The best dog flea and tick prevention
When Fido and Fifi are comfortably sleeping the day away, they appear to have no cares in the world. But add fleas or ticks to that idyllic scene, and it's a whole different picture: Nap time becomes endless hours of scratching and whining.
For good health, dogs need flea and tick prevention medications, but finding the right one for your pooch can be difficult. This guide can help you sort through the variations and options. Our favorite is the K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Control Treatment, which seems to last longer than other products.
Considerations when choosing dog flea and tick prevention
Flea and tick prevention medications are available in a few different formats, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each. You may find that one format is not effective or causes negative reactions for your dog, while another format works perfectly.
With topical tick and flea prevention, you'll apply a liquid medication directly to the dog's skin, usually along the spine. Frequency for topical medications is once a month in most cases. If you like to take your dog to the beach, river, or lake, be sure to look for a formula that's labeled "waterproof."
Though this is an effective option, some dogs will have sensitivities. If you don't apply it properly and the dog is able to lick it, it could cause a significant illness.
Flea and tick collars have been around for a few decades, and they are effective even if they're not very stylish. However, they don't tend to be as strong or last as long as topical or oral medications. Many manufacturers claim collars will remain effective for eight months (some even claim to be water-resistant), but most don't reach that level, coming up a couple of months short. Still, for a dog that is rarely outside or that doesn't play off-leash, a flea and tick collar should yield adequate protection.
Some flea and tick medications are available in pill or tablet form. An oral medication is extremely effective. You must give an oral medication each month. The primary downside is some dogs have stomach sensitivity to the medication. It's best to check with your veterinarian first before beginning any oral medication, as they can help you determine the safest and most effective treatment (some are by prescription only) for your breed of dog.
Should the dog still have ticks and fleas after using one of the medications listed above, you'll want to use a special shampoo to prevent an infestation. You may have to shampoo the dog daily for several days to receive the full benefit.
Your flea and tick prevention options for dogs will provide protection in a few different ways. Most preventative medications, including collars, oral medications, and topical treatments, give you protection in all three ways, which is desirable.
Repel: Repelling fleas and ticks from the dog's fur is the primary benefit of these medications. If the pests never land on the dog's fur, they won't enter your house or bite the dog.
Kill adults: Should a few fleas or ticks make it through the repel defense, once they bite the dog to feed, the medication will kill pests. Some prevention formats, such as shampoo, are only designed to kill the pests, rather than repel them.
Kill immature pests: If you have eggs on the dog that hatch into immature fleas and ticks, you will want to kill these pests before they can reach adulthood. Again, most preventative medicines, including shampoo, work on these immature pests.
The cost of dog flea and tick prevention products can run anywhere between $6 and $70 depending on the type you choose and the number of applications included.
Q. Can I use flea and tick prevention on an older dog?
A. Yes. In fact, senior dogs are especially sensitive to flea and tick bites, so they need the protection. If you're concerned about a bad reaction, though, check with your vet.
Q. Can my dog and cat use the same type of preventative medicine?
A. Not typically. If the formula within the medication is to be used on a dog only, then it's not safe to share the medication across species. However, there are some products that work for both. Be sure to read all labels carefully before administering.
Dog flea and tick prevention we recommend
Best of the best: K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Control Treatment
Our take: Product claims one month of protection per application, and unlike some topical treatments, it actually lasts for almost the entire month.
What we like: Successful for repelling both fleas and ticks. Easy to apply properly. Waterproof formula is great for dogs who like to get wet.
What we dislike: Some dogs will have a bad reaction. Won't work on every breed of dog.
Best bang for your buck: Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control
Our take: Works effectively, even though it's slightly cheaper than some other options.
What we like: Doesn't seem to cause bad reactions for dogs as frequently as some others. Waterproof formula.
What we dislike: May not last for the full month.
Choice 3: Seresto Flea and Tick Collar
Our take: For those dogs with sensitivities to topical treatments, this collar may serve them better.
What we like: Effective for repelling ticks and fleas. Odorless. Keeps working even if the collar gets wet.
What we dislike: Claims eight months of protection, but rarely lasts that long. Some bad reactions for some dogs.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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