About flea & tick sprays for dogs
From itching awkwardly, to having bald patches, fleas and ticks can make life miserable for your dog. These parasites love to latch onto animals affecting dogs, cats, and pretty much anything with fur. Your dogs can find them hugely irritating. But more importantly, they can also be very dangerous, because some of these pests transmit diseases. You may have heard the saying that where you find one flea, you will likely find thousands more. They reproduce rapidly as a few fleas can quickly become a huge fast-spreading infestation.
By now you should get the sense that fleas or ticks are a problem you need to tackle as quickly as you observe it. So in this article, we have compiled as much information as we can to help you fight fleas and ticks. Fortunately, there are hundreds of pest control products on the market that are particularly designed to protect your dog from different pests. However, the process of selecting one of these products over another can be daunting. So we have put together some tips for how to select the best product when it comes to tick and flea sprays for dogs. As well as information on how to use these sprays and prevent fleas and ticks on your pup in general.
What you should know about fleas and ticks
Does your dog need treatment for fleas and ticks? This will be a straightforward answer if you see clear signs of a flea or tick infestation on your dog. However, it can become a tricky question to answer if your dog looks healthy. To save yourself from wondering, you should understand the nature of these parasites.
Firstly, there are clear differences between fleas and ticks. One of such is their size. Ticks are generally larger than fleas. They usually are dark in color and shaped like a teardrop. When your pet spends time outdoors, they can easily pick up ticks because ticks wait for your pet to brush past them, from where they latch on to their fur and later their skin. It is important to check yourself and your pet regularly for these pests because any tick left on the body for a while could be infecting you or your pet with a disease they are carrying.
Fleas, on the other hand, are smaller, tougher, and more resilient parasites. Dogs usually pick them up outdoors, but the fleas usually quickly become a major indoor infestation problem. Because the adult flea can lay hundreds of eggs on your dog’s skin in a short amount of time. And then these hatch into larvae and under the right conditions form pupa grow into adult fleas. This process can take just 4 days, which is what makes them a more serious headache compared to ticks. Once fleas bite, they can also introduce different diseases into the bloodstream of your pup.
Some of the common pet diseases that can be transmitted through fleas and ticks include:
- Hemobartonellosis: Bartonella henselae is bacteria commonly found in ticks. It can invade the red blood cells to disrupt the cells’ ability to carry oxygen
- Flea bite dermatitis: This makes the affected skin become reddish and sometimes swollen, opening it to becoming an entry point for microorganisms and infection
- Plague: And Yersinia pestis which causes plague is also transmitted by fleas.
Types of flea & tick control products
The nuisance of fleas and ticks can be eliminated by different types of control products. However, it is mostly a chemical-based product category. There are many brands providing natural or approved synthetic solutions for cat and dog owners to keep the pests at bay. Some of the best flea and tick control for dogs come in one of these forms:
Sprays: Sprays as a means of delivering treatment to your pet’s skin and fur is a relatively inexpensive method. When applied correctly, they can effectively control fleas and ticks on your cat or dog. Depending on the ingredients used in manufacturing the sprays, they can last for several months as long as the product is not washed off. Sprays also have the advantage of being very easy to apply. However, you have to make sure the product does not get close to your pet’s eyes or mouth, as that can cause health problems for your furry friend.
Topical medications: These look more like little drops that you can apply directly to your pet’s skin. This can be at the base of the dog’s neck or on it’s back. Topical flea and tick medications are quite popular among pet owners and can repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and a slew of other pests. Some even last for several weeks as the medication seeps into the dog’s skin and is released gradually. And the best part about topical medication is that they usually retain efficacy even after you bathe your pet or your pup goes for a swim.
Special chemical collars: These are usually concentrated chemical collars designed to repel fleas and ticks. When you fit this collar to the neck of your pet, the chemical will gradually diffuse all over the animal’s body. And these collars usually remain effective for several months. The common ingredient you will find in most of these special collars is called pyrethrin. And because of that most of these collars have a distinct smell which can be irritating to your pet and to you. However, these collars are fairly inexpensive and will provide good protection for your animals.
Oral medications: Some people don’t like the idea of using medication on the fur of their cat or dog. Mainly because animals tend to lick their fur which means that they most likely are also ingesting the topical medication applied to their coats. Which is why there is an alternative to topical tick and flea dog treatments. And this alternative is an oral medication, which usually not only kills fleas and ticks that have set up shop in your pet’s fur but also serves as effective worm medication. Just know what some dogs develop symptoms like lack of appetite, skin allergies, and vomiting while using oral flea and tick medication. However, these side effects aren’t common and most pups are completely okay when using this type of flea and tick combating method.
Shampoos: These products can be effective at washing away ticks, adult fleas, and their eggs but usually shampoos don’t treat the pest infestation as a whole. You will also find the pesticide pyrethrin in most of these flea and tick dog shampoos. It kills adult fleas on contact. When using this type of dog shampoo, allow the product to soak in your dog’s coat for at least 10 minutes before you rinse it out. Also, do not allow the product to get in contact with your pet’s eyes or mouth as this, again can cause irritation and other health hazards.
Dips: Dips are a concentrated liquid that is diluted with water and applied to your dog’s fug while you are bathing the animal. The chemical composition of these dips similar to dog tick and flea shampoos. But, differently, to dog shampoos that you would wash off, the dip needs to be allowed to dry on the pet’s body. And never use flea and tick dips on nursing or very young animals as they tend to be quite concentrated.
Powders: Lastly, powders are another method of applying almost the same chemical ingredients on the body of your dog. The powder needs to be dusted all over the entire body of your pet, avoiding their eyes and mouth. Some dogs also experience side effects after you use flea and tick powder on them. However, that can be said about any of the treatment types listed above. So remember that no matter which of the treatment products you choose to use, you must apply caution and good judgment when using them and observe your pet after the product has been applied for any bad reactions to the product.
Flea and tick repellent formula
Now that you understand why it is especially important for you to protect your dog from the possibility of an infection, it’s time to learn how to do that. Good repellent formulas will help you keep ticks and fleas away from your canines and prevent ticks and fleas from latching onto your pet’s skin in the first place.
Most of the products that are dubbed the best tick prevention for dogs use permethrin or a blend of plant oil extracts as their active ingredients. The key differences between these chemicals vs. natural ingredients are their efficacy and comparative risks. Permethrin kills quickly, with plant oils being less lethal but also posing less health and environmental risks.
Your pets can get sick if they ingest the permethrin pesticide in significant quantities. Permethrin sprays can also sicken humans and cats that come in contact with the substance. On the other hand, plant oils although can cause skin irritation, are usually considered non-toxic and the healthier alternative.
How to apply flea and tick sprays to your dog
Part of the appeal of flea and tick sprays is how easy they are to use! When applying flea and tick spray to your dog, follow these steps:
- Shake the bottle well before use.
- Hold the bottle at a distance of 8-12 inches and spray evenly onto your dog’s legs, sides, stomach, back, and tail. Rub the product into their coat to work it through the fur.
- To apply the product to your pet’s face, spritz a little onto your hand and work it around their ears and face, taking care to avoid the eyes and nose.
- Use enough product that your dog’s coat is damp, then allow them to air-dry.
Remember: Always read the instructions on the label thoroughly before using a flea and tick spray on your dog to ensure safe and effective use.
Where should you apply flea and tick spray?
For the most effective results, flea and tick sprays should be applied thoroughly and evenly all over your dog’s coat. Work it into the fur on their back, belly, legs, tail, sides, and face. Remember to use your hands when applying flea and tick spray to your dog’s face and take care to avoid getting any in their eyes.
When should you apply flea and tick spray?
Some flea and tick sprays can be applied daily, so you can treat your pet whenever they come indoors or go outside. Others contain chemicals and essential oils that may be injurious to your pooch if used too often. Always read the instructions on the product label carefully to be sure!
Some products aren’t safe for use on pups under the age of 12 months. The same may be true for old dogs, pregnant dogs, or pooches that have certain allergies or are on certain medications. Make sure to always read the label thoroughly and, if you’re still unsure, check with a vet before using any flea or tick product on your pet.
Aftercare: what to do once you’ve applied a flea and tick spray
Generally, flea and tick sprays that are formulated for use on dogs won’t have any ill-effects whatsoever on your pet. However, some animals may be allergic to the product. If you are using a new spray on your dog, it’s a good idea to monitor them for an hour afterward, in case they have a reaction. Warning signs include:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- (In extreme cases) seizures
Risks and effectiveness of canine repellent formulas
The majority of tick and flea repellents cleared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be considered effective. However, natural repellents which sometimes use plant oils do not need to be assessed by the EPA. This means their effectiveness cannot be easily benchmarked.
Several risks are associated with tick and flea repellents. Some products applied to the skin can cause irritation to the dog, while others can cause lethargy and hair loss. Even some of the natural plant oil-based products pose similar hazards. There is no shortcut to conscientiousness in using any of these repellents. You must make time to read the product labels and other client reviews carefully.
- Don’t use products intended for dogs on your cat, as this could be a deadly mistake! Some insecticides, such as permethrins, may be entirely dog-safe but have disastrous consequences for felines.
- Always take care to avoid getting flea and tick spray in your dog’s eyes, as this can cause irritation, and read the product label carefully to find out how often it should be reapplied.
Top tips for effective use
- Rub the product through your dog’s coat to spread it evenly through their fur.
- Let them air dry – towel-drying can remove the spray and lessen its effects.
- If using a daily flea and tick spray, apply it whenever they go outdoors or into areas with high levels of flea activity. Alternatively, apply it when they come indoors to kill any fleas they may have ferried home.
A simple flea & tick dog spray buying guide
Effectiveness: The more effective the repellent is at doing its job, the better. So pick a flea and tick repellent spray that will be able to stop ticks and fleas from harassing your dog.
Safety: Make sure you also think about the safety of your pet because that how safe the use of a product is will ultimately determine if you will use it on your pup or not.
Cost: Lastly, of course, it is also important that the product you chose is affordable and reasonably priced for the value you are getting.
Prevention & pet care tips
Some dogs with serious allergies to the conventional topical sprays will benefit from oral medications or so-called flea pills. These pills usually kill adult fleas in about 30 minutes. A good example of oral flea and tick medication are the Novartis Capstar Tablets. They not only don’t require a prescription, but they also are available in two different formulas for dogs of various sizes. Just note that most of these oral medications will require repeated treatment for optimal results.
In most cases, the only way you can tell that there might be a problem is when your pet starts to constantly scratch. But if fleas are involved, many will already have laid eggs with some already in their larval stages leaving you on your way to a serious flea infestation.
So we recommend you to be aggressive with your administration of the flea and tick treatment for your dogs. This will help to keep the fleas away from your pet.
To really keep the fleas at bad and out of your dog’s fur, you should also rid your outdoor area of fleas and ticks. Otherwise, it is likely that sooner rather than later you will have to treat your pet again. Preventive measures for your outdoor living area are still the most effective way to get rid of fleas and ticks. Which is why below we have listed a few of them.
The following flea and tick prevention methods are practical and easy steps you can take to minimize the risk of having your dog pick up fleas or ticks:
Maintain good sanitation in your yard. If you have dogs, then you also need to maintain good sanitation in your backyard. Fleas and ticks do not usually live out in the open. They hide in lush gardens, shrubs, and shady areas, so you need to keep your garden well-groomed, clean up debris, mow your lawn, keep your bushes well-trimmed, rake up fallen leaves and a tight lid on any outdoor trash cans or recycling bins.
Fencing around your property is also a good idea. This will reduce the trespass of wild animals on your property since ticks and fleas do not rely only on your pets as hosts, other mammals also make for excellent hosts. Additionally, seal off crawl spaces and other possible places that can be used as nests because rodents are huge carriers of these parasites and they love to make small spaces crawl spaces their home.
Avoid frequent exposure to natural tick habitats. Ticks and fleas thrive in dense, wooded, dark vegetative spaces. So you should avoid these kinds of places when walking your dog outdoors. Avoid tall grass, overgrown shrubs, and decaying leaves on the ground. And as you return from a long walk, check your dog carefully for ticks before getting home, because this will prevent the pests from coming indoors and possibly attaching to your skin as well.
Check your dog for ticks regularly. Checking your dogs for ticks frequently is not only a good strategy for avoiding tick bites but also both a good way to bond with your pet and a way to notice any other issue your pup might have early enough. Take time to check between the dog’s toes, in and around their ears and head, and also the underbelly and around the tail of your pup. And do a general examination of your dog’s fur with your fingers.
Do general cleanup on a regular basis. This habit will serve you well for many purposes, but will also be a good way to fight ticks and fleas on dogs. Vacuum, sweep, and mop your floors and furniture. This effectively removes flea eggs, larvae, pupae, and even adult fleas. And after you vacuum, dispose of the bag immediately.
Wash your pet’s items regularly. This includes the places where your dog sleeps or just those that it frequents, any possible bedding your pup has, its toys, or any other stuff that your pet frequently interacts with. And leave these items to dry under the hot sun, which will kill off any parasites that didn’t wash away while you were washing the items.
If all else fails, use professional pest control services. It is a good practice to get pest control companies to treat your yard for ticks and fleas if you can’t get the pest problem under control yourself. Just make sure you ask them about the chemicals they will use to understand the overall value of their service and the dangers of it.
The top spray treatments we have discussed in this article can kill fleas and ticks on contact or contain ingredients that repel them. The Honeydew natural pet spray is naturally made and contains effective ingredients that give you quick and efficient results. The Wondercide flea, tick, and mosquito control spray is also a natural product that is very effective and considered a cheaper alternative to expensive prescription treatments. While the Adam Plus spray is the quick-acting insecticidal spray that will get the job done in no time. It destroys fleas, flea eggs, larvae, and ticks in all stages of their life cycle, providing the best flea protection for dogs. It differs from the others in that it uses chemical formulations instead of natural oils.
Unlike regular spray insecticide, these sprays are meant to be used on both on your animals and on the surfaces of your home. This ensures you can treat the fur of your dog and then use that same product to purge your furniture, rugs, and surrounding of annoying and often dangerous pests. Just remember that there also are other things you can use to rid your dog of fleas and ticks beyond just treatment sprays. Your options range from topical repellents to oral treatments and shampoos. And in some more severe cases, you also have to consider more all-around solutions that will include you calling in professional exterminators. On top of that, having good control over the environment your dog hangs out it is also very important in managing ticks and fleas. Doing this will require some effort. But it will all be worth it in the end when you figure out which of the tick and flea treatment and prevention methods are right for you and your dog.