Best Small Dog Flea Treatment

by Sarah | Last Updated: December 1, 2018

In all honesty, the best small dog flea treatment is going to be up to you to decide. I’ve tried several over the years, and I’m going to talk about the ones I’ve tried and my thoughts on each of them.

Unfortunately, when you own a dog, fleas (and ticks) are a fact of life. These tiny, jumpy insects aren’t just annoying, they can threaten the health and well being of your dog.

Lucky for us small dog owners, there are a lot of options available for dealing with a flea problem.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll talk about 3 main categories of flea tr
eatment for small dogs: collars, topical solutions and prescription treatments. There’s also a case to be made for natural flea remedies for dogs, but for now we’ll stick to the commercial options.

Using a Flea & Tick Collar for Small Dogs

This is one of the cheapest and most common options available. Some popular brand names are Hartz, Zodiac and, my personal favorite, the Seresto Flea Collar for Small Dogs.


There are several advantages to a flea collar. You don’t have to remember to give your dog drops or a medication on a monthly basis. It’s easy to see whether your dog has his flea and tick treatment  – it’s right there on his neck!

Flea collars, in my experience, tend to be the cheapest option of the three, although in the last couple of years, the cost of topical treatments has come down. Especially now since companies like Sam’s Club have come up with their own versions (and have great ratings, too!).


The problem with flea collars is that their effectiveness can wear off rather quickly. If you have a dog that loves the pool or pond in the summer, or even has regular shampooing/grooming, you may find you have to change the collar quite often, which cuts down on the cost effectiveness.

Flea collars can also cause skin irritations in some dogs. Of course, if you try a flea collar, and you notice any irritation to your dog’s skin around the collar, you should discontinue its use immediately.

This isn’t the best small dog flea treatment if you have an existing flea infestation. Collars will only kill adult fleas, so if your dog already has fleas, you’re going to need to try something stronger, or ensure your dog is free of eggs and larvae before getting a flea collar.

Toby with Seresto Collar

If you want to try a collar that I’ve had great luck with, I recommend the Seresto collar. It lasts for up to 8 months, has a nice slim design, so it isn’t obtrusive, and it’s relatively cheap (~$50 for 8 months worth of use). In our case, we did have to change it slightly more often, about every 5-6 months because Toby gets groomed every 6-8 weeks. The groomer had no problem at all trimming right around his collar.

You can see the collar in the picture above – sorry it’s not a better angle! Toby is about 19 lbs, and his neck is around 13″. The collar fit nicely and wasn’t too wide so as to be annoying.

I can say that I was really happy with this solution and when I’ve completed our current solution (we’ll talk about in the prescription section), I plan to go back to it.

Topical Flea Solutions for Small Dogs

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt seen or even tried a topical flea solution. These are drops that you apply between your dog’s shoulder blades and near the base of his tail every 30 days. As with flea collars, there are pros and cons to their use.


The pros are that this is a once a month solution. Kind of a set it and forget it. Not quite as easy as the collar, but nearly so. This alone puts it in the running for the best small dog flea treatment for many people.

Another thing to consider is that topical solutions like Advantage kill not only fleas, but also kill flea eggs and larvae, something flea collars don’t do.

This is an important distinction, because if you’re already battling a flea
K9 Advantix II Small Dog
K9 Advantix II Small Dog

problem, these products will help to get rid of existing fleas and ensure new ones don’t hatch to continue the vicious cycle.


The biggest negative to a topical flea treatment for small dogs is that it’s a oily, icky mess.

The first 24 hours or so, there is a greasy, oily spot where you apply the drops. Your dog shouldn’t be able to lick it or anything, but you sure will get it on your hands, clothes and, potentially, your furniture. You can’t bathe your dog or let him go swimming during this time, either. So, if you have a runaway type dog who will sneak a dip in the pool – well, be prepared to babysit.

The other negative is possible side effects. I never had any issues with my dog, Toby, but I’ve heard of other dogs having skin reactions. Again, always discontinue use of product immediately and contact your vet if you suspect your dog is having a reaction to a flea medication.

I used Pet Action Plus from Sam’s Club for one year with Toby. It worked, but oh how I hated the nasty mess on his back. I used Advantix with my last dog, Essyx, and, again, it worked really well but I just didn’t care for the mess. I suppose this is different from dog to dog. Toby’s fur didn’t seem to get quite as icky with it, but he has a completely different fur texture and length (Cockapoo vs Border Collie fur). For me, this disqualifies topical solutions as the best small dog flea treatment.

Flea Medicine for Small Dogs

Our third and final option we’ll discuss is flea medicine for small dogs. It’s a popular option, for sure, but is it the best small dog flea treatment?

There are several different flea pills for small dogs. Most do more than just kill fleas and ticks. Depending on the formulation, they can also be used to prevent heartworm, roundworm, and hookworm.


What are the pros to this flea treatment type? It’s easy to give. May come in a chewable form that is flavored. Toby is currently on Nexgard and thinks he’s getting a treat every month. Previously he was on Sentinel (which I personally liked better) and those were a pill form. They were small and, for some reason, he didn’t like to take them. I started putting them in a spoonful of peanut butter and voila! No more problems 🙂

flea medicine for small dogs
The other nice thing about flea medicine is that there is no messy residue to deal with and no collar that could potentially get caught on something or get pawed off. You give the dog her pill and you’re all set for 30 days.


There are definite cons to this type of treatment, too. The biggest in my mind is the risk of side effects. Almost all of these meds come with warnings of possible lethargy, diarrhea and vomiting. Granted it doesn’t happen to every dog – and thankfully hasn’t happened with Toby. But, boy, would that be an expensive lesson!

Which leads me to the next negative, cost. These pills require a prescription, so if you haven’t visited your vet in awhile, not only will you have the cost of the medication, which is more expensive than all the other options, but you may be looking at a vet bill, too.

Finally, if your pet is on other medications, there is a risk that some of these could dangerously interact with the flea treatment. Always, always consult with your vet if you’re concerned about possible interactions and let him or her know of any other meds your dog is currently taking.

Personally, I loved Sentinel. It prevents flea eggs and heartworm, and protects against hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.  No, it doesn’t kill adult fleas or ticks, but since Toby didn’t have them when we started him on it, we never had an issue. I also found Sentinel to be reasonably priced (around $40 for 6 months).

Nexgard? My only real issue with it is the cost. It was over $150 for 6 months (though I did get 2 months free for paying for 6 ). Not worth it in my book.

Which is the best small dog flea treatment?

As I said in the beginning, that will ultimately be up to you to decide.

As I’ve mentioned in the post, my strong recommendations are for the Seresto collar and for Sentinel. In fact, you can use them together with no issues. When we finish our 6 months of Nexgard, I’ll be going back to the Seresto collar. Toby is already on Heartgard for heartworm, so we don’t need a separate medication for that.

What do you consider the best small dog flea treatment? Have you had good or bad experiences with flea treatments? Which type are you currently using and why?

Dog Scratching Photo Courtesy of: Stuart Richards