Fleas aren't only about itching. Biting fleas can cause disorders in dogs: flea allergy dermatitis, secondary skin infections, tapeworms, and even anemia.

Once your dog becomes infected with these parasites, it's can difficult to get rid of them all.

The best flea pills for dogs will not only kill parasites but also prevent re-infestation later on.

In this article, we'll share with you what are:

  • The types, safety, and efficacy of Flea treatment for dogs
  • Difference between a vet prescribes and over-the-counter flea pills
  • The best flea and tick pills for dogs and the safest oral flea treatment for them

But first, let's know more about flea pills for dogs and how you and your dog could benefit from them.

7 Best Flea and Tick Pills for Dogs Reviewed In This Guide

Best Flea Pills for Dogs: 7 Safest and Effective Oral Flea Treatments
Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for DogsCapstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment
  • Best Overall Flea Pills for Dogs
  • Fast-acting flea treatment
  • FDA approved flea treatment
  • Can be used for both small and large dogs
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PetArmor Plus Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs, Dog Flea and Tick Treatment, Waterproof Topical, Fast Acting, Medium Dogs (23-44 lbs), 6 DosesPetArmor 6 Count FastCaps for Dogs
  • Best Budget
  • Fast acting flea killer
  • Effective for 24 hours
  • Only need to take once per day
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Advantus (Imidacloprid) Chewable Flea Treatment for Large Dogs, 30 Count, 23-110 PoundAdvantus Flea Chews
  • Best Chewable Flea and Tick For Dogs
  • FDA approved formula
  • Safe to use multiple times
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PetArmor CAPACTION (nitenpyram) Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs, Fast Acting Tablets Start Killing Fleas in 30 Minutes, Dogs 2-25 lbs, 6 DosesCapAction Oral
  • Best Large and Small Dog Flea Treatment
  • Used to kill adult fleas
  • Can be used for small and large breeds
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Pet Honesty Flea & Tick Support Supplement - Flea and Tick Soft Chew for Dogs, No Harsh Chemicals, Natural Way to Enjoy The Outdoors - Hickory Bacon (90 Count)PetHonesty Flea & Tick Defense
  • Best Flea and Tick Supplement
  • All natural ingredients
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Flea Away All Natural Supplement for Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitos Prevention for Dogs and Cats, 100 Chewable Treat Tablets, SingleFlea Away All Natural Flea Repellent for Dogs
  • Best Flea and Tick Preventitive
  • Made in the USA
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ZoGuard Plus Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs (Large - 45-88 lb)ZoGuard Dog Flea Pills
  • Best for Dogs and Cats
  • Pills look like treats
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Flea Pills for Dogs

What Are Flea Pills for Dogs?

Flea pills are insecticides that can be taken orally. These pills help treat, control, and prevent your dogs from flea infestations. Each oral flea treatment for dogs has different types and chemical composition which directly kills fleas.

Because dog flea pills contain strong chemical ingredients, it's imperative to talk with your veterinarian before giving your pet any kind of medication, including flea preventatives.

These best flea and tick pills for dogs also have different functions. Some can kill only the adult's fleas, some can kill the larvae, and the other can inhibit the ability of Fleas to lay eggs.

Oral flea and tick pills for dogs are gaining popularity with vets and pet owners, but they aren't safe (PDF) for every dog breed.

Similar to topical flea treatments for dogs, flea pills usually only need to be administered once per month.

But unlike topical treatments, flea pills for dogs are more convenient for dog owners.

Below we'll talk about the effectiveness and safety of dog flea pills, how they work and how to use them, review the best flea pills for dogs we liked in the past.

Types, Safety, and Efficacy of Flea Treatments for Dogs

Best oral flea treatment for dogs is the most convenient way to prevent parasites on your pet, but because they are administered orally, many pet owners have concerns over their safety.

Fortunately, there's been a lot of research in testing how a flea pill for dogs works, and the safest way to administer these parasite preventatives.

In the US and Europe, there are several popular and well-studied brands and types of prescription and over-the-counter dog flea pill types that pet owners have to choose from.

Most of these will be prescribed by a veterinarian.

Some other flea pills for dogs products are available over the counter and are designed to do the same job – kill fleas, ticks, and other common dog parasites.

However, there will be a lot less research available for the OTC dog flea pill products.

safest oral flea treatment for dogs

Safest Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs: Which Are the Most Effective?

There's been a number of studies testing the efficacy of these dog flea pill products and comparing them with each other.

The more popular brands have more research behind them but it's also important to note that many of these studies were funded by the companies themselves. So, here are some studies that prove the safest oral flea treatment for dogs.

Studies about the Safe Oral Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs

In a well-known 2014 study, Bravecto (fluralaner) was compared to topical treatment Frontline (fipronil) and the researchers concluded a much higher efficacy of Bravecto over Frontline (Rohdich et al. 2014).

Both dog flea pills were shown to be safe for canines.

In a 2014 study with cats, Comfortis (spinosad) was shown to be an effective treatment against fleas and safe for pets to use (Franc et al. 2014). Then, a blinded, randomized, controlled study with dogs compared spinosad active ingredient with the effectiveness of Bravecto (fluralaner) and found the latter to be 3 times more effective than spinosad flea treatment (Meadows et al. 2014).

A much older, independent study with dogs and cats tested the effectiveness of a few general dog flea pill products' active ingredients and found that oral flea medication reduces the number of fleas by 97.3% within the first 7 days.

Overall, all products showed the results of 89.5% flea reduction by day 28 and 100% flea reduction by days 80-90, on average (Dryden et al. 2001).

lack of appetite after taking best flea pills for dogs

Possible Side Effects of Best Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs

There is a lot more research available on the efficacy and safety of these top-rated flea pills for your dogs, and the consensus is that they're generally safe and extremely effective. However, side effects – while rare – may occur.

The most common adverse reactions are lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, itching, difficulty breathing, or reddened skin.

The same cannot be said about ticks, however.

The majority of these studies prioritized fleas.

Some have also found the products to be effective against ticks, too; however, the evidence isn't as strong.

Furthermore, another study from 2016 with dogs tested several products (Pfister et al. 2016).

They worked well for fleas, but tick re-infestation occurred just 7 days after the treatment.

dog tick infestation after treatment
Tick infestation 7 days after treatment. Credit: Dr. M. Canfield / Pfister, 2016

Tick infestation is much harder to deal with when the case is severe.

Consultation with a vet and a proper plan for treatment using prescription pills will be required in some cases.

How Do These Recommended Dog Flea Pills Work?

Keep in mind that anti-flea pills for dogs work as a preventative solution against these parasites.

When given according to the instructions, these pills prevent new flea eggs from hatching on your dog.

According to Dr. Michael F. Potter, an Extension Entomologist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture:

“When an adult female flea bites a Program-treated dog or cat, the flea ingests the active ingredient (lufenuron) which then passes into her eggs and prevents them from hatching.” – Dr. Michael F. Potter, DVM (source)

Fleas and other parasites that attack dogs are also dangerous to humans and can have a negative impact on our health too.

Not only are humans extremely sensitive to these bites (so you'll be extremely itchy), fleas also can transmit bacteria and viruses through their saliva.

“What if my dog already has fleas?”

If your dog is already infested with fleas, see this video guide on how to remove fleas from a dog.

Samantha has covered everything from preventing fleas to removing them from the dog and within the house, including the best solutions (store-bought and homemade).

Ultimately, prevention is the best way to fight off fleas on dogs. So once you remove them, ensure that your pooch is protected for the future.

Many preventative measures (such as electric flea traps, flea collars, flea shampoos, flea powders, flea drops, and topical flea treatments) only ward off fleas and ticks.

The best flea pills for dogs will also keep your pet safe from other parasites including heartworms and intestinal parasites.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don't wait until your dog is infested with fleas to take action. Research, find and purchase the best flea pill for dogs products now, discuss it with your veterinarian, and prevent the flea infestation from taking place on your pet.

flea pills for dog: which is better?

Prescription vs Over the Counter Flea Dog Pills

The main difference between prescription pills and OTC flea pills is active ingredients.

Over-the-counter products may use more natural ingredients, and be less harmful and less toxic.

At the same time, they may also be less effective than scientifically proven strong chemicals like those above.

Out of the five above mentioned, the one that stands out is Capstar (nitenpyram).

This brand is usually cheaper and works as a short-term quick solution to rid dogs of fleas. It was shown to effectively kill fleas for at least up to 24 hours.

However, vet prescribed pills usually contain strong chemicals (as those noted above) that need to be approved for use after rigorous checks to ensure their safety.

Over-the-counter dog flea pills are usually made of natural ingredients, making them less harmful.

However, they may also be less effective than prescription pills and they generally do not have any scientific studies to back up their efficacy.

Most popular prescription flea pills have different active ingredients, but they are all just generic names for various insect growth regulators and inhibitors and insecticides.

This is why the prescription is necessary and you need your vet’s approval to use these pills because your dog may be fine with some insecticides but harmed by others.

Another common difference between prescription pills and over-the-counter pills is the approach to dealing with the flea issue. Prescription flea pills work as monthly preventatives and have to be taken daily long-term.

Over-the-counter flea pills act fast and only stay in your dog’s system for a few days. They are short-term solutions that need to be combined with other products to provide protection.

Topical Flea Treatment for DogsOral Flea Treatment for Dogs

Topical vs Oral Flea Treatments or Medications

One of the biggest advantages of oral flea medications for dogs, like flea pills or chewable tablets, is that they do not leave any mess or residue on the dog like some topical flea medications do, especially flea drops and collars.

Another advantage is the time it takes for the medication to work. Flea pills and chewables will start killing fleas in a matter of hours, while some topical medications take longer to work.

Also, some studies showed that oral flea medications are simply more effective than their topical counterparts.

One obvious disadvantage of flea pills is that some require a vet’s prescription and that those that don’t haven’t really been tested scientifically.

Also, flea pills usually only kill adult fleas and you may have to use them in conjunction with drops to prevent new fleas from breeding.

Are flea pills safer than topical?

Each treatment has disadvantages, and there is no single flea and tick prevention that is 100% effective. But the oral delivery method creates less of a mess than the topical route.

On the other hand, flea pills cost more than topical and need to be regularly maintained for more constant protection.

Sometimes the common issue is the fact that flea pills usually won’t keep your dog safe from ticks and other parasites. But, both topical and oral way of medications is safe if the instructions are properly followed.

In addition, topical treatments for dogs are not safe with cats and vise versa. So, be sure to place your cat away from you when you doing topical medication on your dogs and don't let them reach or bump on it.

What is the Best Flea Pill for Dogs?

The best oral flea and tick treatment for dogs always depends on many factors such as their age, size, and health status. So, if your dog gets infested with fleas, immediately approach your vet for the best options for treating them.

Below are the best and safest oral flea treatments for dogs that you can consider. These flea pills might help you make the best choice for your canine. At the same time, it teaches you where you could purchase it.

Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs

1Best Overall: Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment

One of the best over-the-counter flea pills on the market, Capstar is available for small and large dogs in packages of 6 or 60 pills.

The active ingredient in this pill is nitenpyram, a chemical that can exterminate adult fleas only 30 minutes after the treatment.

However, the peak level for this pill is anywhere up to 4 hours.

Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs
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Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs
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Keep in mind that this pill doesn’t kill flea eggs as effectively as it kills adult fleas, so it may be necessary to use other products in combination with Capstar pills to get completely rid of fleas.

Another option is to repeat the treatment with these pills until all the eggs are hatched and ultimately killed.

This is possible since it is perfectly safe to use one pill a day, especially since these pills have been FDA approved.

While these pills are pretty effective, they are not long-lasting.

They will be effective only up to 24 hours, after which you will have to give your dog another pill until all the fleas are gone.

Unfortunately, some dog owners reported adverse side effects and claimed that the pills made their dogs sick.

My dog was fine but you may want to consult with your vet before you give your pooch these flea pills.

» PROS: FDA Approved, Effectively Kills Adult Fleas, Safe to Use Multiple Times (One Pill Per Day)

« CONS: Not Effective with Flea Eggs, Some Reports of Adverse Side-Effects

PetArmor Plus Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs, Dog Flea and Tick Treatment, Waterproof Topical, Fast Acting, Medium Dogs (23-44 lbs), 6 Doses

2Best Budget: PetArmor 6 Count FastCaps for Dogs

Like the majority of over-the-counter dog pills, PetArmor FastCaps also have nitenpyram as the active ingredient.

These pills are also FDA-approved and safe to use even for pregnant and lactating dogs, as long as you choose the right pill for your dog’s weight.

You can give them directly to him to swallow but it may be easier to mix them with food.

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These pills act quickly, only 30 minutes after you administer them to your pooch. And, like other nitenpyram-based pills, they only kill adult fleas while they are not effective against flea eggs.

That means that you will have to use other products if you want to break the flea’s life cycle.

This product also comes in a package of 6 pills and each pill is effective for 24 hours.

However, you can give your dog a pill per day for as long as he is still infested with fleas.

Unfortunately, some dog owners reported that these pills were completely ineffective and didn’t actually kill any fleas.

» PROS: FDA Approved, Effectively Kills Adult Fleas, Safe to Use Multiple Times (One Pill Per Day)

« CONS: Not Effective with Flea Eggs, Some Reports of Ineffectiveness

Advantus (Imidacloprid) Chewable Flea Treatment for Large Dogs, 30 Count, 23-110 Pound

3Best Chewable Flea and Tick For Dogs: Advantus Flea Chews

This is another oral flea treatment with Imidacloprid as the active ingredient, which means that the pills start working only 1 hour after ingestion.

Like other dog pills with this active ingredient, the treatment lasts for 24 hours after which it is safe to give another chew to your dog if necessary.

Advantus (Imidacloprid) Chewable Flea Treatment...
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This flea pill is also FDA-approved and doesn’t interfere with any other medications. This treatment is available for dogs of all sizes.

It can serve as a quick relief but not as a long-term solution unless it is combined with other flea treatments and measures you should take to make sure that your home is free of fleas that could get on your dog.

It is also safe to take with other products like heartworm prevention, corticosteroids, and other treatments.

However, you can use these pills once a day as long as it is necessary, so you will have enough time to provide a safe environment without fleas while your dog receives this oral treatment.

While this chew helped my dog, some dog owners claimed that it didn’t work for them.

» PROS: FDA Approved, Effectively Kills Adult Fleas, Safe to Use Multiple Times (One Pill Per Day)

« CONS: Not Effective with Flea Eggs, Some Reports of Ineffectiveness

PetArmor CAPACTION (nitenpyram) Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs, Fast Acting Tablets Start Killing Fleas in 30 Minutes, Dogs 2-25 lbs, 6 Doses

4Best Large and Small Dog Flea Treatment: CapAction Oral

These flea pills for dogs are also based on nitenpyram, the FDA-approved active ingredient that kills adult fleas but not flea eggs.

Like other similar dog pills, these also act quickly and their effects last for 24 hours. That means that you can use one pill on a daily basis, as long as necessary.

PetArmor CAPACTION (nitenpyram) Oral Flea...
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You can get this product for both small and large breeds, both of which come in a package with 6 pills.

Since the pills are meant to provide instant relief and kill adult fleas, they are not effective with flea eggs.

This means you will need to combine this product with other flea treatments for your dog to completely break the life cycle of fleas.

When I used CapAction oral flea treatment, I have combined it with a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of my house where fleas could remain.

I have also used the product for two weeks to ensure that all the flea eggs would become adult fleas.

However, some dog owners haven’t had success with this product.

» PROS: FDA Approved, Effectively Kills Adult Fleas, Safe to Use Multiple Times (One Pill Per Day)

« CONS: Not Effective with Flea Eggs, Some Reports of Ineffectiveness

Pet Honesty Flea & Tick Support Supplement - Flea and Tick Soft Chew for Dogs, No Harsh Chemicals, Natural Way to Enjoy The Outdoors - Hickory Bacon (90 Count)


Best Flea and Tick Supplement: PetHonesty Flea & Tick Defense

See Price on Amazon here

PetHonesty has the active ingredients, garlic, coconut oil and brewer's yeast. PetHonesty's brand interrupts flea infestation by killing adult fleas on your pet’s body.

Pets must weigh at least 4.4 pounds and be at least 6 months old to be safely given this flea treatment.

This chew works within minutes from the moment your pet swallows it and continues working for 12 weeks.

Administering the pill is no hassle and leaves no mess as long as your pet is not averse to taking it.

One dose of Senty's dog flea pill kills a lot of fleas, and they start falling off in less than an hour.

As in the other natural brands, you’d need a separate medication for flea eggs. So, you would possibly use anti-flea sprays for fleas that are in hiding.

For example, this PetHonesty product would be great to use in conjunction with treatments that affect flea eggs and larvae.

Since this supplement works quickly at eliminating the adult population, it hastens the work of the other treatment.

But, the downside of using this product alone would be that a prescription will be required to purchase online. On top of that, you would need a treatment to take as a combination for flea eggs and larvae.

That is so because the eggs have to become adults first before Bravecto can affect them.

If you only have one pet, that may not be so difficult or expensive.

With several pets, however, the cost will necessarily increase by their number, and treatment may even run to several weeks.

» PROS: Natural supplement, Works on dogs weighing more than two pounds who are more than 4 weeks old

« CONS: Only works on adult fleas, It takes longer to eliminate the infestation than other products, Can make some dogs ill

Flea Away All Natural Supplement for Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitos Prevention for Dogs and Cats, 100 Chewable Treat Tablets, Single

6 Flea Away All Natural Flea Repellent for Dogs

The last product on my list is completely different from all the others because it doesn’t have nitenpyram as the active ingredient. Instead, these chewable tablets are made with natural ingredients and are made and sourced in the USA. However, the tablets were too big for my dog and I had to break them to ensure that he can swallow them.

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Flea Away chewables work differently than other pills I have reviewed – they prevent the infestation in the first place by making sure that your pooch emits an odor that repels fleas.

In addition to this, the odor should also repel ticks and mosquitoes, which is truly a unique thing for all other flea pills for dogs.

These pills have a liver flavor but they also have a strong smell that some dogs may find off-putting.

However, you can mix these up with your dog’s food or use them as treats if your dog likes the taste.

Since this product is based on actually a vitamin complex and based on natural ingredients, it is completely safe for use for both dogs and even humans.

One package comes with 100 tablets and your dog should build up the smell in approximately 30 days with one tablet per day dosage.

Keep in mind that some reviewers claimed that these pills were ineffective but many tried using them on their flea-infested dogs.

Then remember, these pills should be used as prevention only and will not kill adult fleas or flea eggs – they can only help in repelling them.

» PROS: Natural Ingredients, Repel Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes, Tasty, Made in the USA

« CONS: Strong Smell, Tablets Too Big for Small Dogs, Some Reports of Ineffectiveness

ZoGuard Plus Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs (Large - 45-88 lb)

7ZoGuard Dog Flea Pills

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It is made in the USA and uses natural and nutrient-rich ingredients like brewer’s dried yeast and garlic powder.

And it also contains protein, biotin, and zinc to keep pets’ skin and coat healthy.

There are five sizes available starting from 125-count to 2000-count.

However, the advantage in Four Paws Brewers Yeast Garlic Flavored Dog and Cat Tablets is clearly in its wholesomeness, there being no harmful chemicals in its ingredients list.

It is highly nutritious and helps keep skin and coat healthy.

In addition, this dog flea pill controls shedding and, to some degree, prevents flea and tick infestation.

Giving them to your pets is also very easy because the pills look so much like treats.

Even if it's a natural choice, they’re not the best choice for treating a flea infestation in your pets though, in the same manner, that our first four products were.

In other words, you would not always find fallen fleas on the floor after giving your pets Four Paws’ Brewers Yeast – sometimes it works, most times it doesn't.

However, if you’re thinking of a product to use in the long term to prevent flea infestation in your pet and don't wish to use the above brands, then this would be a decent and safer choice.

» PROS: Natural daily supplement, Made in the USA, Includes natural proteins, zinc, and biotin for healthy skin and coat

« CONS: Must give 1 tablet per day for every 10 pounds of body weight, but if our dogs seemed put off by the smell of these tablets and would not eat them. So, it doesn't always work

Some vet also recommends Simparica TRIO, a fast-acting chewable tablet. It starts to work and kills 100% of adult fleas within 4 hours up to 8 hours.

However, if you have puppies, don't worry because this tablet is safe for up to 8 weeks older puppies and it gives a full month of protection.

flea pills for effective prevention

Are Flea Pills More Effective?

Some dog owners believed that flea pills are not effective for their dogs like how they saw it in any advertisements. But, the reason is that it was mistakenly applied to their dogs.

According to the Veterinary Parasitology study, oral treatments were 99.9 percent effective while topical treatments were 88.4 effective. It only shows that pills taken orally are more effective than topical way.

Whatever preventative you choose, the important thing is the approval of your vet before buying it. In the same way, it would help you find the safe and best flea pills for dogs.

What to Consider When Purchasing Flea Control Products

Purchasing flea control products, such as flea pills for dogs and topical treatment, is not that easy. So, to choose the best for your dogs, here are 5 things to consider when choosing flea treatments:

1. How Bad Are the Flea Infestations?

Knowing how bad the fleas are would surely scare you. Fleas could live a little longer and multiply if not annihilate from your pet's body. And in fact, that would threaten and damage their skin and body.

It could also threaten you if they are in your bed, couch, and carpet. Besides, they could possibly irritate your skin.

2. How Long Will The Flea Treatment Protect My Pet?

Veterinary prescribe flea treatments are the ones that work longer than over the counter. So first, be sure to ask them promptly for longer protection on your dogs.

And second, don't forget to check the label thoroughly so you won't be having mistakes in applying those treatments.

3. Should I Use a Flea Collar

A flea collar is also a flea preventative. This could provide protection for at least 6-7 months. But, you should also consider the level of tolerance of your dog on wearing it.

However, this flea collar may not be an option if your dog is pulling it off to its body.

4. Should I Try Tablets

Tablets like pills are so convenient for all dog owners because it's simple to use by just taking them orally. But, those dogs who have sensitive stomachs might vomit, so you should find other options.

5. Should I Consider Topical Treatments

This treatment was taken externally, specifically in your dog's skin, but it can be absorbed down to their bloodstream. However, it is not advisable for those dogs that love to roll and leap.

The Best Flea Pills for Dogs: Final Thoughts

To conclude, choosing the best flea and tick pills for dogs was very challenging. But getting this treatment will save your dog a lot of pain and discomfort.

So, we hope you enjoyed reading this article and learned a lot more about flea pills for dogs. In case your pup got infested with fleas, don't forget to do your research before choosing the best oral flea treatment for dogs.

But, if you weren't sure what brand or product you will buy, ask your vet to find the safest oral flea treatment for dogs.

Additionally, for other best flea and tick pills for dogs, you may visit our website and stay tuned for our upcoming updates about preventative measures on fleas.

READ NEXT: How to Remove Fleas From a Dog

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Best Flea Pills for Dogs to Prevent Parasites

Diana currently lives and works in London, UK and she's been an animal lover and dog owner since she was a child. After graduating high school, she focused on getting her degree in English to become a writer with a focus on animals, pets and dogs.