What To Do When Frontline Doesn’t Work: 8 Great Methods

Frontline is one of the most effective commercial topical medications used to kill adult fleas on dogs and cats.

However, there are multiple reasons why you may still notice a flea problem on your pet after treating it with the flea medication.

The main reason that Frontline may fail as a flea product is a large infestation of fleas being present in various stages.

When there are eggs, larvae, and pupae/young fleas, Frontline is ineffective. The chemicals in this flea control medication, primarily fipronil, are not dangerous or effective at killing anything but adult fleas.

So despite using Frontline religiously and precisely as instructed, your pet may end up scratching and gnawing at pesky little bloodsuckers that haven’t yet reached adulthood.

Many dog owners are faced with the dilemma of what to do when Frontline doesn’t work.

If Frontline only treats adult fleas, what are you supposed to do about the little ones? You certainly don’t want to let your pet suffer from itching until the fleas mature. Not to worry, there are other treatments to try.

(Side note: I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. From time to time I like to recommend products in my posts that I feel may truly be helpful to readers and their pets. If you do end up buying something by clicking the links on my site, I may receive a tiny amount of commission from the big guys.

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Reapplication Of Frontline

Reapplication Of Frontline

The first thing you should do when noticing that Frontline isn’t working is to check your last application date. As time passes, the medication will naturally start to lose its effectiveness.

If you forgot when you last applied Frontline, it would be better to apply it sooner than later to prevent your dog from being infested with fleas.

Frontline is a topical treatment that should stay effective for an entire month- four weeks in total.

If it’s been more than three weeks since you administered the previous application of Frontline to your pet’s coat, chances are the fleas are present because the medication is starting to wear off.

Talk to your vet about moving your treatment date up earlier than planned. In some locations, this may be necessary to battle the overwhelming tick and flea population.

Flea Bath

Flea bath

Frontline is a great flea and tick preventative, but you may not want to only rely on one medication to keep your pets protected.

This is especially the case when you know that this medication stops being effective towards the end of its application date.

Giving your dog baths with a flea-killing shampoo is a helpful and easy way to rid your pet of pesky fleas once Frontline doesn’t work.

While flea baths help to alleviate your pet of live fleas, it does not treat flea eggs. So, never rely on flea baths alone as a valid source of flea treatment for your pet. This method should only be one part of your war on fleas.

There are numerous safe and effective flea shampoos you can use to wash your dog. Always read the directions and make sure the product is safe for your pet. Some shampoos are too strong to use on puppies. Look for formulas with aloe, oatmeal, or calendula.

This flea shampoo from Adam’s Plus is extremely well-rated and will do the trick just fine!

Using Dawn dish soap is another effective treatment if you find that you’re out of flea shampoo. If you prefer a natural method rather than relying on harsh chemicals, here’s a short list of natural remedies to try. However, these may not be as effective as over-the-counter treatments:

Apple cider vinegar and salt bath – Combine 6 cups apple cider vinegar with a dash of sea salt and spray your pet’s coat.

Lemon bath – Squeeze half a cup of fresh lemon juice and add a drop of regular pet shampoo.

Lather bath -Scrub your pet with a shampoo that creates a large lather. Let the bubbles sit for a few minutes to smother any living fleas.

Rosemary dip – boil fresh rosemary leaves, let them steep, then strain. Add this mixture to warm water and pour over your pet’s fur. Let it dry naturally.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils

Many holistic pet parents rely on essential oils to keep their pets flea-free. Some odors naturally repel fleas. While these fragrances may not kill the pesky bugs, it certainly prevents them from hitching a ride in your pet’s fur.

Use essential oils alongside other flea preventative measures such as Frontline and regular flea baths. Most essential oils are safe to use on your pet, but always check with your vet first before using homemade solutions.

You can face potential poisoning issues if you dilute the essential oils improperly. Some of these can be toxic to your pet if mixed wrong. As an aside, never use essential oils on cats!

To prevent fleas on your dog, mix one cup of water with six to seven drops of oil in a spray bottle and apply to your pet’s coat every other day.

Here’s a list of essential oils that are effective against fleas:

● Tea tree oil – must dilute adequately to avoid poisoning (.1%-1%)

● Peppermint oil

● Citronella oil

● Rosemary oil

● Eucalyptus oil

● Neem oil (apply directly to coat, mix it into your pet’s shampoo, or dilute for a safe flea spray)

Coconut oil – add to your pet’s food or rub a teaspoon directly onto the coat. Not just good for fleas but also reduces odors, makes the coat shiny and healthy, and treats intestinal issues (it’s antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial!)

Flea Collars

Flea Collars

All pets should wear a flea collar to help protect them from flea bites and infestations. There are numerous prescription and over-the-counter collars available for varying prices, with Seresto being the most proven and popular. You can even DIY your own with the right materials!

Flea collars have the added benefit of providing more protection against fleas than just using Frontline, which only works for up to one month.

Some flea collars last three months, while others last up to a year. Again, I myself pay a hefty price for a very useful yearly collar, Seresto. Even without regular flea baths or essential oils, there’s never any fleas on any 3 of my pups.

Here’s a shortlist of some of the best flea collars you can buy. Be aware that these collars have chemicals that kill fleas- if your pet tends to chew their collars off, you may want to shy away from any of these.






If your pet doesn’t mind wearing bandanas around their neck, apply a diluted water and oil solution (lavender or cedar) directly onto the fabric. You can also use this solution on a regular collar if bandanas aren’t an option.


Vodka, believe it or not, is another excellent flea repellant. Don’t worry – you don’t have to waste all your yummy vodka to protect your furry friends! Pour yourself a shot and set aside a teaspoon to make your pet’s collar.

Make sure the vodka is plain, as the flavored varieties will not work. Soak your pet’s collar in the vodka and let it dry. You can also include a few drops of essential oil for extra protection.



One of the most effective- though time-consuming- methods to rid your pet of fleas if Frontline stops working is to give your pup a brush down.

Flea combs help remove live fleas, although it doesn’t kill them. These combs also help to remove flea dirt (feces) and flea eggs.

There are numerous combs intended for the removal of fleas.

Some experts recommend dipping your pet’s comb into freshly squeezed lemon juice, as this acidic liquid is a natural flea repellent and killer. You can also dip a cloth into the juice and liberally rub your pet’s short fur down before combing.


Some pets aren’t fond of standing still for brushing and bathing. Nor will they succumb to you spraying products all over their fur.

For a non-direct method of killing fleas, you can purchase or create a small sachet to place in your pet’s sleeping area. The sachet should be a breathable fabric such as muslin or hessian.

Inside the sachet, stuff cedar chips, lemon peel, and dried lavender buds. Securely tie the bag closed so none of the contents can spill out, and hide it in your pet’s bedding.

While effective, these sachets don’t last long. Within a month, most of the ingredients will lose their potency. Since you’ve tied your bag closed, it should not require much work to open it, remove the old components, and refill it with fresh ones.

Doctor Your Pet’s Food And Water

There are plenty of pet parents out there who have challenging pets that refuse to tolerate smelly essential oils or bath time. No worries! We’ve found a few ways to protect your pets without having to battle their stubborn nature.

If your pet is anything like mine, anything they come near ends in their mouth. There’s nothing you can do to spoil their healthy appetites – including adding flea-repellants in the mix.



Vinegar is a great natural flea repellant- not that we blame those annoying pests for their dislike of this foul-smelling ingredient. Add one teaspoon of vinegar (for four cups of water) to your pet’s drinking water.

A low concentration of vinegar should not be enough to cause a noticeable difference to the taste or smell of the water, so most dogs won’t even be aware of its addition.

You can use any vinegar you choose, including white or apple cider vinegar, which may be a better choice for pets who have sensitive palettes.

Brewer’s Yeast

Adding a small portion of Brewer’s yeast to your pet’s food is another effective flea preventative. Yeast isn’t just good for getting rid of fleas; it’s also a healthy supplement to improve your pet’s overall health.

Yeast contains antioxidants, which hydrates your pet’s skin and makes their coat look thicker, shinier, and softer. It’s also useful for reducing dry skin, a common problem for many dogs.

All you need is a one-half teaspoon of Brewer’s yeast, added to your pet’s food. Add yeast to each new batch of food.

However if your pet has a constant food supply, only add yeast each time you refill the bowl once it’s empty. If you are topping it off with fresh kibble on top of old, don’t add more yeast.

Deep Clean

Deep Clean

Once your pet gets a flea infestation, it can be hard to clear up. One of the biggest reasons people continue to see fleas in their home or on their pets, despite their best efforts at flea prevention, is that they only treat their pets.

Once your pet comes inside with fleas on them, these tiny insects can jump off your pet and infest other surfaces, such as carpets, bedding, furniture, and any fabric surfaces nearby.

The best way to get rid of fleas permanently is to treat your home and yard, as well as your dog.

Here are a few simple solutions to get rid of fleas in your home.


When fleas invade the house, you and your washing machine will become best friends. The best course of action is to throw any soft fabrics that your pet has come into contact with into the washing machine.

Your pet’s bedding should be the first concern. Then move on to washing any blankets, pillows, towels, or mats where your pet frequently sits or lays.

Tumble Dry

Washing everything is essential, but if you’re in a hurry, you can skip the washing and toss all your items into the dryer. A 15-minute cycle on hot tumble dry is enough to kill fleas in any stage, from eggs, larvae, or adulthood.



Vacuum cleaners can make short work of ridding your home of flea infestations. The best type to use is a water-based cleaning system, as these drown the fleas.

When using a dry vacuum, use precautions when emptying your machine, as the fleas will still be alive and attempting to escape.

Open the bag or canister outdoors in case any escapes occur. Also, spray the canister with water directly after opening, which prevents fleas from getting out alive. For vacuum bags, put them in the freezer for thirty minutes to kill any living fleas.

For areas you can’t vacuum, like your furniture, use a steam cleaner. You can also use these on your carpets, rugs, and mattresses.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile cleaning agent you should always have on hand. If you have carpet, rugs, or soft surfaces that can’t be machine washed, sprinkle baking soda over the surface to kill any living fleas or eggs by dehydration.

Once applied, use a broom to sweep side to side to work the powder into the fibers. Let it sit overnight, then vacuum the area the next day.

Salt is also a fantastic flea treatment. You can use the same method as baking soda. However, use caution as salt can cause some vacuum cleaners to rust if not appropriately cleaned afterward.

In Summary

After reading this article, you should have no more problems with knowing what to do when Frontline doesn’t work on your dog any longer.

Solutions can include flea shampoos, essential oils, collars, combs- and even food!

Also, don’t forget that fleas are prone to jumping around and frequently hop off your pup’s body as well. That’s why it’s so important to not only treat your dog with the appropriate flea preventatives, but also to deeply clean any surrounding areas and materials as well.

With all the strategies set out in this post, you will be well on your way to a healthy, flea-free home!

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