The most widespread concern for pet owners is often fleas and ticks on dogs. These insects are most likely to strike during spring and summer although pets can pick them up throughout most of the year.

Dogs are at the highest risk of attack since they spend the most time outdoors and around areas where they are likely to pick up the parasites. The good news for pet owners is flea and tick infestations are not just treatable but also preventable.

Get Free Pest Control Estimates
Connect with local pest control professionals near you.

    How Fleas and Ticks Get On Your Dog

    Despite your best efforts, it is possible that your dog will contract fleas or ticks since there are so many different ways to get them.

    The great outdoors may be exciting for your dog but there are infinite places where ticks and fleas may be laying in wait. Potential places where your dog may pick them up include during walks around the neighborhood, at the veterinarian office, playing with other dogs, at the groomer, at boarding kennels, and even in your own back yard.

    That’s my dog’s tail sticking out of a barberry bush. Shortly after this photo, and after reading that these bushes are known to be excellent hiding places for ticks, I ripped them out.

    Human beings can also pick them up from their pets or in hiking areas where ticks and fleas are plentiful. These parasites are masters at hiding and can easily latch on to shoes, socks, and pant legs without detection.

    They also like to feed on animals such as small rodents, raccoons, squirrels, and skunks. These animals may break into your yard despite your best efforts to secure it, and introduce the pests to your property.

    Homeowners who leave pet food or water outside are likely to unwittingly attract other animals foraging for a meal. These intruders may be carrying fleas and ticks, which are especially a concern if you have feral cats around your property.

    How to Prevent Fleas and Ticks

    As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. You don’t have to sit and wait until the next time your pet is attacked.

    Here are the best ways to protect your dogs from fleas and ticks:

    1. Tidy Up Your Yard

    The first step to successful tick prevention is keeping your lawn mowed, pruning your trees and shrubs, and removing any piles of leaves as soon as possible. Adult ticks and fleas like to hide in tall grass, bushes, and clutter so keeping a clean and neat yard will go a long way to making the environment unsuitable for the pests.

    I also strongly recommend that you check out our longer guide on how to keep ticks out of your yard if you live in an area susceptible to ticks (especially if your home is next to wooded areas).

    Additionally, both of these pests love to feed on wildlife, so it’s recommended to deter as many unwanted animals away from your property. Animals that often introduce adult fleas and ticks to your property include raccoons, coyotes, opossums, and skunks among other animals.

    It’s not simply that these animals may be bringing live ticks to your yard — they may also deposit eggs that end up hatching and infesting your yard and pets. Every precaution you take to keep wildlife out of your yard brings you a step closer to getting rid of infestations in and around your home.

    2. Use a Flea and Tick Collar

    Flea and tick collars are great products for keeping ticks and fleas away from your pet. The collars release gas or other substances that are toxic to fleas but safe to use on your pet’s skin. The substance soaks into the animal’s fur and skin and repels or kills these pests on contact. Read below about one of the best flea and tick collars for dogs.

    Seresto Flea and Tick Collar

    Seresto Flea and Tick Collar are great tick products that keeps your dog safe. You place the collar around your dog’s neck and it periodically releases small doses of powerful active ingredients on your dog’s fur to exterminate any ticks and fleas before they have a chance to stay too long on your dog.

    The flea collar works for up to 8 months and is waterproof. I also recommend using a flea comb regularly (to help spot ticks in addition to combating fleas).

    3. Spray a Vinegar Solution on Your Dog

    Mix in one or two parts vinegar and one part water into a spray bottle and shake vigorously. Spray the solution on your pets, being careful not to get it into the dog’s eyes.

    You can also mix in the vinegar and water in a bowl, dip a comb into the solution and comb your dog’s fur to get the mixture deep into the coat.

    This solution doesn’t kill fleas but is shown to be effective for repelling them.

    4. Keep Things Clean

    A simple yet very effective way of keeping ticks and fleas off your dogs is to maintain a clean indoor environment. This especially true for dog beds or any other items that your dog touches often such as dog furniture and pillows, carpets where the dog likes to lie, and any dog toys.

    Vacuum and wash your pet’s bedding thoroughly and as often as possible to prevent ticks and fleas from infesting your home.

    5. Treat for Ticks and Fleas All Year

    Ticks and fleas thrive in temperatures between 65°F and 80°F and are bountiful during summer and spring. However, these critters can also survive indoors during the winter or deep inside animal fur.

    Experts recommend practicing preventative treaetments for fleas all year round and not simply wait until flea and tick season to begin the tick treatment.

    Frontline Plus

    Frontline Plus is a topical treatment for large breeds (between 45 and 88 pounds) that protects your dogs against ticks, fleas, mites, and chewing lice. The product is easy to apply and works for up to 30 days.

    Such a treatment ensures that your dog continues with his routine including playing outside without risk of picking up the dreaded pests, including during peak tick and flea season.

    Advantage II Flea Treatment

    Advantage II Flea Treatment is a great alternative for smaller dog breeds weighing between 3 and 10 pounds. This product provides active protection against fleas for up to 30 days including protection from flea eggs and larvae. Advantage II Flea Treatment is waterproof so you don’t need to place any limits on your pet.

    Get Free Pest Control Estimates
    Connect with local pest control professionals near you.

    6. Inspect Your Dog Regularly

    Check your dog for fleas and ticks every time you come in from outside, especially during high tick season. Spotting fleas and ticks on your dog and treating them early drastically reduces the chances of your dog getting sick and the pests multiplying inside the house.

    Run your fingers slowly through your pet’s fur feeling for any crusty spots, bumps, or lumps. Feeling any of these may indicate that your dog has ticks. Pay attention to the face, ears, belly, and legs where ticks prefer to hide.

    Run a fine-tooth comb through your pet’s hair and check for tiny spots that seem to be moving. This is what fleas look like.

    Final Thoughts About Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs

    In my years as a professional pest control technician, I’ve seen the havoc that fleas and ticks can wreak on pets and households. These tiny yet troublesome parasites don’t discriminate, and they can affect your furry companions and your family’s well-being. However, the good news is that with the right preventive measures and treatments, you can keep these pests at bay and ensure a healthier, happier environment for everyone.

    Remember, prevention is your first line of defense. Maintaining a clean and well-groomed yard, using flea and tick collars, applying vinegar solutions, and practicing year-round treatment can significantly reduce the risk of flea and tick infestations. Regularly inspecting your dog for these pests is another crucial step in early detection and treatment.

    By following these guidelines, you’re not only protecting your pet from the discomfort of flea bites and potential health problems like anemia and skin irritation but also guarding against more severe diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

    FAQ About Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs

    What are the signs of a flea infestation in my home?

    Signs of a flea infestation include excessive scratching and biting by your pet, small dark specks (flea feces) in their fur, and tiny jumping insects on your pet’s skin or bedding. You may also notice skin irritation and red, itchy bites on yourself or family members.

    Can fleas and ticks cause health problems for my dog?

    Yes, fleas and ticks can lead to various health issues for your dog, including anemia due to blood loss from flea bites. Ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can have severe consequences for your pet’s health.

    How can I protect my dog's skin from flea and tick bites?

    To protect your dog’s skin, use preventive measures like flea and tick collars, topical treatments, or oral medications recommended by your veterinarian. Regular grooming and inspecting your dog for pests can also help safeguard their skin.

    What is the connection between fleas, ticks, and Lyme disease?

    Lyme disease is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected black-legged ticks (deer ticks). While fleas do not transmit Lyme disease, they can still pose health risks to your pet. Both fleas and ticks require proactive prevention to keep your dog safe and healthy.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Ben Cannon

    Ben Cannon

    Learn More