Everything You Need to Know About: Flea & Tick Preventative
Fleas and ticks are not only annoying parasites that can drive you and your pets crazy – they can also carry dangerous diseases.
You probably already know about tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis. These diseases cause a variety of symptoms, and can even show up in humans.
Fleas can also carry bacterial diseases. One of these is Murine Typhus, which has started to show up in the Dallas area this year.
Fleas and ticks can cause plenty of distress in your pet, resulting in painful itching and even mild hair loss depending on the severity of your pet’s reaction. Some pets are also allergic to fleas, resulting in concerning reactions and distress.
We recommend keeping your pets on flea & tick prevention year-round. If you live out in the country, or live in an area with a high flea or tick population, this is especially important.
Topical versus Oral: Does It Matter?
When it comes to how preventative is given to your pet – topical or oral – it actually isn’t that important. Neither topical nor oral preventatives are necessarily more effective. What matters is the active ingredient in the preventative.
However, for pet owners who have current flea problems, you might want to consider a topical prevention to start with. Topicals will kill fleas before they even bite your dog. Oral preventative usually relies on a flea or tick biting your dog, which results in the parasite’s death.
A Note on Flea Collars
For the most part, flea collars are ineffective at preventing fleas or ticks. There are certainly some that work well, but those generally are the higher-priced options.
Cheap flea tick collars rarely have the range required to protect your dog, especially since fleas target the backend area of dogs and cats.
There’s certainly some great products out there, but we recommend doing your research to see how effective they are – especially with flea collars.
We carry two flea/tick preventatives: Bravecto for fleas & ticks which is an oral tablet that lasts for 3 months, and Activyl for fleas, which is a topical that lasts for 1 month. Both are very effective and reasonably priced.
Getting Rid of Fleas
Once getting your dog on flea preventative, it can take some time before you stop seeing fleas on your dog and in the environment.
No flea preventatives can keep fleas away. Some preventatives can kill fleas before they bite, but they still rely on the flea coming in contact with your dog. That’s why even if your pet is on flea & tick preventative, you might continue to see fleas.
Sometimes, this misleads pet owners, as they aren’t sure how well the preventative is working.
If you’re in a controllable environment, then you should stop seeing fleas in about 3 months. This can only happen if all pets in the area are on preventative. Your pets will act as flea exterminators, slowly killing off the entire lifecycle of the flea. You can make this process quicker by treating the environment while using preventative.
Many households struggle with flea-ridden environments. In neighborhoods or apartment complexes with untreated pets, fleas are difficult to completely remove. If that’s the case, it’s important that you use a topical preventative. Since you can’t get rid of all the fleas, you can stop your dog from suffering by killing fleas before they can bite.
Does Your Dog Have Flea Allergies?
Some dogs have flea allergies. These dogs will become intensely itchy and scratch themselves, sometimes to the point of drawing blood, even when you don’t see many fleas.
If you’re not sure whether or not your dog is suffering from fleas, then find out where they’re itching. The backend area is “flea territory”. In almost all cases, if this is where your dog is primarily irritated, the problem is fleas.
Itchy ears, neck, sides, or paws are not as likely to be flea-related. These could indicate other allergies or skin problems.
Finally, always consult with a veterinarian. This is always critical before making a diagnosis.
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