Resource Center Menu

Flea & Tick Treatment Options for Your Pet

Almost nothing strikes more fear in the heart of a pet owner than coming to the realization that their pet is suffering from fleas or ticks. Dealing with a flea or tick infestation can be a long and drawn-out process, but the first stage involves identifying that your pet actually has fleas or ticks and then figuring out the best way to treat them. Here’s some advice to get you started.

How to tell if your cat or dog has fleas

Fleas can be hard to detect early in their life cycle, but there are some telltale signs to look for. Use a cat flea comb or a dog flea comb to search for the physical pest and be on the lookout for the following additional signs of an infestation:

  • Excessive itching, scratching or chewing
  • Tiny, red, raised bumps or pimples
  • Flea dirt— tiny black or dark red droppings that smear into reddish brown streaks when a damp white paper towel is wiped over an infested pet’s coat
  • Hair loss

Flea & tick treatments at Petco

How to tell if your cat or dog has ticks

Ticks are often visible to the human eye if you look carefully. Particularly focus on warm, dark, sheltered areas, like ears and armpits and between the toes. Other signs include:

  • Excessive licking, chewing or scratching of a specific area or an unexplained scab
  • Fever
  • A small bump or lump
  • Head shaking

Treating your pet for fleas or ticks

There are a number of things to keep in mind before you begin any sort of treatment. First, always use the appropriate product on the appropriate animal—don’t use a flea treatment meant for dogs on a cat—and follow all instructions. If your pet has specific health considerations—like if they are like if they are pregnant, have allergies or are taking medications—be sure to discuss your options with your veterinarian.

Flea and tick treatment doses are often based on your pet’s age and weight, and you’ll always want to pay special attention to any adverse reactions. These can include everything from skin redness or swelling to vomiting, scratching and other unusual behaviors. Although it is possible to remove ticks yourself, it’s important to understand the proper way to remove a tick before doing so. With all of that in mind, some of the more common pest treatments include:

  • Oral treatment and prevention: A few pest products start working within 15 minutes to an hour and are great options when a fast resolution is needed. Discuss the recommended options with your vet.
  • Flea and tick shampoo: Flea shampoos are designed to kill fleas immediately as well as clean, deodorize and condition the coat, an ongoing prevention method should then be implemented 
  • Flea and tick spot treatment: Generally used on a monthly basis to control a population by killing adults and preventing eggs from hatching. Spot treatments vary, so it’s best to discuss your options with your veterinarian. 
  • Flea and tick spray: Topical treatments that can be used to kill fleas on contact
  • Flea dip: A medicated dip that can be used after bathing to remove existing fleas.
  • Environmental treatments for homes and yards: Sprays, bombs and powders can be effective at reducing the pest population to reduce the risk your pet brings pests back inside after they have been treated

No matter which treatment option you choose to combat a pest infestation, it is important that you also work with your veterinarian to develop a year-round prevention strategy for your particular pet. This will not only help prevent a future infestation, but also help protect your pet from the diseases and complications that these pests cause and transmit.
Although dealing a flea and tick infestation can be frustrating, the most important thing is to remain calm and to ensure you follow all the appropriate steps to start helping your pet feel better in the immediate and remain that way. Stick with it! It's an important factor in preventing conditions like Lyme disease.  


Use our weather tool to check
flea & tick activity in your area.