A Guide to the Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Dog
Fleas and ticks on your dog can be far more than just a source of discomfort. Even if you manage to have eradicated them once, your dog can inadvertently bring home another batch of these pests (well, it’s safe to assume that your dog didn’t pick up fleas on purpose!). And there are a number of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and more. These can affect humans as well as dogs. Fortunately, there are also treatments to kill off any fleas and ticks on your dog, as well as flea and tick preventatives for dogs.
There are topical solutions that you apply directly to the dog's skin, usually on their back between their shoulder blades. They kill on contact, without even requiring a flea or tick to bite. They can also help prevent eggs from hatching and larvae from maturing into adult parasites. That’s useful in avoiding re-infestations.
There are also oral treatments that you can feed your dog. The active ingredient in these treatments then enters your dog’s bloodstream and kills fleas and ticks when they try to feed on your dog.
And finally, there are the familiar dog collars, which can offer months of protection, and spray repellants which you can apply to large areas in your home, to kill off any flea eggs or larvae that hide in your carpet.
We’ll go through some of the interesting and effective treatments to rid your dog of ticks, chewing lice, and fleas. There’s no reason for you or your pet to suffer!
What are the symptoms of flea and tick infestations?
Fleas jump from one host to another, so your dog can pick up fleas from another dog. If you see your dog scratching himself frequently, it’s a clear indication that he has some sort of flea infestation. You may find flea bites on his skin, but fleas can also cause allergic reactions and infections as well. Ticks, on the other hand, will attach themselves to your dog’s skin by burrowing inside. They then gorge themselves on your dog’s blood, growing to around 1 cm in size. You can find the ticks still attached to your dog’s skin.
What are chewing lice?
Chewing lice don’t bite, but rather feed on dead skin and hair follicles. Even though they don’t actually feed on blood, and don’t affect humans, they can still cause skin irritation on your dog. Many of the flea and tick treatments that we’ll discuss are also effective against chewing lice.
Types of Flea And Tick Prevention For Dogs
There are several types of treatments to both 1) kill off any tick and flea infestation on your dog, as well as 2) prevent your dog from getting infested with ticks and fleas in the future.
Dog collars: There are dog collars that contain ingredients such as flumethrin and imidacloprid as in the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar. It can provide treatment and prevention for as many as 8 months.
Seresto Flea and Tick Collar
Topical treatments: These are solutions that you apply directly to your dog’s skin. An example is Frontline Plus for Dogs. It has two active ingredients: fipronil, which kills adult fleas and ticks, and methoprene, which interrupts the growth cycle of flea eggs and flea larvae, so that they don’t reach adulthood. You apply it by rubbing your dog’s hair in the opposite direction, spray in the Frontline, and rub it into the skin. You should spray it every 2-3 days at first to eradicate fleas and ticks, and then when you see your dog suffering from another infestation. The Frontline formula is stored in the oil glands in the dog’s skin for up to 30 days, after which you have to perform another application. The advantage of these topical treatments is that they start to kill fleas on contact. You don’t have to wait for the fleas to bite before the treatment starts to work.
Frontline Plus for Dogs
Spray treatments: You can find flea and tick repellent in spray forms, such as the Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray. It is a plant-based product, containing peppermint and clove oil.
Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray
Oral treatments: There are also tablets that you can feed your dog. It enters your dog’s bloodstream or your dog’s skin. The active insecticide is then ingested by fleas or ticks after they bite your dog. One such product is Capstar Oral Flea Treatment. Its active ingredient is nitenpyram, which is harmless to mammals but toxic to insects, affecting their nervous system. It starts to work in as little as 30 minutes after your dog eats one of the tablets. It kills adult fleas almost immediately, but will not work against flea eggs. You will have to give your dog another tablet if he gets fleas again.
Capstar Oral Flea Treatment
What reviewers say
Based on all the consumer reviews we've scanned, these are the top things they mentioned about their new stuff:
Confident that their dog won’t catch fleas or ticks: One customer who bought Frontline Plus said that they take their dog for walks, where he encounters other dogs that most likely have fleas. Nonetheless, Frontline is effective in protecting their dog, as well as ensuring that any flea eggs or larvae in the carpet will not reach maturity. And when one customer found his dog after a long walk, they noticed around a dozen ticks on their dog, but they were all dead.
Spray large areas: Customers who use the Wondercide Flea, Tick and Mosquito Spray say that they spray it onto their tent and backpack when camping and hiking, as a preventative measure, along with the topical products that they apply onto their dog’s skin.
Here are some tips from the manufacturers and users, regarding certain flea and tick treatments:
Weight requirements: You’ll notice that the same product appears in dosages for small, medium, large, and extra-large dogs. You should follow these instructions scrupulously, especially when giving them chewable tablets against ticks and fleas. It’s best not to give chewable tablets to a dog under 8 weeks of age, and under 4.4 lbs in weight.
Care around cats: Many of these treatments are intended for both dogs and cats. However, be aware that some are actually dangerous around cats. The PetArmor Plus Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs is explicitly not to be used around cats! The active ingredients (fipronil and methoprene) are the same in their product for cats, but in different concentrations than in the formula for dogs. Don’t try to use a product intended for dogs, by using the formula for dogs that matches your cat’s weight.
Also, there are other flea and tick treatments for dogs that can cause liver damage in cats, such as compounds containing pyrethroids, such as the K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Prevention. This can be dangerous for your cat if it licks your dog, or gets some of the treatment on its fur and licks it!
Care around other pets and children: If you have tropical fish or other pets in the house, you should exercise caution with your choice of flea and tick prevention. Some of them, such as Nitenpyram, the active ingredient in the Capstar Oral Flea Treatment, are dangerous for marine animals as well as for children. For this reason, some prefer natural compounds that use essential oils, such as peppermint and clove, as in the Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray, or cedar wood and lemongrass oils as in the Wodercide Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Spray. You can spray these compounds on bedding and furniture, without any concern for harming your children or other pets.
We went through the best flea and tick prevention solutions for dogs. It’s important to match the product to your dog’s age and size, and use it for cats only if it says so explicitly on the product. If you apply these treatments at the prescribed intervals, you should be able to ensure that your dog will be safe from fleas, ticks, chewing lice, and biting mites!