People often see having a flea treatment for dogs as a compulsory medicine to give their pet. Wrong. Having the right flea and tick treatment will prevent your dog and your wallet from a lot of trouble.
In this article, we're going to define what are fleas and ticks and what differentiate them, how dangerous they can be both for dogs and humans, but also what are the best tick and flea treatments for dogs out there (tick spray, flea pills, tick bombs, flea tablets, etc.)
What Are Fleas and Ticks?
Dog fleas and ticks are unpleasant and potentially dangerous ectoparasites that live on a host and feast on its blood.
For anyone who is finding ticks or fleas on their pet, you must have it taken care of and successfully treated immediately. The reason being that ticks and fleas may also be dangerous to people and cause extreme irritation, itching, secondary skin infections as well as some seriously fatal illnesses for both the dog and the humans around.
In colder climates, you may not need to use flea prevention as intensively as you would need in a warmer climate where fleas and ticks proliferate fast since it is their season all year long.
Are Fleas & Ticks Dangerous?
There are numerous infections that can target your pets triggered by ticks and fleas. So many, we can't list them all here but here at the principal risks.
Fleas can transmit bartonellosis and tapeworm. In humans, the Bartonella infection is commonly referred to as the cat scratch disease (CSD) but it doesn't have to be passed on by a cat's bite or scratch. Herding and outdoor adventure dogs are at much higher risk due to their exposure to high grass, plants and soils where lice, fleas and ticks may temporarily be.
Ticks can transmit many potentially deadly diseases, including Borreliosis (Lyme disease) and RMSF, the Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks can be vicious as, for example, Lyme disease may only appear 2 to 5 months after a bite from a disease-carrying tick. Ticks can also contaminate humans and some diseases they may carry can be extremely dangerous to humans, too.
How To Get Rid Of All Ticks & Fleas?
The best products for tick and flea treatments for dogs are listed below but before going into these, we've got to explain the methodology clearly.
If you don't read this, you'll be like most people: cleaning your dog and his bedding, mopping the floor, and having the problem emerging again few weeks down the line. To get rid of all fleas and ticks you have to get rid of them EVERYWHERE at the very same time and prevent the parasites from re-emerging.
You have to properly clean:
- your dog — a lot of parasites live on a host (ie. your dog)
- your other pets — bugs such as ticks and fleas can jump far and reach other hosts
- all beddings and clothes — once engorged, these parasites often fall off and lay thousands of eggs
- your home — carpets, furniture, floors, stairs, corners, everywhere must be cleaned (just in case!)
- your yard — most likely your dog caught these parasites outside so disinfect your yard, balcony or garden
Now we know where to clean, we have to figure out the methodology: it has to be a global approach where you do it all at the same time. Otherwise, you're risking the dog being in a clean home and bringing fleas and ticks from the yard, or vice-versa.
Another problem often happening is using products that only kill adult parasites. Most larvae and eggs laid (we're talking about thousands!) will survive weeks before hatching and invading you all over again. You must use Insect Growth Regulators in order to interrupt the parasites' life cycle even at the earliest stages.
Once you've cleaned it all up by killing adults and eggs, you should keep on using residual insecticides that will remain active for several weeks in order to make sure the infestation is stopped for good.
Top 6 Best Tick & Flea Dog Treatments
There is a myriad of different flea and tick preventive medications. The best application is to use spot-on topical products but lets cut through the confusion and list the best only.
Never use dog treatments on cats and vice-versa: the toxicity levels and active compounds are different and it could be dangerous in both scenarios. We don't know your dog so ask your vet for final advice on using any tick and flea treatment for dogs.
1. Bayer Advantix II
Advantix is also a topical solution for the treatment and prevention of fleas, ticks, biting flies, mosquitoes and lice on dogs. This is a top seller and a favourite for many vet and professionals.
The Bayer Advantix 2 formula has imidacloprid which is an adulticide in charge of killing all lice, ticks and fleas. The good news is that Bayer Advantix 2 also includes pyriproxyfen and permethrin which are insect growth regulators that interrupt the development of larvae and eggs.
The cherry on top is that Advantix can also kill fleas through contact so they dont have to bite your dog to die.
Advantix is for dogs only, whereas Advantage use milder compounds and can also be used on cats.
2. FRONTLINE Plus
Frontline Plus is a very rapid-killing treatment against ticks and fleas; and it acts differently from Bayer Advantage & Advantix.
With two very effective compounds, FRONTLINE Plus remains fully active for an entire month thanks to:
- fipronil to kill adult fleas and ticks
- methoprene to attack flea eggs and larvae
Fipronil is absorbed into the fat skin, therefore it is waterproof. Yet, frequent bathing can disturb the efficacy of the product but it will always do better than Bayer in wet situation. Avoid bathing your dog two days before and two days after application.
3. Novartis Capstar Flea Tablets
Capstar is an extremely effective treatment to kill adult fleas on your dog when you notice the infestation is starting. It does not really affect ticks but it is one of the most efficient product, usually prescribed by vets.
Almost all your dog's adult fleas will be gone within four hours, but it just kills what fleas are on the animal. It is not a long-acting residual treatment so you would need to put a flea preventive medication on the animal as well.
Buying these from the vet will most likely cost you the double so I would highly recommend buying them from Amazon and either stock a box at all times or get a speedy delivery if needed urgently.
4. Flea Shampoos For Extreme Situations
Flea shampoos are extremely efficient but bathing is recommended only twice or three times a year for dogs. You want to use a flea shampoo only in critical times.
In conjunction with Capstar, you may also want to shampoo your infested dog with Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo, a rapid-killing shampoo that also provides 28 days of control of pre-adult fleas (ie. larvae and eggs) to ensure that all adult fleas are killed and no larvae or egg will develop from now on.
5. Vet Kem Siphotrol Plus Fogger
— Flea Foggers For My Home
If you have found fleas or ticks on your dog and then decided to put your dog on an oral flea treatment, you have to also understand that many ticks and fleas may have jumped off your dog and are somewhere in your house.
One of the best methods is the buy a flea fogger, also called flea bomb, that kills larvae, ticks, fleas and flea eggs. You want to make sure that you are not just buying a product only killing adults but also the larvae and eggs since these can survive for many more weeks in your house and infest you long after you believe everything was sorted.
People and pets must be out of home during the fogging action. Read attentively the instructions as some will require you to wait extra-time before entering back. A great flea fogger is Vet Kem Siphotrol Plus Fogger.
Before and after using a tick and flea bomb, you want to vacuum all floors including tiles, rugs, carpet and floating wood floor. Make sure you also use a bacteria killer to wash and scrub them down.
Lastly, cleaning the dogs bedding is a must and I would even go further by suggesting dumping it all together especially if it was a pricey dog bed. In that case, you want to wash it at the maximum temperature and use a strong disinfectant to make sure all ticks, lice, fleas and eggs die.
6. Wondercide Natural Flea & Tick Yard + Garden
— Tick & Flea Treatment For The Yard
When deciding on granulates, liquid concentrate or a spray to get rid of fleas and ticks outdoor, be it a yard, garden or kennel, you want to make sure you are using a product adapted to the surfaces you will treat.
Very fragile, grass can die from aggressive chemical products, so you should go with a natural spray even if it means using it more regularly, more often.
Cleaning hard surfaces is easier and you definitely can use stronger products as long as you keep your dogs away from the area until it is safe again. Read the product's instructions since they all have their own toxicity and strength.
The Wondercide Natural Flea & Tick Yard + Garden is a great option for outdoor areas, both on green and hard surfaces. It is effective against mosquitoes, ants, roaches, chiggers, and more. It is a 100% biodegradable bio-based alternative to common synthetic pesticides.
Differences Between Fleas and Ticks
Fleas are wingless insects with six legs that can jump really far. Ticks are arachnids, closely related to spiders, and most types of ticks have eight legs.
Hosts and Lifespan
Adult fleas can live for more than 100 days. Fleas have fewer hosts than ticks. Hosts typically include dogs, cats, opossums, coyotes, raccoons, and foxes. Fleas live on one host. They basically are squatters; once they find a host, they will live on it until they die.
Ticks live from a few weeks to up to 3 years. Some can complete their life cycle in a few weeks with an available host while others can take up to 3 years. Ticks have way more hosts. including birds, rodents, snakes, lizards, foxes, deers, squirrels, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, cattle, cats, dogs, and humans. Ticks spend most of their life off of hosts. They can lie in and wait for extended periods of time until the right host comes along. They are patient predators.
Only adults fleas feed on the host. There are no kids at the banquet table for fleas!
It's a different game for ticks. Larvae, nymphs, and adult ticks feed on the host. They feed on a different host for these different stages of their development.
Eggs and Reproduction
Fleas lay 20 to 40 eggs per day for several weeks. Fleas can start laying eggs shortly after feeding. The longer they are on a host, the more eggs they produce. Fleas lay eggs wherever the host goes. Eggs are shed wherever the animal roams so basically, the host acts like a salt shaker depositing the eggs wherever it spends time.
A tick lays thousands of eggs one time but after that only one time, it dies. They lay all the eggs once they fall off the host. When the female has engorged, she will detach herself and lay eggs wherever she falls off. Then, the tick will die.
Fleas prefer warm temperatures, they don't like leaving their habitat and host and tend to enjoy dog beds since the heat is well-retained.
Ticks can survive near-freezing temperatures. Ticks are stronger than fleas and way tougher to kill or get rid of.
Types Of Dog Tick & Flea Treatment
There is no magic formula or product that works on dogs, at home, and outdoor, and targets adults, eggs and larvae. Each product has its own target(s), dosage and usage in order to successfully fight fleas, ticks, larvae and eggs. Some of them focus on adults, others on early life cycles, and a few on both.
Although you may prefer a product killing both adults and eggs, you need to be aware of the ecological risks as well as damages caused to your yard and dog's skin. The stronger the product, the more damaging it will be for anything it comes in contact with. Don't go for the thermonuclear bomb when a grenade can work just as well.
All products fall into the three main categories described below. And that, whether they are powders, drops, pills, tablets, granules, sprays, liquids, concentrates, bombs, or else.
Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) — For Larvae & Eggs
It is extremely important to stop the flea's life cycle which may take up to six weeks and insect growth regulators do just that. These products usually last anywhere from 2 to 6 months depending on their toxicity.
An IGR is a chemical substance that interrupts or inhibits the life cycle of fleas and ticks, preventing the larvae from developing into the pupae stage and the eggs from hatching. Therefore, IGRs help preventing the parasites from spreading again few days later.
Insect growth regulators often come as sprays, granulates, liquid concentrates and smoke bombs, but Precor is one of the most popular choice by both specialists and individuals.
Residual Insecticides (Persistent) — For Adult Fleas & Ticks
These are products remaining active in amounts sufficient to kill fleas and ticks for several weeks after application.
Residual insect control is useful when ticks and fleas are a continual problem or when you need to make an application ahead of a potential threat (arrival of a new puppy from a questionable kennel, for example.)
Residual insecticides commonly target adult fleas, lice and ticks but are also often used together with insect growth regulating products to get rid of both adults and potential future ticks and fleas.
The length of time a residual insecticide works for depends on four factors:
- the gravity (how many insect, in what density, how spread, etc.)
- the formulation (spray, smoke, dust, liquid, etc.)
- the type of surface (carpet, soil, brick, wood, etc.)
- and the condition of the surface (greasy, clean, wet, etc.)
Non-Residual & Contact Insecticides — For Punctual Treatment
Nonresidual insecticides do not have any residual activity—they are fully effective here and now, but after that they become useless within a very short time.
The most widely-used nonresidual insecticides are the aerosol sprays for flying and crawling bugs. Nonresidual insecticides are also referred to as contact insecticides. In a nutshell, you must hit the parasite with the spray if you expect it to work. These are ideal to kill adult ticks and fleas in a precise spot.
Contact insecticides are easy to find and can be the first choice in case of emergency. However, they can't be the only method used to fight fleas and ticks since you want to make sure the ENTIRE home, including outdoor areas, is cleaned up over several weeks to ensure the infestation is in the past and won't happen again.
That was an article with a lot of substance and meat but to sum it up, dealing with lice, ticks and fleas consists of a global approach that includes three coordinated actions:
- clean your dogs using a dog flea treatment: preventive drops or rapid-killing shampoo if the dog is infested
- use a flea fogger or flea bomb with residual cleaner to disinfect your home
- spray your outdoor area with a natural gentle tick and flea spray
That way, you're getting rid of the parasites everywhere they are, break the life cycle of larvae and prevent eggs from hatching. This is done by using contact killing products to eliminate adults, and an insect growth regulator to interrupt the development of larvae and eggs.
Use a flea treatment for dogs that we've listed above depending on your situation and you will definitely get rid of all the lice, ticks and fleas.