June 8, 2023
Prevention of tick bites and flea infestations is a job that starts in spring with the emergence of bare ground and ends after the ground has a good snow cover, but if the insects are already in our house, there is no natural end to the season. Thus, it is very important to the health and safety of both the household humans and the pets to be diligent in preventing tick and flea problems. As discussed in Blogs #2 and #3, ticks can carry some severe diseases and fleas are a confounded nuisance.
There are several pet product companies that make flea/tick prevention products. Many of these products are quite good at the job but this is a case of buyer beware s some of the older brands have been copied and are made overseas, with questionable quality. Falling prey to this is easy when the product is sold online or in big box stores, especially by non-pet-oriented retailers. Also, fleas and ticks have built resistance to the older kinds of flea collars and oral prevention medications, so they no longer work well. The legitimate companies do ongoing research into improving their products and make special effort to inform veterinarians as to which products are most likely to be effective against the species of pests found in their geographic region.
The flea/tick products come in three types, topical, oral, and collars. They each have their benefits and drawbacks. Surprisingly, in areas with very heavy flea/tick populations and for working dogs that are out in the field daily, some owners use two types of products at the same time so as to double the benefits. This is not harmful to the animal; the major drawback is, of course, the expense.
The oral products are nice in that they are given either once a month or once every 12 weeks. (Please note that 3 months is actually 13 weeks; the 12-week product lasts just 12 weeks and loses its effectiveness very quickly thereafter.) These products kill the flea or tick shortly after they bite and before they have a chance to lay eggs. The downside of these medications is that they work only when the insect bites your pet; they have no repellent properties. The topical products are used once a month. They are applied to the animal’s skin. Once dry they are not toxic to humans. Therefore, it is advisable to apply the product and let the animal be outside (on nice days) for a while. They frequently kill the flea or tick before they can bite your pet and they are good insect repellents. The repellent effect works against black flies, too, which benefits the pet that is frequently outdoors as they can be targets of these biting insects.