Best Tick & Flea Control Products
Fleas and ticks are tiny parasites that survive by sucking the blood of mammals and birds - and your beloved pet is not immune to becoming a host. While fleas cause discomfort, certain tick bites can be deadly - making parasite protection a topic of prime concern.
Novartis promises that its Capstar Tablets provide rapid relief from an infestation of adult fleas in cats and dogs weighing 0.5-11 kilograms who are over 4 weeks old.
- Value for Money1.5 (2)
- Ease of Use1.0 (2)
- Side Effects None (1)
- Application TypeChewable
- Pet TypeCat and Dog
- Minimum Pet Age4 weeks
Elanco Comfortis provides a monthly beef-flavoured chewable tablet to attempt to safeguard against fleas. However, it can cause dangerous side effects in pets, including death.
- Value for Money2.5 (10)
- Ease of Use2.2 (10)
- Side Effects None (4), Short-term illness (4), Long-term illness (4) and Death (4)
- Application TypeChewable
- Pet TypeDog and Cat
- Reapplication PeriodMonthly
- Minimum Pet Age14 weeks
Sentinel Spectrum is made to protect dogs from heartworm, all major intestinal worms including hydatid tapeworm, and flea infestations. As a point of note, this medication doesn’t kill adult fleas.
- Value for Money2.5 (11)
- Ease of Use3.1 (10)
- Side Effects None (6) and Short-term illness (5)
- Application TypeChewable
- Pet TypeDog
- Reapplication PeriodMonthly
- Minimum Pet Age6 weeks
Promising to kill fleas within 30 minutes of application, Exelpet Capstar can kill fleas but can also cause harm to pets themselves.
While Bayer Advocate for dogs and cats claims to protects pets from a wide range of parasites, extensive reports of severe side effects have left many reviewers unhappy with this product.
Latest review: My cat has been severely lethargic, hiding constantly, vomiting 3 times a day, and won’t drink or eat after his first ever dose of revolution. It’s been 3 days and symptoms have not improved at all.
This topical treatment from Zoetis claims to offer protection for dogs and cats by covering a wide range of parasites to keep your pet healthy. However, it can be responsible for causing dangerous side effects, including death.
Latest review: After using Frontline for years I thought I would have a change. So bought Advantage and after giving it to my cats they became ill, foaming at the mouth and lethargic. I quickly washed off with
Latest review: One month later and fleas all over the house and dogs plus my dog had diarrhea. Please people this does not work. Please it must be taken off the
Latest review: Gave it to my dog the 1st time thought the diarrhea was the result of her just having an off day however after the 2nd does she had bloody/mucus diarrhea it has currently been 5 days and she is still
Latest review: Great stuff helped rid my dogs and Cats of those horrid sticky tight fleas, I need to do one more application my dogs and cats as it did not remove normal
Latest review: Bravecto killed my friends dog 3 days after she had taken it, she was sick could hardly move then through the night started vomiting blood and died 10 minutes later, heartbreaking. I hope people read
Latest review: Personal experience ,we purchased Seresto collars last year,had wonderful results with our 3 adult babies. We live in the Florida panhandle Hot, Humid & Hurricanes. Since our initial use we have
Latest review: 2 weeks after I applied this product to my dog the correct way, there are big fat attached healthy ticks on my dog. Product not working Dont get why. My vet said it was one of the best treatments
Designed to protect dogs from fleas and ticks, NexGard comes in the form of a small beef chew that provides 30 days of protection. However, this product will not suit all pets. Dangerous side effects have been reported in dogs, sometimes resulting in death.
Latest review: It works if you treat the dog and the fleas environment/ house otherwise yes of course they will always be there and jump back on just common sense . Perhaps combo of vacuuming/flea bombing / rid of
Latest review: My dog became very ill within a day of putting the collar on her, having nausea, anorexia and lethargy She recovered quite quickly though once it was removed. I wouldn’t recommend this product
Latest review: Less than 12 hours after wearing the Scalibor collar, my dog developed bloody chemical burn blisters. It took one week of antibiotics and 200.- to get my dog back on his feet. Of course Scalibor
Latest review: I've tried Frontline Plus on my cats 3 times now. It was on special at Pet Barn so I bought a few packs that should have lasted me a few months at least. The cats were scratching even after a had
Latest review: Four cats treated - one cat has bald spot on top of head where product was applied. Watching other three, noticed oil spot still lingers on one kitty. Vet recommended after taking all four kitties
- Fleas can be found all year round, however they’re more widespread in summer months and in warm, humid regions.
- One female flea is capable of producing up to 2, 000 eggs in her 3-week lifespan. After laying eggs, these will fall off your pet's body and hatch within 2-5 days, contaminating your home’s environment.
- Fleas jump from one host to another, so if you have more than one pet, you should automatically treat this as multiple infestations.
- Fleas host tapeworms, which can also be passed onto your pet if they eat the fleas.
- A flea bite often causes discomfort and itchiness in animals, and some cats and dogs are hypersensitive to the bite and also the saliva released by the flea, which results in an allergic reaction - flea allergy dermatitis. Pets may also constantly scratch and bite themselves, leading to further irritation.
What kills fleas instantly?
There are two types of cat and dog flea treatment.
Killing existing fleas
A number of products are designed to cause adult fleas to die and fall off your pet’s body within a short, stipulated period of time. Some products promise that existing fleas infesting your pet will drop off in just 30 minutes.
Some of these products also claim to kill ticks, and they all do so using a strong insecticide, such as nitenpyram.
They’re made with one purpose in mind - to kill fleas quickly. Most are ‘adulticides,’ meaning they only kill adult fleas. Source a product that also contains an insect growth regulator - as this will also kill eggs and larvae.
These products may provide immediate relief to your pet, however they are short-term solutions that deal temporarily with an existing infestation.
There’s usually nothing to stop fleas from jumping back on after the treatment time of instant-kill products is finished.
That’s why it’s important to have some kind of ongoing preventative treatment plan in place. This includes sourcing either a commercial flea prevention product or a natural flea treatment for dogs of cats. You'll also need to thoroughly clean your house.
When cleaning pay particular attention to areas your pet frequently rests (such as bedding and a kennel) - but the whole residence will need cleaning, as fleas and eggs are spread throughout a home.
Flea pupae can stay dormant in an environment for up to 12 months. Eggs then hatch and re-infest your pet - and you don't want either them or you to go through that again.
Flea prevention treatments
These medications aim to prevent flea infestations to begin with. They should be administered regularly, depending on the manufacturer's directions. There are products that need to be administered to your pet as a form of monthly protection. Other products need to be taken every 3 months or 6 months.
Fla prevention treatments are made to disrupt the flea life cycle, killing flea larvae and sometimes preventing eggs from hatching.
These treatments may not kill adult fleas already infesting your pet - which will likely necessitate the use of an adulticide, as discussed above.
- Ticks are tiny, blood-sucking parasites that latch onto your dog or cat using hook-like mouth parts.
- While around one-eighth of an inch in width to begin with, ticks can swell up to half an inch when ‘engorged.' This happens after the pest feasts on your pet’s blood.
- Ticks are found in the bush, on long grass and on native wildlife. If you live near bushland your dog is at a higher risk. However, even if your dog or cat only goes out to play in the yard occasionally, they can still pick up a tick from a bird or possum that has passed through the area.
Types of ticks
Brown dog ticks
These are the most common tick type in Australia, and is found across all Australian states. When latched onto your pet, it causes irritation and restlessness.
Ticks can also infect your pet with blood-borne diseases when they bite, including tick fever. Tick-borne illnesses can be contracted when a tick is left too long on an animal’s body. This includes Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
These are found in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia. They carry the same diseases as brown dog ticks, and will cause the same symptoms.
Found along coastal regions of eastern Australia, paralysis ticks are the most dangerous. The same symptoms are caused by the Southern Paralysis tick, found specifically in lower NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
Paralysis ticks release a toxin called holocyclotoxin into a host animal through their saliva, before biting. This toxin causes severe illness in pets, leading to paralysis, and potentially death.
Even if your cat or dog is bit by a tick and you successfully remove it from the body, it’s important to go to the vet straight away, as the toxin will still be doing its damage.
Also importantly, not all tick control medications protect pets against tick paralysis. If there are paralysis ticks where you live, make sure to source a product that protects against this specific type of dangerous tick.
What kills ticks immediately?
There are a number of products that can prevent ticks on dogs and cats. However, if your pet already has a tick on them, the first step is to remove the tick from your pet’s body.
There’s a method to this.
Ticks latch onto your pet's skin using their hook-like mouth parts.
Gross, right? This means if you try and pull a tick off your pet’s body without much thought, it probably won't budge.
Their mouths are firmly under the skin, forming a secure kind of anchor.
Don't try to twist or jerk the tick off - this means that while it's body may pop off, its mouth parts will stay inside your pet's skin.
Source the right tools.
It’s best to either buy a special tick tweezer or a tick removal hook. However, fine point tweezers will also work, if you have them.
First make sure your pet is calm, then grasp the tick with the instrument as close to your pet’s skin as possible. Pull straight up, gently. It may take a little while, but if you keep applying pressure with a steady hand, the tick will be successfully pulled off.
Killing the tick
Then you can move on to killing the tick. Place the tick in a secure jar along with some rubbing alcohol. Listerine may also do the trick. It’s important not to just throw the tick in the bin, as it’s still alive and can re-contaminate your pet.
Types of tick and flea control products
This refers to a variety of tablets or ‘tasty chews’ that you feed your pet, rather than applying it to their body, as you would with a topical treatment.
These treatments (particularly oral chews) may have to be chopped up and hidden in your pet’s food, as most won’t accept being hand-fed the medication.
Make sure to stick to the recommended dosage according to the manufacturer. This dose is often based on your pet’s size and weight.
- Commonly considered by vets as more effective than spot-on treatments, as the formulations often contain newer drugs.
- Suitable for dogs who love water as the treatment will be effective even if dogs bathe or swim frequently.
- Easier to administer than topical treatments, provided that your pet enjoys the taste and eats the tablet with no fuss.
- Some pets find oral treatments unpalatable and will spit the chew out. Others may eat it without fuss, but vomit it up later.
- Can smell like chemicals which makes pets avoid them, due to their sensitive, powerful noses.
- Can be easy to forget to stick to the treatment schedule, making treatment ineffective.
Pictured in the image above, these medications have a gel-like consistency and are applied from a small tube. They’re applied to a specific spot on your pet, for example high up on the back of your dog’s neck - so they can’t lick it off.
- An easier alternative to oral treatments if your pet point-blank refuses to eat any form of flea and tick medication.
- Can be safer than oral treatments, as the medicine rarely goes into the bloodstream - however this depends on the specific medication and the specific animal, as adverse reactions are difficult to predict.
- Can be difficult to apply correctly. The liquid must be applied directly onto your pet’s skin, rather than their outer fur, and incorrect application will make the product useless.
- Chemicals easily rub off after application, and can contaminate the house or kid’s hands.
- Not waterproof so if your pet loves to get themselves wet, it renders the treatment ineffective if they end up in water up to 48 hours after application.
Spraying for fleas is similar to applying a spot-on treatment in the sense that it's applied onto your pet's skin. However, it will come in a spray bottle, and have a liquid consistency.
- Fast acting formulations mean you can give your pet a spray before heading out to bushy areas or parts of land with long grass, and have the medicine kick in before arriving.
- Time consuming and not-so-easy to apply as the entire body has to be sprayed evenly. For example, Frontline Spray requires 80 pumps to be effective on a large dog.
- Must be applied frequently, for example Frontline Spray must be applied once every 3 weeks to be effective against paralysis ticks.
- Not as readily available as other flea and tick control treatments.
- The safest option when it comes to flea and tick control, as adverse reactions are less common. However, this also means they aren’t necessarily as strong, and could require the use of a spray in between washes.
- Requires regular washing - at least once every 2 weeks in spring and summer, which are peak seasons for ticks to be a menace.
Flea and tick collars
These look like regular pet collars, but they’re infused with chemicals that repel fleas and ticks.
- Last a long time as these collars can be worn for several months at a time.
- Doesn’t require ticks to bite before the active ingredients kick in, unlike other treatments.
- Collar must touch your pet’s skin in order for it to be effective. Even then, some collars may only be effective at keeping fleas and ticks away from the head and neck, rather than the whole body.
- Can cause allergic reactions as the chemicals will constantly be touching your dog’s skin. They may show signs of visible discomfort, such as scratching or trying to take the collar off.
- Varying treatment times for fleas and ticks may mean you have to find some interim solution. For example, the Seresto Tick and Flea Collar protects against fleas for 8 months, but keeps away ticks for only 4 months.
An important note about side effects
Flea and tick preventatives can be dangerous to pets
This can seem counter-intuitive, as these products are designed to protect a pet from harm and keep them healthy.
However, these products can be dangerous because the active ingredients are strong pesticides. These are required to kill fleas and ticks, by forcing their nervous systems to fail.
However, because these harsh chemicals are released into your pet’s bloodstream, they can cause serious side effects. The most extreme of these, tragically, is death.
For example, products containing isoxazoline class drugs (such as Bravecto, Nexgard and Simparica) have been scientifically proven to bring a risk of muscle tremors, impaired movement and seizures.
Some products are dangerous for cats
Make sure to choose a product specifically designed for cats. Many flea and tick products contain permethrin, which is extremely toxic to cats and causes extreme side effects, the worst of which is death. Advantix is an example, and should never be used on cats.
Be as informed as possible before buying
While it can be difficult to predict whether your pet will suffer an adverse reaction, it doesn’t hurt to be as informed as possible before beginning a course of flea and tick treatment.
Do independent research beyond the manufacturer’s promises of safety, to see if there are any contra-indications that may suggest it's unsafe for a medication to be given to your pet. This includes reading reviews from other pet owners.
Always seek the advice of a vet if you’re unsure - or if your pet is breeding, pregnant, lactating, or experiences an ongoing health condition. They may not be able to take these medications at all.
Puppies and kittens can only start taking these medications after they're a certain number of weeks in age (depending on the specific product). Again, if you're unsure, consulted with your trusted vet in this instance as well.
Due to the potential risk of harm from these products, safety is also a more important consideration than price.
Finding the right flea and tick treatment for dogs and cats can provide peace of mind for both you and your beloved fur companion. However since these products contain strong chemicals, they can be dangerous to pets.
Doing research into a prospective product to make sure it's likely to be suitable for your pet is recommended. You can then balance this with other considerations, such as effectiveness, convenience, and whether to pair your new medication with a or buy a combined flea, tick and worm prevention product.