This article is about the variety of flea and tick treatments available for your dog, the pros and cons of each option, and how to safely administer flea and tick preventatives to your pet.
We all know our dogs love to play and explore outside. While it’s great fun for you and your furry friend to explore the outdoors, it can attract fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks are some of the most persistent and annoying pests that like to latch onto our dogs – and they can be downright dangerous! Fleas can cause itching, allergic reactions, and other unpleasant effects, and ticks can pass on serious diseases to your dog, such as Lyme Disease. Fleas and ticks can also spread to others in the home – both humans and dogs alike – and can even take up residence in your carpets, furniture, and yard.
How do I know if my dog has fleas or ticks?
Fleas and ticks themselves can be hard to spot, but they can create some unmistakable symptoms in your dog. Visit our article “Fleas and Ticks on Dogs – Symptoms & Prevention” for more information on fleas and ticks in general, as well as how to tell if your dog might be suffering from a flea or tick infestation.
How do I protect my dog against fleas and ticks?
Luckily, there are a variety of flea and tick treatments available, both for prevention to stop problems before they start, and for treatment if your dog is unlucky enough to attract fleas or ticks. Each has its upsides and downsides. Read on to see which remedy might be right for you and your dog.
Types of flea and tick prevention and treatments
Topical medication can be purchased through your vet. Medications include Advantage Multi and Revolution, although there are others available. It’s absorbed through the skin and then circulates ingredients throughout the body to repel ticks, fleas or other parasites.
Oral medication can also be bought from your vet. Bravecto, Nexgard, and Comfortis are just a few of the available products. Several different chemical compounds can be used to create a pill for fleas, and various products are effective against different parasites, so talk to your vet about which one might be the best fit for your pet.
Flea collars use the heat of your dog’s body to release ingredients that repel and kill fleas slowly. The ingredients are absorbed through your dog’s skin and then carried to the rest of their body to prevent fleas from jumping on and taking up residence in your dog’s fur.
You could read our suggestion of fleas collar for your dogs on this link “7 Best Dog Flea Collar to Stop the Itching Scratch“.
Flea and Tick Shampoos and Sprays
Shampoos and sprays are similar products – the difference between them is you need to rinse the shampoo off your dog after you apply it, but you apply sprays and leave them on your dog. Flea and tick shampoo spray can be used to prevent an infestation or to help when your dog already has some unwelcome parasites. Shampoos are straightforward and easy to use, and sprays have the added convenience of no rinsing required! Not all sprays are created equal, especially since some are more natural products that do not include ingredients to kill fleas and ticks, so make sure you check the ingredients and reviews of any products you’re considering.
You could read our suggestion for the best fleas & ticks shampoo for your dogs on this link “7 Best Flea Shampoos for Dogs Reviews“, and “Best Flea and Tick Spray for Dogs Review” for the recommendation of fleas and ticks spray for your dogs.
Flea and tick powders are another easy-to-apply treatment to prevent these pests on your dog or take care of them if they take up residence on your pet. Depending on the product, they can also be used on furniture, carpets, and other places in your house if fleas or ticks have made their way to other parts of your home.
A flea dip is a concentrated solution that you can apply to your dog with a sponge or pour over them. Like sprays and powders, no rinsing is required. Flea dips used to be one of the most popular ways to treat fleas on dogs, but they have fallen out of favor in recent years as some gentler products have come on the market, but they are still safe and effective as long as you use the correct dosage.
How to Choose the Best Product?
There are many things to consider when selecting a product to protect your dog against fleas and ticks. If you’re considering a certain product, here are some questions you may want to ask:
What does this product protect against? Ensure that the product protects against fleas, ticks, or any other parasites you are likely to encounter or are already dealing with.
How convenient is the product? How is the product applied? How messy can application get? How often do you have to repeat it? All of these things can be factors in how likely you are to choose a product.
How long will it take for the product to begin working? Most products start working instantly, but some have a bit of lag time. Depending on your needs, it might be valuable for the product to start working right away.
Does my pet need to be on more than one product? Not all products protect against all parasites. Your pet may need to be on more than one product if there is not an option that covers all parasites in your area.
Tips for Using a flea/tick preventative
Always discuss your plans with your vet. Even if something is over the counter or bought online, you never know how it could impact your dog, especially if he or she is on other medications. Always discuss any use of a medicine, treatment, or supplement with your veterinarian.
Only purchase products that are EPA-registered or FDA-approved. While the EPA or FDA cannot guarantee safety for each individual dog, using a product that is EPA-registered or FDA-approved increases the chances that the product is safe and effective. Many natural products are not EPA-registered or FDA-approved, and while natural ingredients generally have less potential for harm, there are still natural ingredients that could harm your dog. Choose carefully!
Read the label and follow the instructions! Read the product label as well as the veterinary label, if applicable. Always make sure to apply the product when and how the label says unless your vet tells you otherwise. Make sure to give the right dosage for your dog’s weight; using a product that is a lower weight range can result in the product being ineffective, and using one that is a higher weight range can harm your pet.
Dog and cat products are not interchangeable. Some products made for dogs can be toxic to cats. For example, the active ingredient in many flea and tick preventatives is toxic to cats even in small doses. Always ask your vet if you have any questions or concerns about a product.
Monitor your pet for signs of an adverse reaction. This is especially important when using a new medication, but it is a good practice each time. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary widely but often will include skin redness or swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, itchiness, abnormal behavior, or ataxia (lack of coordination). Report any signs of a reaction to your veterinarian and the manufacturer.
Make sure it works! Just because the label said it would work doesn’t make it so. Continue to check your dog for any fleas or ticks. If you still see them, it’s possible you misapplied the product. Be sure to talk to your vet if you still see parasites after applying a preventative or treatment.
Don’t forget: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure to reduce your dog’s exposure to parasites in the first place. An excellent way to reduce your dog’s exposure is to keep him or her out of areas where fleas or ticks are likely to be when possible, such as tall grass, wooded areas, and bushes.
Check your dog often. Especially for those of us who enjoy hikes and other outdoor pursuits with our dog, keeping our dog out of wooded areas and long grass isn’t always a possibility. Be sure to do a tick check on your dog daily, but especially if they spend time in lots of wooded or grassy areas. When they have had access to any wooded or grassy areas. More abundant ticks can usually be seen or felt after feeding, but some of the smaller ticks (like deer ticks) are very small and can be challenging to see.
Please watch below video for the short explanation video how you safely use fleas and ticks medication for your pet:
Fleas and ticks are a fact of life, especially for those of us who love to hike and explore the outdoors with our dogs. Luckily, there are many treatments available to prevent an infestation, cure an existing one, or both. With guidance from your vet, and by asking yourself some questions about what you’re looking for out of a flea and tick treatment, you can find just the right product for your dog and administer it safely.