Best Flea and Tick Prevention (Stop The Pests!)

The two pests that wreak the most havoc for our pets are fleas and ticks. They bother us year-round, but as spring turns to summer, it’s prime time to prepare for the yearly ambush.

Fleas and ticks are biting, bloodsucking, and irritating and they can cause dangerous diseases like anemia, tapeworms, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.

best flea and tick treatments for dogs

Here is a rundown of the top contenders in the field right now, but first, a bit more information on flea and tick prevention.​

A Quick Product Overview

How does flea and tick prevention work?

The most important thing to understand for effective prevention of fleas and ticks is how fleas and ticks find and attach to your pet.

Fleas

Most fleas attach to your pet outside of your home. You may bring fleas in on your pants leg or your shoe, or you could have a visiting dog that brings fleas in, but usually, fleas ride into your home on your dog or cat.

Once an adult female flea has had a blood meal, she starts laying eggs. These eggs fall off of other animals and land in your yard. Fleas can be on a wide variety of mammals that scurry across your lawn. The eggs soon hatch into larvae. These tiny worm-like pests evolve into cocoon-covered pupae. This is the point at which fleas are most likely to find their way onto your pet.

When the pupae are ready to hatch, the young fleas immediately seek out a host and a meal. Vibrations on the ground, heat, and carbon dioxide signal to the pupae, “Hey, come on out, here’s some food!” and the cocoons hatch. Your innocent pet just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fleas will jump up on humans for a snack to help them get by, but they continue to see out their ideal host, which is your pet or another small mammal.

Ticks

Most people think ticks jump or hide out in trees waiting to fall on animals and people when they pass by. It seems this way because of the strange places we find ticks, like in our hair. Ticks are most commonly found in tall grass, weeds, and bushes. As we come hiking through with our pets, we brush against them where they attach.

Ticks can go without a meal for a full 3 years so there are many out there waiting patiently for the opportunity to eat. Once they are on board, they bite and begin to feed with the help of a secreted glue-like substance that keeps them firmly attached.

How to do flea and tick prevention

Flea and tick prevention is critical for maintaining the health of your pet. The first thing to know is that you should use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach for prevention. This means you need to consider all of the areas where your pet could pick up fleas and proactively monitor them for activity. You also should use pesticides when needed, but not unnecessarily. Learning about the common pests in your area, understanding their life cycles, and responding appropriately to prevent infestations are recommendations to keep your pets and your family safe.

Fortunately, there are many products available to help. Flea and tick prevention formulations for your pet can be found in shampoos, sprays, drops, pills, wipes, collars, tags, and powders.​

Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs

If you don’t have a flea infestation, you may not want to give your dog pest control medications and formulas designed to kill fleas. These products include strong pesticides and chemicals for eliminating outbreaks. You may prefer gentler repellents or all-natural products without synthetic substances. Pet owners need to be careful to not use too many pest control products at once. A flea collar, flea spray, lawn treatment, and in-home spray can easily be too many toxins for your dog to handle. Using natural options when you can gives you some peace of mind. The trade-off is that you may need to apply these products more often, and make a commitment to carefully watch your dog for fleas.

It’s recommended that you brush your dog’s coat often (at least weekly if not daily) and use a flea comb as well. A flea comb is a specially designed fine-toothed comb that pulls fleas out of the fur so you can see remove them manually. Simple have a bowl of water with some dish soap nearby to drop the fleas into.​

 tick and flea treatment

Flea and Tick Prevention for Cats

The most important thing to know here is that you should not use dog formulas on your cat. Dog products contain higher concentrations of pesticides, which can be deadly for cats.

Remember

Yes, even all-natural products can be dangerous for your cat if formulated for dogs!

Some common ingredients in all-natural products are essential oils like lemongrass, clove, cinnamon, and peppermint. Cats don’t have the capability to break down larger amounts of these compounds as quickly as dogs and humans. Cats become overwhelmed and can succumb to the toxicity. Always choose a product specifically formulated for cats and always ask your veterinarian which products would work best for your situation.

There are cat products that take into account the fact that most cats don’t like water. Fine mists, wipes, collars, drops, or powders may work better than bathing depending on your cat and how many scratch marks you are willing to endure.​

How to do flea and tick prevention for yards

Yards and outdoor areas are often overlooked when it comes to flea and tick prevention. Here are a few simple yard tips to keep pests at bay.

  • Keep a 3 foot buffer between your yard and surrounding bushes or woods. You can cut the grass very short here or use mulch or gravel to fill it in.
  • ​Make sure your yard is free from debris such as wood piles, cardboard, and lawn trimmings. Pests flourish in these areas.
  • ​Mow your lawn regularly and don’t allow the grass to get high.
  • ​Consider plants that naturally repel pests.
  • ​Keep your yard dry. Pests like moist environments.

Yards and outdoor areas are often overlooked when it comes to flea and tick prevention. Here are a few simple yard tips to keep pests at bay.

Product Reviews

Here are a few reviews of some popular flea and tick prevention products. For the products listed for dogs, there are also versions for cats available as well.

This product is a spot-on treatment that comes with vials of drops. You place these drops on the back of your dog’s neck once per month. These topical treatment drops have Imidacloprid, Permethrin, and Pyriproxyfen to kill fleas, ticks, eggs, and larvae.

It is a strong and comprehensive preparation, but it also may be more than what you need for just prevention. I would recommend it if your dog has had serious outbreaks in the past in your area. Otherwise, you may want to use something gentler.​

Pros

  • Has an insect growth repellent for killing eggs and larvae
  • Waterproof and continues to work after bathing or swimming up to once per week
  • Kills 98-100% of fleas within 12 hours
  • 6-month supply
  • Also kills mosquitoes

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive, but you can usually find it cheaper online versus retail stores
  • Sensitive dogs may have reactions to the multiple insecticides
  • Smaller dogs may have allergies to permethrin

Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray is an environmentally safe and all-natural product that kills fleas, ticks, and flea eggs. This spray does not have pyrethrins, permethrins, or cedar oil, which are a few ingredients that can irritate sensitive dogs.

You can use Vet’s Best on your dog, their bedding, your home, your yard, and yourself. It is effective as a repellent and pesticide, but essential oils are volatile and evaporate quickly so you have to use it repeatedly and as needed.

Pros

  • Kills adult fleas, ticks, and flea eggs
  • Non-staining formula safe to use on furniture, flooring, and home items
  • Most sensitive dogs tolerate it well
  • Pleasant peppermint and clove scent

Cons

  • Not long-lasting so may have to continuously spray
  • Clove fragrance too robust for some people
  • Essential oils are not always as consistently effective as chemical pesticides

As a more recently available product, the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs is comparable to monthly topical applications and spot-on treatments.

It is the first collar in many years that offers an effective alternative to having to remember to put drops on each month.

The collars are non-greasy and unscented and provide flea and tick control for up to 8 months.

Pros

  • Kills and repels fleas, ticks, flea eggs, and larvae
  • Waterproof collar
  • Don’t need to do monthly applications, insecticides are slowly released over time as the collar wears down
  • Safety-release mechanism so your dog won’t get tangled

Cons

  • Not normal, but pesticides may result in side effects like lethargy and vomiting
  • Sometimes expensive, but cheaper than topical options

This product is spread across lawns for multiple insect control, including fleas and ticks. Do not get the product on your skin as it can cause itching. Once the product is on the lawn, you activate it with a spraying of water.

You must wait until your lawn is completely dry before anyone uses it again. Wear light pants tucked into white socks when applying this product. You will be able to see fleas and ticks on you and can remove them before you go back inside.

Pros

  • Kills 100 different insects for up to 3 months
  • Moneyback guarantee
  • Active ingredient is 0.115% Bifenthrin and is considered safe for pets and children once the product has dried

Cons

  • Need to use a spreader to apply granular material to lawn
  • Can stain concrete so be careful when spreading

This is another all-natural product that comes in a powdered form which may be easier to apply to some animals.

The ingredients are Diatomaceous earth, Neem leaf powder, and yarrow flower powder.

You can also sprinkle Pest Peeve on floors, baseboards, bedding, furniture, and carpeting and vacuum it the next day.

Pros

  • Repels fleas and ticks
  • All-natural, environmentally friendly, and made in the USA
  • Money back guarantee
  • No harsh chemicals

Cons

  • Powder can leave your pet feeling gritty and looking dusty
  • Not as effective as other products with stronger insecticides for killing, but may be effective for prevention
  • May have to reapply often

The Bottom Line

If you absolutely need to prevent pests and you are not as concerned about chemical pesticides, Bayer K9 Advantix II, Flea And Tick Control Treatment will likely work best in preventing a flea or tick problem on your pet. The insecticides are effective for repelling fleas and ticks, and should one make its way on your pet, they aren’t going to last very long.

When chemical and sensitivities are a concern, the other listed products, or a combination of them, will do the trick with a little more effort. For the sake of your pet, I would personally stick with using a few natural products and spend more time brushing and vacuuming to monitor any activity. Then if I saw anything, I would switch to chemical insecticides.

Keep in mind that most flea and tick prevention efforts are going to take more than one product to be completely effective. Get ready with a multi-pronged approach and it should increase your chances of a flea and tick free season.​

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