Dr. Tory Answers Your Top Flea and Tick Questions

by Sundays

You asked, and Dr. Tory answered. Take a look at the flea and tick questions other Sundays dog parents are asking:

Yes, it is Flea and Tick Prevention Month, but protecting your pup against these pests takes an all-year year commitment. Your dog is vulnerable to flea and tick borne diseases, including Lyme Disease, Canine Bartonellosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, no matter the season. 

Using a flea and tick preventative all year will help protect your dog. But how do you know which prevention option is right for them? And are curious about how else you can keep fleas and ticks at bay outside of medications? Instead of covering the same old information you probably already know, we decided to ask you what questions you had about fleas and ticks. And Sundays’ Dr. Tory took the time to answer. Take a look: 

Is there an effective flea/tick/mosquito treatment that doesn't enter the bloodstream?

The isoxazoline class of flea and tick preventatives–which includes Bravecto, Nexgard, and Simparica – works by entering the bloodstream and then making its way to the skin to prevent fleas and ticks. This type of preventative depends on the drug entering the bloodstream in order to be effective. The active ingredient in these medications is only active against invertebrate receptors and should have no activity in mammalian cells. 

Rarely this class of flea/tick preventatives has been known to cause seizures. This is a rare side effect but does happen. Care should be taken when administering this class of medication in dogs with a history of seizures. Oral medications are also a safer option for pet parents with human children in the house who may forget to not pet a dog after topical flea/tick preventative administration.

Topical forms of fleas and tick prevention include Frontline (Fipronil), Advantage (Imidacloprid) and K9 Advantix (Imidacloprid and Permethrin). These medications work topically and only a very small amount if any is absorbed into the bloodstream. Keep in mind that many fleas and ticks are becoming resistant to fipronil-containing products. In addition, permethrin is toxic to cats so care must be taken if permethrin-containing products are used in a multi-pet household. 

Seresto collars are very effective and the active ingredients do not enter the bloodstream. Once again, care should be taken when administering this class of medication in dogs with a history of seizures. 

How safe is diatomaceous earth for dogs? 

Some pet parents may consider diatomaceous earth for flea and tick prevention. It is not very effective and can also be a respiratory irritant in people and dogs so caution must be used when administering it. Therefore I strongly recommend using another product if you live in an area with fleas (as in most areas). 

What holistic solutions would you recommend for a dog who lives in an area where ticks are crazy bad every year?

Ticks (and fleas) continue to become more and more resistant to preventative medications. In addition, with warming winters and fewer deep freezes, tick populations continue to skyrocket. In addition to preventatives, lifestyle management is also important for preventing ticks. Don’t walk your dog in tall grasses or wooded areas. In addition, ticks like to hang out at the edge of forests so avoid those areas as best as possible. Close inspection of your pet after a walk is essential especially in flea and tick infested areas. 

Although there is a risk with administering any medication, I do feel that the benefits far outweigh the minimal risks when it comes to flea and tick preventatives. Fleas and especially ticks both transmit a wide variety of diseases that are also transmissible to people. Many of these diseases can require months of antibiotics to effectively treat and some infections can last lifelong even with appropriate treatment. 

What is better for a breeding female, topical or ingested meds for flea and ticks?

Special attention must be made when administering medication to pregnant and lactating bitches. Some products (such as Bravecto) are labeled for use in these cases but carry a warning label for possible congenital abnormalities therefore caution must be taken when deciding to use these medications and should only be used under the supervision of a veterinarian. Frontline is safe to use in pregnant and lactating bitches but unfortunately many fleas and ticks are becoming resistant to this class of preventatives therefore lifestyle adjustments and close monitoring of your dog’s fur for ectoparasites must also be considered. 

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