5 Things to Know Before Choosing Flea & Tick Prevention

5 Things to Know Before Choosing Flea & Tick Prevention

Every pet owner wants the best for their furry friend, and keeping them safe from fleas and ticks is a crucial part of that care. Fleas and ticks are more than just pesky nuisances; they can pose serious health risks to your pets and you—including infection and disease.

Given the myriad flea and tick prevention products available, making an informed decision is essential. Asking your veterinarian for recommendations is a great idea, but it also helps to know the basics about why prevention matters, and what to look for in a product. 

Why Flea and Tick Prevention Matters

Fleas and ticks are common parasites that can affect both cats and dogs. These tiny creatures can cause significant discomfort and health issues for pets, including skin infections, allergic reactions, and serious diseases like Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. And prevention isn’t just important in summertime anymore. Many areas of the country maintain temperatures above freezing year round, therefore year-round flea and tick prevention is necessary to keep your pet healthy. 

Here are 5 things to know before choosing flea and tick prevention.

1. Available Options for Flea and Tick Prevention

Topical treatments are among the most popular flea and tick prevention methods. They are applied directly to your pet’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades, where they will kill fleas and ticks on contact. Topicals must be reapplied monthly.

Oral medications are given to pets in tablet or chew form and work by entering the bloodstream. When fleas or ticks bite the pet, they ingest the medication and are subsequently killed. Oral medications are known for their effectiveness and convenience.

Collars and sprays release active ingredients that repel and kill these pests. Collars are easy to use and can provide long-lasting protection, sometimes up to 8 months. Sprays are applied to your pet’s coat to kill fleas and ticks on contact, though they may need to be reapplied frequently for maximum effect.

2. Effectiveness is a Critical Factor

Knowing how well a product will work can give you peace of mind that your pet is protected. Here are some things to remember when discussing options with your veterinarian or selecting products yourself.

  • Efficacy rates – Different products have varying levels of efficacy. Some may kill 90% of fleas within hours, while others may take longer or be less effective. Understanding these differences can help you choose the most reliable option for your pet.
  • Duration of protection – It’s also essential to know how long each product provides protection. Some treatments must be reapplied monthly, while others can last up to 8 months. Knowing the duration of protection can help you maintain consistent prevention without gaps.
  • Resistance concerns – In some areas, fleas and ticks have become resistant to certain products. Your veterinarian can inform you if this is a concern in your region and recommend products that perform well despite resistance issues.

3. Risks or Concerns to Consider

Potential risks and side effects are possible with any flea and tick prevention product. Discussing these with your vet can help you make an informed decision that prioritizes your pet’s well-being.

  • The flea and tick prevention products on the market today have been deemed safe when used as directed, but they can still cause side effects in some pets, including skin irritation, vomiting, and lethargy. Your veterinarian can provide information on the likelihood of these side effects and how to monitor your pet after administration.
  • Some pets may have allergic reactions to specific ingredients in flea and tick prevention products. Symptoms of allergic reactions can include itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. 
  • Certain flea and tick products may not be suitable for pets with pre-existing health conditions. Your veterinarian can help you choose a product appropriate for your pet.

4. How and How Often to Treat 

Monthly Products – Many topical and oral preventatives need to be administered monthly. Setting reminders on your phone or marking the date on a calendar will help ensure you don’t miss a treatment.

Other Options – Some prevention prducts–like collars or sprays–offer different levels of longevity based on their application. For example, collars offer longer-lasting protection and only need to be replaced every 6-8 months, while sprays must be applied daily to be effective for the following 24 hours. 

Application Method – Proper application and effectiveness go hand in hand. Your veterinarian can demonstrate the proper application of topical products to ensure correct placement. Carefully read the directions on oral medications to ensure you give it correctly, and rely on your veterinarian for tips if your pet is reluctant to consume the product.

5. Preventing Infestations

The reality is that if your pet has fleas, you have fleas. These parasites affect the entire household so you must take measures to protect your home from infestations. In addition to using the preventives mentioned above, here are some ways to tackle an infestation.

  • Home environment – Keeping your home clean is essential; regular vacuuming, especially in areas where your pet sleeps and spends time, can help remove eggs and larvae. Washing your pet’s bedding frequently can also reduce the risk of infestations.
  • Yard Maintenance – Ticks often thrive in tall grass and wooded areas. Maintaining your yard by regularly mowing the lawn and trimming bushes can reduce tick habitats. Your vet may also recommend pet-safe yard treatments for added protection.
  • Regular Inspections – Regularly checking your pet for fleas and ticks can help catch infestations early. Pay close attention to areas where fleas and ticks are likely to hide, such as behind the ears, under the legs, and around the neck.

Your Pets are our Priority!

At the National Animal Supplement Council, our top priority is to promote the health and well-being of your pets. That’s why we created the NASC Audit Program and the Quality Seal: to help you identify animal health and nutritional supplements from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products on the market. Visit our website to learn more and see a list of companies and brands awarded the NASC Quality Seal.