We know that keeping fleas and ticks away from your pets and out of your home is your priority. There are many different options available to help keep these pests away, and it may be tricky to determine which product does what. Your veterinarian can also help you determine exactly which product will best suit your dog or cat. We’ve put together a list of the different types of flea and tick preventatives and how they work.
These liquid medications come in a tube applicator and are applied to your dog or cat’s skin. Topicals or “Spot Ons” are usually placed by parting the hair at the base of the neck or between the shoulder blades. Depending on the product, the topical medications work 2 ways. Some absorb through the skin into the bloodstream and kill the pest once they bite. Others spread across the body with the natural skin oils and kill or repel the pest on contact. For dogs or cats that are difficult to give oral medications, topical pest treatments are preferred by owners.
These medications come in a soft chew or chewable tablet that your dog or cat can eat like a treat. Once given, the medication circulates in the bloodstream, and when a flea or tick bites your dog, it’s exposed to the pesticide and dies. Oral medications may be preferred over topicals for animals who easily take pills. Owners may come in contact with the liquid while applying it or touching their animal.
Shampoos and Dips
Flea and tick shampoos obviously help clean your dog and cat but more importantly help wash away and kill the nasty pests quickly on contact. Shampoos need to sit for a short period of time before rinsing to allow them to work. Some shampoos stay effective for days after a bath but are ideal for short-term treatment only. Dips are used similarly but are left to dry without rinsing, and are very concentrated.
Flea and tick collars are worn around your dog or cat’s neck and come in adjustable sizes. The collars work against pests by releasing their ingredients over the animal’s skin. Depending on the brand, collars can provide 5-12 months of protection before needing to be replaced. Owners may prefer collars as a “hands-off” approach over administering topical or oral medications.
External parasites like fleas and ticks do not need to feed on a daily basis. Ticks, for example, can survive for well over one year without blood. Because they live outdoors, wild animals such as raccoons and opossums are the most common hosts. And when they walk through your yard in search of food or a safe route, some of the parasites they’re carrying jump ship and establish communities on your property. This is how most dogs become infested with fleas or ticks.
These pesky parasites are always in search of a new host and they breed very quickly. Fleas can lay eggs every twelve days and these eggs reach adulthood in a matter of weeks. Both species can jump several hundreds of times the lengths of their own bodies, which lets them easily ambush our canine friends in the backyard or at the park. Soon after, the females will begin to lay eggs and in a couple of weeks your pouch will be suffering from a full-fledged infestation.
Can fleas make my dog sick?
Yes, they can. When fleas feed on your pet, they inject saliva into his skin. A large number of dogs are actually allergic to flea’s salivary proteins, which results in a common skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis. Animals infested with fleas or ticks will bite and scratch at their skin in a vain attempt to relieve the itching or pruritus. After extended scratching sessions, the affected skin may become red and irritated. In extreme cases, inflammation, infections and other complications may occur.
Your dog can also get tapeworms from fleas.
Can ticks make my dog sick?
There are at least a dozen tick-transmitted diseases your canine friend can get from these parasites, including a few fatal ones like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and more. While it is true that most of these diseases are quite rare, it really does depend on where you live. It is a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about the local diseases that may affect your pet.
What are the best ways to prevent flea and tick infestations?
Fleas and ticks flourish in warm, humid environments. If possible, keep your home as dry as you can, and try not to give them a lot of places to hide. As we mentioned, fleas and ticks spend a lot of time away from their hosts. Most of that time is spent laying eggs and looking for other hosts. To do so, they have to have a place to hide and to build a nest. Carpets and rugs are a flea’s best friends, since they give them a place to reproduce and hunt for a host without anyone bothering them. We’re not saying you should throw out all your rugs and carpets, but it might be a good idea to remove them from common areas where your dog spends most of his time.
What are the treatment and prevention options for flea and tick infestations on dogs?
There are dozens of different products, from collars to spray, topical solutions and shampoos that provide flea and tick control for dogs. Most are inexpensive and can be purchased at nearly any pet shop or veterinary office. What are they?
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor – The easiest and most effective way to kill a slew of pesky parasites in one shot is to give your dog a bath. Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor not only kills fleas, ticks, and lice, it also wipes out flea eggs, thereby eradicating the next generation of bloodsuckers. Safe for dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens, it is one of the most popular medicinal shampoos on the market today. Adams shampoos also contain soothing aloe, oatmeal, and lanolin, which mean they are safe for regular bathing. However, your canine friend should not require more than one flea and tick bath every few weeks, otherwise the infestation may require additional medications.
Frontline Plus for Dogs – One of the most trusted names in flea and tick prevention, Frontline Plus kills parasites at all stages and even puts an end to lice infestations. This topical monthly solution is easy to apply and is safe for dogs 8 weeks and older, including pregnant and nursing females. It is waterproof, so your canine friend will be protected even if he gets wet. Always consult your veterinarians before administering any new medication and follow the dosing directions on the product’s label.
K9 Advantix II for Dogs – Give your dog powerful five-way protection from dangerous and annoying pests including ticks, fleas, biting flies, mosquitoes, and lice with K9 Advantix II for dogs. Veterinarians recommend this broad-spectrum treatment because it’s effective, easy to use, and only requires monthly application. K9 Advantix II must NOT be used on cats.
Preventic Tick Collar –Preventic kills and detaches ticks for up to 3 months. This collar protects dogs over 12 weeks of age from Lyme disease and many other tick-borne diseases. Amitraz (the active ingredient) activity starts within 24 hours and continues for 90 days and is not affected by rainfall. Preventic is available in 2 sizes to fit most dogs.