On orders over $49!
Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs and Cats: Making Sense of All Your Options
When it comes to fleas and ticks, it’s easy to see why prevention is key. It’s far easier to treat your pet preventatively than to manage a full-blown infestation once it takes over your pet, your home, and your yard.
However, the amount of flea and tick prevention products on the market can be overwhelming and confusing. Which types of products are best? Which are most convenient? Which can I use for dogs versus cats?
We are here to help break down the available flea and tick prevention options out there, so you can decide which would be the best fit for your furry friend.
Why Use Flea and Tick Prevention Products?
Fleas and ticks are not just an inconvenience. They can make your pet highly uncomfortable, carry diseases, and cause other health problems for your pet and family.
Fleas can cause itching as they crawl around your pet’s body and can also cause flea allergies like dermatitis. Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when your pet is allergic to a protein in flea saliva. This can lead to constant scratching, resulting in various skin problems and even permanent hair loss.
These tiny pests can also carry and transmit diseases and parasites to both pets and humans, including the plague, flea-borne typhus, cat scratch disease, and tape worms.
If a flea infestation is bad enough, your pet may become anemic as the fleas feast on their blood. In severe cases this can even lead to death.
Ticks can carry several diseases that can infect your pet, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Bartonellosis.
Many of these and more can also affect humans, putting your family at risk for tick-borne illnesses.
For these reasons, it is extremely important to ensure that your pet is shielded from flea and tick infestations to protect the health of furry and human family members alike.
Types of Flea and Tick Prevention Products
There are a huge amount of flea and tick prevention products available to pet parents. This includes topical treatments, pills, chews, shampoos, collars, and more.
Different products have different uses, have a range of pros and cons, protect against different types of parasites, and may be available over the counter or by prescription only.
It is important to note that there are other flea-killing products available that do not prevent infestations, but we will be focusing on the most popular types of flea and tick prevention below.
Topical Flea & Tick Prevention
Topical fleas and tick prevention typically comes as a small tube of liquid that is applied to the pet’s skin, usually at the back of the neck or between the shoulder blades.
These products come in various formulations that correspond to your pet’s weight and age. Some are available over-the-counter, while others require a veterinary prescription.
Over-the-counter topical treatments include products such as:
- Frontline Gold for Dogs or Frontline Gold for Cats: Monthly treatment that kills fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, and ticks. Begins working within 30 minutes and will continue to protect your pet from new infections when used regularly. For dogs/cats 8 weeks and older.
- Provecta Advanced for Dogs: Monthly treatment that kills and repels ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, biting flies and lice. Works within 12 hours. For dogs 7 weeks and older.
- Provecta for Cats: Monthly treatment that kills fleas and flea eggs within 12 hours and prevents reinfestation. For cats 7 weeks and older.
- Advantage II for Dogs, Advantage II for Cats, or Advantage II for Kittens: Monthly treatment that kills fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae. Protects your pet from new infestations for 4 weeks following application. For dogs over 7 weeks old or cats over 8 weeks old.
- Advantage Multi for Dogs: Monthly topical solution that provides broad spectrum parasite protection. Prevents heartworm disease, treats circulating heartworm microfilaria, kills adult fleas, treats flea infestations, and treats and controls sarcoptic mange and common intestinal parasites including roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. For dogs over 7 weeks old.
- Advantage Multi for Cats: Monthly treatment that prevents heartworm disease, kills adult fleas, treats flea infestations, and treats and controls ear mite infestations, hookworms, and roundworms. For cats 9 weeks and older.
- K9 Advantix for Dogs: Monthly treatment that kills and repels fleas, ticks, mosquitos, lice, biting fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae. For dogs over 7 weeks old. Note: This product contains ingredients that are highly toxic to cats.
Prescription-only topical treatments include products such as:
- Bravecto Topical Solution for Dogs or Bravecto Topical Solution for Cats: This fast-acting topical treatment is the longest lasting topical on the market - it needs to be applied just once every 3 months! It is effective for both fleas and ticks and can be used on dogs/cats 6 months and older.
- Bravecto Plus Topical Solution for Cats: This formulation of Bravecto not only protects against fleas and ticks but also treats intestinal parasites (roundworm and hookworm) and prevents heartworm disease. It is also longer lasting than most topicals and needs to be applied just once every 2 months. It is for use on cats 6 months and older.
- Revolution Topical Solution for Dogs: Monthly treatment to prevent heartworm disease and flea infestations. For dogs 6 weeks and older.
- Revolution Topical Solution for Cats: Monthly treatment that prevents heartworm disease and fleas. Also treats and controls hookworms, roundworms, and ear mites. If you’re looking for tick protection as well, try Revolution Plus Topical Solution for Cats. Both formulations are for cats 8 weeks and older.
- Revolution Topical Solution for Cats and Puppies Under 5lbs: Monthly treatment to prevent fleas and heartworm disease in our littlest friends - puppies 6 weeks and older weighing less than 5lbs, and cats/kittens 8 weeks and older weighing less than 5 lbs.
The benefits of topical parasite prevention products are that they are generally easy to purchase, need to be applied just once monthly, many target all stages of the flea life-cycle, and they are good for pets with sensitive stomachs since they’re not ingested.
Some potential cons of topical treatments are that the application can be messy if done improperly or if your pet is wiggly, there is a risk of cross-contamination, and you may need to keep your pet dry while the medication sets in.
Remember to always consult with your vet for the best treatment recommendations. Follow the directions on the box or given by your vet, and make sure you choose the appropriate formulation for your pet’s weight.
Oral Flea & Tick Prevention
Oral flea and tick protection is generally in the form chewable tablets or soft chews, making them very easy to administer. These options are available by prescription only.
- NexGard Soft Chews for Dogs: This beef-flavored tablet is given once a month to kill fleas and prevent new infestations. For dogs 8 weeks and older.
- Bravecto Soft Chews for Dogs: This soft chew is exceptionally long-lasting; it only needs to be given once every 3 months and protects against both fleas and ticks! For dogs aged 6 months and older.
- Sentinel Flavor Tabs for Dogs: These chewable tablets are given once a month to prevent heartworm disease and to control flea, hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm infections. For dogs aged 4 weeks and older.
- Sentinel Spectrum Chews for Dogs: These chews are given once a month to prevent heartworm disease and to control flea, hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections. For dogs aged 6 weeks and older.
- Trifexis Chewable Tablets for Dogs: These chewable tablets are given once a month to prevent heartworm disease, kill and prevent fleas, and to treat and control intestinal worms (hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms). For dogs 8 weeks and older.
- Simparica Chewable Tablets for Dogs: These chewable tablets are given monthly to kill fleas and ticks and prevent new infestations. For dogs 6 months and older.
- Simparica Trio Chewable Tablets for Dogs: These chewables are not only for killing and preventing fleas and ticks, but also for the prevention of heartworm disease and treatment of roundworms and hookworms. For dogs ages 8 weeks and older.
- Credelio Chewable Tablets for Dogs or Credelio Chewable Tablets for Cats: Monthly treatment that kills both fleas and ticks. These chewable tablets are 100% effective against fleas and 97% effective against ticks in dogs all month long. For dogs and cats 8 weeks and older (effective against ticks in cats 6 months and older)
- Comfortis Chewable Tablets for Dogs and Cats: These fast-acting beef-flavored chewables are given monthly to kill fleas and prevent new infestations in both cats and dogs aged 14 weeks and older.
There are many benefits to using oral parasite protection products. They’re mess-free, require no dry time, can’t be washed off, and there’s no risk of cross-contamination to other pets or family members.
The drawbacks of oral treatments are that they have potential to cause GI upset in some dogs.
Talk to your veterinarian about the best oral flea and tick treatments for your pet.
Other Options for Flea & Tick Prevention
While topical and oral flea and tick prevention treatments are generally going to offer the best protection, there are other products that can help keep your pet, home, and yard flea-free as well.
- Seresto Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs: These collars for dogs over 7 weeks old kill and repel fleas, ticks, flea larvae, and lice, providing 8 months of protection.
- Seresto Flea & Tick Collar for Cats: These collars for cats 10 weeks and older kill and repel fleas, ticks, and flea larvae, providing 8 months of protection.
- Frontline Spray for Dogs & Cats: This spray is applied to the back, sides, abdomen, legs, shoulders, and neck of your pet to kills fleas, ticks, and chewing lice. It lasts at least 30 days and can be used on dogs and cats aged 8 weeks and older.
- Vet-Kem Yard Pest Control Spray: This pest control spray kills and repels dozens of pests, including the fleas and ticks that are waiting to infest your pets. Can be applied to your lawn, shrubs, trees, and flowers and lasts 4 weeks.
- Vet-Kem Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats: This shampoo will kill fleas, tick, and lice on contact and prevent new eggs from hatching for 28 days. It can be used on dogs and cats aged 12 weeks and up.
- Knockout Extra Strength Area Treatment: This spray kills both fleas and ticks and prevents reinfestation for 7 months. It can be used in your home on surfaces such as carpet, upholstered furniture, pet beds, and more.
The benefits of these products are that they can be easy to obtain and are often available at a lower price point. The downsides, of the sprays in particular, include: messier application, more exposure for your family members, and a requirement for more work on your part.
Which Products Are Best?
While there isn’t one product that is a one-size-fits-all winner for every pet or set of circumstances, we can highlight some “bests” below for certain needs:
- Long Lasting Protection: Bravecto topicals and oral treatments are a great choice for longevity. You only need to administer treatment every 3 months (or every 2 months for Bravecto Plus). The Seresto Flea & Tick Collars are also very long lasting, needing replacement just every 8 months.
- Wide Spectrum Protection: Simparica Trio is a good option for broad spectrum protection. It protects against fleas, ticks, heartworm disease, roundworm, and hookworm. There are several products that protect against multiple parasites, but many lack tick prevention.
- For Young Puppies: Sentinel Flavor Tabs for Dogs are able to be used for puppies as young as 4 weeks old. Revolution topicals are also a good choice for young puppies; they can be used on puppies as young as 6 weeks old. Most other treatments are for dogs and puppies over 7-8 week, with some even requiring the pup to be at least 6 months old.
- Ease of Use: Any of the oral treatments are a great choice if you’re looking to protect your pet with minimal effort. Most are flavored and therefore enjoyed by your dog, such as NexGard Soft Chews which are like a delicious beefy treat!
- Easy to Buy: While any of the products mentioned can be quickly and conveniently delivered to your door from PetRx.com, our over-the-counter products do not need a prescription from your vet and can be easier for some people to obtain. Some good examples include Frontline Gold or Advantage products.
Choosing the Right Products for Your Pet
Now that we have summarized the most common flea and tick preventatives available, you can ask yourself which is most suitable for your pets. Common things to consider may be:
- Whether treatment is needed for cats or dogs
- The age of the pet
- The weight of the pet
- Which pests you want to protect against
- Whether cross-contamination is a concern
- How often you’re able to administer treatment
- Whether a veterinary prescription is needed
- The cost of the product
As always, it is best to consult your veterinarian to have them recommend the best flea and tick prevention options for your pets and their specific circumstances.