A Guide to Tick Prevention Options for Dogs, Including How to Choose the Right One for Your Pet
They differ in terms of how they're administered, according to experts.
Summer means sunny, warm weather and with it, unfortunately, an abundance of fleas and ticks. While your dog enjoys the great outdoors, it's important to make sure that your canine friend is fully protected against these parasites. Ticks are very small arachnids that stick their heads into a host to feed off of their blood. "Tick prevention is important because ticks can carry many diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever," explains Laura Pletz, DVM and scientific services manager at Royal Canin. Thankfully, there are several types of tick preventative methods that stop them from taking hold on your beloved pet.
The Main Methods
First, when and how often should you give your dog a tick preventative treatment? "Many tick preventions also include protection for fleas, so they are often recommended for year-round use, but should be given during tick season," says Pletz. "Depending on the preventative recommended by your veterinarian, they are given monthly or every three months." Adhering to this treatment schedule consistently means that your dog stays protected from ticks and fleas.
The main types of tick preventatives differ based on how they're administered: oral, topical, and collar. "Oral preventatives are some of the most popular preventatives because of ease of administration and they are effective for one to three months depending on the product," explains Pletz. "Products such as Bravecto ($59.99, chewy.com) and NexGard ($22.99, chewy.com) are common recommendations for fleas and ticks. Simparica TRIO ($136.94, chewy.com) is another option that also includes prevention for heartworm disease and intestinal parasites."
Topical applications are good for dogs that may have gastrointestinal issues or food allergies; however, these can be washed off which reduces their effectiveness. Pletz also warns that some topical medications can have unwanted side effects. Never select an over-the-counter tick or flea treatment without first consulting a veterinarian, and then only follow their recommendations.
Collars are generally used in conjunction with another method and usually only in areas with heavy tick populations. "Collars are rarely recommended as the sole source of prevention," Pletz says, noting that Seresto ($59.98, chewy.com) is the collar that is usually recommended in these cases. However, the pesticides found in collars tend to be highly potent and carry more risk for pets; highly sensitive animals may need to find another solution.
Choosing the Right Treatment
Over-the-counter tick preventatives may seem like a smart idea, especially when these items are on sale, but these medicines may cause bad side effects like allergic reactions, seizures, or worse. This is why Pletz and other experts recommend that pet owners speak to their veterinarian before selecting a treatment plan for their dogs. Whether to choose topical or oral treatments will depend on the dog, their lifestyle, and the local tick population.