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Treats a multitude of parasitic issues, such as heartworm, hookworm and roundworm. Only requires one treatment a month. Minimal side effects reported. Provides long-term relief from fleas.
Pills are chewable, but shaped like traditional oral treatments not snacks. Some dogs may find the smell objectionable.
Very easy on a dog's digestive tract. Most effective when combined with an "adult" flea medication. Chewable tablet easily hidden in pill pockets or food. Suitable for dogs weighing more than 2 pounds.
Treats flea bites, but does not repel fleas. Treatment can take several weeks for maximum benefit.
Addresses other skin issues, such as sarcoptic mange. Powerful formula works well for heartworm prevention. Minimal side effects reported. Topical treatment easier to administer than oral medications.
Rare reports of pancreatitis as a serious side effect. Effectiveness is variable.
Uses 2 medications to kill adult fleas and their eggs. Safe to use on puppies. Topical formula is easy to apply, lasts for 30 days. Does not aggravate existing skin conditions.
Can take more than 72 hours to start working. Does not kill fleas at all cycles of life.
Broad-spectrum formula also addresses biting flies, lice, and mosquitoes. Contains imidacloprid, permethrin and pyriproxyfen. Waterproof when dry, remains effective after baths. Starts to work in as little as 12 hours.
Does not work well as a flea or tick repellent. Frequent treatments may be required for best results.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Fleas and ticks are timeless and common pests that dogs and their owners face every year. These two kinds of parasites can simply be minor nuisances to a pet, but they have the potential to impart illnesses and cause serious harm to your beloved furry friend and even to you.
Fleas and ticks may be spot to see outside, but they are easy to come into contact with. While most fleas need a host to survive, ticks can live outdoors awaiting contact; they may even be hiding in your yard.
Depending on where you live and the type of outdoor activities you enjoy with your dog, flea and tick prevention is a worthy investment. If you forgo prevention, the cost to you as a dog owner increases should an infestation occur and a visit to the veterinarian be needed. Preventative options and treatments vary greatly, and your dog’s age, breed, lifestyle, and environment are all factors to consider. Our guide will help you find the best treatment for your dog so you both can stay healthy and safe year-round.
Most flea and tick medications kill existing parasites while also preventing further reappearance, although some target either removal of these pests and others focus on prevention. The most popular type of flea and tick medication involves the isoxazoline class of active ingredients, including fluralaner, afoxolaner, sarolaner, and lotilaner. These ingredients disrupt the nervous system of parasites, killing them instantly when they bite your dog. Most popular flea and tick medications will identify one of these ingredients clearly on the product.
Spinosad is a common active ingredient that kills fleas, but it is not effective against ticks. Similarly, lufenuron prevents flea eggs from hatching but does not work against ticks.
Topical: These treatments are rubbed on the dog’s skin to kill ticks and fleas when they bite. They are popular, inexpensive, and reliable. Most are waterproof and are not affected by weather or occasional bathing. However, some fleas and ticks are resistant to certain treatments that have been in use for decades. Depending on your dog’s size, applying topical treatments can be tedious, and the substance may rub off on you and other objects like flooring and furniture. What’s more, topical treatments require time to be fully absorbed, so you’ll need kids to stay away from your pet for a few hours.
Oral: An increasingly popular option is to administer pills or chews once a month. If your dog is not averse to taking these, this is convenient for most owners. Pills can be embedded in a treat or thrown in with food. Flavored pills and tablets are available and are eagerly accepted by many dogs. Unlike topical treatments, there is no risk of medication rubbing off. And provided the dog eats the entirety of the tablet, one need not worry about the treatment being delivered correctly. This method is also attractive if young children or other animals live in the house, as collars and topical treatments can leave traces of chemicals on surfaces where kids and cats come into contact with them.
Collars: While the quality varies widely on these products, high-end options have proven effective. Seek out collars that boast imidacloprid and flumethrin as active ingredients to battle fleas and ticks, respectively. Whereas topical and oral treatments typically must be administered monthly, collars can last six to eight months. However, these treatments tend to lose effectiveness if your dog frequently romps in the water; they also may break off if your dog is more active or rambunctious.
Flea and tick treatments are generally tailored to meet different sizes and ages of dogs. This information will be easily available on the box or in a main description of the product. Many pill and topical options have a recommended weight range that should be adhered to. Others are only suitable for certain ages. Most flea and tick medications are not recommended for puppies eight weeks of age or under.
Fleas and ticks tend to thrive in humid and wooded areas. They live in tall grass, brush, and forests and are more plentiful during warmer months. As such, flea and tick season will vary depending on location. It can last year-round in southern states and warmer climates but might span April to December in regions that experience colder winters.
Even if you don’t go on hikes or have a grassy yard, prevention is a good idea if your dog plays with other dogs or visits a dog park; fleas can easily jump from one dog to another.
Some dog flea and tick medication may work to repel and kill other harmful insects and parasites. More potent options may target mosquitos, flies, and even lice, adding further protection and coverage.
Most topical and oral treatments are to be admitted monthly. Typically, these options will be sold in sets of six doses, covering you for half the year. However, some higher-end options may offer more coverage, with certain oral applications protecting your dog for two or three times a month. Other products may need to be administered over the course of four weeks instead of monthly: though the difference is slight, the instructions must be followed for the medication to be effective.
Flea comb: Hartz Groomer’s Flea Comb
If fleas find their way to your dog, one component of treatment is physical removal with a flea comb. This inexpensive, ergonomic option by Hartz offers gentle yet precise brushing and extraction.
Dog treats: Greenies Pill Pockets
Use treats to reward your dog after topical medication is applied or use them to sneakily administer pills. These chicken-flavored pill pockets by Greenies are a breeze to use to effectively hide tablets.
Inexpensive: You can find quality flea and tick medication for smaller dogs at under $30 that should last for six months.
Mid-range: Most six-month doses cost between $30 and $60; these will cover small and medium-size dogs as well as some larger pups.
Expensive: For over $60, you’ll find more comprehensive protection as well as options suitable for larger dogs.
A. Excessive itching and licking may indicate a flea infestation. Thoroughly investigate your dog’s skin and coat if you suspect fleas. White spots can indicate flea eggs, and black spots can be droppings; both will be easier to notice in areas where the dog’s coat isn’t as thick. Ticks are visible to the naked eye and can often be felt when running your hand over your dog or petting them. They typically appear around the feet, legs, belly, groin, hindquarters, neck, and ears. Lethargy or pale gums indicate an illness or infection, and a vet should be seen immediately.
A. Provided you seek out quality and trusted active ingredients, over-the-counter medications provide worthy protection and treatment. There are many of these products, including some that will quickly eliminate fleas. Even if you don’t seek a prescription product from your vet, it’s best to consult them in order to make an informed decision. Prescription options will come at a higher price but likely provide more reliable protection as it will be catered to your dog’s weight, age, and sometimes even breed.
A. If you spot a tick on your dog (or yourself), don’t panic. It’s fairly easy to remove one on your own without having to see a vet. Grab a pair of tweezers and carefully grab the tick by its head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out gently and methodically: do not squeeze, pop or twist it, as the tick can break off and further infect the area. Specialized tick hooks can be useful if encounters with ticks are frequent. Once removed, thoroughly wash your hands, clean the area with alcohol, and disinfect the tweezers.