Capstar vs. Revolution

When it comes to protecting our pets from the irksome itch and potential diseases brought on by fleas, pet owners often find themselves in a tussle between various flea treatment options. Two of the most commonly discussed solutions are Capstar and Revolution. If you’ve ever wondered about their differences, effectiveness, and when to use each, you’ve come to the right place.

What is Capstar?

Action & Duration: Capstar (nitenpyram) is an over-the-counter oral medication designed to offer rapid flea relief. Within just 30 minutes of administration, fleas begin to die, reaching a peak at 4-6 hours. Its effect, however, is short-lived, only lasting for about 24 hours.

Ideal Use: It’s a perfect solution for immediate flea knockdown, especially in severe infestations.

What is Revolution?

Action & Composition: Revolution is a prescription topical solution, with its primary ingredient being selamectin. It not only addresses fleas but also various other parasites, including heartworms, ear mites, and ticks.

Duration & Prevention: Unlike Capstar, Revolution offers a month-long protection, serving both as a treatment and a preventive measure.

The Pros and Cons: A Comparative Glance



  1. Rapid flea relief
  2. Safe for kittens and puppies as young as four weeks
  3. Can be combined with other treatments


  1. Short duration of action
  2. Targets only adult fleas
  3. Might require daily administration in heavy infestations



  1. Broad-spectrum protection against various parasites
  2. Long-lasting monthly treatment
  3. Preventative properties


  1. Prescription required
  2. Might not be suitable for very young pets
  3. Topical application can be tricky for some pets

When to Use Which?

Immediate Infestation: If your pet is currently grappling with a severe flea infestation and you need quick relief, Capstar is your go-to. Its rapid action will provide instant relief to your pet.

Long-term Prevention: For extended protection and to shield against a broad range of parasites, Revolution is the ideal choice.

Combined Approach: In case of heavy flea burdens, vets often recommend a dose of Capstar to quickly knock down the adult fleas followed by the application of Revolution for long-term protection and prevention.


How often should I administer Capstar?

Frequency of Use: Since Capstar offers rapid but short-lived flea relief, its administration can be daily in the face of heavy infestations. However, continuous daily use is rarely recommended, as it’s essential to integrate longer-term solutions alongside it.

Can Revolution address other parasites besides fleas?

Broad-Spectrum Efficacy: Absolutely. Revolution is renowned for its wide-reaching effects. Apart from fleas, it targets heartworms, ear mites, ticks, and certain types of worms. This makes it a versatile choice for pet owners looking to protect their animals from multiple threats.

Is there any known resistance to these medications?

Resistance Concerns: Some geographic areas report fleas that have developed resistance to specific treatments, but such cases are sporadic. It’s always advisable to rotate between different classes of flea control products annually to prevent potential resistance build-up.

Are there any side effects to be aware of?

Capstar Side Effects: Few side effects have been reported. However, some pets may exhibit signs of hyperactivity, panting, or itchiness as the fleas begin to die off.

Revolution Side Effects: On rare occasions, pets might experience temporary hair loss at the application site, digestive upsets, or skin irritation. Always monitor your pet post-application and consult with your veterinarian if any concerning signs arise.

How safe are these treatments for kittens and puppies?

Safety in Young Pets: Capstar is deemed safe for kittens and puppies as young as four weeks. Revolution, on the other hand, is typically safe for puppies and kittens over six weeks of age. As always, the golden rule is to consult with your vet, especially when treating very young or small pets.

Can pregnant or lactating pets use Capstar or Revolution?

For Breeding Pets: While Capstar is generally considered safe for pregnant or lactating pets, Revolution’s safety in pregnant, breeding, or lactating animals has not been firmly established. It’s paramount to discuss with your veterinarian before administering any medication to breeding or nursing pets.

How quickly does Revolution begin working after application?

Onset of Action: Revolution starts to kill adult fleas within 36 hours of application. Its effectiveness against other parasites varies, but generally, protection ramps up within a few days post-application.

Can I bathe my pet after applying Revolution?

Bathing Protocols: It’s advisable to avoid bathing or immersing your pet in water for at least two hours after Revolution application. After this window, occasional baths or water exposure shouldn’t diminish its efficacy. However, frequent or prolonged immersion might reduce its duration of action, so always aim for moderation.

Are Capstar and Revolution safe for multi-pet households?

Multi-pet Dynamics: Certainly. Both Capstar and Revolution can be employed in households with multiple pets. However, ensure each animal gets the appropriate dosage. For Revolution, particularly, segregate pets for a few hours post-application to prevent them from grooming off the product from one another.

How do environmental factors play into the effectiveness of these treatments?

Environmental Implications: Fleas thrive in warm, humid conditions. While both treatments are designed to be effective regardless of climate, a pet’s environment can influence the frequency and persistence of infestations. Regularly cleaning pet bedding and vacuuming can enhance the effectiveness of these treatments in any setting.

Can I alternate between Capstar and Revolution for a synergistic effect?

Combining Approaches: Some veterinarians might recommend using Capstar to provide immediate relief from heavy flea infestations and following it up with Revolution for long-term protection. It’s pivotal, however, to get professional advice before combining or alternating treatments.

What should I do if I miss a dose of Revolution?

Missed Doses: If a dose is skipped, administer Revolution as soon as you remember, and then resume the monthly application schedule. A consistent regimen maximizes protection against parasites.

How long should I wait between administering Capstar and Revolution?

Spacing Treatments: There isn’t a strict waiting period between the two, given their distinct action mechanisms. Capstar operates quickly and loses its effect within 24-48 hours. Revolution has a prolonged action. While they can be administered closely, always consult your vet for personalized guidance.

Are there any drug interactions to be aware of with either product?

Drug Interactions: Few significant drug interactions have been documented with either Capstar or Revolution. Nonetheless, if your pet is on other medications, particularly other parasite preventatives, it’s vital to discuss with your vet.

Should I monitor my pet after administering these treatments for the first time?

First-time Observations: As with introducing any new medication or treatment, it’s wise to observe your pet for any unusual behaviors or reactions. While side effects are rare, immediate attention to any adverse reactions can make a significant difference.

What’s the shelf life of Capstar and Revolution?

Product Longevity: Both treatments typically have a shelf life of several years when stored as recommended. Check the expiration date on the packaging and avoid using any product past its expiration to ensure effectiveness.

How does age and health condition influence the choice between Capstar and Revolution?

Age & Health Factors: While both products are approved for use in young animals (Capstar for puppies and kittens 4 weeks and older, Revolution for kittens 8 weeks and older), it’s vital to account for an animal’s overall health. Elderly or immunocompromised pets might experience different reactions, so consulting a vet is paramount before initiating any treatment.

Are there breeds known to be sensitive to Capstar or Revolution?

Breed Sensitivities: Generally, both treatments are considered safe across various breeds. However, some breeds might have genetic sensitivities to certain drugs. For instance, certain herding breeds have shown sensitivity to drugs related to the active ingredient in Revolution. Always ensure you discuss breed-specific concerns with a veterinarian.

How do I handle potential overdose situations with these treatments?

Handling Overdose: If you suspect an overdose – signs might include excessive drooling, tremors, or lethargy – immediately consult a veterinarian. For an effective intervention, provide the vet with the accurate dosage administered and the weight of your pet.

Can Capstar and Revolution protect against other parasites?

Broad Parasitic Protection: While Capstar is primarily formulated for fleas, Revolution is a multi-spectrum treatment targeting fleas, ticks, ear mites, and certain types of worms. It also offers heartworm protection. Knowing the local prevalence of specific parasites can guide your choice of treatment.

How do environmental pesticide treatments affect Capstar and Revolution’s efficiency?

Environmental Pesticides Interaction: Externally-applied yard or home treatments can complement the effects of Capstar and Revolution but are not a substitute. While they might kill fleas in the environment, their efficiency doesn’t negate the need for direct pet treatment. Consult professionals to ensure environmentally-applied treatments are pet-friendly.

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