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Revolution vs Advantage II Flea Treatment: We Asked a Vet

Nicole Cosgrove

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Parasites are unpleasant creatures. Fleas, worms, and ticks not only irritate our pets but can also transmit disease. Fleas are probably the most common parasites that veterinarians see, and are also the one that often troubles owners the most too. The flea usually found on our pets is Ctenocephalides felis — otherwise known as the cat flea. This parasite is not particularly fussy and will infect dogs, cats, and rabbits, as well as biting humans. It is a small brownish-red wingless insect that can quickly multiply, laying eggs that roll off into our homes.

We all want what is best for our furry friend, but with so much choice out there it is hard to know which anti-parasite product is going to be the most effective. This article aims to look at two popular products – Revolution and Advantage II. In this article we compare the uses of each one as well its various pros and cons.

divider-dog pawOverview of Revolution Revolution Topical Solution for Dogs

Revolution is a product that protects against several different types of parasite.

In dogs, it is effective against the following:
  • Fleas
  • Flea eggs
  • Ticks
  • Ear mites
  • Sarcoptic mange mites.
  • Heartworm

For cats, the product also protects against roundworm and hookworm infection (but not ticks).

This product does require a veterinary prescription which means you will have to take your pet to the veterinarian for an examination to obtain it. This health check can often be done at the same time as routine vaccinations so doesn’t necessarily mean a separate trip.

The active ingredient in Revolution is a drug called selamectin. This is delivered at a minimum dose of 2.7mg/lb of bodyweight. Selamectin is a neurotoxin that causes insects such as parasites to become paralyzed, leading to their death. It does not affect mammals, so it is safe for our pets.

The product needs to be given monthly to be effective. Laboratory studies demonstrated that more than 98% of existing fleas were killed within 36 hours of application of the product and future flea infestations are prevented by regular application. Animals can be bathed after 2 hours of application of the product and it does not reduce the effectiveness of it against fleas and heartworms in dogs.

Applying Revolution

Revolution is a topical liquid that is applied to the skin on the back of the animal’s neck. The medication comes in small pipettes which are formulated for the dog’s weight. Make sure you weigh your pet accurately so that you can get the correct dose for your pet, as underdosing will mean that the product may not be as effective. Use the correct size for each pet – you should not attempt to split pipettes between animals.

The product is available in the following sizes –

Dogs:
  • Up to 5 lbs (mauve)
  • 1–10 lbs (purple)
  • 1–20 lbs (brown)
  • 1–40 lbs (red)
  • 1–85 lbs (teal)
  • 1–120 lbs (plum)

Cats:
  • Up to 5 lbs (mauve)
  • 1–15 lbs (blue)
  • 1–22 (taupe)

You can purchase the product in packs of 3, 6, or 12 pipettes. It can be bought at your veterinary clinic (if this is a brand your veterinarian stocks) or via online pharmacies with a veterinary prescription.Revolution Topical Solution for Cats

Contraindications – when should you not use Revolution?

Revolution should not be used in puppies less than 6 weeks of age or in kittens less than 8 weeks of age. It is also advised that the product is not used in animals that are sick, underweight, or debilitated in any way.

It is recommended that dogs are tested for heartworm before starting treatment with Revolution. This is because the product is not effective against adult heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis), although it will help reduce the number of immature worms or microfilariae. Other treatment will be required to clear an existing infection. If the dog has no heartworm then Revolution is effective at preventing infection from occurring.

Pros of Revolution
  • Multiple parasites covered including fleas, ticks, ear mites, mange mites, and heartworm in dogs
  • Variety of different sizes/weights covered including small puppies and kittens
  • Different pack sizes available
  • Can be used in pregnant and lactating animals
  • Dog and cat versions available
  • Bathing your pet after 2 hours of application of the product will not affect its effectiveness against fleas and heartworm
Cons of Revolution:
  • Requires a veterinary prescription
  • More expensive than over the counter medications

The Revolution website has more information on their products. It is also worth noting that there is a product called Revolution plus which is a product for cats that has an extra ingredient to help control intestinal roundworm and hookworm as well.

divider-pawOverview of Advantage II 

Advantage II Flea Spot Treatment

Advantage II is a product that is effective against flea infestations and lice. It works against adult fleas but also kills their larvae, pupae, and eggs, helping with the environmental infestation. Advantage II is an upgraded formulation that works against multiple stages of the flea life cycle, whereas original Advantage was only effective against adult fleas.

One of the active ingredients is imidacloprid which is a chemical in the neonicotinoid group of insecticides. It works by binding to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) of flea motoneurons causing the insect to become paralyzed and die. The is very specific to the nerves of insects though, so it won’t cause harm to us or our pets. The other main ingredient is pyriproxyfen which is an insect growth regulator that kills flea eggs and larvae.

The product claims that it kills all existing adult fleas on your pet within 12 hours of application and any new ones that hop on after that will also die within 2 hours. Advantage II will give a month’s protection, so needs re-applying every 30 days. Fleas die just by contacting your pet, so won’t have to bite them to die. Manufacturers claim the product is waterproof but avoid the use of detergent-based shampoos which could reduce its effectiveness.

Applying Advantage II to your pets

Advantage II is a topical spot-on product. It comes as a liquid in small pipettes which needs to be applied to the skin on the back of the dog’s neck/shoulder blades. You should follow the packet guidelines for advice on application.

It is important to use the correct size for your dog’s body weight, as underdosing will make the product less effective. Advantage II is available in dog sizes small (3-10 lbs) medium (11-20 lbs), large (21-55 lbs), and extra-large (over 55 lbs).

You can buy the product in packs of 4, 6, or 12 pipettes, and can be purchased over the counter at many pet stores on online retailers.Advantage II Flea Spot Treatment cat

Contraindications—when should I not use Advantage II?

Advantage II should not be used in puppies less than 7 weeks of age, or kittens less than 8 weeks old. You should consult the advice of a veterinarian before using it in animals that are elderly, unwell, pregnant, or lactating.

Pros of Advantage II:
  • Can be bought from normal retailers over the counter or online
  • Cheaper than Revolution
  • Variety of sizes of pet covered
  • Dog and cat versions available
  • Waterproof
Cons of Advantage II:
  • Only protects against fleas and lice, no other parasites
  • Can’t be used in puppies less than 7 weeks
  • Unclear whether it can be used in pregnancy or lactation

The Advantage website has more information about the product.

It is also worth noting there is a product call Advantage Multi, which is a prescription-only medication for cats and dogs. Advantage Multi will do more parasites than over-the-counter Advantage II but you will need a prescription from your veterinarian. Advantage Multi covers heartworm, fleas, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, sarcoptic mange, and microfilaria, so it may be worth considering over Revolution if you want a product that covers more worms. However, it doesn’t do any tick protection.divider-multipet

Should I use Revolution or Advantage II for my pet?

The following table helps you to see a side-by-side summary of some of the information discussed in the previous sections –

  Revolution Advantage II
Parasites Flea, ticks, ear mites, sarcoptic mange mite and heart worm Fleas and lice
Formulation A topical liquid A topical liquid
Active ingredients Selamectin Imidocloprid and pyriproxyfen
Kills most fleas… Within 36 hours Within 12 hours
Frequency of application Monthly Monthly
Prescription required Yes No
Care around cats No, use a cat-specific dose though No, use a cat-specific dose though
Safe for use in pregnancy and lactation Yes Not clear – consult a veterinarian
Cost More expensive than Advantage Often cheaper than Revolution
Pack sizes 3, 6 or 12 dose packs 4, 6 or 12 dose packs

There are a few clear differences between the products. The number of parasites that Revolution covers is greater than that of Advantage II and the product is also safe to use in pregnancy and lactation which can be useful if you are breeding your pets. The product can also be used in younger and smaller animals.

However, it does require a veterinary prescription to obtain it and it is also usually a bit more costly – but then you are getting more protection against a wider array of parasites, so that seems reasonable.

Revolution may take a little longer to kill off existing adult fleas but – on balance – it does seem like the better product. However, there are pros and cons with both products and the decision will depend on your own circumstances as to what you are looking for in an anti-parasite treatment.

Dermatitis-in-Dog_February_Love_shutterstock
Credit: February Love, Shutterstock

Flea life cycle considerations

With any parasite product it is worth mentioning that although they get to work quite quickly, you may still see fleas in your home for a little while after the initial application if you are dealing with an existing parasite issue. This doesn’t mean the product isn’t working. Flea eggs that were laid before any anti-parasite products have been applied will still be hatching out of your carpets and upholstery.

If you have a flea infestation in your home it can take time and patience to get on top of the problem. Revolution, for example, demonstrated in clinical trials more than 90% control of flea infestations within 30 days of the first dose. This is good, but indicates that fleas may still be seen at this time point due to the environmental infestation.

To get on top of the flea life cycle quicker you may want to treat your home as well as your pet, using chemical sprays which kill flea eggs and larvae. The pupal cocoon stage of the flea life cycle can be resistant to these products, so usually it’s a matter of waiting until they all hatch out (which can take several weeks). Increasing the temperature and humidity in your house can encourage faster hatching as well as the vibrations from hoovering.

As they hatch out, they should come into contact with your pet and their flea treatment and die. So, if you still see fleas on your pet, it’s usually not because the product has failed, it’s because you are still getting immature fleas hatching out of your home.

Ensure that your pet has his flea product applied regularly as per the instructions, as this should kill any fleas that are hatching out in the house. Making sure that all pets in the house are treated will help you get on top of the problem more effectively.

Other suggestions when choosing a flea product

When deciding on a flea product for your pet, you may decide that a tablet is easier to administer to your dog than a topical liquid spot-on. Some dogs with sensitive skin can also have local reactions to spot-on products. If this is the case with your dog, then it would be worth speaking to your veterinarian about some of the alternative treatments available. There are also some effective flea and tick collars which they may be able to suggest too, so don’t feel limited to using a spot-on.

Your veterinarian will also be able to help assist you if your dog is suffering from excessive itchiness from his flea problem, as some dogs can have flea allergies. If your dog’s skin is sore or scabby or he is constantly scratching, then give them a call.

divider-multiprintConclusion

Revolution appears to be the best product in terms of providing more cover against a variety of parasites. It can also be used from a slightly younger age (6 weeks in puppies) than Advantage II and is safe to use in lactating and pregnant animals. You will need to see your veterinarian to obtain the product, but this is no bad thing – regular check-ups are a good way of keeping on top of your pet’s overall health. However, if you need to get hold of a flea product as soon as possible, then Advantage II is a better bet as you can obtain this in pet stores and online without a prescription.

If are still unsure about what product is best for your pet, or you want to explore other options, then speak to your veterinarian for advice. They will be able to help tailor a parasite regime to your pet’s specific needs (different parasites may be more of a concern in your specific area).

Hopefully, this article has helped you compare two different parasite products side by side, and will also give you a basis on which to do any other product comparisons you might carry out too.

Just remember that whatever anti-parasite product you choose for your pet, ensure you use it regularly and follow the packet instructions to guarantee its effectiveness!

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.