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Revolution vs Frontline: Which Works Better?

revolution vs frontline

Last Updated: March 13, 2024 by Lisa Melillo

I’ve seen firsthand the discomfort and risks fleas, ticks, and heartworms can pose to our furry friends. I remember the first time I had to deal with a flea infestation. My dog, Max, a playful Golden Retriever, started scratching incessantly. Those pesky fleas were not only a nuisance for him, but they soon became a household problem, invading our carpets and furniture. It was a wake-up call for me on the importance of regular flea prevention, not just for Max’s comfort but for our home’s sanity too. And let’s not forget that fleas are more than just itchy invaders; they can transmit tapeworms and other harmful bacteria.

Ticks are another sneaky threat. On numerous walks with Max, I’ve had to remove these dangerous parasites that cling to him. They’re not just a problem for pets; diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can affect us humans too.

Then there’s the dreaded heartworm, transmitted by mosquitoes. This is a threat I’ve seen too often in my professional life. Heartworms are not only dangerous, but the treatment is lengthy, costly, and can be heart-wrenching. Prevention is undoubtedly better than cure in this case.

The choice often boils down to Revolution vs Frontline. Both products are well-known in the pet care world, not just for their effectiveness but also for their versatility in protecting both indoor and outdoor pets. In this review, I’ll delve into each product, drawing from my professional experience and personal journey with Max. We’ll explore what each brand offers, helping you make an informed decision for your beloved pet.

Revolution’s History in Brief

revolution plus

When I first heard about Revolution, it was a new thing in the pet care world. Its scientific name is Selamectin, and it was developed to tackle various parasites in pets. From my experience in the vet clinic, having a product that was both effective and safe was a big deal.

Regulatory Approval and Market Introduction

Getting Revolution approved wasn’t a quick process. It went through lots of testing and trials, which I know are essential for safety and effectiveness. When it finally got approved, it was a major step forward. It meant that pet owners now had a reliable option for keeping their pets safe from parasites.

Over the years, Revolution didn’t just sit still. They kept making it better, tweaking the formula to cover more types of parasites. In the vet clinic, we saw how these improvements made a real difference in the lives of pets.

Current Status

Nowadays, Revolution is a name that many pet owners and vets, like myself, know and trust. It’s renowned for protecting against fleas, heartworms, ear mites, some ticks, and worms. It’s one of those products that has really stood the test of time in pet care.

Revolution’s Product Lines

Revolution Plus

Revolution’s product line, anchored by its key ingredient Selamectin, primarily includes the original Revolution and the more recently introduced Revolution Plus. The original Revolution is known for its broad protection against fleas, heartworm, ear mites, sarcoptic mange, and certain ticks, catering to a wide range of needs for both dogs and cats. Revolution Plus, an enhancement of the original formula, adds Sarolaner to the mix, expanding its efficacy to cover additional tick species and providing an even broader spectrum of protection. This newer addition is particularly noteworthy for pet owners concerned about comprehensive parasite control, offering peace of mind by addressing a wider array of parasitic threats.


Frontline’s History in Brief


Frontline, a well-known brand in pet parasite control, has a history that’s quite interesting, especially from a vet tech’s perspective. It all started back in the 1990s. At that time, flea and tick control options for pets were pretty limited and not always easy to use. Hence, Frontline was developed as a revolutionary product to fill this gap.

The key to Frontline’s success was its active ingredient, Fipronil. This was a game-changer because it was particularly effective against fleas and ticks. I remember when it first hit the market; there was a lot of excitement in our clinic. We were eager to see how it would perform.

What set Frontline apart initially was its mode of action. It worked by affecting the nervous system of parasites, leading to their death. This was quite different from other treatments available at the time. Also, its long-lasting effect was a major plus. You could apply it to your pet, and it would keep working for a whole month.

Expansion and Growth

Over the years, Frontline expanded its range. They started with the classic Frontline Top Spot and then came Frontline Plus, which also tackled flea eggs and larvae. This was a big deal because it helped prevent re-infestation, something we often worry about in treating pets.

Today, Frontline is one of the most recognized names in flea and tick prevention. It’s known for being reliable and easy to use. They’ve kept up with research and development, always aiming to improve the product and its effectiveness.

Frontline Product Lines

FRONTLINE Plus for Dogs Flea and Tick Treatment (Large Dog, 45-88 lbs.) 6 Doses (Purple Box)

Frontline’s range is equally notable, with its foundational product, Frontline Plus, acting as a stalwart in flea and tick prevention. It combines Fipronil and (S)-methoprene to kill fleas at all life stages and ticks. Beyond this, Frontline has expanded its offerings to include Frontline Gold, which introduces a triple action formula that includes a new ingredient, Pyriproxyfen, to enhance its flea lifecycle disruption capabilities. Additionally, Frontline Spray provides a versatile, immediate solution for severe infestations, allowing for direct application to the pet’s coat. The diversity within Frontline’s product line caters to various preferences, from those seeking the proven efficacy of Frontline Plus to those requiring the enhanced performance of Frontline Gold or the flexibility of Frontline Spray.


Revolution vs Frontline Comparison

Below, we discuss these brands in detail.

Type of Parasites Controlled

Revolution is comprehensive in its approach. It effectively targets fleas, which are a common concern among the dogs I’ve worked with, but it doesn’t stop there. It also protects against heartworms, a serious health threat transmitted by mosquitoes, and is something I’ve seen too many dogs suffer from. Additionally, it combats ear mites and sarcoptic mange, conditions that can lead to significant discomfort and health issues in dogs. Its efficacy against certain ticks rounds out its broad protective coverage. In my conversations with pet owners, especially those dealing with dogs that have diverse parasite exposure risks, Revolution’s wide-ranging protection is often seen as a significant advantage.

Frontline, on the other hand, has a strong focus on fleas and ticks. The effectiveness of Frontline in dealing with these external parasites is something I’ve personally recommended to dog owners living in areas where ticks are a prevalent threat. Ticks are not just a nuisance; they’re carriers of diseases like Lyme, which I’ve seen affect dogs’ health severely. While Frontline may not cover heartworms or ear mites, its targeted action against fleas and ticks is critical for dogs at high risk of these parasites.

Active Ingredients

Revolution is powered by Selamectin, an ingredient I’ve come to trust through years of seeing its results. Selamectin works by absorbing into the dog’s skin and entering the bloodstream, where it targets a broad range of parasites, from fleas to heartworms and ear mites. What’s always struck me about Selamectin is its dual action—killing parasites on the outside while also protecting against internal threats. This makes Revolution a versatile choice, something I’ve recommended for dogs that need comprehensive protection, especially in areas where heartworm or ear mite prevalence is high.

Frontline, on the other hand, relies on Fipronil and, in its Plus version, (S)-methoprene. Fipronil acts on the nervous system of fleas and ticks, causing paralysis and death, without harming the dog. It’s a topical solution that collects in the oils of the skin and hair follicles, providing lasting protection against external parasites. The addition of (S)-methoprene in Frontline Plus targets flea eggs and larvae, breaking the flea life cycle. This combination has been a go-to for many dog owners I’ve worked with, particularly those battling persistent flea infestations or living in tick-heavy areas.

The choice between Selamectin in Revolution and the Fipronil/(S)-methoprene combo in Frontline often comes down to the specific needs of the dog. Some of the vets I’ve worked with lean towards Revolution for dogs in need of broad-spectrum protection, while others prefer Frontline’s targeted approach for flea and tick control. Personal experiences shared by pet owners reflect this as well; those dealing with severe flea problems often swear by Frontline, while others seeking more generalized parasite prevention lean towards Revolution.

Mode of Application

The mode of application for these products is straightforward and designed for easy use, but there are subtle differences that can influence a pet owner’s preference.

Revolution is applied topically, once a month, directly to the skin at the base of the dog’s neck. The key here is to ensure the solution contacts the skin, which allows for optimal absorption. This method, from what I’ve observed, is quite efficient and minimizes the chances of the medication being licked off by the dog or rubbed off during play. Pet owners have shared with me how they appreciate the simplicity and quick application process, especially for pets that are not fond of oral medications.

Frontline, similarly, is a topical treatment that is applied to the skin between the shoulder blades. The application process is comparable to Revolution, requiring parting of the fur to ensure the product makes contact with the skin. Frontline’s formula is designed to spread over the body through the oil glands, a process that vets I’ve spoken to often highlight for its effectiveness in providing comprehensive coverage against fleas and ticks.


Revolution is known for its quick action and broad-spectrum efficacy. It starts killing fleas within hours of application and is effective in preventing heartworm diseases, treating ear mites, and controlling ticks and sarcoptic mange. The protection it offers is extensive, covering both external and internal parasites. This makes it a standout choice for pet owners seeking an all-in-one solution. From what I’ve seen and heard, dogs treated with Revolution tend to have fewer issues with the wide range of parasites it covers, providing peace of mind to pet owners concerned about multiple parasitic threats.

Frontline’s efficacy, particularly against fleas and ticks, is also notable. It begins killing fleas in just 24 hours and ticks within 48 hours after application, with protection lasting up to a month. What sets Frontline apart is its ability to kill ticks in all life stages, offering an effective barrier against Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Many dog owners I’ve interacted with rely on Frontline for its reliable protection during peak flea and tick seasons, reporting significant reductions in flea infestations and tick problems.

Safety Profile

The safety profile of Revolution and Frontline is a critical consideration for pet owners. Revolution, with Selamectin as its active ingredient, is generally safe for dogs over six weeks of age. It’s well-tolerated in a wide range of breeds, including collies, a breed known to be sensitive to certain parasiticides. Side effects are rare but can include temporary hair loss at the application site, skin irritation, or digestive upset.

Frontline, containing Fipronil and (S)-methoprene in its Plus version, is also safe for use in dogs and puppies over eight weeks of age. Its safety extends across various breeds without significant concern for breed-specific sensitivity. Similar to Revolution, the side effects are minimal, primarily limited to temporary skin irritation at the application site. It’s noteworthy that Frontline’s formula is designed to target the nervous system of parasites specifically, minimizing the risk to mammals when used as directed.

Cost Comparison

Both Revolution and Frontline come with their own price tags, which can vary depending on where you purchase them and any deals or subscriptions offered.

From my experience, Revolution tends to be slightly more expensive than Frontline. This difference in cost can be attributed to Revolution’s broader spectrum of parasite control, including protection against heartworms, which requires a prescription from a veterinarian. The extra steps and broader coverage often justify its higher price point for many of the pet owners I’ve advised. They’re looking for a comprehensive solution that addresses both external and internal parasites, and they find value in the added protection Revolution offers.

Frontline, on the other hand, is generally more affordable and is available over the counter without the need for a prescription. Its focus on fleas and ticks, without covering heartworms or ear mites, allows for a lower price point. Many families I’ve worked with appreciate this cost-effectiveness, especially those who are primarily concerned with external parasites and are perhaps managing their pet care budget more tightly.

Ease of Use

Each product has its own set of instructions, but fundamentally, they share a similar application process that’s designed to be straightforward and user-friendly.

Applying Revolution is a process I’ve found most pet owners can manage with ease. The single-dose tube is snapped open and applied to the skin at the base of the dog’s neck. The key is to ensure the liquid makes direct contact with the skin for optimal absorption. This spot-on application limits the dog’s ability to lick off the medication, an important consideration for pet owners. The once-a-month frequency is convenient, fitting easily into a routine pet care schedule. In my conversations, pet owners have shared their appreciation for Revolution’s simplicity, especially those who are managing busy schedules or caring for multiple pets.

Frontline’s application mirrors this simplicity. The product is also applied topically, directly to the skin between the shoulder blades. This area is chosen to minimize the dog’s ability to reach and lick the product, ensuring its effectiveness. Frontline’s packaging is designed for easy opening, and the clear instructions provided make the application process smooth for most pet owners. The once-a-month application schedule is similarly straightforward, making it easy to remember and adhere to.

Both products dry relatively quickly, with no strong odor or residue, which is a relief to many pet owners I’ve spoken with. They appreciate not having to separate treated pets from other animals or children while the product dries, a testament to the user-friendly nature of both treatments.

Availability and Prescription Requirements

When it comes to getting your hands on Revolution or Frontline, there’s a clear difference between the two that’s worth noting. Revolution requires a prescription from a veterinarian. This extra step, from my experience, isn’t just a formality. It’s an opportunity for a vet to ensure that Revolution, with its broad-spectrum protection, is the right fit for your dog’s health and lifestyle needs. The prescription requirement means planning, which some pet owners I’ve talked to see as a slight inconvenience. However, many appreciate the vet’s involvement as it adds a layer of safety and personalization to the parasite prevention plan.

Frontline, on the other hand, is available over the counter. This accessibility is something many dog owners find appealing. You can pick it up from pet stores, online retailers, or even some supermarkets, making it a convenient option for last-minute purchases. The ease of obtaining Frontline without a vet’s prescription suits busy lifestyles and those who prefer to manage their pet’s flea and tick prevention without the need for a veterinary appointment.

Despite these differences, both products are widely available. Revolution, despite the prescription requirement, can be found at most veterinary clinics and through various online pet pharmacies, often with the option to have a prescription verified directly through your vet. Frontline’s over-the-counter status means it’s even more readily accessible, with availability in numerous physical and online stores.

Suitability for Different Life Stages

Revolution is approved for use in dogs as young as six weeks, making it a viable option for puppies in need of parasite protection early in life. Its comprehensive formula not only tackles fleas but also prevents heartworm disease and treats ear mites, sarcoptic mange, and certain ticks, offering a broad shield against parasites for dogs at a critical stage of their development. I’ve found that veterinarians often recommend Revolution for young puppies because of its wide-ranging protection, which is crucial as they build their immunity.

Frontline is similarly safe for puppies, with its use approved for dogs over eight weeks of age. Its efficacy against fleas and ticks makes it a strong contender for young dogs, especially in areas where these external parasites are prevalent. Pet owners have shared with me their preference for Frontline for its ease of use and the peace of mind it provides in protecting their puppies from the discomfort and health risks associated with fleas and ticks.

For adult dogs, both products continue to offer suitable protection, with their safety profiles remaining consistent across various breeds and sizes. The choice between Revolution and Frontline for an adult dog often hinges on the specific parasitic threats in their environment and any personal health considerations, such as skin sensitivity or previous adverse reactions to parasite prevention products.

Both Revolution and Frontline offer formulations tailored to specific sizes and weights of pets, ensuring that pet owners can select a product that is safe and effective for their animal’s particular needs. Whether it’s the expanded protection against parasites offered by Revolution Plus or the targeted flea and tick control provided by Frontline’s suite of products, each brand has developed a product line that addresses the nuanced demands of pet care.

Final Woof

Revolution and Frontline are effective in flea and tick control, but each has unique strengths. I’ve used both and found them reliable. Revolution offers broader coverage, including protection against heartworms, ear mites, and some worms. This comprehensive protection is a big plus, especially since it can be used on very young pets without a minimum weight requirement. Frontline, while quick-acting and available in various pack sizes, doesn’t prevent heartworms and isn’t effective against certain parasites covered by Revolution. Personally, I prioritize heartworm prevention, so Revolution is my go-to choice, despite its limited package options. The added peace of mind with Revolution’s wider protection outweighs the convenience of Frontline’s varied pack sizes.

I choose Revolution.


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