Particularly if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, it’s important to make sure that they’re protected from fleas and ticks (and the various diseases that they carry). But flea and tick prevention products aren’t just important for your dog’s comfort and health they can also prevent you and your family from getting Lyme disease or another tick-borne illness.
“When I am looking for effective flea prevention, one of the most important aspects that I am looking for is a very fast speed of kill of the fleas. We want to kill the fleas before they can take several blood meals and before they start reproducing and laying eggs,” says Dr. Melissa Hall, Dutch vet specialist and board certified veterinary dermatologist. This will help avoid the itching associated with flea bites for flea allergic dogs and reduce the environmental load of the fleas but reduce re-infestation.
From pills and chews to ointments and shampoos, there are plenty of options to choose from to keep your dog healthy. These treatments vary in delivery method and application frequency, so you’ll want to consider what’s best for both your pet and your schedule. It’s always a good idea to check in with your veterinarian about your specific dog’s needs, based on medical history and the pests in your region. No matter which tick prevention product you choose, you should still check your dog for ticks after time outdoors.
Read on for the best tick and flea prevention products on the market today.
Kill fleas and ticks and get your dog squeaky clean at the same time with this dog shampoo from Adams. With a formula containing aloe, lanolin, coconut extract, and oatmeal, it’s gentle on both you and your pup’s skin—and it smells good, too. A little goes a long way, so the bottle should last you for some time.
The shampoo contains an insect growth regulator (IGR), which the manufacturer claims can kill and prevent flea development for up to 28 days. However, according to Dr. Hall, it’s worth noting that the shampoo is “good for current infestation but will not be an effective preventative.” It’s best when used in combination with another treatment, otherwise, you’ll need to reapply this product frequently.
A word of caution: the shampoo contains pyrethrin, which can be toxic to cats.
- Gentle, nourishing formula
- Pleasant scent
- Good for current infestations
- Formula is toxic to cats
- Needs to be reapplied frequently
If you prefer to use more natural ingredients, Wondercide spray’s main active ingredients are lemongrass and cedarwood oil, which are naturally repelling to a variety of insect pests. This spray can be used directly on your dog or used as a room spray to kill fleas and ticks on furniture and carpet. It comes in a number of different scents, but we don’t recommend the peppermint scent, because peppermint essential oils can be toxic to dogs and cats.
When spraying your dog, be sure not to miss their armpits and in between their toes, two favorite hiding spots of parasites. However, it’s unclear if this product has residual effectiveness, so you will need to reapply it frequently to your pet.back to menu ↑
A small dog won’t need the same dose of flea and tick prevention medication, and that goes for topicals, too. This variety from Sentry is made for dogs from 4 to 22 pounds. You apply it to your dog’s back every 30 days and it works to kill fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, ticks, and chewing lice on contact. You’ll need scissors to open the tubes. Once it dries, your dog won’t be able to lick it off and it’s safe for your dog to get wet after a few days.
- Stops flea lifecycle
- Waterproof after it dries
- More affordable than comparable products
- Not safe for cats
- Doesn’t work as fast as some other treatments
This topical flea and tick treatment contains fipronil, which kills adult fleas and ticks, and (S)-methoprene to kill flea eggs and larvae. After you snap open the tube and apply the formula to your dog’s shoulder blades and back, it’s stored in the oil glands to give long-lasting protection for a full 30 days. Your dog should stay dry for at least 48 hours, but after that it’s waterproof and safe around young children and other pets. Frontline has been around for 20+ years and is recommended by many vets. The large variety is intended for dogs 45 to 88 pounds.
- Waterproof after 24 hours
- Kills fleas at all life stages
- Snap-open tubes
- Leaves greasy spot on dog’s furNot safe for cats
- Doesn’t work as fast as some other treatments
What to Look for in a Flea and Tick Prevention Product
There are several types of flea and tick prevention products that are popular today, including topicals, oral tablets, shampoos, and collars. Topical formulas are a liquid that’s applied to the back of your dog’s neck, while oral tablets are designed to be eaten—oral medications are preferable if your dog frequently gets wet, which can wash off topical treatments, but they’re often more expensive than topicals. Shampoos often need to be reapplied several times per month.
Although the EPA continues to approve their use, at this time we are not recommending any flea and tick prevention collars due to reports about health concerns associated with these products.4
Most flea and tick prevention products contain some type of insecticide that kills the insects. It’s important to research the active chemicals in a flea/tick prevention product to see what types of insects it kills, whether it’s safe to use around children and other animals, and whether it can cause negative reactions in your pet. When in doubt, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian to figure out which ingredients will work best for your dog.
“When we discuss ingredients for flea prevention, we want to make sure the active ingredient is safe with minimal side effects for the pet, is effective, and has good residual activity. One of my favorite class of active ingredients are the isoxazolines, including Lotilaner found in Credelio®, Afoxolaner found in NexGard®, Fluralaner found in Bravecto®, and Sarolaner in Simparica® and Simparica Trio®,” Dr. Hall says.
Different flea and tick products are effective for different lengths of time. Some need to be reapplied every week or more, while others might last several months. Not only will this affect how often you need to re-administer the treatment, but it will also dictate how much you’ll spend on flea and tick treatments each year.