by Katherine Khoo February 24, 2023 6 min read

1 Comment

Whatever we do, it is impossible to keep our pups away from ticks and fleas when they go outside. Fleas can cause allergies and tick-borne diseases pose a serious threat to the health of dogs. Some tick-borne diseases can produce very painful symptoms and may even be fatal for our pets. As such, there are big benefits to being consistent when protecting our dogs against these pesky parasites.

Today, there is a plethora of products to choose from, and it can be confusing to some pet parents. To add to the confusion, there are also counterfeit preventative products being sold online. This article hopes to clear up some confusion and help you decide what’s best for your pup. At the end of the day, it is always best to work with your veterinarian to decide on the right product and regimen that will fit your dog’s age and health.

How to Choose the Right Flea and Tick Preventatives

How to spot a counterfeit flea and tick preventative

There is no single way to spot a counterfeit. Manufacturers of fake goods are getting better and better skilled at creating convincing fakes. Some of the most counterfeited preventatives include brands like NexGard, Heartgard, and Frontline. Counterfeit products could have slight variations or have different ingredients altogether. Some counterfeits have the exact same ingredients, but the ingredients were not stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Poor storage can change the makeup of the ingredients and the product. All these can render the final product ineffective or even have dangerous side effects when used on our dogs.

Any time you purchase a flea and tick preventative online, carefully inspect all packaging, labels, instructions, package inserts, expiration dates, and lot numbers, before administering it to your pet. Here are some things to look out for but take note that this list is not exhaustive, and counterfeits may change their packaging from time to time. For more information on how to identify counterfeits, please visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Though this article is specific to the United States, some of the items highlighted are relevant to the local context.

  • Product inside is different from what is shown on the outer packaging
  • Differences in weight or quantity between the outer package and the product inside
  • Foreign-labeled products (product information are not printed in English)
  • Missing directions for use
  • Stickers on the box to hide the foreign labeling
  • Products not packaged in child-resistant packaging
  • Lot number and/or the product registration number are missing

Counterfeiters love to price down their products, attracting pet parents looking for a bargain. Before making an online purchase, always consider the safety of your pup when using a flea and tick preventative. If you used the product before discovering it was a fake, contact your veterinarian for medical assistance and advice.   

How to Choose the Right Flea and Tick Preventatives

Why are some preventatives prescription-only?

There are many different options available from prescription-only drugs that you’ll need to get through your vet to off-the-shelf preventatives. The type of protection provided will differ between the products. All products will work against adult fleas and ticks. Some will have the added benefit of killing off flea eggs and larvae too. A few are even formulated to protect against heartworm and intestinal parasites.

Be aware that products formulated with heartworm protection are considered prescription-only drugs. These products cannot be purchased off-the-shelf and must be obtained through a vet. Your pet must be tested for heartworm infection before they are placed on a preventative to avoid any harmful or possibly fatal complications.

Though the preventatives do not kill matured (adult) heartworms, immature (young) heartworms are susceptible to the preventatives and a sudden mass die-off may happen, causing a serious, shock-type reaction, called anaphylaxis. This anaphylactic reaction, which is very similar to a severe allergic reaction, may be fatal to the dog.

As such, all pets must be tested for heartworm infection before going on any products with heartworm preventatives. Any dog that tested positive for heartworm must be put on a treatment to eliminate the parasite first. The preventative is to avoid the possibility of your dog contracting heartworm disease again.  

How to Choose the Right Flea and Tick Preventatives

Types of flea and tick preventatives

Choices of fleas and tick prevention include:

Oral medications

One of the most common oral medications locally is the NexGard Flea & Tick Chews. Other oral preventatives include brands like Simparica, Credelio, and Bravecto. They come in the form of a treat (chews) and are often flavoured to entice the dog to eat. For most brands, each chew provides 30 days of continuous prevention. After 30 days, another chew is needed for continuous support. Please choose the correct product according to your dog’s weight.

Some of these oral medications, like NexGard SPECTRA, include heartworm protection. As previously mentioned, please work with your vet to have your pet tested for heartworm before giving any heartworm medication to your pet.

Topical drops

These topical drops are sometimes known as “Spot On”. They come in a small tube of liquid. The product is applied directly to the skin, usually over the shoulder blades or down the back. Common topical preventatives include Frontline Plus and Revolution. Topical drops are waterproof even as your dog swims. Each application offers continuous protection for an entire month. After which, re-application is necessary for continuous prevention.  

How to Choose the Right Flea and Tick Preventatives

Flea and tick collars

Collars such as Seresto will repel fleas and ticks, and even prevent ticks from attaching, but they must be applied tightly enough to have skin contact. Apart from Seresto, there are natural fleas and tick-repellent collars available and one such option is the TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Dog Collar. This collar uses essential oils - cedarwood and peppermint oils – as a natural repellent. It is waterproof and provides a full-body repellent. Each collar is effective for up to 4 months and will need to be replaced after that.


When it comes to fleas and tick prevention sprays, there are two types to consider, and they are both different. One is for the dog, and the other is the home spray. The home spray is for home surfaces like furniture, bedding, carpets, flooring, and countertops. When there’s an infestation, these parasites can be all over the house. Apart from administering treatment to your dog, you’ll need to get rid of the adult parasite, larvae, and parasite eggs around the house.

A plant-based formula that contains no harsh chemicals and is safe for use around pets, people, and plants like this Vet's Best Dog Flea + Tick Home Spray is highly recommended. This formula is non-toxic and gentle, yet effectively kills fleas, flea eggs, and ticks on contact. This is also a non-staining formula that is great for home surfaces including furniture, carpet, flooring, countertops, and more.  

How to Choose the Right Flea and Tick Preventatives

For a non-toxic, essential oil-based flea and tick repellent for your dogs, we would suggest the Kin+Kind Flea & Tick Protect Spray - Lemongrass for Dogs & Cats. This is a vet formulated product. Every Ingredient, including the essential oils used in the spray, is vet approved to ensure effective and safe concentrations for your pet.


One of the best ways to prevent flea and tick infestations is to keep your dog clean and well-groomed. Regularly bathing your pet with a flea and tick shampoo will help to remove any fleas and ticks that may be on your dog's fur. Brushing your dog’s fur regularly with a flea comb will also help with removing fleas.  

How to Choose the Right Flea and Tick Preventatives

When it comes to parasite protection, it’s not “one-size-fits-all.” Some products should not be used on very young dogs or dogs with certain medical conditions. Always consider the safety of your pet. It is recommended to consult your veterinarian for the best fleas and tick preventatives for your dog, especially if your dog has a diagnosed medical condition or is prone to skin allergies.  








Katherine Khoo
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.

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September 19, 2023

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