About Animal Medicines

Flea and Tick Products

A woman puts a spot-on treatment on her Golden Retriver

Most owners of furry pets are familiar with the need to give their pets medicines to prevent flea and tick infestations.  In addition to being an itchy annoyance to dogs and cats, fleas can lead to anemia and, in rare cases, death.  Ticks can harm pets by transmitting infections such as Lyme disease.  And of course, pets can bring fleas and ticks into the house, which expose families.

A wide variety of pesticides, repellents, and growth inhibitors are available to protect pets from flea and tick infestations, including pills given by mouth, medicine on collars, sprays dips, shampoos, powders, and “spot-ons,” which are liquid repellents that are squeezed onto a dog or cat’s skin.

Fleas and ticks are considered external parasites, which are treated with pesticides. Pesticides are regulated by the EPA. Intestinal parasites such as heartworms come under the jurisdiction of the FDA.  The EPA and the FDA work together to ensure adherence to all applicable laws and regulations.

Both agencies base their decision to allow a drug or a pesticide to enter the market after a review of detailed information about the product’s safety and effectiveness, which is provided by the manufacturer or other product sponsor. The sponsor must show that the drug or pesticide meets safety standards designed to protect the targeted animals, people coming in contact with those animals, and the environment.


Learn more from the FDA’s resource on the safe use of flea and tick products in pets

AVMA’s brochure on External Parasites