Because Frontline spreads through the oils on a dog's skin, you should bathe him, if you're going to, at least two days before you apply it. If your dog has a negative reaction to Frontline, call the vet and bathe him (the dog, not the vet). Merial recommends a shampoo containing benzoyl peroxide.
Frontline Plus has an insect growth regulator added that targets juvenile fleas and prevents them from becoming adults. IGRs have absolutely no effect on ticks.
You should not try to stretch the time between applications! Ticks which survive the continually shrinking amount of Frontline left on the dog after the recommended 30 day re-application time may become immune to it simply because there is not enough left to kill them. One thing we do not need is ticks that are immune to the few weapons we have to use against them.
Like Frontline TopSpot, K9Advantix is a spot-on that spreads out over the dog's skin. It contains two main ingredients: permethrin, which repels and kills ticks and mosquitoes, and imidocloprid, which targets fleas. It seems to work well.
Be very careful, though, if you have cats. K9Advantix contains permethrin which is known to be highly toxic to cats and there is a strong warning on the label. Do not use this product on a cat! If you have cats that like to groom the dogs they live with or snuggle up to them (I've heard it's possible!), you might want to rethink using it.
I wouldn't take Bayer's claim that K9Advantix protects against West Nile Virus too seriously. Since dogs don't suffer or die from West Nile Virus, so what? Your dog may appreciate not being so attractive to mosquitoes, though, and if it will repel other insects such as the caddis flies which carry N. risticii, that would be a huge incentive to use it.
The caution against stretching the time between applications applies here, too.
All three of these preventives are preferable to anything that the dog must take orally, in my opinion. It makes no sense to me to use an all purpose product that does several other things and...oh, yes, targets ticks. Nor does it make sense to use a preventive that will only work after the tick bites the dog. Besides which, something designed to kill ticks is not going in my dog's blood, thank you.
Remember, although the Preventic collar comes close, no tick preventive is going to be 100% effective.
Using a Spot-On
Directions for spot-on tick preventives may tell you to put the entire contents of the small vial between the dog's shoulder blades. A number of people, of whom I'm one, prefer to do it differently. We dot the liquid in a series of spots down the dog's back, pushing the fur aside to make sure we get it right on the skin, going from the area between the shoulder blades to just above the tail. It's less messy and it may shorten the time it takes for the preventive to cover your dog completely.
If you suspect that your dog may be one of the few that have a reaction to a spot-on, you can sacrifice a vial and put 'one' drop on his skin. Within 24 hours, 48 at the most, you should have your answer. If you see a small area like a burn, call the vet and ask what to use for relief. This kind of reaction is rare. I personally know of only three dogs that have experienced it and I have been on the internet dog lists for years.
Shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide are said to be effective in removing spot-on preventives.
Natural Tick Preventives for Dogs
For various reasons, some people elect not to use any commercial tick preventive on their dogs. They buy so-called natural products or make their own from essential oils. These products or recipes for them can be found all over the web and I don't include any here for various reasons of my own. Here they are.
- I don't believe they work well enough to keep my dog as safe as I can reasonably expect. No tick preventive is going to be an absolute guarantee against tick disease but some are definitely better than others and all of those are commercial products; natural preventives just don't qualify as far as I'm concerned.
- Essential oils can be dangerous. A good number are highly dangerous to cats, to whom they can be fatal, through contact or simply by being inhaled.
- Some natural preventives include rosemary, an herb which is suspected of causing seizures in epileptic dogs.
- Many smell to high heaven. While they may not be seriously offensive to us, a dog's nose has more than two hundred million scent receptors compared to the measly five million in each of ours and to him it's probably hell to be coated in citronella or something else with a strong, pungent smell. Think of yourself stuck on a hot, crowded bus next to a woman drenched in perfume and multiply that by a hundred. You might get an inch or two closer to what your dog goes through when you use those strong scents on him. Think what they'd do to a tracking dog.
- Natural oils are chemicals, they are simply not man-made chemicals. And not being man-made, they have not gone through the rigorous testing that every commercial tick preventive undergoes, both for efficacy and safety.
At any rate, my advice would be to use a proven preventive like the Preventic Collar, Frontline TopSpot or Spray, or K9Advantix and reserve the natural repellents for the house and yard.