Skip to Content

How Often Do Dogs Need Frontline or Other Flea-and-Tick Prevention?

How often do dogs need flea and tick medicine like Frontline?

How often do dogs need Frontline Plus or other flea and tick prevention? Should you give your dog chemical, flea-and-tick prevention every month? 

So much depends on:

  • your exact situation
  • where you live
  • what activities you do with your dog
  • the time of year

I recommend you do your own research and discuss with your dog’s vet. Then make the best decision for your own dog. Use this article to add to your ongoing research but everyone’s situation is a little different.

It does say right on the back of the Frontline Plus box how “Research demonstrates that Frontline Plus kills adult fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae for up to three months.” It also states that it can kill ticks for “at least one month.”

How often to give a dog Frontline Plus

So why do vets recommend a monthly flea-and-tick treatment for all dogs?

Well, one obvious reason is because vets make money from selling chemical flea-and-tick prevention medications. Most vets sell these products.

You’ve probably noticed those posters and pamphlets sitting in their lobbies with information on flea infestations and the dangers of ticks carrying Lyme disease. I can’t look at those magnified photos of flea eggs on carpeting without going straight home to vacuum. Yuck! Fear sure sells.

Sometimes you should be concerned about fleas and ticks and the diseases they carry. Sometimes, not so much.

Unfortunately, vets tend to overestimate the actual risk of a dog contacting a disease from fleas or ticks.

And they underestimate the risks of chemical, spot-on flea preventions.

Therefore, dog owners live in fear of Lyme disease and flea infestations but they don’t hesitate to cover their dogs in toxic chemicals.

Vets tend to recommend monthly flea-and-tick treatment across the board for all dogs, but what’s best for one dog is not necessarily best for another.

Yes, in some areas you really need to protect your dog from fleas and ticks year round. In other areas, it’s not much of an issue.

Dogs live a variety of lifestyles in various climates. You are the best advocate for your own dog.

*Enjoying this article? Get realistic dog training tips emailed once a week. Click Here

Do dogs need Frontline flea medicine every month?

To determine how often to give your dog a spot-on, chemical flea prevention like Frontline Plus, weigh the risks of fleas, ticks and the potential diseases they carry in your area vs. the potential health risks linked to toxic flea-and-tick preventions.

I treated my retriever mix Ace with Frontline Plus once per year, typically in late June, when we lived in Fargo, N.D. My dog’s risk of getting sick from Lyme disease (carried by deer ticks) was low even though we went on rural hikes and camping trips. I just never saw any ticks or fleas when we lived there between 2008 and 2013.

In more recent years there have been more reports of Lyme disease in dogs throughout that area, however.

What is Lyme disease and how does it affect dogs?

Lyme disease is a tick-transmitted disease. The most common symptom in dogs is lameness due to inflamed joints, according to’s article “Lyme Disease in Dogs.” 

Other symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include:

  • a loss of appetite
  • fever
  • difficulty breathing
  • depression
  • kidney problems (in rare cases)

Does Lyme disease kill dogs?

Most dogs will not get sick from Lyme disease, even if they are exposed, according to an article in Dogs Naturally Magazine. These dogs will test positive but will show no symptoms. Just five percent of exposed dogs will actually get sick.

In the United States, Lyme disease is most common on the Pacific coast, in the upper Midwest and on the Atlantic coast, according to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

But regardless of where you live, it’s important to think about your dog’s lifestyle.

“Dogs who spend their lives in a house, get walked on concrete, and don’t frequent areas inhabited by white-tailed deer (the deer tick is the main vector of the disease) have an extremely low risk of contracting Lyme disease,” wrote Ted Kerasote in the book “Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs.” 

Suburban and rural dogs, on the other hand, have a greater risk.

There are plenty of articles online scaring dog owners about Lyme disease, but I have not found statistics showing the number of canine deaths per year due to Lyme disease.

Do any of you happen to have that info? 

I’m not saying Lyme disease is something to take lightly. I’m saying we have to look at it within reason, not with hysteria. 

Nearly every dog owner I know gives her dog a monthly dose of Frontline and Heartgard. Fear is an effective marketing tool, and these products are big money-makers.

Should I vaccinate my dog for Lyme disease?

That is up to you. I choose not to vaccinate my dog for Lyme disease. Ace had never been vaccinated for Lyme disease because I believed his risk of contacting the disease is low. My approach to vaccinations in general is to give as few as possible.

My 7-year-old golden retriever died from the autoimmune disease hemolytic anemia, a disease linked to overvaccinations and exposing dogs to extra toxins such as spot-on flea treatments and chemical heartworm prevention. I do not take these issues lightly.

OK, but what about flea prevention for dogs?

I take a common-sense approach with fleas. My cat lives indoors, so Frontline flea medicine is unnecessary for him.

My dogs Remy and Rip do a lot of hiking in the summer and they hunt in the fall so I do give them a flea & tick prevention monthly from about May through October.

Your situation could be different. If you live in a warmer climate, your dog probably has a higher risk of getting fleas.

The same is true if your dog spends more time outdoors or if you live in a more rural area than I do. Still, there are plenty of natural flea prevention precautions you can use instead of toxic chemicals.

What are the risks of toxic spot-on flea prevention medications for dogs?

“In 2008, 44,000 adverse reactions to spot-on treatments were reported, including 600 deaths,” wrote Kerasote in “Pukka’s Promise.”

As I said earlier, I have been unable to find statistics citing the number of dogs that die annually from Lyme disease, but I’m guessing it’s far fewer than the 600 that die from spot-on flea treatments.

In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada reported they would develop more stringent testing procedures for the inert ingredients in spot-on flea preventatives, wrote Kerasote.

“They would also ask that warning labels be put on flea-and-tick products, notifying customers of possible adverse effects,” he wrote. “In 2012, the changes had not gone into effect.”

For me, it’s all about avoiding extra toxins. Dogs die of lymphoma and other cancers each year, and while many cases are related to genetics, there are also environmental links.

It’s impossible to avoid all toxins within our environment, but we can limit what we, our families and our pets are exposed to. Toxic flea-and-tick treatments and toxic heartworm preventatives are a few examples.

Each dog owners has to find her own comfort level. Personally, I am more concerned about the risks of over vaccinating and flea-and-tick products than I am about the actual diseases they prevent.

And yes, of course you should vaccinate your dog! Just spread them out over a few months if you can vs. all at once and only get the vaccines that are truly necessary.

You may feel differently, and that’s fine. I know you will fight for your own pet more than anyone else.

*Enjoying this article? Get realistic dog training tips emailed once a week. Click Here

Natural flea prevention options for dogs

As I said earlier, I am just not too worried about fleas and ticks. If they are a concern for you, here are some natural alternatives to Frontline Plus:

  • Cedar oil – Many pet beds are made of cedar, and cedar supposedly kills fleas. You can sprinkle cedar oil on your pet or on your pet’s bed, assuming your pet is not allergic to cedar. You can also purchase Cedar oil from brands such as Wondercide.
  • Diatomaceous earth – Food-grade diatomaceous earth is benign to dogs, cats and people, but not to a wide variety of insects, according to the USDA. When sprinkled on a dog or cat, it absorbs moisture and fat from the bodies of fleas and ticks, killing them, wrote Kerasote. This product is sold at many pet retail stores. I used it for flea prevention with my puppy Remy when we lived in San Diego because I did not want to expose him to chemicals. Order here.
  • Natural flea prevention sprays – You can buy natural flea prevention sprays online, often no prescription is needed. (brands listed below)
  • Regular cleaning – Use common sense and vacuum weekly, wash your pet’s bedding often, and brush and bathe your pet. Look at your pet’s coat and skin each day.

Natural flea prevention: Wondercide and Vet’s Best

Ask your dog’s vet about natural brands of flea and tick prevention that do not include chemicals. Note that sometimes these products are not as effective but they may work well enough for your area.

Wondercide – Has many varieties of sprays safe for both dogs and cats.

Vet’s Plus – Another option that has a variety of flea and tick prevention sprays for dogs and cats.

I would try these natural brands first and if you truly need a stronger product, then look into some of the chemical products such as Frontline Plus or K9 Advantix.

*Note that some products are NOT safe for cats! Always read the labels, warnings and instructions.

Additional ways to keep your pet healthy

  • Don’t double up. If you give your dog a Lyme vaccine, don’t give spot-on treatments as well. Choose one or the other, if any.
  • Don’t give flea-prevention medication in the winter months, unless it’s truly necessary.
  • Keep your dog healthy by feeding high-quality food, providing exercise and minimizing stress.

What are your thoughts? Do dogs need Frontline every month?

We all have to make the best choices for our own dogs based on our own experiences, circumstances and comfort levels. Your thoughts are welcome.

*Enjoying this article? Get realistic dog training tips emailed once a week. Click Here

Related articles:

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training, dog exercise and feeding a healthy raw diet.


Sunday 30th of January 2022

Would like to add went hiking in pa in December pulled ticks off the dog and us. Was in the fifties. Winters are getting warmer. If you don’t hike and you don’t ever use group dog environments you can skip the meds. I hike I don’t use group dog environments. Ticks are such a huge problem in the northeast. I can avoid them staying on trail but dogs are low. They will jump to the dog and while they’re more interested in the dog they will jump to you. If you’ve ever had a flea or tick issue you realize it’s a human threat too and the internal med works more effectively than anything topical. Is it healthy? No. Is it going to cause cancer? Well I seriously doubt it but it could be a tipping factor if a dog is predisposed in other ways. My advice is not to use a vet who pressures you to vaccinate or use preventatives. It is your choice. I vaccinate and use the meds. Do I think all the vaccines work? Absolutely no. But I don’t know how to assess. Anti Vaxxers have their agenda. If a vaccine doesn’t produce a robust antibody response you’ll hear from the other side that there are other immune factors at play. I do think just like with humans some vaccines work much better than others and if you are really skeptical don’t do it or do it less often.


Sunday 30th of January 2022

Listen they’re chemicals. But fyi if you go hiking these are real issues. Ticks are all over hiking areas and they’re hearty. They WILL jump to humans. Lyme disease is quite serious in humans so it’s you too. Fleas are a doggie day care issue but they are so hard to get rid of you need to aggressively vacuum because their eggs are hearty. They bite and are quite annoying. They bite humans too at the ankles. I think the combined risk to humans and animals warrants the monthly preventative.

Mary Patton

Saturday 11th of February 2017

I was impressed with your statement about heart guard being given every 3 months in stead of monthly


Tuesday 5th of May 2015

I used Hartz Ultraguard all year last year on my adult pup. We go to my parents' house in Central Wisconsin multiple times per year and hike in the woods there. I took Badu for her annual exam last fall and she tested positive for both Lyme's and Anaplasmosis. The treatment was 4 weeks of 5 antibiotic pills per day, which made her sick to her stomach and unwilling to eat. My mom's neighbor dog got Anaplasmosis as well, and it made him disoriented and he couldn't stay standing up. Both our dogs were treated and recovered from the diseases. Anaplasmosis is a bacteria that attacks the nervous system and is transmitted by ticks. I got my dog vaccinated for Lyme's and Anaplasmosis in September, and I Fronline her monthly now. My friend is a vet tech and says that Europe uses the same chemical that is in Fronline as a pesticide for crops, so I feel that the chemicals are relatively safe. The cheaper tick preventatives have lower quality chemicals and can cause serious side effects. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to put chemicals on our animals or on ourselves, but when my dog became seriously ill from diseases that may have been prevented if I hadn't skimped on a cheaper product, I feel like the benefit of these treatments outweigh the apparent risk.


Sunday 10th of August 2014

We live in Georgia and have a second home on the lake(In Georgia). My now 9yr old Golden Retriever has never had a flea on her. She is treated every month with Frontline Plus and heartguard. We have never seen a tick on her either. I however do not put the Frontline on her November through February. The need is not there. I feel this is adequate treatment for our area. I do give her Heartguard every month year around.