Preventing Fleas and Ticks on Dogs: Top Products & Guidelines

Fleas and ticks are common threats to dogs. These parasites can jump and latch on to your canine friends from tall grass areas, wooded areas, or even from inhouse areas such as under the furniture. Once latched on to their targets, fleas and ticks can transmit numerous diseases ranging from irritation to Lyme disease.

When it comes to protecting your dog from fleas and ticks, prevention is always better than curing. We have curated a list of top products and preventive measures to prevent fleas and ticks to help you best protect your fluffy pets. 

What are Fleas and Ticks on Dogs?

Fleas are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of dogs and other mammals. They live on an animal host body, and although they don’t have wings, they can leap distances from 100 to 200 to travel from one host to another. When your dog is infested with fleas, you may spot small dark specks in their fur, or red and irritated skin. Flea bites can cause allergic reactions, skin infections, and transmit various diseases such as tapeworms and Bartonella.

Image about a flea infested dog
An flea infested dog

Ticks, on the other hand, are blood eating arachnids that come from the outdoor environments. They can latch on to your dog when they are out playing near tall grasses or wooded areas. They might be visibly attached to the skin, often around the ears, neck or between the toes of your dog. Tick bites can cause irritation and infections, but they also can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis.

Image about a tick latching on to a dog
A tick latching on to a dog

What are the top products for protecting dogs from fleas and ticks?

To help you take a proactive step in protecting your fluffy fellows from fleas and ticks, there are four tools that are best recommended for this purpose: collars, topical treatments, oral medications, and natural remedies. Let’s go into the details for each option.

Collars

Flea and tick collars are long-lasting protections against parasites. By disseminating active ingredients (such as flumethrin and imidacloprid) that repel or kill fleas and ticks on the dog fur and skin, these collars create protective barriers for them when worn on their neck. Some candidates would be Seresto, or Hartz Ultra Guard.

Image about seresto fleas & ticks collars
Seresto Fleas & Ticks collars for dogs

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments often come in the form of liquid solution, spot-on apply or spray containing fipronil, imidacloprid, selamectin, and permethrin. They are easy to apply, fast-acting and effective, but they also require periodic reapplication. Some examples would be Advantage II, Frontline Plus.

Image about advantage-II
Advantage II – a topical treatment for dogs

Oral medications

Oral treatments come in the form of chewable tablets or flavored treats that you can feed to your dogs. These medications contain active ingredients like afoxolaner, fluralaner, or sarolaner, working systemically that will circulate in the dog bloodstream and kill the ticks and fleas when they bite the dog. These treatments are highly effective and don’t require frequent usage, but they might need to be prescribed. Simparica and Bravecto are strong candidates for this type of treatment.

Image about nexgard medication
NexGard – an oral medication for dogs

Natural Remedies

Remedies that are plant-based encompass a wide range of products, including herbal sprays, essentials oils, and dietary supplements. These are generally safer for dogs with allergies or sensitive skin compared to chemical-based products, and they are also environmentally friendly too. However, the downside is that they are not as effective as chemical-based options. Some options you could consider are neem oil, and apple cider vinegar.

Image about neem-oil
Neem oil – a natural remedy for dogs

The table below compares some recommendations along with its prices for your reference.

Product (Examples – Consult Your Vet) Product Group Frequency Prescription Chewable Topical Collar Prevents Tick Attachment
Advantage II Topical treatment Monthly No No Yes No Yes
Nexgard Oral treatment Monthly Yes Yes No No Yes
Simparica Oral treatment Monthly Yes Yes No No Yes
Bravecto Oral treatment Monthly or 3 Months Yes Yes No No Yes
Seresto Collar 8 months No No No Yes Yes
Frontline Plus Topical treatment Monthly No No Yes No Yes
Natural Remedies (lemon eucalyptus, etc.) Varies No No Sometimes No Limited

Does one product work better than another? 

The choice between collar, topical, oral, or natural methods often boils down to the owner’s preference. However, its efficiency in eliminating fleas and ticks should be your top priority. Your veterinarian can assist in selecting the most suitable option that works best for you and your pet. The ideal product should be both safe and efficient, easily administered to your dog on a regular basis. While collars are convenient, long-lasting, and durable, they may occasionally lead to skin irritation or allergic reactions in certain dogs.

Additional Preventive Methods

Additionally, it is also suggested to set up additional preventive methods and to manage your dog’s living environment and administer their personal protection. Let’s dive into the details.

Environmental Management

Image about vacuuming rugs
Vacuuming rugs to eliminate fleas

Indoor Routines

Periodically vacuum your carpets, rugs, and upholstery can help eliminate flea eggs, larvae, and adults that may be lurking in your home. Washing your dog’s bedding frequently in hot water can also help kill any fleas or eggs present. Additionally, keeping indoor spaces decluttered and minimizing hiding spots for pests can reduce the chances of flea and tick infestations.

Outdoor Maintenance

Maintaining a well-groomed outdoor environment is crucial for preventing fleas and ticks from establishing a presence around your home. Regular mowing of the lawn and trimming of vegetation helps to reduce tick habitat, as ticks often lurk in tall grass and shrubs. Leaf removal from yard areas also eliminates hiding spots for ticks, reducing the risk of exposure to both pets and humans. Regular inspection of outdoor areas and prompt removal of any debris or potential tick habitats can further enhance prevention efforts.

Personal protection for dogs

Image about fleas ticks bandana
Fleas & ticks bandana for dogs

Protective Gear

Consider using specialized flea and tick collars or bandanas designed to repel these pests when your dog is outdoors, especially in areas where they are prevalent. These products often contain insecticides or natural repellents that can provide an additional layer of defense against fleas and ticks.

Avoiding High-Risk Areas

To minimize the risk of flea and tick exposure, it’s advisable to steer clear of high-risk environments such as tall grassy areas and wooded areas where these parasites thrive. Opt for walking paths or open fields instead, particularly during peak tick season, to reduce the likelihood of your dog picking up these pests.

FAQs 

Do I need to use flea and tick prevention in the winter?

Yes, flea and tick prevention is necessary year-round as they can still be present indoors and on other animals during winter.

Can my dog swim or bathe with flea and tick prevention?

Most flea and tick preventives are water-resistant, allowing your dog to swim or bathe without compromising their effectiveness, but always follow product instructions.

Are flea and tick preventives safe?

Flea and tick preventives approved by reputable organizations and used correctly are generally safe for dogs, but consult your vet for personalized advice.

What naturally kills fleas and ticks on dogs?

Natural remedies like essential oils or herbal shampoos can help repel and kill fleas and ticks on dogs, but effectiveness varies; consult a vet before use.

Conclusion

Flea and tick preventive measures are essential for your dog’s health and comfort. It’s best to stay informed, consult your vet, and take proactive measures to protect your furry friends from these pesky parasites.

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Lily Watson is an author specializing in veterinary care in Australia. With a profound passion for animal welfare and a solid foundation in veterinary science, Lily has dedicated herself to disseminating valuable knowledge and information for both pet owners and professionals in this field.