Frontline Plus vs. Frontline Gold for Dogs: Which Is Better?

Review Summary

Giving your dog a regular, effective flea treatment is extremely important. Not only will your pooch be more comfortable if they’re not constantly being assaulted by biting insects, but keeping them free of parasites will also reduce their risk of catching a variety of transmissible diseases.

That doesn’t mean that finding a good one is easy, though. There are quite a few options out there, including liquids that you rub onto your dog’s skin, chewable tablets that you feed them, and collars that you strap to their necks. They’re not all equally effective, so it pays to do your homework before putting your money down.

Frontline is one of the most famous and well-regarded names in canine parasite control, and its products are among the best on the market. However, there are several different types of Frontline available.

Today, we’re looking at two of those: Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold. Frontline Gold is a newer version of the brand’s famous formula, and as a result, it has a few advantages that the older recipe lacks. Both are still excellent treatments overall, however.

Frontline Plus vs. Frontline Gold

A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Frontline Plus

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Frontline Plus Frontline Plus
  • Easy to apply
  • Extremely effective at killing fleas
  • Can be used on pregnant or nursing dogs
  • Runner Up
    Second place
    Frontline Gold Frontline Gold
  • Works a bit quicker
  • Tube is easier to open
  • More effective at killing flea eggs and larvae
  • What Are the Differences Between Them?

    Given that they both come from the same manufacturer, you’d expect these two formulas to be quite similar, and that’s true, but there are a few key differences to be aware of.

    Method of Application

    Both treatments are applied topically to your pet’s skin. To administer, you’ll need to part your dog’s fur between their shoulder blades, squirt the formula onto their exposed skin, and gently rub it in. It’s quick and easy and should be painless for all involved.

    Frontline Plus uses the same applicators that the brand has used for a long time. They’re long tubes that are clear on one side with foil on the back, allowing you to see just how much liquid is left inside, which makes it easy to ensure that you administer a full dose. You simply break off the tip of the applicator and squeeze it onto your mutt’s scalp.

    In addition to updating its formula with Frontline Gold, the company also changed the applicator. Gone is the long tube, and in its place is a little tube that looks like something you’d find toothpaste in. You open the applicator and twist the tube, which causes the liquid to shoot out.

    There’s not much difference between the two styles, so we’re not sure why Frontline felt the need to update the applicator. The Gold applicator is easier to open, but we like being able to see how much liquid is inside the package, which you can only do with the Plus container. It’s ultimately a matter of personal preference, though.

    dog flea treatment
    Credit: goodluz, Shutterstock

    What Are Their Active Ingredients?

    Frontline has long used two pesticides to kill parasites: Fipronil and (S)-Methoprene. Both of these chemicals are extremely effective at wiping out fleas and ticks in all their life stages.

    However, eventually, the bugs start to form a tolerance for flea medication, and your formula can get less effective over time.

    That’s been a big complaint about Frontline Plus. It’s been so widely used for so long that it’s less effective than it used to be. There’s not much you can do about that, as increasing the dosage could put the dogs at risk, so your only alternative is to add or change ingredients.

    Frontline chose to add an ingredient when it made its Gold version. It has something called Pyriproxyfen, which is extremely lethal for flea eggs and larvae. The idea is that the original ingredients will still do a good job of killing adult fleas, but if they miss any, the Pyriproxyfen will come along and destroy the next generation.

    The downside to all this is that you’re exposing your dog to yet another pesticide. There isn’t any research that shows that Frontline Gold is toxic for dogs, but some owners balk at using too many chemicals, in which case, they may prefer the original version.

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    Which Kills Fleas Better?

    As noted above, Frontline Gold will likely kill fleas better. That extra ingredient gives it an added weapon in the fight against parasites.

    However, if you’ve been using Frontline Plus and seeing good results, there’s no need to change unless you want to. Just because some fleas are building up a resistance to it doesn’t mean that the fleas in your neighborhood are. This is one case where you should trust your own results.

    It should be noted, though, that Frontline Gold will kill fleas faster. It starts working in just 30 minutes, whereas it can take a full day for Frontline Plus to take effect. Thus, if you’re dealing with a bad infestation, you might want to go for the Gold; if you’re just using it as a preventative, it shouldn’t make much difference either way.

    fleas
    Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

    Which Repels Fleas Better?

    Frontline Plus doesn’t have any ingredients that are designed to repel fleas, and the company didn’t include any when they updated their formula to make Frontline Gold, so this is a wash.

    What About Other Insects?

    The only real difference between the two is the extra ingredient that Frontline Gold has, and it only kills flea eggs and larvae, so they’re equally effective against other insects.

    However, the only other insects they kill are ticks, chewing lice, and sarcoptic mange. They will not repel or kill mosquitoes, and they don’t prevent or treat heartworms.

    Which Is Safer?

    Both should be safe for your dog, as they have both been researched extensively. As noted above, though, some users may balk at forcing their dog to absorb any more chemicals than necessary.

    While neither will kill your dog, there are a few side effects to be aware of, and Frontline Gold has more than Frontline Plus.

    With Frontline Plus, you should look out for:

    • Swelling, itching, or irritation at the application site
    • Loss of appetite
    • Abnormal salivation
    • Diarrhea

    With Frontline Gold, you need to beware of all the above symptoms, as well as:

    • Vomiting
    • Eye irritation
    • Labored breathing
    • Decreased muscle control

    None of these side effects are common, so it isn’t likely to be a big deal. You should be aware of them, though.

    Which Is Cheaper?

    On average, Frontline Plus is a few bucks cheaper than Frontline Gold. That’s to be expected, given that there are more ingredients in the latter formula.

    Which Lasts Longer?

    Each formula should last for 30 days after application. Once the liquid has fully dried, your dog can be bathed or allowed to swim without any decrease in effectiveness, but you shouldn’t rub, wet, or dry the application site before the formula has soaked in.Divider 1

    Quick Rundown of Frontline Plus

    Frontline Plus Flea & Tick

    Frontline Plus has been around for a long time, so its positives and negatives are fairly well-known at this point.

    Pros
    • Extremely effective at killing fleas
    • Can be used on pregnant or nursing dogs
    • Easy to apply
    Cons
    • Lacks any flea or tick repellants
    • Won’t work on mosquitoes

    Quick Rundown of Frontline Gold

    Frontline Gold Flea & Tick

    As you might expect, Frontline Gold shares most of the same pros and cons as Frontline Plus. However, here are a few ways in which it differs.

    Pros
    • More effective at killing flea eggs and larvae
    • Works a bit quicker
    • Tube is easier to open
    Cons
    • A bit more expensive
    • No way to tell how much is left inside applicator

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    What the Users Say

    Given that Frontline Plus has been around longer than Frontline Gold, there’s more user feedback about it than the newer product. However, we were still able to round up opinions on both products from people who have actually used it.

    The difference in applicators seems to have caused a bit of a divide between the user base. Some love the new, toothpaste-style tube, while others prefer the old containers. Based on the responses, we can’t tell if one is objectively better than the other, so it’s a coin flip as to which one you will prefer.

    The experiences with the actual formula vary as well, and the key factor seems to be whether users had experienced any sort of decreased effectiveness with Frontline Plus. Those who did overwhelmingly prefer Frontline Gold, saying that it works as well as the old formula did. Those who are still getting good results from Frontline Plus feel like they’re paying more for Frontline Gold without getting anything in return.

    That’s generally our opinion as well. If your dog is responding well to Frontline Plus, there’s little reason to make the switch; you’re better off saving a few bucks with the old formula. However, if you’ve started to find a few fleas here and there, it’s probably a sign that you need to use a more powerful recipe.

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    Conclusion

    Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold are almost identical, so it makes sense that they’d offer similar results. However, expect Frontline Plus to be phased out in the coming years as more and more parasites begin to develop a resistance to it.

    Until that time comes, however, you’re fine sticking with it as long as it works. Frontline Gold is a bit more expensive and has an extra pesticide, but there’s no sense spending that extra money and exposing your dog to more chemicals if Frontline Plus is working for you. Once Frontline Plus starts to struggle to contain outbreaks, though, you can switch to Frontline Gold without missing a step.

    Ultimately, the newer formula is undoubtedly superior, but using it may be overkill if you’re already getting good results with your current flea treatment.


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