Types of Tick & Flea Treatments For Cats and Dogs

Types of Tick & Flea Treatments For Cats and Dogs

Written by our veterinarian partner

Cats and dogs are one of the most common household pets worldwide and like all animals, they can suffer from health problems and parasites such as ticks and fleas. 

In general, ticks and fleas are fairly common in cats and dogs, especially if proper grooming is neglected and/or parasitic treatments are not administered timely. Veterinarians typically go for conventional medical treatments to treat ticks and fleas in pets, but there are also natural home remedies available to treat and prevent these annoying creatures. They will both be discussed in the article below.

This article is for cat and dog parents who are concerned about fleas and ticks infesting and irritating their pets. Our veterinarian partner has put together a list of effective and safe tick and flea treatments for cats and dogs, so read on.

How Do Cats And Dogs Get Ticks And Fleas?

Cats and dogs can get infested with ticks and fleas via the following:

  • Getting in contact with an infested pet or stray animal.
  • Getting in contact with wild animals such as foxes, rodents, raccoons, etc.
  • From outdoors such as if your pet plays in a shady, wooded, or grassy area.
  • Using the bedding of another pet that has fleas or ticks.
  • Fleas and ticks can occasionally transfer from humans to pets. If you spend most of your time outdoors or in wooded areas, remember to change your clothes before interacting with your pet.

Symptoms Of Ticks And Fleas In Pets

If your cat or dog has ticks or fleas it will exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Redness and constant irritation on the skin
  • Excessive scratching so much so that it can even lead to hair loss in certain areas
  • Restlessness
  • Flea dirt (flea feces on your pet's coat that appears as dark specks)
  • Pale gums (due to anemia)
  • Weight loss in severe cases
  • Lethargy
  • Visible ticks and fleas on your pet's body, especially behind the ears, between the shoulder blades, at the base of the neck, and around the base of the tail.

Tick And Flea Treatments For Cats And Dogs

There are many ways to treat and prevent ticks and fleas in cats and dogs. Most veterinarians will go for conventional medical treatments to make your pet parasite-free.

At the same time, you can also go for natural home treatments as they can also be effective, but if they don’t seem to work, consult a veterinarian and don't experiment as this can worsen your pet's condition.

Conventional Medical Treatments

Following are some of the types of tick and flea treatments for cats and dogs that most veterinarians will utilize:

1.     Topical treatments

Medications that are applied directly on the skin of your pet are known as topical medications. These types of treatments are usually applied between the shoulder blades, behind the ears, and at the base of the neck of pets.

"Spot-ons" is another term for these topical treatments. These medications contain compounds that both kill and repel ticks and fleas.

Once applied, these topical treatments will reach your pet's sweat glands and remain effective for several weeks, even if your dog or cat goes for a swim. Topical treatments for fleas and ticks in pets include Advantage II (for cats) and K9 Advantix II (for dogs) and others.

2.     Oral medications

Oral medications and pills are excellent alternatives to topical treatments. In addition to killing and repelling ticks and fleas, these oral treatments are effective against internal parasites such as heartworms, tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and others.

These oral pills have rare side effects, however, some pets might experience diarrhea or vomiting after consuming them. In severe situations, your pet may suffer skin redness, itching, and hives, as well as depression and appetite loss. NextGard® and Comfortis® are two examples of oral flea and tick treatments for pets. 

3.     Sprays

Sprays are one of the most affordable treatment methods to get rid of fleas and ticks in cats and dogs. Sprays are both effective and convenient. If they are not rinsed away (the pet remains dry), their effect can last for several days. 

Their application is simple; however, avoid your pet's eyes and muzzle. Also, avoid any open wounds on your cat's or dog's skin.

Only use species-specific products (for example, do not put cat spray on your dog's body as it will be ineffective and could cause a reaction).

4.     Dips

In case of severe tick or flea infestations vets often recommend dips. The dip is a concentrated liquid (often containing pyrethrin, a naturally occurring potent pesticide) that is diluted with water and administered all over the pet's body with a sponge or is poured over the entire body, avoiding the eyes and mouth.

Once the liquid is applied to the body of the pet it is allowed to air dry and is not washed off immediately for maximum effectiveness. Dips are not advised for very young pets or nursing pets.

Take your pet to a veterinarian or medical professional for safe and effective application. Use eye protection and cover any open wounds on your hands or arms before going for a dip to treat your pet. If your pet has licked or ingested the dipping liquid, take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

5.     Shampoos

Tick and flea shampoos for cats and dogs can provide your pet some relief from these nasty creatures. These shampoos usually contain pyrethrin compounds that help kill adult fleas as well as help wash the eggs of these parasites of your pet’s body.

Shampoos are not a long-term solution and won’t stop these parasites from coming back. When giving your cat or dog a bath, allow the shampoo to stay on their coat for at least 15 minutes for maximum effect, and rinse it afterward.

6.     Collars

Using a tick or flea collar is one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to protect your pet from fleas and ticks. These collars contain strong chemical repellents (often pyrethrins and other pesticides) that keep these nasty creatures at bay. After putting on the collar, these chemical compounds gradually spread over the pet's body, providing protection for a period of time.

7.     Powders

A less common method for treating and preventing fleas and ticks in dogs and cats is the use of powders. These powders contain insect and pest-repellent compounds.

The powder is dusted over the body of the pet and thoroughly rubbed into the fur even between the toes and paw pads.

Some side effects of using powder products on pets for treating fleas and ticks include diarrhea, vomiting, depression, appetite loss, and in some cases drooling.

Natural Treatments

The following are a few types of natural treatments and prevention methods for fleas and ticks in cats and dogs that are both safe and effective. However, if they don’t seem to be working or your pet shows signs of discomfort consult a veterinarian.

1.     Apple cider vinegar spray

If you want to go all-natural, apple cider vinegar can be a great option as it can help treat and prevent ticks and fleas in cats and dogs.

Although apple cider vinegar doesn't kill ticks or fleas, it will cause them to get off of your pet's body, providing some relief. Before using, dilute the apple cider vinegar (2:1) with water.

You may either spray it on your pet's fur or wet the comb and brush your pet's fur with it. If your pet feels discomfort, rinse its body with water, do not repeat the treatment anymore, and consult a veterinarian.

2.     Rosemary dip

If you don’t want chemicals over the body of your cat or dog, rosemary dip can be a great choice for getting rid of fleas and ticks. Rosemary is very effective against repelling pests, especially fleas.

Simply add rosemary leaves in boiling water for 30 minutes. The liquid is then strained and the leaves are removed. Add around a liter of warm water (depending on your pet's size). When the liquid is lukewarm, pour it over your pet's body, gently rubbing it into the fur and let it air dry.

3.     Citrus spray

Fleas can’t tolerate the smell of citrus and it can help drive them away, however, it doesn’t kill them.

Citrus, according to Dr. Ashley Geoghegan (from VetNaturally), is an excellent natural flea repellent.

You can quarter a lemon and put it in boiling water for ten minutes. After that, remove the lemon and set aside the liquid to cool overnight. You can also add rosemary leaves for added benefits to the liquid.

Once cooled, spray between your pet's shoulder blades, behind the ears, and around the neck area. Use fresh citrus instead of essential citrus oil, which can be unsafe for pets.

If your pet does not tolerate spray, you can extract fresh juice from a lemon or orange and rub it on your pet's coat. Stop the treatment if they get agitated or depressed.

4.     Neem oil

Neem oil is prepared from Neem leaves (a tree native to Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka). Neem oil is a potent insect and pest repellent and is a great all-natural way to treat ticks and fleas in cats and dogs.

It is, however, less effective against ticks than it is against fleas. You can apply this oil to your pet's fur and rub it into their skin. You can also incorporate a few drops of neem oil into your pet shampoo.

Do remember that some cats are sensitive to Neem oil, so if you notice any negative symptoms, such as drooling, after using the oil, take your cat to the vet.

5.     Coconut oil

Coconut oil doesn’t kill fleas or ticks but it can repel them as it contains lauric acid. Also once a flea comes in contact with the coconut oil, this oil coats their body and they will not be able to move.

Once you apply the oil you can use a flea comb and get rid of fleas providing some relief to your cat or dog.

6.     Ultrasonic tick and flea repeller

The ultrasonic collar tag is another all-natural, chemical-free solution for keeping fleas and ticks at bay.

Simply attach the tag to your dog or cat's collar and it will repel ticks and fleas.

7.     Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural solution that kills ticks and fleas. This ingredient dries out ticks and fleas and kills them.

Diatomaceous earth comes in a powder form and can be applied to your pet's coat, focusing on the back of the ears, between the shoulder blades, at the base of the neck and around the base of the tail.




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