Dog Health
7 Minute Read

What Is the Best Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs?

Published on
July 13, 2023
Tick on a green leaf
Written By:
The Otis O
The Pet Experts
Reviewed By:
Dr. Ellen Russell
Dr. Ellen Russell DVM, MPH
Licensed Veterinarian
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As a pet owner, keeping your furry friends healthy and happy is a top priority. One essential aspect of pet health is ongoing flea and tick prevention. These pesky parasites can cause significant discomfort and serious health issues for both your pets and your family. It’s important to figure out the right treatment plan for your pet before you have a pest issue.

Understanding Fleas and Ticks

What are fleas and ticks?

Fleas are tiny, wingless insects that feed on the blood of mammals and birds. They are known for their incredible jumping abilities. Once they’ve bitten  your pet they can irritate the skin leading to excessive itching and discomfort. They’re also able to transfer to humans in the same household.

Ticks, on the other hand, are arachnids. Like fleas, they feed on blood but are generally larger and attach themselves more firmly to their hosts. They latch onto your pet’s skin and can transfer diseases they may be carrying, such as Lyme Disease.

How dogs and cats get infested

Pets can pick up fleas and ticks from various sources such as other infested animals, grass, or indoor spaces that are already contaminated. Fleas often jump onto hosts while ticks usually latch on when the animal passes through tall grass or brush.

The Importance of Preventive Measures

What are the risks of fleas?

At first, a flea infestation will cause itchiness and discomfort. Your pet may experience excessive shedding or hair loss from scratching at the fleas. As the fleas feed on blood, your pet may become anemic (low in iron). Fleas can also carry additional pests such as tapeworms that may infect your pet.The tapeworm that fleas carry can also infect people, if they happen to swallow a flea.This is more common in children.

What are the Risks of Ticks?

Ticks can carry a number of different diseases. The most common of these is Lyme Disease, which can have a wide range of symptoms in pets and humans. In humans, the early stages of Lyme disease can consist of  a rash, headaches, and lethargy. As it becomes more advanced, symptoms get more severe and can include memory loss, joint pain, and even death if it goes untreated. In dogs, Lyme disease can also include a variety of clinical signs, such as high fever, swollen and painful joints, and severe kidney disease.

Other tickborne diseases are less common, though still present. Each presents its own unique combination of symptoms. Preventing ticks from attaching is a crucial step towards avoiding infection in the first place.

The economic impact of infestations

Dealing with an infestation can be costly, requiring professional pest control, vet visits, and multiple treatments for both the pet and the environment.

Over The Counter (OTC) vs. Prescription Flea and Tick Prevention:

There are various products available for flea and tick prevention, ranging from over the counter options that can be purchased online and at your local pet store to prescriptions that must be provided by a licensed veterinarian. Each of these options varies in price, safety, efficacy, and convenience.

Which is better - Over The Counter or Prescription?

Prescription flea and tick prevention is more effective at keeping your pet free of pests. This is due to both the formulation and the method of giving your pet treatment. Errors in applying topical OTC options are common, reducing how effective they are compared to prescription oral medications.

Cost considerations

OTC options are typically less expensive up front since a typical vet clinic visit can cost over $100. When the effectiveness of prescription vs OTC is taken into account, it can actually be cheaper to provide the higher quality vet-prescribed treatment than deal with infestation caused by lower quality OTC options.

If you want to get your pet the highest quality prescription treatment without the expensive vet visit, start your free vet consult with Otis. Just provide some information about your pet and one of our licensed veterinarians will prescribe the right medication for each dog’s needs for free. The perfect dose of flea and tick treatment will be delivered to your door every month for just $25.

Safety Comparison

A major advantage of prescription flea and tick medication is that a vet will ask questions to make sure a given treatment is safe for your pet. Many OTC treatments can cause health issues for your pet and the people that come in contact with them. Amazon reviews for popular OTC options have hundreds of reviews from customers whose pet experienced severe health issues after using the products.

Implementing a Prevention Plan:

Consultation with a veterinarian

A licensed veterinarian should come up with the best prevention plan for your pet. You can either visit your local vet clinic or submit your information to the Otis veterinary team. A vet will determine the correct medication and dosage for your pet.

Purchase Medication

There are a number of different options when it comes to actually purchasing your vet-recommended flea and tick preventative. You may be able to purchase several months of treatment at the vet, or they may transfer the prescription to an online pharmacy. At Otis, we ship the correct dose to you every month so you don’t need to purchase several months of product in advance.

Consistency in application or administration

Follow the recommended schedule for whichever preventive measure you choose. It’s also important to give the preventative year round as there is always a risk flea and tick infestation.

Environmental control measures

Decrease the flea and tick population near your home and yard  by regularly controlling for the habitat where they thrive such as long grass and brush.

Ticks thrive in habitats with brush and tall grass

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are flea and tick prevention products safe for puppies and kittens?

Safety for puppies and kittens varies by product. Consult a veterinarian and manufacturer instructions for specific recommendations based on the preventative you have. Generally, vets don’t prescribe a flea and tick treatment to pets that are less than 8 weeks old.

Can I use dog flea and tick products on my cat and vice versa?

No. Certain products meant for dogs can be toxic to cats, and vice versa.

How often should I apply or administer flea and tick prevention?

Follow the manufacturer's instructions or your vet's recommendation. Most prescription flea and tick treatments are given to pets monthly while different over the counter solutions have different treatment frequencies.

Can my indoor cat get fleas and ticks?

Yes, indoor cats can still be exposed to fleas and ticks that are brought into the home.

What should I do if my pet has an adverse reaction to a prevention product?

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any adverse reactions.

Are natural remedies effective for flea and tick control?

Natural remedies may not be as effective as pharmaceutical options. Since a wide range of non-commercial prevention options are suggested online, it is difficult to make generalized statements about their safety and efficacy. We always recommend consulting a qualified vet before implementing treatments that may affect your pet’s health.

Final Thoughts

Our pets are extensions of our families. It’s important that you take preventative measures to ensure their wellbeing the same way you would make health conscious decisions for yourself and your children. Ongoing flea and tick prevention protects your dog or cat from infestations that can harm their health and quality of life. To make sure that your pet is getting the highest quality treatment, start a free online consultation with Otis.