Choosing the best dog tick treatment depends primarily on considering the effectiveness of the treatment, potential side effects and cost. Options include prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines and holistic treatments. Convenience also might be a factor, depending on whether you want — or will remember — to apply it daily, weekly or monthly. Choosing the best treatment likely should start with a visit to your veterinarian.
An examination by a veterinarian can determine if your dog even has ticks and the extent of the problem. Once that is known, he or she can help you decide whether the problem is severe enough to warrant prescription medication — or any treatment at all. If ticks are found, then the veterinarian may order tests to see if the ticks are causing any other medical issues for your pet.
Once it has been determined that dog tick treatment is necessary, there are several options to consider. Topical medications are among the most common forms of treatment. If you choose to go this route, then you should check the various options to see how often they must be applied and where. A treatment that requires daily application might be the best option if you can get into a routine of applying it daily, though a weekly or monthly application might be easier if your busy schedule makes more frequent application difficult. The key is finding a treatment plan you can follow, because even the best treatment — whether prescription or over the counter — only works when actually used.
Pills, sprays, collars and shampoos also are available. The convenience of a pill will depend on the animal and may be the most difficult option if the animal doesn’t like to take pills. Sprays, collars and shampoos all should be fairly easy to use. You should, however, be certain of the dog's weight before giving it any tick treatment, to avoid a dosage that is dangerously high or ineffectively low. It is important not to use a dog tick treatment on a cat or vice versa, and puppies and elderly dogs may require additional precautions to protect delicate immune systems.
Tick medications sometimes include harsh chemicals such as pesticides, and side effects can include nausea, diarrhea and skin irritation. Serious problems, such as nervous disorders, also have been linked to some tick medications. Some of the ingredients in traditional tick medications also are known carcinogens to people. Dog tick treatments also may result in lethargic animals with dilated pupils, and any such reaction should warrant an immediate call to a veterinarian.
If side effects are a concern, you may want to consider a natural dog tick treatment. Such a treatment typically contains no harsh chemicals and can be purchased in stores or online. Others may be a do-it-yourself treatment for which you purchase the ingredients and combine them at home. Even natural treatments should be mentioned to your veterinarian, who can confirm its safety or share any necessary precautions.
While a natural dog tick treatment can avoid harsh chemicals, reviews are mixed as to whether such treatments are effective, and they still can present a problem for dogs with allergies. Peppermint, cedar, cinnamon, lemongrass and thyme are commonly used as natural tick preventives. Castor oil and sesame oil also are used in some holistic treatments. Any ingredients that may trigger allergies in your pet should be avoided.