Fleas. Ticks. However tiny, they can wreak havoc on pets (most commonly dogs and cats) and even humans. So, it’s important — for the health of the entire household — to find and use the most effective products.
While there are products that are universal for dogs, cats and other pets, some are made for specific animals and their varying needs.
The Spruce Pets (thesprucepets.com) conducted independent research and testing of a whole host of flea and tick products earlier last year, breaking down the best of the best remedies geared toward cats and dogs — from collars to combs to outdoor treatments.
Best collar: Seresto Flea & Tick Prevention Collar. This is effective for a full eight months, with a formulation that’s odorless and non-greasy. In addition to preventing an adult flea infestation, this product is also effective against flea eggs and larvae.
Best shampoo: Sentry Pet Care PurrScriptions Flea and Tick Shampoo. The formulation of this product is known to kill fleas, ticks and lice on contact. An added bonus… it adds luster to the cat’s coat and features a coconut berry scent.
Best yard treatment: Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Yard & Kennel Spray. It’s formulated with essential oils and plant-based ingredients, making it “safe to use around your family and won’t harm trees, shrubs or flowers.”
Best waterless shampoo: Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Waterless Bath for Cats. Spruce Pets editors/researchers found that this product is effective and “perfect for the bath averse.” It also works well on cats that may have allergies to topical applications.
Best cat spray: Bayer Advantage Flea and Tick Spray. This treatment is effective in killing fleas, ticks and lice on cats as well as in bedding, upholstery and other areas those tiny pests burrow into.
Best fast-acting treatment: Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment. A single dose kills the fleas on a cat in about six hours.
Best overall treatment: Bayer Advantage II Flea Prevention for Small Cats. According to the Spruce Pets research, this is a “set-and-forget solution” that’s effective against fleas for four weeks. It starts working in 12 hours, killing adult fleas as well as larvae and eggs.
Best comb: Safari Flea Comb for Cats. It pulls adult fleas out of the cat’s fur without causing discomfort.
Chewy, which sells everything pet-related (from medicines to food, treats and toys), ranks the top flea and tick prevention and treatment products based on customer ratings.
The aforementioned eight-month Seresto Flea & Tick Prevention Collar is a favorite for cats, as is the Advantage II Flea Treatment (available for large and small cats), which is specifically formulated to kill all life stages of fleas on contact. Capstar Flea Tablets are another highly ranked product. According to pet experts at chewy.com, the tablets help eliminate fleas in cats and kittens with a fast-acting formula that starts working within 30 minutes; it’s been proven to be more than 90 percent effective in eliminating adult fleas within just hours.
Cheristin Flea & Tick Spot Treatment, formulated specifically for cats, is effective for a full month after application. It’s known to kill 98 to 100 percent of fleas with just 12 hours.
For dogs, Spruce Pets experts found the best overall product to be Bravecto Chews for Dogs. This is a prescription-only medication that requires veterinarian approval; it’s known as one of the best flea and tick preventatives on the market.
Best for large dogs: Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Large Breed Dog Treatment; best for small dogs: Bayer Animal Health Advantage II Flea Treatment for Small Dogs, a topical preventative treatment that protects against fleas, eggs and larvae; best collar goes to Seresto 8 Month Flea & Tick Prevention Collar; best natural treatment: Natural Care Dog & Cat Flea & Tick Spray; best shampoo: Richard’s Organics Flea & Tick Shampoo; best spray: Vet’s Best Dog Flea + Tick Home Spray; best for instant relief: Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs — a single dose of this oral treatment kills 90 percent of adult fleas and can be given once a day until the infestation has been resolved.
Prevention is key
Prevention of a flea and/or tick problem is crucial for the health and wellbeing of pets and humans alike. Not only are those little pests annoying, they can also prompt health problems such as dermatitis, anemia and tapeworm (among others). Ticks, in particular, are breeders of Lyme disease.
The most common preventative treatment products include Frontline Plus, Advantage, Stronghold/Revolution and Bravecto. Preventing fleas and ticks from even entering the home in the first place is ideal. Spruce Pets, in their research, found the best home and outdoor treatment products:
Best overall is Vet’s Best Dog Flea + Tick Home Spray; best for prevention: Natural Care Dog & Cat Flea & Tick Spray; best powder: PetArmor Home Carpet Powder for Pets; best fogger: Hot Shot Bedbug & Flea Fogger; best trap: Victor Ultimate Flea Trap; best for yards: Advantage Yard & Premise Spray.
Sometimes, however, it’s too late for prevention. If a dog or cat is experiencing symptoms or behaviors commonly associated with flea and tick infestation — namely movement in the fur, restlessness and/or excessive itching or chewing on the skin — choosing the best and most effective remedies is key. Along with veterinarians, pet stores can offer recommendations for the best treatments and remedies. But be ready — some basic trial and error may be your best bet.