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"Program" Flea Control for Dogs: Product Review

Update: Lufenuron is now available in an off-brand generic form for a cheaper price.

See the last paragraph of this article for a review and more information such as where to buy it.

Does Program Really Work? Yes! The Fleas are 100% Gone!

Probably somewhere around 20 years ago, my husband and I got our first two dogs. Like first-time parents, we had much to learn. We were put to the test soon after we got them, when the puppies -- and our home -- became infested with fleas. We tried bathing the dogs with flea shampoo, plus using flea collars, sprays, bombs and adding brewer's yeast to the puppies' food. These methods would help a little at first, but within a short time the the fleas would be back, more than ever before.

In the evening, my little white puppy would snuggle up next to me on the couch. When she flipped over on her back, I could see tons of fleas scurrying and hopping around on her pale pink belly. I started picking them off manually, and sometimes would get 100 or so in an hour! It was so disgusting, and not very effective. Our second dog in the pair was black with black skin, so the fleas were just about impossible to see on him. Plus, I couldn't see the microscopic eggs or larva on either dog. There was no way to get all the fleas.

A female lays about 40-60 eggs per day, totalling about 2000 eggs in her short but fertile lifetime.That's a lot of eggs, and from just one female. I wonder how many female fleas the average infested home and/or pet has? Take the number of female fleas and multiply it by 2000, and you'll begin to understand how easily it is for a flea here or there to turn into a massive infestation, and how difficult it can be to control the flea population.

How Program Works: Birth Control for Fleas, Not a Poison

Program came on the market soon after we got our dogs. We tried it and were happy to find that it really does work. I call it birth control for fleas, but according to company literature, Program actually prohibits newly hatched fleas from growing an exoskeleton. So, the baby fleas die off before they grow old enough to reproduce. Because Program doesn't actually kill adult fleas, it takes a few weeks for the fleas to be completely gone. Adult fleas already present must complete their short life cycle and die off.

Using Program is really easy, and you don't need a prescription to purchase it. It comes in the form of beef-flavored pills. You feed your dog one pill per month, with a meal, so the active ingredient, lufenuron, will linger longer in your dog's tummy, allowing it more time be absorbed by the dog's bloodstream. Once the Program has entered your dog's bloodstream it can start to do its work. After a female flea bites your dog and gets a bit of its blood, any eggs the female flea lays will not grow into adult fleas.

Program is sold in a variety of dosages, based on your dog's weight. There's a dosage for dogs 10 pounds and under, 11-20 pounds, 21-45 pounds and 46-90 pounds. If your dog weighs more than 90 pounds, simply buy the 45-90 pound dosage and supplement it with a second pill. For example, give a 120-pound dog one 46-90 pound dose and one 21-45 pound dose.

Program is Rated as Safe as Essential Oils by the NRDC

One of the main reasons I prefer Program over other flea control methods is that it is not a poison. Lufenuron is a drug, so if you are looking for a drug-free, all natural solution, Program is not it. However, know that the National Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting our natural resources and the environment, has rated Program as safe as using oil of lemongrass, oil of cedarwood, oil of peppermint, oil of rosemary and oil of thyme for flea control.

The NRDC says the safest methods for controlling fleas include vacuuming your carpets regularly and washing your dog's bedding in hot water. However, I know from experience that these methods only temporarily decrease the infestation and are not enough to get rid of fleas completely.

The NRDC states that lufenuron poses little risk, if any, to humans. As far as being safe for the pets who actually swallow the pills, Program's parent company studied 250 million doses given to pets over an eight-year period, and found only a low incidence of mild side effects such as loss of appetite and itchy skin. In the 20+ years we have used Program on our dogs, they have never had any side effects; our first pair of dogs lived to be 14 and 15 years old.

Also Safe for Cats and Very Young Puppies

Unlike some other flea treatments, Program is safe for puppies as young as six weeks of age, and is also safe for cats. If you're buying Program for your cat, it's in the same packaging as Program for Dogs. Cats up to 6 pounds take the Program for dogs 11-20 pounds; cats 7-15 pounds take Program for dogs 21-45 pounds. But don't worry, you don't have to try to memorize all these numbers and dosages. All boxes are clearly marked.

Flea-free, pesticide-free and safe to snuggle with!

My daughter with our current dogs, Charlie and Jessi. We put these dogs on Program when they were puppies, and they've never had fleas. Our dogs are flea-free, pesticide-free and safe to snuggle with!

My daughter with our current dogs, Charlie and Jessi. We put these dogs on Program when they were puppies, and they've never had fleas. Our dogs are flea-free, pesticide-free and safe to snuggle with!

Many of the Shoulder-Blade Flea Drops are Dangerous!

According to the NRDC's website, many insecticide flea collars, sprays, bombs, dips, shampoos and powders contain dangerous poisons. In addition, the NRDC states that many of the monthly spot treatments also contain poison. They have given the following shoulder-blade drops their highest danger rating, and they advise consumers to avoid their use: K9 Advantix Flea Control, K9 Advantix Flea Killer Plus, Bio Spot Spot-On Flea and Tick Control, Enforcer Flea Drops Plus, Promeris, Proticall, and Sergeant's Squeeze On.

When handing out the warnings on the products, the NRDC points to scientific research that shows the poisons in these products are:

  • Likely to cause cancer
  • Toxic to the nervous system
  • Linked to asthma and allergies
  • Suspected endocrine disruptors
  • Very toxic to cats

Go ahead, use the dog as a pillow.

My son using Charlie as a TV-watching pillow.

My son using Charlie as a TV-watching pillow.

Waterproof and Clean, With No Oily Liquid

Because your dog swallows Program and the lufenuron enters your dog's bloodstream, there is no way that this flea control protection can wash off, rub off onto your hands or your children's hands, or be licked off by your dog or another pet. Our dog Charlie loves to chase his tennis ball into the pool and swims with us constantly, so I love that no matter how many times he jumps into the pool or I give him a bath, there's no way Program's flea protection can wash off. I also like knowing that he has no oily substance on his skin or fur that could get in the pool water for us humans to bathe in or accidentally swallow.

We are constantly snuggling with our pets, and my children love to hug them around their necks and sometimes even use them as pillows. I have such peace of mind knowing that we are not snuggling up to toxic bug poisons.

Pros and Cons

I've already gone over the pros of Program, but I also want to mention the cons. I love this product, have used it for many years, and I will continue to use it. However, it's good for pet owners to know that Program does not treat ticks or prevent heart worms. I use a separate product to prevent heart worms, and I have never had any problems with ticks.

Update: Lufenuron now available in a less expensive generic form.

I went to Amazon to order some Program for my dogs and discovered that lufenuron is now available in generic form at a better price. I found two different brands, one called Little City Dogs and another called Queen City Animals. I ordered the one by Queen City animals and am very pleased with it. I am very happy with the product and the money I saved.

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Queen City was slightly less expensive that Little City, so I went with that one. The lufenuron came packaged in a plastic bottle and was in the form of powder in a capsule. If your dog will not eat the capsule as-is, sprinkle the powder on his dog food. The powder is beef flavored, so your dog will gobble it up. If your dog is picky and doesn't eat all his food, give it to him with a treat so that he takes in the full dose each month.


Leopardlady on July 18, 2015:

Hi! I purchased the Queen city capstar equivalent and was very happy with results. I am wondering about the Program equivalent Queen City is selling. I just had a bad experience with a sentry knock off product of Frontline and wanted to try the pills instead, but I would really like to see some reviews of the Queen City product before I purchase it and give it to my cats.


One more thing--if the original Program is not being manufactured here in the US, I wonder where Queen City is getting the product from?

HonestAbe on September 03, 2014:

This company, Queen City Animals, comes from very shady beginnings. I can't believe that Sears is selling products from this company. Just do a google search on Queen City Animals and read up about this so called company that doesn't even put an address or phone number on their product, let alone any of the usual warnings etc. Here is all the info you need:

lbt817 on April 11, 2013:

I own three great danes and am always looking for great prices on flea control. Even though they are all indoor pets, here in Texas that does not help! For the last few years I've used Comfortis for their flea control, and nothing beats it. However, the prices are now astronomical! On Ebay, there is a seller by the name of "conductornewsome" that I just found. They sell the generic lufenuron for large dogs(91-120lbs) for only $21.99 with $4.00 shipping. I hope this helps all of you out there that have large breeds like I do. I didn't look into the pricing on smaller sized dogs or cats, but I'm sure it's less than the large breed size. Thanks for all the information this hub supplies! I hope this helps, and keep up the good work!

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on March 02, 2013:

I think the shipping was $5 per box? IMHO that is high to ship such a small, lightweight item, but as I recall even with the extra $5 it was still the least expensive option. Maybe if they get complaints they will reduce the shipping cost, or maybe a competitor will offer free shipping that we could benefit from!

I looked in the learning center and couldn't find any info about the maximum size of a profile picture. Sometimes the photo storage here is glitchy, and if you wait a few hours, or sometimes until the next day, the photo that wouldn't appear magically shows up where you put it originally.

It is fun writing here at HubPages! Best of luck to you in your online writing endeavors!

Jimbo57 on March 02, 2013:

I actually tried to put a photo of my twisted sisters as my profile photo and it wouldn't go through. Maybe there's a size restriction. I'll check and see if I can resize the photo and try it again.

BTW, I just purchased the products from Queen City. The prices are great compared to what I used to pay for the Program but I was very displeased with the astronomical shipping charges they apply.

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on March 02, 2013:

LOL, I'm so sorry Jimbo! The u and the i are right next to each other on the keyboard, and I am not the greatest typist! It sounds like your dogs have it made! I bet they have lots of fun in their big wooded yard. I'm glad you were able to find a solution with the oral flea control. Dogs are so smart, aren't they?? I have heard it takes a special person to own a Husky as they definitely have very sharp minds of their own! I wish there was a way to post photos in the comments -- I would love to see your pretty pooches. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

Jimbo57 on March 02, 2013:

Hi SmartAndFun, thanks for the update, that's awesome information. I've got four dogs (3 Huskies and a Shepherd/Lab mix), that run free in about a 1/3 acre partially wooded, fenced in back yard, so fleas can be a problem. I can get the topical treatment on two of them without too much trouble but two of my Huskies (my twisted sisters), are sly as a fox. They somehow know exactly when I have the treatment and won't let me near them, even when I have their favorite treats in my hand and the unopened tube hidden in my pocket before I come out of the house! The oral meds, like Program were easy. Just dip them in a little bacon grease and they'd gobble them right up! Since these are capsules, I'll use the same trick as I do with their heartworm tablets, hide them in a piece of hotdog. Guess they're not quite sly enough to figure that one out!

Thanks again for the update. The prices are fantastic too.

BTW, I know I need to lose a few pounds, but did you have to call me Jumbo! ;) LOL

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on March 02, 2013:

Hi Jumbo57, I'm glad you asked this question because I have been meaning to update this article for a couple of weeks (which I have now done; see above.) Last month I went to Amazon to order some Program, and I discovered that lufenuron is now available as a generic. I guess it has been 20 years so Novartis no longer has an exclusive hold on it. I really am not versed in pharmaceutical law so I'm not sure about that.

Two companies, Queen City Animals and Little City Dogs, are selling lufenuron on Amazon for a much better price than the Novartis Program. It appears that they have plenty available for cats and dogs of all sizes. I've linked to some of them next to my update, above. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your question. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Jimbo57 on March 02, 2013:

Does anyone know when Program for larger dogs will be available in the US again? If not, are there any other ingestable flea medications available?

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on May 30, 2012:

I just checked the Novartis website and this product has not been discontinued. Thank goodness!

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on April 24, 2012:

Thanks Charlu, for your kind words, and thanks for letting me know about the product being out of stock. I hope it's not discontinued! You may be able to get it from your vet or from Drs. Foster and Smith online. I believe Amazon is slightly cheaper, but if you have a flea problem like we get here in Texas with all our hot weather, paying a little extra will be worth it. Thanks again!

Charlu from Florida on April 24, 2012:

What an awesome hub and the program is so much cheaper. Great information and I love the fact you gave the pros and cons along with info on other products. Thanks so much for posting this hub in answer to my question. I went to Amazon for the 6 month supply and it states that it is currently unavailable (dogs 49 plus pds) and they don't know when or if they will have it available again.

Thanks again Voted up interesting and useful.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on February 19, 2012:

I know what you mean fleas everywhere.. especially in the summer. thanks for the hub. very good useful information to help our sweet pets.

Take care


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