As with any product, you should consult your vet before using it, but my experience has been that this may work well in cooler climates or those that are not heavily infested.

People in humid and hot climates may have a harder time controlling fleas with just natural alternatives but it may be something viable to try if that is what you are interested in.

Other Natural Alternatives

According to Fetch by WebMD, there are other natural alternatives you can try such as:

  • Sulfur
  • Citrus
  • Light traps*
  • Boric acid
  • Vacuum and steam clean carpet, furniture, bedding, cracks and crevices of flooring
  • Wash any fabrics your pet uses and dry them at above 120° Fahrenheit

Even if you need to use topicals to get your flea population under control, you can try the natural alternatives during lower flea infestation times or after the flea problem is under control.

*Please be aware that products like flea traps only work because your home is infested with fleas!

Find the flea treatment that fits your pet's needs and your budget.

Find the flea treatment that fits your pet's needs and your budget.

Find What Works for Your Pet

If you are looking for a good alternative flea treatment at an affordable price for your cat or dog, the fipronil Frontline alternatives may be a good choice. Other quality alternatives to fipronil include sarolaner and Bravetco (which is effective for 3 months).

But remember that each pet is different and each pet needs its own health plan. While we all want to save money while keeping our pets healthy, we need to make sure that we are using the best flea treatment plant for them.

Just a few years ago, there were no effective flea treatments for pets that did not cost well over $50 for even a three-dose box.

Thanks to patents expiring, good flea prevention and care are well within many different pet owners' reach and budgets.

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.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where do you buy Fipronil the generic Frontline alternative?

Answer: You can get it online or in grocery stores. I also have seen it in discount department stores like Walmart or Target. Check the ingredients. There are many generic versions these days.


L C David (author) from Florida on March 21, 2017:

I don't think it does. I think it can help to deworm. To kill fleas on your pet it would need to be sprinkled on them for a period of time as well as in their bedding, etc. It is safe for your dog to eat but won't de-flea just by eating.

mogie on March 20, 2017:

How does DE kill fleas in you feed it to your pet? It doesn't make biting them taste bad so I don't understand.

L C David (author) from Florida on January 05, 2015:

Yes, sometimes it is good to switch up flea meds just to help fight resistance. Hope you find something that works for your cat and keeps her flea free!

Diana Grant from United Kingdom on January 05, 2015:

My vet has recently told me not to use Frontline, as fleas were becoming resistant to it, and my cat had spots on her skin, which were caused by an allergy to fleas. An injection cured that, and she is now on a stronger medication for fleas, but, being on prescription, it's very expensive. So it does seem, from your article, that if I use the strong one for six months until it's finished, I can then go back to Frontline

L C David (author) from Florida on July 11, 2014:

I have an article all about Comforts for cats. It is a great alternative for those looking for a prescription flea med that is not topical.

pours mom on July 11, 2014:

I have tried revolution on my cat each month. However the flea part runs out before the rest of product and my cat has gone nuts itching. When confortis came out I swore by it so when my vet suggested trying it with my cat I was all for it. Now I have a happy kitty who gets combed out regularly and I have been using natural ways to control fleas in home an itch free kitty is a happy kitty

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 30, 2014:

Good to know! I haven't had to combat fleas in this house (I shouldn't say that too loudly), but it's good to have some affordable options in case I ever do. Thanks!

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on March 24, 2014:

No, I haven't tried it, but I think Walmart has it. If not, I'll have to order it online. I may try it next. I did try nematodes one time and they worked for awhile, but once the ground dried out, they stopped working.

L C David (author) from Florida on March 23, 2014:

Ann1Az2, have you tried the Diatomaceous Earth I mention near the end of my article? I have some friends who swear by it. Thanks for mentioning some more methods and ideas for flea control.

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on March 23, 2014:

I was using Revolution on my cats, but I didn't like their reaction to it. One of my cats was sort of lethargic for a day or so, not bad, but I didn't like it. So I stopped using pesticides and went to natural stuff. I sprinkled cedar chips around my mobile home and in my flower beds. I also used them under the cat's bedding (in a pillowcase where they can't get to it - it's Velcroed together). Last year I soaked lemons in water overnight which forms a really great lemon water that helped repel the fleas. And it had an added benefit - it got rid of the lice that was on one of my cats. It also makes their hair soft. Since cats do a lot of licking, I made sure I put plenty of it under their ears and on top of their neck where they can't reach. That way, I only had to reapply it about every 2 or 3 days.

I also brush my cats daily and use a flea comb. I also wipe down the surfaces where they lay all the time (not their beds) with a mixture of water and Clorox, and I mop the floor with it, too.

I live in southeast Texas, so it's important to note that all of this doesn't completely eliminate the fleas, but it does keep them down to a minimum and my cats aren't constantly scratching. It also helps that I don't have carpet. My cats don't go outside, but neighbors' cats and dogs bring the fleas into my yard and then I track them in. That's why I try to keep cedar around the door ways outside.

Sorry for going on so long - I really did enjoy your hub! And Frontline is a good product. In some cases, it's the only thing that works.

L C David (author) from Florida on March 23, 2014:

Definitely important to figure out what works for your individual pets. My first Siamese lost all his hair when I gave him Revolution so it really is dependent on the cats. I found he could only tolerate Advantage II.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 23, 2014:

I hear you. I tried to go the cheap route and one of my longhairs has lost half her hair. She's obviously allergic to fleas. I've got them back on the Revolution and her hair is now starting to grow back.

L C David (author) from Florida on March 23, 2014:

Yes. In Florida preventing mosquitoes really does make sense. I wish it wasn't so expensive though.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 23, 2014:

Interesting info. I use Revolution on my cats. It also combats mosquitoes, which can cause heart-worm. It's expensive, but works better than anything else I've tried. It can only be obtained thru your vet because it requires a script.

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