Flea and Tick Prevention – What Works and Why it’s Important

It’s March, its 75 degrees and Fleas and Ticks are definitely already out. We have had a VERY mild winter. There was practically no reduction in the flea and tick population due to cold weather. Be prepared for one of the worst flea and tick seasons ever. Fleas are a nuisance but Ticks are MORE than just a nuisance. They can transmit Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and other nasty diseases. It is much easier to prevent them than get rid of them. Spot-on topicals, pills, collars, shampoos, sprays; the list goes on. They all advertise that they are the best. But are they safe for my pet? Are they safe for me? Are they safe for my kids?

These are the questions that should and do go through your head when confronted by the myriad of flea and tick products that are now available. Even veterinarians have trouble deciding which is best and we are constantly being bombarded with information about all the new offerings. Basically, you can boil it all down to three questions about the product: Is it effective? Is it safe? Is it easy to use? Answer “yes” to all these questions and you’ve found your product.

Collars, shampoos and sprays: Do they work? Yes, for a short time. Are they easy to use? No. Are they safe? NO! These products are commonly made with something called organophosphates (OP’s) such as chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, phosmet, naled, tetrachlorvinphos, diazinon and malathion. In overdoses, OPs can kill people and pets. Even with normal use of flea-control products containing OPs, pets and children may be in danger.

Pills: Do they work? Yes, but only against fleas and only against fleas after they have bitten your pet. Are they safe? Yes. Are they easy to use? Yes, but some of them have to be given daily which might make them not so easy to use.

Spot-on topicals: Do they work? Yes, if you buy a good quality product and follow the directions. Remember; for any animal that goes outside a product must work on both fleas and ticks so be sure it does before you buy it. Are they easy to use? Yes. Are they safe? Yes, if you buy a good quality product. Unfortunately there are products in the supermarket, pet shop and on the internet that are advertised as being “just like the products your veterinarian sells”. Many of these products are made with OP’s and can be very toxic to both your pets and you. I urge you NOT to use these products. This is one of those instances where you get what you pay for.

Keep in mind; the ticks that most commonly transmit diseases prefer it when the temperatures are between 50 and 70 degrees so use a preventative right up until it freezes next winter.

If you have any questions about which product is right for you, please consult your veterinarian prior to purchasing any type.


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