How to Choose the Best Flea and Tick Control for Your Pet

I’ve been itching to write about this…

dog scratching ear
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With all of the different flea and tick medications out there, liquids, pills, collars, and even all-in-one combo products, all claiming to be “the best” for your pet… choosing one can be a bit overwhelming!

Which one is actually “the best”?

“There really is no straightforward answer to that question,” explains Activ4Pets’ Chief Veterinary expert Dr. Clayton Jones. “Like most things, ‘the best’ product is going to vary depending on several factors, like where you live and your pet’s lifestyle.”

Let’s compare the 4 types of flea and tick medications.

Collars

Flea and tick collars win for convenience – your pet does not have to swallow medicine or sit still while you carefully draw a line of liquid medicine on their skin, plus some collars can last up to 8 months!

They are especially effective for tick control since they protect the tick-prone areas around your dog’s head (and, you know, dogs are always sticking their noses in everything! 😉). If you live in an area where ticks are common – moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas – a snuggly fitted collar is a good addition to your flea and tick regimen. Most of them can be combined with other treatment options, too.

Check out:

  • Seresto
    • effectively kills fleas and repels and kills ticks
    • 8 months of continuous protection
    • available for dogs and cats
  • Preventic
    • provides full protection against ticks within 48 hours
    • protection lasts for up to 90 days
    • only for use on dogs

Fit is very important when you’re talking about flea and tick collars. “The collar needs be tight enough to make contact with your dog’s skin in order to transfer the chemicals, but loose enough that it’s not uncomfortable,” explains Dr. Jones. “As a rule of thumb, leave enough room to fit two fingers under the collar.”

Topical Treatments

Topical flea and tick medication, like shampoos, powders, and spot-on treatments, eliminate fleas with varying degrees of success.

Shampoos

Flea shampoos are popular because they are inexpensive and easily available, if a little labor-intensive, method of flea control.

A flea shampoo lasts about a day, but not all shampoos are created equal. “You don’t want to use a flea or tick shampoo every day because some can irritate [your pet’s] skin,” explains Dr. Jones. “They’re best used to supplement other prevention methods, or for occasions when you know your pet has been exposed to lots of fleas and ticks (for example, during a camping trip) to amp up protection.”

Spot Treatments

Now these are what most pet owners think of when they talk about flea and tick prevention – the little tubes you squeeze on the back of your dog or cat’s neck.

Spot treatments are much more effective than shampoos. They kill adult fleas, larvae, and eggs and other parasites, and last about 30 days. “They can be hard to apply, especially if your pet is a wiggler,” admits Dr. Jones. “But a combination of practice and YouTube tutorials will make you an expert in no time!”

Check out:

  • Advantage
    • treats fleas in all stages (adults, eggs and larvae), as well as flea allergy dermatitis and lice, but not ticks
    • waterproof and lasts up to 30 days
    • available for dogs and cats
  • Frontline
    • kills fleas and ticks
    • treats fleas in all stages, including eggs, larvae and flea allergy dermatitis
    • protects your pup for up to 30 days
    • available for dogs and cats
  • Activyl
    • kills adult fleas and stops flea eggs and larvae from developing
    • available for dogs and cats
    • lasts 30 days after application
    • a separate formula, Activyl Tick Plus (available for dogs only), repels up to 99% of ticks

Note: “There are a lot of knock-offs out there,” warns Dr. Jones. “Most of which do not work.” Be very selective and do your homework when choosing a new flea and tick spot treatment. Your vet will be more than happy to weigh in on any questions you may have.

Oral Medications

Pill forms of flea and tick control are very popular and work very well. As an added benefit, you won’t have to worry about your pet rubbing the medicine off on kids or furniture like you would a topical medicine.

“Some can come with side effects, depending on the size of your dog,” cautions Dr. Jones. “It’s best to give the pill with a small amount of food to help prevent nausea.”

Check out:

  • Comfortis
    • starts killing fleas in just 30 minutes
    • available by prescription from your veterinarian
    • available for dogs and cats
  • Nexgard
    • kills fleas and ticks
    • only available for dogs
  • Brevecto
    • provides up to 12-week flea and tick control
    • available by prescription from your veterinarian
    • only available for dogs

Combination products

Fleas and ticks aren’t the only parasites out there with a taste for your pets. These products prevent fleas, heartworms, and intestinal worms all at once. Jackpot!

Check out:

  • Trifexis
    • kills fleas, prevents heartworms and treats and controls adult hookworm, roundworm and whipworm infections
    • available by prescription from your veterinarian
    • best treatment option for dogs
  • Revolution
    • treats fleas, flea eggs, heartworms, ear mites, roundworms and hookworms in cats
    • available by prescription from your veterinarian
    • best treatment option for cats

How Activ4Pets Can Help

“The one thing that can sabotage a great flea and tick control regimen is lack of consistency,” explains Dr. Jones. “Many people (myself included) have trouble remembering a monthly application, much less a bi-monthly or a more elaborate schedule, which gives the treatments time to wear off, leaving pets at risk.”

By putting all your pet’s health information, including flea and tick control, into an online pet health record, it becomes so much easier to keep track of everything. You can set up reminders so that you never miss a dose, or – even more annoying – a refill.

Start your pet health record today. Sign up >>

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