Preventing fleas and ticks is crucial for your dog’s health and comfort, as well as for preventing the spread of illnesses caused by these pests. According to Dr. Gail Sommers Wolfe, D.V.M., untreated flea infestations can lead to severe health issues such as anemia and even death, while ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis to humans. There are various preventative treatments available in the form of pills, chews, ointments, and shampoos. Among our favorites is Simparica Chewables for Dogs, which is a liver-flavored chewable containing sarolaner, a newly developed anti-parasitic approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016. Research has shown it to be both safe and more effective than similar ingredients.
Bravecto Chews for Dogs
All the veterinarians we spoke to recommended Bravecto, including Waxman who gives the chewable oral treatment to her own dog. I also give it to my dog, Uli, whose gray fur makes it difficult to spot ticks. The vets agree that Bravecto’s main advantage over other oral treatments is its ability to protect dogs from ticks and fleas for three months, rather than just one month. Bravecto starts killing ticks in just 12 hours and fleas in two hours, and the chewable tablets are meat-flavored, making them easy to administer. They come in different sizes for dogs of varying weights. While Uli may not be a vocal fan, she happily eats the chews and has remained tick and flea-free for years. Fable Pets co-founder Jeremy Canade also gives Bravecto to his border collie Ranger, who loves them so much he sometimes saves them as a special treat. Bravecto is readily available at most clinics, or can be ordered online with a prescription from a veterinarian. Sakura Davis, a veterinary technician and consultant, also recommends Bravecto’s topical solution, which uses the same active ingredient as the chewables and offers three months of protection.
Advantage Multi for Dogs is a highly effective preventive treatment for six types of parasites. It is simple to administer, with a once-monthly topical application that is absorbed quickly into the dog’s skin. This product is safe for use in dogs over 7 weeks old and weighing over 3 lbs. However, it is not suitable for puppies younger than 7 weeks or for breeding, pregnant, or nursing dogs. Advantage Multi kills adult fleas, heartworms, mange mites, and three intestinal parasites: roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. It is important to note that Advantage Multi does not prevent ticks, so if tick prevention is a concern, other products such as Frontline Plus for Dogs or Bravecto Topical for Dogs should be considered. A heartworm test is required before starting Advantage Multi and annually after that.
- Pet owners favor this shampoo for its ability to eliminate fleas, ticks, flea eggs, larvae, and lice, while also offering 28 days of protection against pre-adult fleas. Formulated with a blend of soothing aloe, lanolin, coconut extract, and oatmeal, it is suitable for dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens. The cost for a 12 oz bottle is $14.97.
A non-prescription topical treatment with similar protection for cats and dogs
Who can use it: Frontline Plus for Dogs and Frontline Plus for Cats are non-prescription treatments that can be easily purchased without a vet’s prescription. If you have both cats and dogs and want to protect them from the same pests on the same schedule, consider using this treatment.
What it treats: Frontline Plus is the only flea and tick treatment we suggest that treats the same pests for both cats and dogs without a prescription. Although the two versions have slightly different active ingredient amounts based on species, you can keep your pets on the same application schedule and combat the same pests. Both treatments are effective against fleas, lice, lone star ticks, American dog ticks, deer ticks, and brown dog ticks. With Frontline Plus, there is no need to mix and match different brands of medication to ensure that each pet has the same level of protection. In comparison, Bravecto offers four formulas that protect against different combinations of pests, with less coverage in its cat products, which can be confusing for pet owners of both cats and dogs who want to protect their pets from multiple parasites with a single dose. Frontline Plus eliminates the guesswork, allowing pet owners to focus on playtime instead of flea-bath time.
Frontline Plus is also the only topical product we recommend that does not require a prescription. You can quickly purchase a new box while running errands without worrying about whether your vet has filled the prescription. Additionally, it is less expensive than our prescription picks from Bravecto and Revolution.
Active ingredients: fipronil and S-methoprene
Applications/frequency: 30-day topical solution
Known side effects: irritation
Prescription needed: no
Variants: Frontline Plus for Dogs 5 to 22 pounds, 23 to 44 pounds, 45 to 88 pounds, 89 to 132 pounds; Frontline Plus for Cats over 1.5 pounds
Bravecto Medium Dog Chew Tablets
If your furry friend devours every bit of food given to them, the Bravecto dog chew tablet may be a perfect solution. This tablet provides protection against fleas and ticks for 12 weeks, with the active ingredient fluralaner being absorbed into the bloodstream to eliminate any pesky fleas or ticks that may latch on. Bravecto is highly effective, killing existing fleas within hours and all fleas and ticks within the three-month period. The strength of the chew depends on the size and weight of your dog, with a 250mg chew for small dogs, 500mg for medium dogs, and 1,000mg for large dogs. The chew has a pork flavor and can be crumbled into your dog’s food. A prescription is required to purchase Bravecto, which can be obtained through a vet or specialty retailer. Although the initial cost of £18 per dose may seem steep, this one-time treatment that lasts three months actually comes out to just £6 per month. Bravecto is suitable for puppies over six months old and dogs weighing over 4.5kg.
Dog Flea Medicine Buying Guide
When selecting a flea medicine, cost and convenience are important factors to consider. However, it’s also critical to take into account your dog’s medical history, size, and the reliability of the product. To ensure you make the right choice, follow these steps:
First, consider your dog’s medical history. If your dog has epilepsy, it’s advisable to exercise caution when considering chewable tablets. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, a collar or topical medication may be a better option.
Secondly, be mindful of cats in the home. Avoid flea and tick medicine for dogs that contains permethrin, as it is toxic to cats.
Lastly, when purchasing flea medicine without a prescription, read the label carefully. Ensure that the product is appropriate for your dog’s weight and age, and that it is safe for breeding, pregnant or nursing dogs. Many medications are not approved for puppies less than seven weeks of age.
Do dogs really need flea and tick medicine?
Yes. Not only are fleas and ticks a big nuisance, they also carry diseases that can make dogs extremely ill. Although you may be tempted to use parasite preventives only in spring and summer, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and intestinal parasites are resilient. Veterinarians recommend that dogs stay on broad-spectrum parasite preventives all year.
What are the types of flea and tick medicine for dogs?
Flea and tick medicines are available as oral and topical products, collars, and shampoos. Oral products are chewable tablets, while topical products are ointments that go directly on the skin. Flea collars have fallen out of favor because they are less effective than oral and topical treatments. Shampoos are also less effective and do not provide long-lasting flea protection. These medicines are available over the counter or by prescription and contain different active ingredients to kill and repel fleas and ticks.
What do vets recommend to get rid of fleas?
Getting rid of fleas can take several days to weeks. Veterinarians recommend a multipronged approach: Kill the existing fleas, prevent new infestations, and treat the environment, both indoors and outside. If you have multiple pets, treat them at the same time. Treating inside your home involves vacuuming where flea eggs and larvae like to hide, such as cracks and crevices, and washing bedding in hot water. Treating outdoors involves eliminating any areas where fleas could hide, such as piles of leaves and tall grass. If this process seems daunting, you can hire a pest control service.
What is the most effective flea and tick treatment for dogs?
There is no single treatment that works best for all dogs. Treatments vary in many ways, including how many parasites they target, active ingredients, safety restrictions, and how long they’re effective. The most desirable treatments provide long-lasting protection, target adult fleas as well as eggs and larvae, and are effective against other parasites, such as heartworm and intestinal worms. Your veterinarian can help you select the most appropriate product for your dog.
What kills fleas permanently?
To eliminate fleas permanently, you’ll need to do more than kill adult fleas. The other developmental stages, egg and larvae, must also be eliminated. Products that kill the early stages of fleas are the most effective. Year-round flea and tick treatment is also crucial to preventing future infestations. It may take several weeks before all the fleas are gone.
Which is better, NexGard or Frontline?
Both NexGard and Frontline kill fleas at all life stages, plus ticks. Both treatments have their advantages. There are several Frontline products: Shield, Plus, and Gold. Our top choice for an OTC flea preventive is Frontline Plus, which also protects against chewing lice and helps control sarcoptic mange infestations. Compared to Frontline Plus, NexGard kills fleas more quickly (4 hours versus 12 hours) and ticks (24 hours versus 48 hours). For this reason, NexGard is a better choice for preventing the transmission of Lyme disease from ticks. Some veterinarians also use NexGard to treat mange.
What is the safest flea and tick medicine for dogs?
Flea and tick medicines are FDA-approved to be safe and effective. However, these medicines also have safety restrictions depending on age, weight, and whether a dog is pregnant or nursing. Some treatments also have safety warnings for dogs with a history of seizures or other neurologic disorders. As you evaluate flea and tick medicines, check the label to ensure it’s safe for your dog.
What is the difference between prescription and OTC flea medicine?
Some flea control products are sold over the counter, while others require a prescription. Prescription products typically cost more than OTC treatments because they protect against more parasites, including heartworms. However, OTC options can still provide effective, long-lasting treatment against fleas and other parasites.
Can I get flea and tick medicine without a vet prescription?
Yes, OTC treatments are available without a prescription. These medicines usually do not protect against as many parasites as prescription flea and tick products.
Do flea collars work?
Yes. Flea collars work but are generally less effective than topical or oral treatments. Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs provides eight months of protection against adult fleas, flea larvae, ticks, and mange mites. Lay recommends flea collars for dogs that cannot tolerate topical or oral flea products.
Is Seresto harmful to dogs?
In March 2021, USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a report alleging that the Seresto flea collar is linked to thousands of adverse incidents in pets and humans. To date, 2,500 pet deaths have been allegedly linked to the collar.
Elanco published a statement defending the collar’s safety and efficacy. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Pet Poison Hotline followed suit. The EPA recommends pet owners read the entire label before using any flea collar and follow all directions carefully. Your veterinarian can provide additional safety guidance. Purchase a Seresto collar only from a reputable online retailer, brick-and-mortar store with a guarantee program, or your veterinarian. To verify product authenticity, call Elanco product support at 800-422-9874. If your pet has an adverse reaction, immediately remove the collar and call your veterinarian. Tim Carroll, EPA’s press secretary, advises pet owners to contact the National Pesticide Information Center and report adverse reactions to the EPA.
How can I tell if my dog has fleas?
Fleas are hard to see with the naked eye. Look for signs of a flea infestation on your dog, including nonstop biting, scratching, or licking and red, irritated skin. Flea dirt, a rust-colored mixture of blood meal and dried feces, is a telltale sign of fleas and can be found in places your dog spends time, such as their bed. Running a flea comb against the direction of your dog’s fur can pick up the dirt. You can often see it on your dog in hard-to-reach places like the base of the tail, middle of the back, and groin. Other signs include pale gums, which are a sign of anemia, and patches of hair loss.