It’s May, and that means that the fleas, ticks, mites, and other creepy crawlies are lurking. Dogs living in most areas of the United States benefit from year-round flea and tick protection. Today we’re talking about the best flea and tick medicine for Great Danes.
In addition, I will cover the following topics:
- Is flea and tick medicine safe for dogs?
- Are there natural alternatives to flea and tick medicine?
- Does flea and tick medication cause seizures?
- How much does flea and tick medication cost?
- Are pills, topicals, or collars more effective at preventing parasites?
- What happens if I don’t protect my dog from fleas and ticks?
This is a huge topic and hopefully a great resource for you! Let’s dig in.
The Best Flea and Tick Medication for Great Danes
There are many flea and tick preventatives to choose from, and everybody will have a different opinion on this (especially because there is a lot of scary stories and misinformation out there!)
Different medications may be more or less effective, depending on where you live, too!
In some areas, fleas and ticks have become resistant to certain medications (especially in bug-infested areas where many pet owners decline flea and tick prevention for their pet). Local veterinarians know what the statistics are and what brands are working to prevent parasites.
What Happens if I Don’t Use Flea & Tick Prevention?
Outside of the obvious answer here (keeping fleas and ticks away from your dog), many people are unaware that the proper use of veterinary parasite prevention can also prevent and treat:
- Heartworms (spread by mosquitoes)
- Mites (a common cause of chronic ‘allergies’ and itching!)
Not all medicines or natural solutions treat all of those things; it is important to discuss this with your vet and make sure that your pet is fully covered against everything, including fleas and ticks.
Of course, the above parasitic infections are pretty gross, but fleas and ticks kind of take the cake here.
Fleas cause itching and “allergy” symptoms. Left untreated, they can also cause welts and intense itching that leads to scabs and skin infections. Many people think their dog is allergic to something in their food, when really, their dog has fleas! Fleas are highly contagious and once they enter your home (via your dog), they are hard to eradicate. Not only that, they will bite humans too! Yuck!
Ticks are a common parasite that carry disease. They are often found in grass, wood, and shade and will attach themselves to the host (your dog), often undetected. They bury their head into the skin, suck the blood out, spread disease, and then use the blood to reproduce.
A tick bite can result in loss of coordination, bacterial infection, Lyme disease, or even death among a laundry list of nasty side effects ticks bring with them to your pet.
Is Flea & Tick Medication Safe for Dogs?
Yes. Of course, there are some different schools of thought on this. In looking at evidence-based veterinary medicine and research, flea and tick medications are safe for your pet.
To be perfectly honest, you do not want to mess around with Ehrlichiosis, a flea-infested couch, or worse…heart worms either, right?
A very small percentage of dogs have had a notable reaction to flea and tick medications. In many of those cases those dogs had underlying health conditions, had unknowingly been given dangerous and toxic fake knockoff products, or may actually have been poisoned by something else (and the application timing of flea/tick products was purely coincidental).
These cases are well documented not only by the veterinary community but by the manufacturer of the flea/tick medication as well. Seresto Collars and Bravecto chews are commonly faked and sold as authentic!
Many peer-reviewed studies have been done on the safety and efficacy of modern flea & tick preventatives. In some studies, pets were given extremely large doses over long periods of time with no ill effects.
Does Flea & Tick Medication Cause Seizures?
Many companies and influencers who wish to sell ‘natural’ preventatives will say that flea and tick medications cause seizures and death.
Studies also show that false or misleading content online spreads faster than truthful content.
A quick google search turns up many popular influencer blogs which lay claims to veterinary preventatives being “nothing more than poison for your pet”. These claims are not actually supported by the regulations, research and science behind flea and tick medications.
Side effects are a risk with any medication or treatment you give your dog (and this includes common procedures such as teeth cleaning or vaccination against rabies).
The small risk of side effects, especially when looking at dogs with no known pre-existing seizure activity or health condition is greatly eclipsed by the sheer volume of dogs who suffer (or even die) needlessly from preventable parasitic infections.
The vast majority of dogs experience no side effects at all with veterinary-backed preventatives, and unlike their unprotected counterparts, they are MUCH less likely to suffer from parasitic illnesses, heart worm, itching, and skin infections.
Fake dupes of flea & tick preventatives can be dangerous and are responsible for many cases where serious side effects have been seen.
I’m going to share more information about knockoff Seresto Collars and more below, so you can learn how to avoid fakes and keep your pet safe.
Safest Oral Flea & Tick Medications for Great Danes
We always recommend talking to your vet about flea and tick prevention, as most of these medications require both a blood test and a prescription.
Don’t let that scare you off. The blood test looks for existing heart worm infections. This is important because oral prevention only targets heart worm larvae, NOT adult worms (which will have filled your dogs heart chambers with large worms that look like spaghetti).
A dog with an existing heart worm infection needs treatment first before taking preventatives.
Once your dog is cleared to take preventatives, your veterinarian will write you a prescription for one or more of the following products (depending on your pet, their weight, and what tends to work best for the pets that are seen in their location). We recommend ONLY purchasing directly from your Veterinarian or Chewy.com, never from other sources (where fakes and dupes may be sold).
Bravecto – Flea & Tick
Bravecto is a dog chew that must be given at a specific dose (based on weight) every three months to prevent fleas, ticks, and mites. It must be used in tandem with another medication to prevent worms (including heart worm), so it is commonly prescribed alongside Sentinal. You can view Bravecto Chews HERE.
Sentinal Spectrum – Parasites
Sentinal Spectrum is a monthly dog chew (based on weight) that prevents heart worms, tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. When used among a large population of pets, medications like this also help control the flea population (by stopping eggs from hatching)! You can view Sentinal Spectrum HERE.
NexGard – Flea & Tick
Like Bravecto, Nexgard provides protection against fleas, ticks, and mites. It uses a different active ingredient than Bravecto, and must be given monthly (vs. every 3 months). It must be paired with another medication that target parasites such as heart worm and round worm. Nexgaurd is often paired with Heartgard. You can view Nexgard HERE.
Heartgard – Parasites
Heartgard is monthly oral preventative that targets heart worm, roundworm and hookworm. It does not work on whipworm or tape worm, so it’s not as comprehensive as Sentinal. Heartgard is often paired with Nexguard. You can view Heartgard HERE.
Simparica Trio – Flea, Tick, & Some Parasites
Simparica Trio is a great solution for Great Dane owners who want comprehensive oral protection against fleas, ticks, and some parasitic worms (including heart worm, hookworm, and round worms) in one dose. This oral medication requires a prescription and must be given monthly. You can view Simparica Trio HERE.
Trifexis – Flea, Heartworm & Some Parasites
Like Simparica, Trifexis is a once-monthly prescription preventative that targets not only fleas and heart worms but several parastic worms as well (hookworm, roundworm and whipworm). Trifexis does not target ticks and will need to be used in tandem with another product. You can view Trifexis HERE.
Do Flea & Tick Collars Work?
Many people prefer topical treatments or flea and tick collars to chewables. There are some pros and cons to this route.
Unlike chewables, topicals and collars don’t typically always require a prescription. However, their effectiveness can be reduced by bathing or for dogs that like to swim a lot. Additionally, collars can get lost and they can be dangerous for dogs to wear unsupervised.
It’s important to note that some dogs and some people are sensitive to the chemicals on topical versions (including collars) and care should be used around children or sensitive individuals.
Unlike oral medications, topical medications and collars can be dangerous for all pets and humans to ingest. Thus, topical flea and tick prevention is not always ideal for homes with cats (who are especially sensitive to certain ingredients).
Many flea and tick collars and topicals do NOT prevent internal parasites such as whip worm, round worm and heart worm; you’ll likely still need a chewable or secondary product for that.
Seresto Collar – Fleas & Ticks
The Seresto collar is a popular option for those looking to keep fleas and ticks at bay. It’s easy to wear and lasts nearly 7 months. Unlike oral preventatives, the Seresto collar does not require a prescription. You can view the Seresto Collar HERE.
Advantage Multi Topical – Parasites & Worms
Advantage Multi requires a prescription and is a topical medication that prevents multiple worms & parasites, including fleas. It does not prevent ticks, so like most topicals, comprehensive protection using multiple products is needed. You can view Advantage Multi HERE.
Frontline Plus Topical – Fleas & Ticks
Frontline Plus is a popular topical that must be applied every month. This formula kills fleas, ticks, and some mites and is easily found at local grocery stores or online without a prescription. You can find Frontline Plus HERE.
Does Natural Flea & Tick Prevention Work?
Unlike veterinary prevention, most “natural” and “holistic” options have not been widely subjected to rigorous and thorough clinical trials and testing for longevity, safety and efficacy.
While some research and limited private testing has been done (usually showing that directly spraying live bugs with the essential oils in the product tends to kills them), it doesn’t often address any potential health (or olfactory/scent) concerns related to prolonged exposure of these same ‘natural’ chemicals on dogs and cats.
That doesn’t mean that natural solutions aren’t helpful, but it’s important to understand that even ‘natural’ prevention utilizes chemicals. Commonly used essential oils such as peppermint, citrus, rosemary, lemongrass and cedarwood are in fact chemicals. They aren’t well regulated though, and there is a wide range of quality and concentrations from brand to brand.
Some of those oils (peppermint for example), are toxic to dogs and cats.
Not only that, but essential oils have a very strong scent; dogs may not show signs of discomfort but make no mistake, their incredibly sensitive noses may very well be annoyed (or even harmed) by it. Remember, there isn’t a lot of clinical research.
Plant Based Flea & Tick Products Safety & Efficacy
Sprays and collars that utilize essential oils are often marketed as being safe because they are ‘plant powered’. This feel good marketing disregards the fact that many “plant powered” things are in fact toxic.
I’ve yet to find any research showing that prolonged exposure to certain essential oils is safe, or that liberal use of essential-oil based flea and tick products on the yard is safe for wildlife and vegetation.
In “natural” oral (chewable) preventatives, garlic is commonly used. In small amounts that is ok, but in amounts large enough to actually be effective against fleas and ticks, the dose would likely be toxic to your pet. We don’t recommend oral ‘natural’ oral flea & tick prevention chews for any reason.
Natural prevention has its merits, but in many cases, it’s nothing more than snake oil. Most veterinarians (save for a few fringe types who are often trying to sell a product) will tell you that they see more dogs in their office for parasites who had been on ‘natural’ preventatives than any other.
Evidence shows us that that ‘natural’ products are simply not as effective, as much as we want it to be. The false assumption of protection complicates things even further, as pet owners are led to believe that ‘holistic’ options are just as effective (they aren’t).
More research is definitely needed, and I encourage caution around the kind of ‘holistic’ pet care marketing which implies that ‘natural’ is always good and veterinarian-recommended & science-backed products are always bad.
Essential Oil Based Anti-Parasite Solutions
If you are still interested in ‘natural’ solutions, there are some options. The Wondercide brand has done *some* studies which is also helpful, although their research is not nearly as comprehensive as it needs to be to compete against proven veterinary products. They do not test their products for safety and long term use on animals, so your pet is the test subject.
However, among the many options Wondercide is one of the more thoughtfully formulated natural insect repellent products. If you would like to check them out to use as part of a more comprehensive parasite protection plan, we’ve provided some links below!
I like to spray the edge of our deck with Flea & Tick yard spray to reduce bugs on summer evenings, and I occasionally lightly treat my cloths and my pets fur if we are going into dense or wooded areas.
Wondercide Flea & Tick Yard Spray
This solution of essential oils can be sprayed around your yard to reduce the chance of fleas and ticks on or around your property. It does need to be applied liberally and often (especially after rain or sprinkler use), but may be helpful if you live in an area plagued with pests. You can view Wondercide Flea & Tick yard spray here.
Wondercide Pet & Home Spray
Heading out of your house and want to give your dog a little extra boost in protection? Wondercide pet spray may help ward of pests, especially when used in tandem with veterinary preventatives. You can use this to spray down your dogs coat (make sure to reapply often, especially if your dog goes for a swim). As with any preventative, talk to your veterinarian and monitor your dog for negative reactions (including eye irritation, itching, hives, or drooling). You can view Wondercide Pet & Home Spray here.
Wondercide Flea & Tick Collar
The Wondercide Flea and Tick collar targets fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes with essential oils. Reviews on the efficacy in real life applications of this are mixed, and it’s important to keep in mind that the collar will be in close proximity to your dogs nose (potentially bothering their olfactory sense with ongoing exposure). You can view Wondercide Flea & Tick Collar here.
Itching, Allergies, Mites & More
I touched on this above, but many chronically itchy dogs are misdiagnosed with food allergies.
This is a huge problem. Desperate pet owners are switching food brands again and again, often landing on poorly formulated foods that are loaded with lentils and potatoes instead of meat, just to get rid of the itching.
Many times, those chronically itchy dogs are actually suffering from mites or fleas.
Fleas and mites often go undetected; if your dog is not protected, they are at risk. Dogs that are on research-backed parasite prevention are less likely to suffer from chronic itching and other bug-based ailments.
It is very important to talk to a veterinarian and even a veterinary dermatologist if your dog is suffering from itching, scratching, ear infections, scabs, and ongoing skin problems.
How Much Does Flea & Tick Prevention for a Great Dane Cost?
This is where Great Dane owners tend to experience the biggest sticker shock.
Big dogs = big expenses, and because most oral flea and tick medications are dosed based on weight, expect to pay significantly more than you would if your dog was a chihuahua.
I recently renewed our prescription for Bravecto & Sentinal. For two Danes and a small dog it was several hundred dollars out of pocket, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind.
Ultimately, prevention is a whole lot cheaper, and definitely a lot safer, than having to treat my dogs for preventable diseases (especially heart worm and Lyme’s Disease, yikes!).
If cost is an issue, talk to your veterinarian about the most effective and economical option. For those times when oral prevention is out of reach financially, a flea + tick collar is your best bet!
Counterfeit Flea & Tick Products
Fake counterfeit flea & tick meds are a huge problem, and dangerous too. Many documented severe reactions to flea and tick products were the result of a product that only looked like the real thing.
Seresto Collars are one of the most commonly duped products.
To protect yourself and your pet from fake flea and tick medications, the EPA has shared some helpful tips.
As mentioned previously, we only recommend getting your flea/tick meds through your veterinarian or a quality online veterinary pharmacy that your veterinarian approves of.
We recommend steering clear of Amazon for the same reason.
As always, talk to your veterinarian. They have a PhD and several years of clinical practice under their belt; we promise, they (like us here at Hello Danes) want your pet happy and healthy!