Misfit Animals is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn More.

How Often Do Dogs Need Flea and Tick Treatment?

This is not medical advice. For medical advice regarding pets, see your veterinarian.

Dogs need flea and tick treatment at least every month, especially in warmer periods. The concentration of antiparasitic products depends on the weight and age of your dog. Using products in any other way risks intoxicating your pet.

With the arrival of spring and the warm season, dog owners are beginning to worry about fleas and ticks.

These bloodsucking external parasites can infest dogs and even your homes. Infected fleas and ticks can transmit bacteria and parasites, endangering your dog’s life.

This is where prevention comes in. Prevention is the best weapon against fleas and ticks.

In this article, you will find out what to do if your dog has fleas and ticks, how flea and tick products work, how often you should treat your dog, and more.

What to Do if My Dog Has Fleas or Ticks?

If your dog has fleas and ticks, you can apply antiparasitic substances or give it chewable tablets. You can also bathe your pet with antiparasitic shampoo and administer a spot-on pipette or other products afterward.

In cases of massive flea infestations, fleas and ticks are easy to spot on a dog. But how do you identify them if they are not so visible on your dog’s skin?

Here are some tips for identifying fleas and ticks on dogs:

  1. Thoroughly inspect your dog’s entire body, from head to tail.
  2. Keep an eye out for intense itching and scratching.
  3. If you see small black insects that jump or run away quickly when exposed, they are probably fleas.
  4. If you see small black dots that leave a red stain when you make them wet, they are flea droppings.
  5. Pass a flea comb through your dog’s fur to catch the fleas and their droppings, if any.
  6. If you see anything that looks like moles or skin tags, inspect them carefully because it can be a tick.
  7. Engorged ticks are as big as a small grape, silver, green or gray.

The differences between flea and tick eggs

Flea eggs Tick eggs
Oval Round
White Brown-reddish and translucent
Non-sticky Sticky
Fleas can lay eggs on your pet Ticks lay eggs in the environment
Drop off your pet They can stick to your pet’s fur if it passes nearby

If your dog has ticks or fleas, including eggs, you can most likely get rid of them if you apply a flea and tick treatment.

You can also give your dog a bath with antiparasitic shampoo to get rid of the massive infestation, but after that, you have to apply a treatment for fleas and ticks.

If you do not have shampoo or other products against fleas and ticks, you can bathe your dog with Dawn dish soap and get rid of the massive infestation. Dawn dish soap kills fleas successfully but is not as effective for ticks. 

Make sure you rinse your dog thoroughly after washing it with dish soap.

What to Do if My Dog Has Fleas or Ticks

How Often Do Dogs Need Flea and Tick Treatment?

The time of application or administration of antiparasitic products depends on the product. Spot-on pipettes are applied every four weeks, while collars are effective between four and eight months. If your dog is sensitive to topical antiparasitic substances, you can give it chewable tablets every five or eight weeks.

Products such as spot-on pipettes, collars, or antiparasitic powders work by depositing the insecticide in the sebaceous glands of your pet’s skin. A reservoir is created, and the substance is released in time. Antiparasitics act on the nervous system of fleas and ticks, making them unable to feed.

Chewable tablet products, once ingested, enter your dog’s bloodstream. When the parasites come to feed, they will eat a meal of blood and antiparasitic substances, causing them to die.

How often you need to administer these products to your dog depends on the product you want to use. 

Each product has the time written on the label. If you no longer have the package but know the product’s name, contact your veterinarian. They can clarify.

Here is a guide that can help you decide what product is best for your dog.

Product Application interval
Spot-on pipettes 4 weeks
Collars 4-8 months*
Powders Once/twice per week or twice per month*
Sprays 4 weeks
Shampoos Every one or two weeks*
Chewable tablets 4-5 weeks*

*the application interval depends on the product

Related: When Can I Give My Dog Another Flea Treatment?

Spot-on Pipettes

Spot-on pipettes or flea drops are ready-to-use antiparasitic products. They are available in disposable bottles and are used locally on the top and back of the head – areas where your dog cannot reach.[1]

These products have a certain concentration depending on the weight – smaller dogs need a lower concentration than larger breeds.

Most pipettes are effective against fleas, and some are also effective against other parasites, such as:

  • Ticks
  • Lice
  • Mosquitoes
  • Parasitic worms, such as Dirofilaria spp.

The efficiency of these products usually lasts up to four weeks.

If your dog is sensitive to one of the active ingredients in these products, you can try spot-on pipettes with organic ingredients. They also have flea and tick-killing properties and work as repellents.

When applying topical products, you have to wait 48 hours before bathing your dog.

Spot-on Pipettes

Collars

Antiparasitic collars are effective in treating fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Some brands of antiparasitic collars can also be helpful in stopping flea larvae from molting into adults.

The effect of these products lasts between four and eight months, depending on the brand. There are also herbal antiparasitic collars, which are effective for up to four months.

Preventive efficacy against tick and flea collars in dogs is 100%, according to studies.[2]

Chewable Antiparasitic Tablets

Chewable tablets are typically used for dogs that are allergic to active ingredients in topical antiparasitic products.

These products are also suited for families with small children. Young children are not careful when they pet dogs that have antiparasitic products applied. They can constantly touch the areas where the substances are, and then put their hands in their mouths. 

Children up to the age of five are most at risk of intoxicating with veterinary pharmaceuticals.[3]

Studies have shown that the antiparasitic substance fluralaner is well tolerated by dogs over the age of eight weeks, weighing at least two kilograms. It does also not give clinically relevant side effects.[4]

Chewable tablets are given every five to eight weeks, depending on the product.

Chewable Antiparasitic Tablets for dogs

Sprays

Antiparasitic sprays have to be designed for pets. Do not use products intended for your home or garden on your dog as there is a risk of intoxication. 

These products are often used against massive flea or tick infestations when you want the parasites to die immediately. Some sprays are effective up to four weeks after application, while for other brands, you have to reuse the product every few days.

Antiparasitic spray for pets

Powders

Antiparasitic powders are not as effective as other products. You can sprinkle them on your pet’s fur, especially in the areas where you find the most fleas and ticks.

They can be applied once/twice per week or twice per month, depending on the product.

Make sure your pet does not ingest the product.

Shampoos

Antiparasitic shampoos are especially suited for lactating dogs, as the active substance is washed off when rinsing.

These shampoos can be used every one or two weeks, depending on the product.

Regardless of the product, be sure to contact your veterinarian first.

Antiparasitic shampoo for pets

How to Prevent Fleas and Ticks on My Dog

The most effective way to prevent fleas and ticks is to use spot-on pipettes or antiparasitic collars. These products are 100% effective. In rare cases, dogs can be allergic to some of the active ingredients or become intoxicated if they ingest the product.

Prevention is key. Spot-on pipettes and antiparasitic collars are the most used and recommended to prevent fleas and ticks on dogs.

Apply the products twice per month, monthly, or every few months, depending on the chosen product.

In hot periods when the number of external parasites increases considerably, it is recommended to use two or more products at the same time:

  • Spot-on pipette and antiparasitic collar
  • Antiparasitic collar, shampoo, and spot-on pipette
  • Antiparasitic powder and collar

Related: How to Prevent Ticks on Dogs

How to Prevent Fleas and Ticks on My Dog

Why Is Flea and Tick Prevention Important?

Prevention of fleas and ticks in dogs is important because these external parasites can transmit dangerous diseases to pets. If left untreated, these conditions can often be fatal to your four-legged friend.

Dogs are treated for fleas and ticks for several reasons:

  • They make the animal scratch intensely
  • They can cause skin infections
  • Their bites can lead to allergies
  • The dog may become anemic if it is heavily infested
  • They can infest your home
  • They transmit dangerous diseases that can cause the death of your dog

Ticks can transmit several dangerous diseases to dogs:

  • Lyme disease
  • Babesiosis
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Hepatozoonosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Bartonellosis

Some ticks in Australia can cause tick paralysis in dogs. This condition is manifested through coughing, heavy breathing, wobbly legs, and the inability to stand. The pet may die in 48 hours.

The diseases fleas transmit are:

  • Bartonellosis
  • Rickettsiosis
  • Plague (in rare cases)
  • Tapeworms

Should Dogs Have Flea Treatment All Year?

Dogs have to be treated all year round for fleas and ticks. Even if the number of these parasites increases in the warmer months, they can be present all year round, especially in areas with mild winters.

Fleas can survive up to five days at temperatures of 33℉ (0.5℃). They only need a moment to jump on your dog and then enter your home, where they can grow and multiply.

About 1/5 of the tick population die if the temperature drops below 10℉ (-12℃) for several days. The ticks that can survive in such conditions are especially the females. Due to their robust body, they can survive cold winters to lay their eggs in the spring.[5]

FAQ

Do All Dogs Need Flea Treatment?

Yes, all dogs after the age of eight weeks need flea treatment, especially if you take them outside for a walk. Ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes transmit dangerous diseases to pets.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.