The following article is one reason why people shop at Burton’s Total Pet.  We are here to help you care for your pet. When I opened the first store in Pittsburgh in 1993 I knew our mission was that the pets had to come first. This wasn’t about blindly selling stuff. It’s about selling people the right stuff. The world is full of shelf stockers and merchants that don’t really know their products. I hope you find the following useful.

I want to take this opportunity to do bring all of our customers up to date on the state of flea and tick control for the upcoming season.  Our knowledge of science and the products we use to control pests are always changing. With multiple retail outlets vying for a piece of the flea and tick business, I thought I’d clear up a few details that may be confusing. Marketers will try to make their products appear to be the best when in reality they are not. Using price as a primary criterion for purchases often results in poor choices.  Knowledge is the key to making good decisions that in the end may save you a lot of vet bills and your pet a lot of suffering.

Let’s start with why we use flea and tick products.


  1. Fleas can carry tapeworm infestations.
  2. Many pets and humans can have flea bite dermatitis which can cause some significant skin reactions, hot spots, and ultimately some serious staph infections.
  3. Fleas are obnoxious blood suckers and a source of domestic disruption, i.e. they’re just plain icky.


  1. Ticks carry many diseases.  Not the least of which is Lyme disease. Both humans and pets are potential victims. It is also probably more common than you realize. Left untreated this is a terrible disease.
  2. Ticks take longer to kill than fleas and this fact can cause some distress for our human pet owners when they see them alive in the house shortly after application.
  3. Until the active ingredient Permethrin and Fipronil came along we did not have a chemical to protect our pets from ticks. Fipronil is far more effective but it is a slow kill treatment, which leads to some issues when people don’t understand how fipronil kills fleas. It is a neurotoxin that takes some time to take effect. As you will see below, Durvet (with the formula they are now using in SpectraSure Plus) has solved most of the slow-kill problems.


MYTH ONE:  Fipronil; one of the active ingredients in Frontline, Frontline Plus, SpectraSure, Spectrasure Plus, and products we see on TV like Fiproguard and Pet Armor; is losing efficacy. This is a myth. Some vets are spreading this myth because they hate that people don’t require an office visit to get flea control. There are many people that can’t afford vets at today’s prices and if flea products only came from vets many pets would just go untreated and suffer the consequences. Humans too. Think of the diseases that ticks can carry.  The fact of the matter is that fipronil is a neurotoxin that takes 24 to 36 hours to work and people will see live ticks one and possibly two days after treatment. Fipronil by itself takes time. Treated fleas and ticks are part of the walking dead when they come in contact with fipronil.

MYTH TWO:  Many pets have reactions to products containing fipronil. Myth. In 12 years I have not seen one reaction. It is a very, very safe product.  Does it mean it cannot happen? No. But it is very unlikely. Preventing fleas and ticks from being long term residents on our pets and in our homes is a much greater good than a potential reaction to fipronil.

MYTH THREE:  Fipronil is a patent-protected product that only vets can sell. Merial, the manufacturers of Frontline would like to think so, but their patent no longer protected. The fact of the matter is that Frontline and Frontline Plus are not nearly as effective as SpectraSure Plus with the additional active ingredients that quick kill both fleas and ticks. The active ingredient in Frontline is fipronil and can be used by anyone that can prove efficacy of their formulation. For anyone to say the fipronil in SpectraSure is not the same as Frontline would be the same as saying generic drugs don’t work even if they contain the same active ingredients.

MYTH FOUR:  Frontline Plus is fipronil with its flea and tick controlling abilities is combined with an IGR (insect growth regulating hormone) is more effective in killing fleas and ticks.  The IGR does little to keep anything more from happening unless killing the eggs laid prior to becoming debilitated is a big deal for the consumer.  I believe the added benefit of using an IGR is minimal and is far more expensive than the benefits. In short I personally believe the Plus in Frontline is nothing more than a perceived value added to the product that does little to control fleas.


It is better than Frontline or Frontline Plus for the following reasons:

  1. SpectraSure Plus is the cheapest and surest kill for pests on the market. This doesn’t happen often in this day and age.
  2. SpectraSure Plus is fipronil along with a quick kill agent called cyphenothrin for dogs and etoferiprox for cats. You don’t need an IGR which only affects eggs and the larval forms of the flea.
  3. SpectraSure Plus does not have an IGR but it has something better: a quick kill synergist with fipronil to kill fleas and ticks very quickly.  Fleas and ticks are now dying within an hour or two.
  4. By killing the pests quicker you and your pet are less likely to get flea-bite dermatitis. You are also less likely to find a wayward tick coming in with your dog and attaching to you or your pets. Any decrease in the potential for Lyme Disease contraction is a very good thing.
  5. There are two different formulations of SpectraSure:  One for dogs and one for cats. DO NOT USE the dog formula with cyphenothrin on cats.
  6. Tests have shown that SpectraSure is totally effective for 30 days or longer for the quick kill portion of the product.
  7. Neither fipronil nor cyphenothrin will wash off if a non-detergent shampoo is used. We’ve tested Tropiclean, Synergy Labs, and Durvet’s Shampoos and none have washed off the dose. It is best, however, to bathe the dog a couple of days before using the topical application of Spectrasure.
  8. None of the above products are repellents. One of the best ones to use is No-Bite. It will help repel mosquitoes, sweat flies, gnats, and regular flies. I am not sure about how it works with the pesky black flies. For maximum comfort for our pets, No-Bite by Durvet is a great addition for those bothersome insects that often make summers outside unpleasant. Remember a repellent works with SpectraSure or any other flea or tick application. A repellent is not 100% effective any more than DEET is 100% effective.  It helps us from being driven “buggy” by pests.


  1. It works better.
  2. It is far cheaper.
  3. If anybody tells you differently, have them call me and we’ll talk about it.  Even if it is your vet, I’ll take his call as well.


Other Notes:

SpectraSure Plus does it all when it comes to flea and tick control.  Kills quickly and has a residual that lasts all month with very low toxicity.

SpectraSure contains the same fipronil that is in Frontline.

Wal-Mart’s Pet Armour is only fipronil. Slow kill.

Frontline is only fipronil.

Advantix, Advantix II by Bayer has some repellent capabilities but the Advantix II is not nearly as quick kill as SpectraSure.


If there are questions please call me at 412 367 0962.



Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks