Farewell, Fleas and Ticks: Your Guide to the Best Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs

By: Linda RodgersUpdated:

best flea and tick prevention for dogs
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Farewell, Fleas and Ticks: Your Guide to the Best Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs

One of the very first things new dog parents have to decide (besides what to name your adorable pup) is what the best flea and tick prevention is for your four-legged family member. And it’s pretty obvious why, too—you really, really don’t want these pests in your home or on your pooch.

For one thing, fleas aren’t just an itchy nuisance (though they’re also that). Both fleas and ticks can make your fur baby sick. Dogs can get Lyme and other tick-borne diseases that can give them fevers, swollen joints and even kidney disease. Dogs also can get skin allergies from flea saliva, as well as tapeworms and anemia from the bites. OK, we’re all in agreement that fleas and ticks are just plain bad news, right? So, what’s a dog mom or dad to do?

Flea and tick prevention for dogs is the best way to go. Depending on the type you use, tick and flea meds for dogs can kill existing creepy crawlies and stop these pests from latching on in the first place. Luckily, there’s a wide range available, from over-the-counter methods to prescription-only options that require a visit to the vet.

Ready to start the search for the best flea and tick prevention for dogs? Let us guide you to the perfect pick for your pup.

What’s Your Dog Like?

Before you get too far in your search and certainly before applying any medication, have a conversation with the vet, recommends Carly Fox, DVM, a staff doctor at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. That way you can avoid giving your pup something that can be harmful or ineffective. So here’s what to consider:

  • Your dog’s age: “In general, most products are not safe until about 7 to 8 weeks of age. So, you just want to make sure what the back of the product says before administering it to puppies under 2 months [old],” says Dr. Fox, who specializes in emergency and critical care. Very old dogs may also have adverse reactions to some preventatives too, even if they’ve used it for years. Talk to your vet once your pet gets older to see if you need to change it out.
  • Your dog’s overall health: You also have to take care with dogs who have allergies or other underlying health conditions, Dr. Fox advises. For instance, if your dog has sensitive skin, a topical gel might not be the best choice. Or if your dog is allergic to chicken or beef (which is rare, but happens), then oral preventatives may be off the table as they can contain beef flavorings. If your dog has a history of seizures, you may want to be careful with some types of oral meds. And if your dog is pregnant or nursing, you want to be careful what you give her, too.
  • Is your dog on other medications? If your dog is on other medications, like a dewormer, it’s important to discuss this with your vet to make sure the flea and tick prevention you choose is safe to use with whatever else your pet is taking, Dr. Fox notes.
  • Your dog’s weight: Any product aimed at preventing or treating fleas and ticks on dogs specifies the size of pup on its label. For instance, if you’re considering a Nexgard chewable tablet for your 6-pound Chihuahua, you want to get the one formulated for dogs in the 4-10 pound weight range. Otherwise, your pup could get more of these chemicals than they need. “The biggest toxicities that I see as an emergency clinician all have to do with administering a product that's meant for a larger animal to a smaller animal,” Dr. Fox says.
  • Your dog’s routines: If your dog spends a lot of time hiking in the woods with you in areas known for ticks, then you might want to consider more than one preventative, Dr. Fox suggests. “So not just a topical or not just a pill, but maybe either a topical plus a collar or a pill plus a collar." Or say your dog loves to swim and your walks in the country include a dip in a pond (or you have one in your backyard). Then topical treatments, which require you to keep your dog dry for at least 24 to 48 hours, may not be the best choice.
  • Does your dog need immediate relief? If your pup has fleas, you have to do something about that right away. So you’ll need a flea-killing treatment followed by one that prevents these critters. “And make sure that the product you’re using is going to target the pest that you’re trying to get rid of,” Dr. Fox notes. Some combination treatments will protect for more types of ticks than others as well as other parasites.
  • Your personal preferences and home life: OK, so this has less to do about what your dog is like and more to do about you. As a pet parent, you need to consider things that are important to you, like your budget. Or maybe getting your dog to stand still while you apply a topical isn’t worth the hassle—or giving a pill to a finicky eater isn’t either. If you have small children or other animals, base your decision on the likelihood of accidental poisonings. “If you put a topical on, is your toddler going to stick his hand right in it? Is the other dog in the house going to lick it off your other dog’s back?” Dr. Fox asks. Little kids might also be able to slip off a collar and stick it in their mouths, which is another accident you want to prevent.

Ready to shop? Start by browsing your options below.

Oral Flea and Tick Treatments for Dogs

Use oral meds to treat a dog with fleas, or to prevent fleas and ticks from doing damage. They are formulated to mitigate infestations fast—Capstar Flea Tablets, for example, is an OTC medication that starts killing fleas within 30 minutes and last for 24 hours—and some provide extended protection, like NexGard Chewable Tablets, a prescription option that lasts a month.
Perfect for: Dogs who need to be treated for fleas right away; for preventing fleas and ticks.
Advantus Flea Oral Treatment for Dogs

Advantus Flea Oral Treatment for Dogs

$54.98
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Bravecto Soft Chews for Dogs

Bravecto Soft Chews for Dogs

$59.99
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Comfortis Chewable Tablet for Dogs

Comfortis Chewable Tablet for Dogs

$101.99
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Flea and Tick Treatments for Dogs - topical

Topical Flea and Tick Treatments for Dogs

Topical liquids and gels not only kill fleas and ticks but repel them too. They come in a tube, and you squeeze the liquid beneath the fur on your dog’s body. Available OTC or by prescription, some protect against other parasites, too; Rx-brand Revolution protects against heartworms, ear mites and parasites that cause mange. OTC topicals, like Frontline Plus, are a great option for people who don’t have access to routine vet care.
Perfect for: Most dogs, except those with allergy-prone sensitive skin or who can’t stay out of the water.
Onguard Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Dogs

Onguard Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Dogs

$28.49
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Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Large Dogs

Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Large Dogs

$67.99
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Advantage Multi Topical Solution for Dogs

Advantage Multi Topical Solution for Dogs

$113.15
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Combination Solutions

Remembering to give separate medications for different disease-causing parasites can be tricky. That’s where prescription-only combo medications come in. They help control fleas and protect against heartworms and intestinal worms. Simparica Trio all-in-one chewable tablets, for example, kills fleas and five types of ticks, prevents fleas from laying eggs, prevents heartworm and treats roundworms and hookworms.
Perfect for: Dogs who are at high risk for getting heartworms.
Simparica Trio Chewable Tablet for Dogs

Simparica Trio Chewable Tablet for Dogs

$139.19
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Sentinel Tablet for Dogs

Sentinel Tablet for Dogs

$72.49
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Trifexis Chewable Tablet for Dogs

Trifexis Chewable Tablet for Dogs

$117.39
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Flea Collars for Dogs

If you’re looking for protection that you don’t have to think about for months, you may want to consider a collar. Many flea collars for dogs, like the Seresto 8-Month Flea and Tick collar, repel pests for half a year or more. The flea-and-tick killing ingredients in the collar will spread from the site of direct contact over the skin’s surface of your dog. Some can offer additional protection alongside a topical or oral medication.
Perfect for: Most dogs, especially those who spend lot of time in wooded areas and need extra protection.
Seresto Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs

Seresto Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs

$59.98
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Hartz UltraGuard Plus Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs

Hartz UltraGuard Plus Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs

$4.97
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Adams Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs

Adams Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs

$5.36
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Flea Shampoo for Dogs

If you can’t get your hands on an oral treatment to kill off fleas, then giving your pup a bath with a flea shampoo for dogs can bring about the fast relief they need before you start your preventative treatment. While these shampoos are specially formulated to kill fleas and ticks, they can also wash away flea dirt (AKA flea poop), which can cause allergies. If you’re worried about ingredients, then try this gentle flea shampoo by Richard’s Organics, which contains natural oils from peppermint, cloves and other plants.
Perfect for: Dogs who have a flea infestation.
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor

Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor

$9.59
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Sentry Flea & Tick Oatmeal Hawaiian Ginger Shampoo for Dogs

Sentry Flea & Tick Oatmeal Hawaiian Ginger Shampoo for Dogs

$4.89
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Vet's Best Advanced Strength Flea and Tick Dog Shampoo

Vet's Best Advanced Strength Flea and Tick Dog Shampoo

$11.99
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Flea Spray for Dogs

Flea sprays are applied directly to your dog’s coat. It’s important, however, to read the label because not all sprays are alike. Some are meant for use on the pet, others are meant for use on the environment (e.g. furniture, carpet or the outdoors), and still others, like Wondercide’s Pets & Home Flea & Tick Spray, pull double duty and can be used on both pets and the environment. Make sure you know which one you’re buying.
Perfect for: Dogs with flea infestations who need quick protection against fleas and ticks.
Frontline Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs & Cats

Frontline Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs & Cats

$27.99
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TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs & Bedding

TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs & Bedding

$10.99
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Vet's Best Flea + Tick Spray for Dogs

Vet's Best Flea + Tick Spray for Dogs

$7.65
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Flea Combs and Other Tools

A flea comb, like this one from Hartz, comes in handy in several scenarios. You can use it to remove dead fleas and eggs. It can be a great diagnostic tool: If you suspect your pet has fleas, you can comb them and see if you catch one. They’re also good for puppies who are too young to get an oral or topical flea treatment. Other tools you might need are tweezers for removing ticks. TickEase Tick Removal Tweezer Tool works on pups and humans alike!
Perfect for: Most dogs, especially really young ones.
ZenPet Tick Tornado Tick Removal Tool

ZenPet Tick Tornado Tick Removal Tool

$3.99
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Safari Double Row Flea Comb for Dogs

Safari Double Row Flea Comb for Dogs

$5.99
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TickEase Tick Removal Tweezer Tool

TickEase Tick Removal Tweezer Tool

$9.99
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Home and Yard Prevention

Flea and tick control doesn't mean treating just your pet but also their environment. Clean regularly: Vacuum carpets and wash your bedding as well your pet’s sleeping areas. For an extra layer of protection, spray your home and yard with products that kill fleas, like Adams Plus Flea & Tick Yard Spray, which is formulated to kill and repel a number of pests in addition to fleas and ticks.(Just remember these sprays should not be used on your pet unless clearly stated by the manufacturer.)
Perfect for: Anyone who doesn't want fleas or other pests inside their homes and yards.
Advantage Yard & Premise Spray

Advantage Yard & Premise Spray

$19.98
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Virbac Knockout E.S. Area Treatment Spray

Virbac Knockout E.S. Area Treatment Spray

$25.22
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Natural Chemistry Natural Yard & Kennel Spray

Natural Chemistry Natural Yard & Kennel Spray

$19.99
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As you can see, there are lots of methods for preventing and treating fleas and ticks on dogs. Be sure you talk to your vet to make sure you pick the best method for your fur baby.

As you can see, there are lots of methods for preventing and treating fleas and ticks on dogs. Be sure you talk to your vet to make sure you pick the best method for your fur baby.

Read more:

5 Super-Common Flea and Tick Myths—And Why You’ve Got to Stop Believing Them

What Is Flea Dirt? (Besides Super Gross, That Is)

Fleas for Roommates? Evict Them With These Flea Treatments for the Home

By: Linda Rodgers

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By: Linda RodgersUpdated:

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