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Importance of Flea and Tick Medication

Fleas and ticks can cause a variety of illnesses in dogs and cats. Medicated drops, collars, shampoos, and tablets prevent fleas and ticks from attaching and transmitting infectious diseases. Some preventatives are over-the-counter (OTC); others require a veterinarian relationship and prescription. Prescription products usually contain isoxazolines, which bind to chloride channels inside the tick and flea, paralyzing them.

Prevention

Fleas and ticks are more than just a nuisance for pets. They can cause serious illnesses. Fleas can spread murine typhus, cat scratch disease, plague, and tapeworms. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, babesiosis, tularemia, and ehrlichiosis. Some of these illnesses can be fatal to people and dogs. Prevention is the best way to avoid these pests and their diseases. Veterinary professionals recommend routine flea and tick prevention, regardless of the outdoor environment where your pet spends time. This includes dog parks, hiking trails, and backyards, home to ticks and fleas. These parasites can also travel to indoor areas on other pets or people who walk them and may be brought inside in bedding and carpeting. A veterinarian can prescribe a topical flea and tick medication for your pet or a tablet, which you may find discounted using deal aggregators like RetailMeNot. Some of these treatments work by staying within the skin, killing parasites on contact without requiring a bite. Other products kill parasites by disrupting their nervous systems. Another option is a collar that releases low pesticide doses over an extended period. These are an excellent choice for those who may not feel comfortable administering a monthly treatment or have finicky dogs that do not take pills well. However, the pesticides used in these collars are not as safe as those found in topical and oral preventatives and may harm children and pets who come into close contact with them. A final method is regularly checking your pet for ticks, which are easier to spot than fleas. Ticks are generally larger than fleas and prefer dark, moist areas such as the ears, groin area, armpits, and between the toes. You can do this by feeling your dog all over, especially in hard-to-reach places like the folds of the face and tail. Feel for and remove any ticks as soon as you find them.

Treatment

Fleas and ticks do not take a break from pestering your pet or slow down during the cooler months. That’s why it is so essential to administer flea and tick preventatives throughout the year, even during colder temperatures. Several safe, effective treatments are available, including collars, tablets, topical drops, sprays, and oral chewables. However, the most desirable treatment targets adult fleas and ticks, kills them quickly, and is reapplied frequently to disrupt the parasite’s life cycle. The most commonly used medications for these problems include fipronil and imidacloprid. These compounds work by attacking the nervous systems of fleas and ticks to paralyze them, ultimately killing them. Other ingredients in these products attack the reproductive system of adult fleas and ticks to prevent them from reproducing and are also absorbed into the bloodstream to kill them when they bite your dog.

These products are effective for most dogs, but they must be reapplied frequently — usually every month. Some products offer a long retreatment interval, which should help improve owner adherence. Examining pharmacy records, researchers found that dogs prescribed fluralaner, a product with a 12-week retreatment interval, had improved adherence to the recommended treatment regimen. Other products, such as shampoos and sprays, are primarily designed to kill adult fleas and ticks. These are often harsher and can cause adverse reactions, such as skin irritation and sensitivity in some animals. They also contain harmful chemicals, such as organophosphates and carbamates, linked to various health issues in humans and other animals. For these reasons, the best and safest choice is to continue monthly preventative medication and other preventive measures. These include checking your dog for ticks after walking in wooded areas and grooming him regularly to comb out hidden pests. Also, keeping your yard mowed and free of brush and tall grasses helps to limit these pests’ access to your dog.

Monitoring

Fleas are a significant nuisance to pets, but they also carry tapeworms and cause allergic dermatitis. On the other hand, ticks are far more dangerous for pets, transmitting various diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tick paralysis. Flea and tick prevention medication is ideally given monthly, but many pet owners do not adhere to the recommended regimen. Previous studies have estimated that pet owners apply an average of 4.0-4.6 months of flea and tick treatment per year to their dogs. This study sought to understand better the factors influencing owner adherence, explicitly focusing on evaluating a new long-acting systemic flea and tick preventative. This study enrolled 559 dog owners currently using oral fluralaner, a chewable formulation containing long-acting systemic insecticide and acaricide, for flea and tick prevention. To assess adherence, measuring whether the product had been administered to the dog during that month was necessary. To do so, a survey was administered to each dog owner in the practice, and sales recorded through the practice management software were evaluated. Although not a perfect measure of adherence, this approach allowed the evaluation of sales data in a large sample of dogs with varied adherence histories. The survey gathered information on veterinarians’ recommendations for flea and tick prevention, pet owners’ recollections of these recommendations, and pet owner beliefs about the benefits of regular ectoparasite control. In addition to using a flea and tick preventative, we recommend limiting your dog’s exposure to tall grasses and thick brush and washing bedding frequently. If your dog becomes infested with fleas or ticks, it is essential to call your veterinarian immediately and follow the treatment advice.

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