University of Wisconsin–Madison

On Pets

Tick Prevention for Your Pets

It is important to remember that people can not catch tick-borne diseases such as, Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever from infected dogs or cats, but the same ticks that bite your pets can cause these illnesses and others if they bite humans.

Regulation of Flea and Tick Products for Pets:

Flea and tick products for pets are regulated by either the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The FDA is responsible for regulating animal drugs. However, certain products which control external parasites are under the jurisdiction of EPA. The FDA and EPA collaborate to ensure adherence to all applicable laws and regulations. In general, flea and tick products that are given orally or by injection are regulated by FDA and those applied externally are regulated by the EPA.

Before an animal drug is allowed on the market, FDA must “approve” it. Before a pesticide can be marketed, EPA must “register” it.

Both agencies base their decision on a thorough review of detailed information on the product’s safety and effectiveness provided by the manufacturer or product sponsor. The sponsor must demonstrate the drug or pesticide meets current safety standards to protect the animal, people in contact with the animal as well as the environment.

The manufacturer must also show that the drug or pesticide produces the claimed effect, and must be specifically labelled so that it can be used according to the directions and precautions. After a product is allowed on the market, manufacturers are required by law to report any side effects of their flea or tick products to the regulating agency.

Pet owners must take precaution to carefully follow the labelled directions, monitor their pets for any bad reactions following application or administration of oral, injectable or external treatments, especially when using these products for the first time. 

Also, talk to your veterinarian about responsible and effective use of flea and tick prevention products, to help you make informed decisions when selecting treatment products as well as if you have any questions or concerns about the use of these products. 

Never use products labeled for dogs on cats. Keep the product package after use in case side effects occur. You will want to have the instructions available, as well as contact information for the manufacturer.

For more information on the regulations, use and additional information on flea and tick products for domestic animals visit:        

The EPA website located here:                                                                                           

The FDA Consumer Health Information website: Safe Use of Flea & Tick Products in Pets:


To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors or travel to different counties or states.
  • If you find a tick on your dog or cat, remove it promptly or ask your veterinarian for assistance.
  • Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam and discuss common tick-borne diseases you should be aware of in your area. 
  • Reduce tick habitat in your yard (i.e. remove leaf litter, clear tall grasses and remove brush around homes and lawn edges).
  • Just pulling off a tick can leave body parts attached to your dog. Ask your veterinarian about proper tick removal and the use of tick preventives on your pet. 
  • Ticks not only can transmit diseases to our pets such as Lyme disease and anaplasmosis but they can also cause tick-borne toxicoses which can range from localized inflammation or allergic hypersensitivity to paralysis (associated with ixodid ticks) or severe toxic reactions (usually associated with argasid ticks). Ticks may also cause anemia in pets. An adult female ixodid tick, such as a deer tick, can grow 100-fold in size as she feeds, and ingests more than 100 times her weight in blood.
Here is the link to a video from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) discussing the importance of flea and tick prevention in your pets featuring Dr. Kevin R. Kazacos, DVM, Ph.D., an expert in parasites at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.
How to Remove a Tick from Your Pet:

Prompt removal of ticks is very important because it lessens the chance of disease transmission from the tick to your pet. Refer to the “Tick Removal” section of the website for more information on safe and effective methods for tick removal.

  • Remove ticks by carefully using tweezers to firmly grip the tick as close to the pet’s skin as possible and gently and steadily pulling the tick free without twisting it or crushing the tick during removal. 
  • Crushing, twisting or jerking the tick out of the skin while its head is still buried could result in leaving the tick’s mouth parts in your pet’s skin; this can cause a reaction and may become infected. 
  •  Do not attempt to smother the tick with alcohol or petroleum jelly, or apply a hot match to it, as this may cause the tick to regurgitate saliva into the wound and increase the risk of disease if the tick is infected.
Products that Kill and/or Repel Ticks on Dogs: An acaricide is a pesticide product that kills ticks. Examples of types of acaricides that can be used on dogs include dusts, impregnated collars, sprays, or topical treatments. While some acaricides function by killing the tick on contact, others are absorbed into the bloodstream of a dog and subsequently kill ticks that attach and feed.
Examples of Topical Products that Kill Ticks: 
  • In North America, three topically administered acaracides appear to have the greatest efficacy against ticks: amitraz (available in a spot-on formulation and impregnated collar), fipronil (available in spray and spot-on formulations), and permethrin (available in spray and spot-on formulations).
  • Amitraz, fipronil, and permethrin may help prevent tick attachment and cause tick death within 24 to 48 hours.   
Examples of Topical Products that Repel Ticks:
  • Permethrin formulations may also produce repellent-like activity.

Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals such as amitraz or permethrin. Certain products that are safe to apply to your dog are toxic for cats. Do not apply insect acaricides or repellents to your cats without consulting with your veterinarian first!

Products which are safe to use on your cat:  only fipronil is approved for use on cats.

For more information on tick prevention and control guidelines and recommendations for dogs and cats please visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council

Reporting Problems

  • If your pet needs immediate medical care, call your local veterinarian, a local animal emergency clinic, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435, which may charge a fee for consultation.
  • To report problems with spot-on (topical) flea or tick products, contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378.
  • To report problems with FDA- approved drugs go to How to Report An Adverse Drug Experience.
  • To report problems with FDA- approved drugs go to the FDA’s Report a Problem page.

Note: Reference to any commercial entity, products or services on this page should not be interpreted as an endorsement by the company, its products, or its services.