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What Flea and Tick Prevention Does My Pet Need?

Cat and berner pup outside

Topical or chewable? Flea collar or flea bath? Over-the-counter or prescription? With all the different types of flea and tick prevention out there, it can be confusing to know what kind will work best for you and your pet.

Read on for an overview of the types of flea and tick prevention avaialble. If you have questions about what is best for your cat or dog, Hello Ralphie veterinarians offer advice and, in some cases, prescriptions for the safest and most effective flea and tick options for you and your budget.

Topical vs. Oral Flea and Tick Prevention

Flea and tick prevention is either topical (drops and collars) or an oral medication. Within those two categories, there are prescription and non-prescription options.

Topical medications are applied on the skin and need time to absorb to be effective. Topical medications are helpful if your pet refuses to eat pills or tablets, and we recommend using prescription drops for maximum efficacy.

Oral medications are often more effective, and most require a prescription. Oral medications come in a pill or chewable tablet, so there’s no issue of rubbing off or washing away if your pet swims or bathes.

Over-the-Counter Flea and Tick Products

Over-the-counter products usually do not last as long as intended, and you cannot re-apply more when they wear off. Many parasites have also become immune to over-the-counter products since they have been around longer.

If you find that over-the-counter flea and tick prevention products work for your pets and follow the instructions with species and weight guidance, these are safe to use. However, 9/10 times these products are not as effective as prescription medications.

If you do need to use over-the-counter products, we recommend Capstar and Seresto.

Capstar is an over-the-counter pill given orally, which kills all fleas on a dog or cat. It can be very helpful when dealing with an active infestation. However, since it only kills adult fleas, you should not use it for prevention. It is safe to give Capstar along with a flea and tick preventative.

Seresto collars are also over the counter and help repel fleas off a dog or cat. These are great for pets that cannot use topicals or pills but need help with fleas. These will not help with active flea infestations as they do not kill fleas but will help prevent fleas from jumping on your pet. Seresto collars are not recommended for pets who like to swim since the active ingredient can be washed off the collar or pets with fluffy hair since the collar needs to sit on the skin to work properly.

Prescription Flea and Tick Products

Prescription flea and tick products are more effective and last as long as designated on their label. They are stronger and have less chance of being resisted by pests than over-the-counter flea and tick prevention products.

The most effective products are oral medications that essentially make the blood toxic to fleas and ticks. When fleas or ticks bite, they die due to the toxic blood they consume. This prevents infestations because pests do not have a chance to lay eggs.

Flea and tick preventatives are often paired with medications that will deworm your pet for intestinal parasites and prevent heartworms. These all-in-one prescription medications are a great way to prevent several harmful issues and diseases.

You can give most all-in-one oral preventatives monthly. Some include: 

  • Simparica
  • Simparica Trio
  • Trifexis
  • Comfortis
  • Bravecto
  • Nexgard

Revolution is a great topical all-in-one preventative option for heartworms, fleas, and ticks.

Health Considerations

Speak with a veterinarian before giving any flea and tick medications.

If your pet has a pre-existing condition or health issue, you and your vet will monitor them while trying a new flea and tick product, especially if they are prone to seizures.

Always follow the instructions on flea and tick prevention. For example, never give your cat flea and tick medication made for a dog, even if the cat is in the same weight range.

Need Help Choosing the Right Flea and Tick Product?

There are many flea and tick prevention options, and what you select should depend on several factors. If you’re confused about which flea and tick medication to choose, Hello Ralphie veterinarians are here to help! Avoid a lengthy wait for a vet appointment and book now.

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