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Particularly if your pup spends a lot of time outdoors, it's important to make sure that they're protected from fleas and ticks (and the various diseases that they carry). But flea and tick prevention products aren’t just important for your dog’s comfort and health—they can also prevent you and your family from getting Lyme disease or another tick-borne illness.
From pills and chews to ointments and shampoos, there are plenty of options to choose from to keep your dog healthy. However, regardless of which tick prevention product you choose, you should still check your dog for ticks after time outdoors.
Read on for the most effective options on the market today.
Best Overall: NexGard Soft Chew for Dogs
Your pup will like NexGard as much as you do because each month he'll get his medicine as a tasty beef-flavored treat. From there, the main ingredient afoxolaner kicks in to kill fleas before they’ve had a chance to lay eggs, and ticks, including the Lone Star, black-legged, American dog, and brown dog varieties. Nexgard is also FDA-approved to help prevent infections that cause Lyme disease. In addition to effectiveness, because the drug is delivered through your pup’s bloodstream, other benefits include that your dog can get wet immediately and it’s safe for other pets and young children in your household. It’s available by prescription only.
Best Oral: Bravecto Chews for Dogs
An oral chew is a particularly good option for breeds with thick or long coats (including collies and Shih Tzus), where topicals are harder to apply correctly and collars may not be as effective. Each of Bravecto's prescription-only chews provides up to 12 weeks of protection against fleas and ticks, and starts to kill fleas in just two hours. They control four tick species: black-legged ticks, American dog ticks, brown dog ticks, and Lone Star ticks. If Lone Star ticks are a concern where you live, you may want to give your pet a chew every eight weeks.
The one downside to chews is that they don’t kill parasites on contact, rather your dog must get bitten first. If Lyme disease is prevalent in your area, you should talk to your vet about having your dog vaccinated.
Best Shampoo: Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo
Kill fleas and ticks and get your dog squeaky clean at the same time with this dog shampoo from Adams. With a formula containing aloe, lanolin, coconut extract, and oatmeal, it’s gentle on both you and your pup's skin—and it smells good, too. The shampoo contains an insect growth regulator (IGR) to kill and prevent flea development for up to 28 days, though you may find you need to use it every seven to ten days for the most effectiveness. A little goes a long way, so the bottle should last you for some time.
A word of caution: the shampoo contains pyrethrin, which can be toxic to cats.
Best Natural: Vet's Best Flea & Tick Pet & Home Spray
If you're leery of using chemicals on or in your dog, try this plant-based spray. It’s formulated with certified natural peppermint and clove essential oils to kills fleas, flea larvae, flea eggs, ticks, and mosquitoes on contact. When spraying your dog, be sure not to miss their armpits and in between their toes, two favorite hiding spots of parasites. It takes some trial and error to figure out how often you should spray your dog—some owners report spraying dogs daily at the start and then paring it back to weekly. You’ll also need to reapply if your dog gets wet. The Made in America formula won’t stain bedding or your furniture.
Best for Small Dogs: Sentry Fiproguard Plus for Small Dogs
A small dog won’t need the same dose of flea and tick prevention medication, and that goes for topicals, too. This variety from Sentry is made for dogs from 4 to 22 pounds. You apply it to your dog’s back every 30 days and it works to kill fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, ticks, and chewing lice on contact. Once it dries, your dog won’t be able to lick it off and it’s safe for your dog to get wet after a few days.
Best for Large Dogs: Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Large Breed Dog Treatment
This topical flea and tick treatment contains fipronil, which kills adult fleas and ticks, and (S)-methoprene to flea eggs and larvae. After you snap open the tube and apply the formula to your dog’s shoulder blades and back, it’s stored in the oil glands to give long-lasting protection for a full 30 days. Your dog should stay dry for at least 48 hours, but after that it’s waterproof and safe around young children. Frontline has been around for 20+ years and is recommended by many vets. The large variety is intended for dogs 45 to 88 pounds.
Best for Puppies: Bayer K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Prevention for Small Dogs
Not all flea and tick treatments are recommended for puppies, so it’s important to check with your vet first before purchasing one. K9 Advantix can be safely used on dogs as young as seven weeks and the small dog variety is made for dogs that weigh between 4 to 10 pounds. The topical works for 30 days and kills on contact, which means fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes don’t have to bite your pup for it to be effective. It starts killing fleas in 12 hours after application. This is not made for use on cats.
Our best overall pick is the NexGard Soft Chew for Dogs (view at Chewy), which is as tasty as your pup's favorite treat and works well to kill fleas before they've had a chance to spread infection. If you are looking for a plant-based option, we recommend Vet's Best Flea & Tick Pet & Home Spray (view at Amazon). Formulated with certified natural peppermint and clove essential oils, this spray kills fleas, flea larvae, flea eggs, ticks, and mosquitoes on contact.