Frontline Not Working?: Information from Frontline Manufacturer

This post has come about because I posted an article about reasons why people might find that Frontline wasn’t working and in that article I basically put any perceived ineffectiveness down to the product perhaps being used incorrectly.  Since posting the article I’ve received comments on the blog and emails from people who have successfully used Frontline for years and who now find that it doesn’t work for them.  They raised the point that if it used to work, but doesn’t now, the product must have become ineffective.

Since I could only gather people’s views on the subject I decided to pass their  concerns on to Merial, the makers of Frontline and ask if they are aware of any issues with Frontline not working.  I don’t have any agenda here, I am just passing on your concerns and reporting back Merial’s reply.

Merial told me that they are aware of speculation on the internet that Frontline  has ceased to be effective. However, their own clinical studies, and those of their competitors, which have been carried out since the product’s launch through to the present, show that Frontline still works as effectively as when introduced.

In the manufacturer’s view, the “myth” of flea products not working is actually the result of three factors:

  • a lack of understanding of who the flea cycle works
  • misconceptions about how flea products work
  • misconceptions about what flea products can achieve.

Merial suggest that if you find that Frontline is not working, you should ask yourself whether you have

  • treated all animals in the home
  • consistently treated them every thirty days
  • treated your home as well as your pet
  • given it enough time; a flea infestation will probably take at least three months to shift.

If you take a break from treatment, even during winter, it is possible for “hitch-hiker” fleas, to survive and lay eggs around your home.  Whilst these might not hatch when the weather is cooler, when summer arrives you will have an infestation in your home without even realising it is developing.  Once you have an infestation, you can’t leave it to treating your pet alone; you need to tackle the flea population living in your house too (remember that only 5% of the fleas live on the pet, the other 95% are secreted around your house).  The eggs and cocoons around your house won’t be affected by you treating your pet; only when these hatch into adult fleas and jump onto your pet will they be killed.  Whilst this will mean that the number of cocoons in the house will gradually diminish, you really need to speed the process up by treating the house to get rid of fleas, which I’ve discussed in earlier posts.  It took me several months to completely eradicate the flea infestation I had; several months of daily vacuum cleaning plus using flea treatments.

Here is a video, recommended by Merial, that discusses the issue of perceived ineffectiveness of Frontline:

Steve Dale: Flea Control

Merial have also sent me an information sheet for pet owners which I may post as a downloadable file.  In the meantime, here are some further information sources passed on by Merial:

UK Customer Helpline (0870 6000 123)

Frontline Webpage

Many thanks to all the people who have commented and emailed; I hope that you have found this post interesting.



Frontline Not Working? Check This Out!

It’s a really depressing feeling when you buy a flea treatment with a great reputation like Frontline’s and then find that it isn’t working.  You probably feel cheated and let down and wonder how on earth this company are getting away with selling this useless stuff.

OK, that’s an understandable feeling, but are you sure that it is the Frontline that is not working?  Could it be that you have overlooked something? Often there is a simple reason why your flea treatment isn’t getting rid of fleas.  Check my list: still sure that Frontline isn’t working?

  • Have you used the correct dosage of Frontline?
Different weights of animals require different dosages.  Has your pet been weighed recently, or are you working from memory?  Many of us don’t actually know the exact weight of our pet, but think back to the last time the vet weighed him and that could have been years ago in some cases – perhaps your memory is playing tricks on you.
Confirm your pet’s weight – does it tally with the dose you gave him?
  • Have you applied Frontline correctly?

Frontline is a spot-on flea treatment.  It works by delivering its active ingredient, fipronil, through your animal’s skin.  Spot-on doesn’t mean put it on any spot!  The correct place to apply Frontline is at the base of the neck just above the shoulder blades.  If you want to be doubly sure, apply half to a spot at the base of the skull and the rest to a spot about 2-3 cms behind.

Don’t just dab it on the fur; it needs to be applied gently and directly to the skin.   Part the fur so that you can see skin, squeeze the pipette and make sure it goes onto the skin.  I always remove some of my dog’s fur so that I have a clear area of skin to put the treatment on.

Are you sure you put the Frontline directly onto your pet’s skin?  Could you have just dabbed it onto his fur?  If his fur was sticky around the area where you applied his Frontline, you probably didn’t quite get it on target.

  • Did you wait long enough for Frontline to work?

Frontline will not kill fleas instantly.  It will take (in my opinion) upwards of 18 hours to kill the adult fleas on your pet and probably more than 24 hours.  Frontline has a curious affect that may make you think that rather than killing your pet’s fleas, it has actually encouraged more of them.

The treatment works by affecting the nervous system of the flea and this can make them more active, so you may notice more fleas around the top of your pet’s fur.  However, the fleas already on your pet will die and any newly emerged fleas that jump on will also be killed.  Once Frontline has been absorbed by your pet’s system it will be secreted through the animal’s oil glands for up to a month.

If you are expecting Frontline to work instantly, it won’t.  Should you need an instant fix, use a tablet like 4Fleas which in my experience works within a few hours.  This tablet is safe to use in addition to Frontline.  I have used it because my dog has flea allergy dermatitis and needed relief from fleas fast.

  • Have you treated your house, as well as your pet?

Frontline will kill the adult fleas on your animal.  However, only up to 10% of the fleas in your home are actually on your pet.  The others are in various stages of the flea life cycle around your home.  Frontline will affect any newly emerged fleas that jump onto your pet, but if there is a fairly large flea population around the home, you need to treat your house too.

I have seen articles by people who have used Frontline and after seeing no effect, used more treatment and only then gone on to treat their home on the advice of their vet.  However, their method of flea control around the home was a fogger or bomb; they were then annoyed that fleas were still in the house, blaming Frontline.  Blame the fogger!  These aren’t the best method of treating an infestation.  Read my post on how to get rid of fleas in your house, and move your furniture, use a spray and get hoovering!

  • Have you had a break in the treatment?
Flea control needs to be a regular treatment.  Frontline will be effective for up to a month.  Then you need to use it again.  And again.  If you fail to do so, you open up the possibility of fleas infesting your pet (and your home) again.
Often people will have a break in treatment over the winter.  Usually, it is reasonably safe to do so, since cold weather will deplete the outdoor flea population.  Not every winter is cold though, so you can’t rely on this theory. To be safe, use your Frontline every month.
  • Frontline is an effective flea control treatment if used correctly.
  • If you have an infestation of fleas, you need to ensure that you effectively treat your home as well as your animal.
  • There are no quick fixes to flea infestations (unless you pay for professional help).  It can take several months of dedicated and rigorous cleaning and treatments to get rid of fleas.
  • Review your flea control strategy; make sure you are treating your animal and his environment regularly and systematically.