Everything You’ve Been Itching to Know about Flea and Tick Preventatives!
Have you seen the new Nexgard commercial? A TV spot dedicated to dogs doing what they do best: play. But what’s enabling the fun times? A reliable flea and tick preventative of course!
Our clients know to give flea and tick medication throughout the summer. However, we often field questions about the necessity for these preventatives when the hot weather cools.
I’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about flea/tick preventatives and hopefully provide a better understanding of their role in your pet’s overall health. As always feel free to ask us directly about any issues regarding monthly preventatives. Our client care coordinators, techs and doctors would love to spend time discussing their vital role for your pet. But first – a brief overview of how flea and tick prevention work.
Typical flea and tick preventatives are a monthly supplement that is given to your dog or cat on the same day. The most frequently used formula is a topical ointment. However, Merial has introduced an oral option. Nexgard is a beef-chewable that is eaten like any other treat. To achieve peak efficacy the preventative must be given on the same day of the month each month. We recommend a reoccurring alert on your smartphone or other smart device that will remind you it’s time for your pet’s monthly preventative!
“I gave my dog his flea and tick preventative, but I still saw a tick on him after we went camping. How come?”
A popular misconception is that flea and tick preventatives create an invisible barrier between your dog and the surrounding world. This simply is not true. Flea and tick preventatives do NOT stop fleas or ticks from coming onto your dog nor will they get rid of an active infestation. Medications, such as Nexgard, prevent fleas and ticks from attaching and causing any harm to your pet. Nexgard’s active-ingredient over stimulates the flea’s nervous system preventing infection. It will kill the adult flea. The same methods work for ticks. While you may notice a tick crawling on your pet it will be unable to latch onto your furry companion. If it tries, it too will be killed within a period of 1-3 days. This is an inadequate time for the tick to transmit any diseases. Frontline and Nexgard work to prevent your pet from infestations or diseases common amongst these nasty critters.
“Why do I have to give my pet flea and tick preventatives in the winter when it’s not hot?”
We’ve all lived through a Chicago winter. They’re anything but temperate. Many pet owners’ express disinterest in continuing flea and tick preventatives beyond the summer months due to their beliefs that the cold temperatures are an effective combatant against any nasty pests. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Recent climate trends have proven that our winters are on average warmer than the previous seasons. There has been an increase in bug activity during winter to climate change. Ticks, specifically Lyme Disease carrying ones, remain alive and active in temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Different species of ticks are equipped to live in both warm and cool climates. Flea and tick preventives such as Nexgard and Frontline protect against several different species including ones that are active in colder temperatures.
The threat of fleas does not go away either. Many of our patients spend time at doggy daycares or boarding. One of the inherent risks of group socialization is exposing your dog to those with unknown medical histories. A dog can be susceptible to catching fleas from a furry friend in daycare anytime of the year. Fleas are also most commonly spread in public living spaces such as multi-unit apartment and condo complexes. Urban pooches are exposed to other dogs within housing residences whether it is in passing or through shared common spaces. The same principles apply to our feline friends as well! Cat owners’ living in large complexes need to be aware of exposure risks especially if they also have a dog in the home. A hungry flea will be happy to bounce between dog and cat.
“I pulled a tick from my dog yesterday. Does my pet have Lyme disease?”
NO. As unpleasant as finding a tick may be the presence of one does not guarantee that your pet will develop Lyme disease. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. Tick related diseases are contracted when a tick has adequate time to feed. Preventatives, like Nexgard, are fast acting and do not allow for ticks to attach for periods long enough to transmit disease.
If you do find a tick on your pet do not panic. Give us a call and we’ll talk you through the process of testing for tick-related illnesses. Remember: exposure does not equal infection.
“Does my indoor cat need flea and tick medication too?”
While some owners opt out of giving their cats a monthly preventative it’s important to realize that an indoor cat is not immune to contracting fleas. As previously mentioned one of the most common areas for infestation of fleas are within urban complexes. This includes all multi-unit apartment and condominium buildings. City dwellers typically live in these types of housing spaces. Other animals in your building who have fleas can infest common spaces. The ever-determined flea will travel these spaces to find a viable host and that may mean your indoor cat.
Another consideration is whether you have other outdoor pets in your home. If your outdoor dog or cat come into contact with fleas they will bring them inside and put your indoor pet at risk.
If you have a cat that is indoor/outdoor it goes without saying that they should be given all of the recommended monthly-preventatives. Fleas and ticks do not discriminate between dogs or cats!
“Are there any side effects to flea and tick prevention?”
There is always a risk of mild to moderate side effects with any medication. The same is true for flea and tick preventatives. The most common flea and tick medications are topical treatments. Common side effects with topical medications include localized allergic reactions. With the oral preventatives, such as Nexgard, the most common side effects reported are vomiting, diarrhea or itching. If you have any questions about which preventative would be best for your pet feel free to ask at your next appointment and our doctors will determine the ideal option for dog or cat.
If all this information seems overwhelming it doesn’t have to be. My Vet staff is here to answer your questions and help you better understand how to keep your pets healthy. If you are interested in learning more about flea and tick preventatives call our office at 773-235-8387 and ask our client care coordinators about your options.