Fleas, Pet Care Basics, Pharmacy Tips

Flea & Tick Prevention: Comparison of Flea and Tick Meds for Dogs

Is prescription flea medicine better than over the counter? Flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats has greatly evolved and expanded since initially being introduced to pet owners. However, due to the overwhelming number of products available, it can be difficult to choose the product that is most appropriate for your pet.

As we compare flea and tick meds for dogs and learn more about flea and tick prevention we are asking, “Are we needing to treat or prevent adult fleas or eggs and larvae?” or “What type of ticks do we need to prevent?”

Flea and tick products are generally classified into three categories: natural remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) products, and prescription flea and tick medicine for dogs and cats.

Prescription Flea Medication vs Over the Counter

In comparison to prescription products, OTC flea and tick prevention products are occasionally cheaper and easier to obtain since no prescription is required. Although OTC products may have a place in therapy, it is important to note they contain some of the first ingredients introduced to the marketplace for flea and tick prevention, and some resistance has since developed. Furthermore, OTC products can lack the residual effect that is generally important in preventing re-infestations. Therefore, the efficacy of certain OTC products is questionable. If you choose to use an OTC product, it is also critical to thoroughly read the package labeling to ensure safe and proper use.

Prescription flea and tick meds are typically a more expensive option for prevention and treatment, but their ability to perform well for their intended use often outweighs any financial burden. Generally, prescription preventions are given orally or applied topically on a once monthly basis. There are a select number of products that are given less frequently. As an added convenience, many prescription products have been formulated to treat multiple types of parasites, both external (i.e.fleas/ticks) and internal (i.e. worms). Your veterinarian can suggest and prescribe which of these products are best for your pet.

Natural Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs and Cats

Natural remedies are the least common type of prevention or treatment; justly so, as there has been no official efficacy data published to report the success of these products for flea and tick prevention. If you choose to use a natural method, be mindful of the product components and ensure the product does not contain ingredients that could be potentially harmful to your pet.

Which Flea and Tick Treatment is Best for My Dog

There are many factors to consider when choosing a flea and tick medication including the following: ease of use (oral or topical), flavoring, type of ingredients used in the product (efficacy), price, animal breed, pet allergens, pet age and weight, breeding, pregnant or nursing pets, geographic region, etc. Therefore, it is always important to first consult your veterinarian regarding which option may be best suited for your pet.

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If you have a question about a flea or tick prescription item, call our experienced and knowledgeable Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751 and learn more about the Revival Full Service Pharmacy.


Mealy, K.L., Langston, C., Varela-Stokes, A. Pharmacotherapeutics for Veterinary Dispensing, First Edition; pages 127-169. Published 2019 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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