Ask a UW Veterinarian: Tips for Choosing Tick Protection


This expert response comes from Amy Nichelason and Maria Verbrugge, clinical assistant professor and clinical instructor, respectively, of primary care services at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine.

Question: Many types of tick prevention products are available. Is one type better or more effective than another?

Answer: As the weather begins to warm, it’s important to protect your pet against ticks. There are many tick preventatives to choose from, including oral chews, collars, and topicals, so it can be confusing for pet owners to know what to use.

All flea and tick products available from a veterinarian are around 98 to 99 percent effective. These prevention methods kill fleas and ticks by targeting chemical receptors only present on fleas and ticks, making them generally safe for mammals. Which one you choose depends on the lifestyle of your dog or cat.

A topical tick guard, for instance, isn’t as desirable if your pet gets baths or swims often. A collar is simple and easy. Tick prevention chews can be paired with heartworm protection, which you should also give to your pets, making this a convenient option.

Talk to your veterinarian about the safest option for your pet, and use whatever works best for you and your animal.

One crucial point is to ensure the preventative you buy is designated for the animal you have, as the dose and type of chemical vary between dogs and cats and could be ineffective or even dangerous if used incorrectly.

No matter what approach you choose, tick prevention methods don’t last forever. Depending on the type and brand, they need to be repeated every month or every few months.

Ticks are present year-round, but it is especially crucial to remember to administer tick preventatives in the spring, summer, and fall months when people and pets spend more time outside.

Likewise, even though tick preventatives are highly effective, it is still essential to routinely check your pet for ticks, especially if your pet is outdoors often. Collectively, these prevention methods protect not only your pet but you and your family from ticks.

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