Flea and Tick prevention for dogs.
One weapon is not enough to win the war.
I think a word or two concerning my philosophy regarding flea and tick prevention might be in order. We have numerous weapons to fight this war. Some are defensive weapons. Some are all out assault weapons. The type of weapon used at any given time depends on the severity of the threat. Have fleas been sighted, or are we in preventive mode only?
A good shampoo is usually the first line of defense in the campaign against fleas and ticks if used regularly. We don't shampoo regularly around here. I do - they don't. I don't give Buddy or Dixie baths too often, shampoo or not. They get groomed a lot, and brushed, but full baths are few and far between. There are exceptions. Buddy got into some stinky stuff out at Lake Shawnee one time, also known as "lake muck," and was in the tub the minute we got home. When something like that happens, there's not much you can do. As a general rule, they don't get bathed much though. Excessive bathing can harm a dog's skin and coat by washing away valuable oils. I've seen this happen first hand with Buddy and I guess you could say I'm hyper alert to it these days.
Sergeant's flea and tick shampoo isn't quite as harsh as the full strength dog shampoos are and can be used on even small puppies, which was the reason I bought it to begin with. It claims to remain active for up to ten days, which is typical of most dog flea shampoos I've seen. A shampoo can't be considered long-term protection and I've found it to be most effective when fleas are actually on one of the dogs. Lather them up and let it sit for a good five minutes before rinsing it off and you've just killed 100% of the fleas that might have been on your dog. You'll see them floating on top of the bath water. Plus now he smells nice.
Since we don't shampoo all that often, flea collars have become our primary means of flea and tick prevention. Good ol' flea collars. Usually we buy the Hartz three in one flea collars. They're about six bucks in any pet store and claim to stay active for up to seven months, although we change ours out about every three months just to be on the safe side. These collars need to be pulled before you put them on your dog... stretched out almost to the point of breaking (they're stronger than they look) to get them activated properly.
Several of the larger pet sites sell Bio Spot flea and tick control for dogs. It's not hard to find. A six month supply for dogs over sixty pounds costs anywhere from $16.99 to $24.99, depending on where you look and what time of the year you're looking. Contrast that with the $72.99 price tag for a 6-pack of Frontline Plus and the savings looks pretty significant. Bio Spot also apparently contains the same "Insect Growth Regulator" as Frontline Plus (manufacturer's claim). I suspect a lot of them probably do, have the same ingredients I mean. You see the same thing in prescription medications... generic or unknown brand names containing the exact same ingredients as the name brand medicines. Usually these lesser knowns are every bit as good as their more popular counterparts, yet can be purchased for a fraction of the cost. Ain't free enterprise cool?
Something else I've used when the flea battle gets heated is Sergeant's Flea and Tick carpet powder, although I have to admit that the one time I've used it I was a bit nervous about it. Buddy and Dixie spend a lot of time on the carpet and the idea of placing them in such close proximity to a toxic bug killer is a little unnerving.
This is last resort stuff. In the flea and tick arsenal, Zodiac spray would have to be considered a nuclear warhead. It is extremely effective, extremely potent and my dogs hate it with a passion. To this day, spraying any kind of spray bottle anywhere near them sends them flying in panic. We only break out the Zodiac flea spray when fleas have actually been spotted on one of the dogs. In this situation they would get bathed with flea and tick shampoo first. Flea collars would be changed and finally both dogs would get a light to medium spraying with the Zodiac spray. That's how a flea war begins. There are other things that need to be done as well (wash all bedding, spray the yard, etc...), but this is how it starts.