Flea and Tick Sprays and Powders

By PetMD Editorial on Mar. 27, 2015
Flea and Tick Sprays and Powders

What It Is

Once the mainstay of flea prevention, flea sprays and powders have fallen out of favor once spot-ons came on the market. Now used primarily for environmental control, an essential component of treating flea infestation. For every 5 adult fleas you see on a pet, there are 95 out there in the environment in different stages of growth!

Active Ingredients

Varies. Common ingredients are: etofenprox, pyrethrins, tetrachlorvinphos. Product may also contain s-methoprene, which prevents larvae from developing. Fipronil, an active ingredient in many spot-on treatments, is also available as a spray.

How it Works

The active ingredients in flea and ticks sprays and powders are neurotoxins. S-methoprene containing products also prevent flea larvae from developing.

How to Administer

Sprays and powders labeled for use on pets can be applied directly to the animal. Other products are designated for use in their environment, especially carpeting, upholstery, and bedding.

How Often to Administer

May last days to weeks, depending on the product.


Does not provide lasting flea and tick control on pets compared to spot-on formulations. May have an objectionable odor. Not recommended for pets or people with respiratory problems. Can cause skin and eye irritation to pet or to owners. Tetrachlorvinphos can be toxic to people. Some cats may have severe reactions to pyrethrin/pyrethroid-containing products. Signs of toxicity include salivation, tremors, seizures, vomiting, anorexia, and even death.

Product Examples

Frontline, Hartz, Only Natural Pet, Sentry

Image: lantapix / via Shutterstock

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health