Most every dog owner has experienced it: the horror of discovering a number of attached ticks or a flea infestation on their dog, quickly followed by a frantic desire to get rid of the bugs.


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These tiny parasites are dangerous to humans and dogs alike in a number of ways. Ticks carry diseases, some of which can be deadly if left untreated. Fleas not only house some unsavory bacteria, they are also quick to jump ship from your dog’s coat and begin infesting every plush surface of your home.

With all of this in mind, it is hard to argue against preventative flea and tick care. Regular treatment will kill pests currently feeding off of your dog, and will prevent new ones from appearing. Frontline is one of the most widely used treatments in this arena, and it has recently released a new iteration—Frontline Gold—as another option beyond the company’s heretofore popular Frontline Plus.

With both medications housed under the same parent company, you may be wondering: are there any real differences? If so, which one is better?

This guide will dive into the specifications of each of these medications, so you can make an informed decision about which one is better for your dog. Read on for a full comparison of Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold!

Key Differences Between Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold

The Frontline brand has a great deal of name recognition in the world of flea and tick treatment, due in part to the fact that it has been putting products on the market for so many years. Given that both of these products are members of the Frontline family, it should come as no surprise that they share many commonalities.

Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold are both topical treatments which have proven efficacy for killing fleas, ticks, and chewing lice. Both should be applied once a month, and are safe for dogs over 8 weeks old (so long as they weigh more than three pounds). There are, however, some important differences between these two medications to take note of, which we will list here.

  • Packaging and application — Frontline Plus is housed in a foil and plastic container; the foil side is flat, and the plastic side is clear so you can see how much medication is left in the dose. To use, you must first make sure that the foil is exposed, then snap the tip in order to apply the medication.
    Frontline Gold comes in what looks like a small tube of toothpaste with a long applicator tip. To use, you need to only twist that applicator tip halfway, and the medicine will dispense.
  • Active ingredients — These two treatments share finopril and (S)-methoprene as active ingredients, but Frontline Gold has a third form of attack as well. This additional ingredient is pyriproxyfen.
  • Life stages treated — While Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold treat adult fleas in the exact same way, the addition of pyriproxyfen allows Frontline Gold to kill flea eggs and larvae more effectively than Frontline Plus.
    This is the most dramatic difference between these two iterations of Frontline, as Frontline Plus has a much less effective attack on flea eggs and larvae. Plus simply advises users to continue using the treatment, as those eggs and larvae will eventually grow into adults (which it does kill effectively).
  • Speed of action — According to Frontline, Frontline Plus can begin killing these pests 4 hours after application, and Frontline Gold may begin killing them as quickly as 30 minutes after application.
  • Home protection — Because it knocks out flea eggs and larvae as well as adults, Frontline Gold has the ability to help reduce the chances of your home becoming infested, especially over time with repeated use.

Now that we have outlined some of the main differences between these two treatment methods, let’s take a look at which one is better for your dog, and discuss their individual characteristics.


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What is Better for Dogs: Frontline Plus or Frontline Gold?

For healthy dogs who fall within the recommended bounds of age and weight, both of these treatments are safe. This study investigated the effects of finopril and (S)-methoprene (ingredients in both Frontline Plus and Gold), and found that adverse drug reactions outside of some mild irritation were generally limited to individual dogs with tolerance and health issues.

As with almost any medication for humans or dogs, there are certain hazards and potential side effects associated with both Frontline Gold and Plus.

Frontline Plus:

Most of the potential side effects listed here are outlined in the above mentioned study, and result from some form of intolerance to the active ingredients or skin condition. They can also result from dogs being given too high a dose for their weight.

Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of potential reactions to Frontline Plus, including:

  • Swelling, itching, or irritation at application site
  • Excessive or abnormal salivation
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Some other skin reactions like hair loss or change are possible, but these reactions will almost always subside within the first 24 hours after treatment. Generally speaking, if your dog is healthy and the medication is administered properly in the correct dosage, you should not expect any serious negative reactions.

Frontline Gold:

Since Frontline Plus and Gold are only chemically differentiated by one ingredient, any reaction to Frontline Plus would logically also occur with Frontline Gold. In turn, any of the side effects listed above could also occur with this treatment.

The added ingredient of Pyriproxyfen in Frontline Gold can come with its own potential hazards. While this ingredient has also been found safe in appropriate doses when correctly administered, the National Pesticide Information Center lists some potential side effects to be aware of:

  • Eye irritation
  • Labored breathing
  • Decrease in muscle control
  • Vomiting
Again, these reactions subside within the first day of treatment, and no long term reactions are common. Since fipronil (present in both Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold) shows a greater adverse reaction incidence than Pyripoxyfen, Frontline Gold is not statistically less safe than Frontline Plus, even taking into account the additional ingredient.

Conclusion — Both Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold are Relatively Safe

Since the ingredients in these two treatments are virtually identical, it should come as no surprise that they are practically neck and neck in terms of safety for dogs. There is a reason Frontline ranks as such a trusted name in the pet health world.

Frontline Gold does carry the added possibility of reaction with its extra ingredient, but this is not particularly relevant since Pyriproxyfen exhibits such a low level of incidence in terms of adverse effects.

If your dog shows any reaction to either of these medications at all, it will likely only come in the form of itching or irritation on their skin near the application site (which they will already be experiencing from fleas and ticks in any case), and it will disappear in a matter of hours.


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One of the most important steps you can take to make sure your dog does not experience any of these reactions is to double check that you purchase the correct dosage. Frontline Plus and Gold are available in a number of size ranges, and if you buy a dose appropriate for a large dog when your pup is only medium, it could result in uncomfortable side effects. This is an easily avoided error, simply double check your order before purchase.

So long as your dog is healthy and you are cognizant of buying the right dose, neither of these treatments should pose a threat. Of course, if you want some extra assurance, discuss the possible side effects and the best course of action with your vet.

5 Key Features of Frontline Plus

Now that we have outlined some of the key differences between these two medications, let’s discuss some of their individual features, starting with Frontline Plus.

  1. Lasts for 1 month — Frontline Plus continues working for 30 days, at which point you will need to reapply the medication. For a topical treatment, this is pretty impressive. It accomplishes this longevity by housing itself in your dog’s skin and oil glands, and then distributing itself for a month through their hair and the surface of their skin. After 30 days, the medication supply will have been depleted, which is why application is necessary each month.
  2. Kills 100% of adult fleas and ticks in 12 hours — According to Frontline’s referenced studies, Plus is extremely fast acting. Even if you take Frontline’s claims with a grain of salt and make a more moderate estimate, granting your pet relief from fleas and ticks within as long as 24 hours would still be a quick reprieve. It is important to note that Frontline Plus is most effective at killing 2 of the 4 stages of life for fleas, but that eggs and larvae will likely not be eliminated completely.
  3. Does not require your dog to be bitten to take effect — This is a great advantage for Frontline’s method of treatment, as a pest that only dies after it has bitten your dog still exposes your pup to any diseases it may be carrying. Since Frontline Plus is housed in the dog’s skin and released into its fur, the parasites need only climb aboard to be exposed to the toxins.
  4. Remains effective even if dog swims or bathes — So long as your dog does not get wet for 24 hours following application, the medication will already have taken effect. After that, they can swim and bathe as normal for the rest of the month without any fear of infestation.
  5. Safe for puppies — Frontline Plus is safe for dogs over 8 weeks old. Unless you are a breeder, it is unlikely that you will have a puppy that falls below this threshold.

5 Key Features of Frontline Gold

As you may have guessed, these two treatments share many of the same features, so it is hard to write a comprehensive list of dissenting attributes when there are so few. However, there are some characteristics that are unique to Frontline Gold, and we will discuss them now.

  1. Treats all life cycles of fleas — The additional ingredient in Frontline Gold means that it is well equipped to treat fleas in all stages of life, even eggs and larvae. This means that you have a much greater chance of completely wiping out an infestation with one treatment, and that you can continue using the medication as a preventative measure rather than fighting to rid your dog of parasites.
  2. Begins working in as little as half an hour — This treatment begins working incredibly quickly. Within the first day, all of the fleas and ticks that had been living on your dog should be dead, and your pup will get some relief from the discomfort associated with these pests.
  3. Safe for pregnant and nursing dogs — While a very small amount of the active ingredients may work its way into a pregnant or nursing dog’s system, it is not enough to affect her babies in any way. Unborn and nursing puppies will not experience any benefits or adverse reactions from a mother who has received this treatment.
  4. Can help reduce infestations in the home — Because of Frontline Gold’s efficacy at treating flea eggs and larvae, it helps ensure that your home is protected from infestations beyond just your dog’s coat. Particularly with repeated monthly use, Frontline Gold offers a helping hand at keeping your home flea free.
  5. Lasts for 30 days — Like its counterpart, Frontline Gold remains effective for 30 days regardless of your dog’s water activity or whether they have been bitten. Since Frontline Gold exterminates all stages of fleas and ticks from the start, it works as a preventative measure for most of the month, and will need to be administered every 30 days to continue working.

By now, you have probably recognized that the difference between Frontline Gold and Frontline Plus lies almost entirely in the flea stages they are able to treat (though there are other small adjustments as well). It’s a good idea to talk with your vet about your dog’s flea risk, and decide which treatment will best accommodate that risk.

Now, let’s see how these two products stack up against each other in terms of price, availability, effectiveness for both fleas and ticks, and ease of application. After that, we’ll choose an overall winner!

Overall Frontline Gold versus Frontline Plus 2019 Comparison

Price Differences of Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold: Winner — Frontline Plus

You may have guessed that Frontline Gold, being the newer product and showing higher effectiveness at treating eggs and larvae, would surpass Frontline Plus in price. Frontline Plus is roughly $4 less expensive per treatment (which works out to around $12 per 3-month order), depending on where you purchase your dog’s medication. If you utilize a site that allows you to set up automatic shipments, you can save a few additional dollars per month; this is a great tool if you’ll be administering the medication every month anyway.

The important considerations here are whether your dog currently has a flea problem that you would like to completely eliminate quickly (and that you don’t mind paying a few extra dollars to knock out), whether you’re more or less concerned about taking care of those first two flea life stages, and how important cost effectiveness is for you.

Availability — Tie Between Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold

Another predictable outcome here, the Frontline brand makes both of these products available through the same channels, so there is no major discrepancy in their availability. Frontline Plus (being the older and more widely known version) will frequently sell out on some sites, but this is not a significant determinant in overall availability. Whether you prefer through your vet or on any number of websites, neither of these products should be tough to get your hands on.

Unlike other types of flea and tick medication, Frontline requires no prescription to purchase. This means you can order either of these treatments in a matter of seconds.

For Flea Treatment Which One Is Better? Frontline Plus or Frontline Gold? — Frontline Gold

While these treatments are equally effective at treating adult fleas, Frontline Gold edges out Frontline Plus in this category due to the fact that it displays greater effectiveness at killing eggs and larvae. With Frontline Plus, some of these early stage fleas will still have the chance to reach maturity. Because of this, Frontline Gold will more quickly exterminate an entire infestation of fleas.

Though Frontline Plus will kill some of these early life cycle fleas, the addition of Pyriproxyfen in Frontline Gold means fewer will survive, which makes it the better overall flea treatment.

For Tick Treatment Which One Is Better? Frontline Plus or Frontline Gold? — Tie

Since the new additions to Frontline Gold have no bearing on tick treatment, these two products are a dead heat in this category. In fact, this study found both of these medications completely effective at eliminating tick infestations and preventing new ones from forming.

Rest assured that if ticks are your main parasite concern, both of these treatments will eliminate these nasty pests extremely quickly, and will keep your dog protected from new ones all month.

Ease of Application: Winner — Frontline Gold

The packaging redesign is another obvious difference between Frontline Plus and Gold, and the update has made application much simpler. Where you still have to unwrap Frontline Plus and snap the tip, taking care not to damage the foil backing, Frontline Gold comes in a sturdier tube with an attached applicator tip that only need to be twisted.

Frontline Gold’s applicator tip and tube make it easier to apply an even amount of medication down your dog’s back.

Overall Winner Between Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold — Our Choice is Frontline Gold!

These two products have many similarities: they’re both safe and effective, and you can’t go wrong with either choice. However, there is a reason Frontline chose to create Gold and as improvement on Plus.

The increased efficacy at treating flea eggs and larvae, the faster speed of action, and the added ease of use created by the new packaging make Frontline Gold our top pick in this match up.

Of course, Frontline Plus is still a great option, particularly if you are on a tight budget or are not particularly concerned about killing off a current flea infestation on your dog. Although we think Frontline Gold edges out Frontline Plus as the best choice, you should certainly discuss the decision with your vet.


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4 Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t have time to sift through this entire guide, but have a few burning questions you would like answered? No problem! Here are the answers to 4 FAQs related to Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold.

  • What is the difference between Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold? Frontline Gold contains the additional ingredient of Pyriproxyfen, making it more effective at killing fleas in all life stages. It also begins working faster, and comes in a sturdier package with a simpler application process.
  • Does Frontline Gold kill ear mites or worms? No. Like Frontline Plus, Frontline Gold is only approved to kill fleas, ticks, and chewing lice. There are lots of other medications on the market for mites and worms, so it’s a good idea to discuss those options with your vet.
  • How long does Frontline Plus take to kill ticks? Frontline Plus will begin killing ticks in a matter of hours (around 4), and they may be completely eliminated in just 12 hours following application. Frontline Gold will begin killing ticks faster, even within the first hour of application.
  • Can you use Frontline more than once a month? No. Excessive dosage can result in your dog experiencing negative side effects like lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and hair loss. Only use Frontline as recommended, which is once a month. If you are still seeing fleas and ticks, rest assured that the medication is working, and the pests will die off.

Check Your Dog for Parasites Regularly — Especially Ticks!

Medications like these are great preventative measures for responsible dog owners to take, but they are not miracle treatments, and some pesky parasites will slip past the guard of treatments.

Be particularly vigilant about checking your dog for ticks if:

  • Your dog spends a good deal of time outside, especially in wooded or grassy areas
  • Your dog has a very thick coat
  • You work outside and could track in ticks

This may seem like a no brainer, but it is easy to let slip out of your minds. Feel around your dog’s body frequently for ticks, even if you have treated them. Dogs with heavy, long coats will take more work to inspect thoroughly, but it is important that you do so.

Conclusion

Now that you have had a chance to understand how Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold stack up against one another, you are better equipped to make a decision about which one is right for you and your pup.

Whether you decide to go with our top pick or not, we hope that you will take the steps toward properly guarding your pet from dangerous fleas and ticks and arm them with a treatment as soon as possible.

No one wants to leave their pets vulnerable to disease, and utilizing a flea and tick medication is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep dogs healthy and happy.

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