Flea and Tick Treatments

There are two methods of administering flea and tick control: topical and systemic.


A common way of administering flea and tick treatment is by applying a pre-measured liquid to the dog or cat’s skin. Topical products can work in one of two ways. One type of product such as Advantage, stays within the intradermal layer of the skin and sheds with the release of skin cells and oils in the coat and does not enter the pet’s bloodstream. The active ingredient in this type of product works by killing parasites on contact, and in many cases, the parasite doesn’t need to bite the pet in order to be destroyed by the treatment. A topical treatment such as Revolution or Bravecto for cats is applied topically and absorbed into the bloodstream. As soon as a flea or tick takes a meal, it will die. In the case of ticks, they will die before they have a chance to transmit an infectious disease such as Lyme’s disease. These doses are measured according to weight, so having this information ready when you are purchasing the product at your veterinarian or bring your pet along for the ride is very helpful! Depending on the product used, these treatments can be effective in treating fleas, ticks, heartworms, ear mites, intestinal hookworm, and roundworm.


Enter the magic ingredient: Fluralaner. This is the active ingredient in Bravecto oral, a treatment that has a 3-month active time frame. It works by being absorbed into the bloodstream and works systemically. When a flea or tick bites your pet, they take in the active ingredient which targets the parasite’s nervous system and kills it. Choosing to use a topical vs. systemic product depends on your pet’s lifestyle, comfort level as a pet owner and your pet’s parasite prevention needs. For example, dogs who live in the ocean seven days a week may have better success from a systemic product vs. a topical. Your veterinarian can help guide you to find the best prevention for your pet’s individual needs.

When should I apply flea and tick treatment?

It is advisable to apply your liquid parasite control when you are going to have a no-contact period of up to 12 hours. Applying it at night will give it time to absorb while the household is sleeping. It is also recommended not to allow your pet to get wet within a 24-48 hour period post-treatment, to allow it to absorb fully. When you are treating with an oral chew such as Bravecto, you don’t have to worry about touching or swimming; but give the medication with food and make sure that you are monitoring your pet shortly afterwards. This is to make sure they do not spit it back out or experience any side effects such as vomiting.

I had fleas in my home, what should I do?

Unfortunately, sometimes by the time we notice that fleas are a problem, they are very hard to get rid of! Prevention is always better than treatment, so be sure to care for your pet by administering flea and tick treatment on time, every time it is due. In our climate on the West Coast, fleas and ticks do not die during the winter and are around all months of the year. If you do end up with fleas in the home, vacuum all surfaces where your pet might lay or sit. Look especially at fabric surfaces like their bed, furniture and carpeting. Make sure to treat all of your pets in the home, and keep in mind that treating a flea problem takes at least three months to cover the entire life cycle of the fleas.

Written by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital