Let's talk flea and tick prevention!
There are several different types of products; topicals, chewables, and collars, and they all work a little differently. Before we get into what they do, let's discuss why we use them at all.
Imagine this- your dog comes crawling back to you after an arduous journey through uninhabitable terrain. Countless silent adversaries clinging to his coat and working their way down to the skin where they will begin their torturous ministrations. Testing his mental and physical fortitude, pushing him passed his limits for sanity- what's that? You forgot to mow your lawn this week and your Yorkie that already doesn't like to go outside has been forced to relieve itself in grass that's higher than it's shoulder? Yeah, that's what I was describing. From his perspective.
Fleas and ticks come from grassy areas, in shady undergrowth, everywhere in the woods, basically anywhere a dog could want to go. We've all seen how fleas make dogs itchy, but fleas and ticks also carry diseases. What's more, is that these diseases can be zoonotic; that means that your dog could bring in the infected fleas and ticks and you could get the diseases yourself. Here's a non-exhaustive list of some of these diseases:
- Skin infections
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
So what can you do for your pet? There's so many options but what's the best one? That depends on you! There are several different options because everyone has different wants and needs.
Flea collars tend to be on the lower end of the cost spectrum as compared to the other two options, bear in mind that the cheapest collar probably doesn't work quite as well as, say, a Seresto collar. A Seresto collar repels fleas and ticks, and even prevents fleas from attaching to your dog. You can leave it on when you bathe your dog, and it won't get ruined while they swim. It may need replaced sooner though, if it gets submerged for an extended period of time. Make sure it's tight, and if you have a dog that eats everything, maybe try another option. From personal experience that was a terrifying and expensive vet visit. She's okay now though, don't worry. Topicals have the widest range of products, but we will focus on two main types here. Those with permethrin; think K9 Advantix II, and those with fipronil; think Frontline. Permethrin based topicals repel fleas and ticks, and prevent tick attachment. Fipronil based topicals do not repel fleas or ticks, but will kill them once they bite. It does take up to 24 hours to take effect though. You generally shouldn't bathe your dog or let them get wet for two days after giving them their topical treatment, and if you have cats in your home make sure to read the label. Some flea and tick topicals for dogs are toxic to cats. Chewables, like Nexguard, are going to be available at your vet and tend to be the priciest option. They're easiest to deal with in that they won't be a visible collar on your dog, a possible eyesore for you, and they're not messy like the topicals. They don't repel fleas and ticks, however they do kill them faster than the topicals. There is always, of course, a natural remedy option as well. Natural remedies are going to be made from herbs and essential oils and can be purchased or made at home. These tend to smell the best, but there's more debate about their efficacy than the others, much like there is for holistic remedies for people. They come in topical and collar form, and you can make either form as well. I'm not going to go into how to make your own, because a lot of essential oils can be harmful to your pet, and some are even toxic. For this reason I encourage extensive research before delving in yourself. While I personally use natural remedies for my pets (my five cats and three dogs) and have had great success with store bought products, I will say that when I brought home my youngest dog I was told he had been being treated with peppermint oil for fleas. He then infested my house with fleas, which lead to a months long battle with flea bombs, flea sprays, flea dips, carpet cleanings, throwing out my couch, all of which was EXPENSIVE. All for a 'free' dog. You can imagine that I was a little leary or home remedies for a while. Lastly, fleas and ticks are an environmental hazard, and treating your yard can make a huge difference in how tough the battle you find yourself in against them is. Yard sprays attach to a hose and get sprayed everywhere, make sure not to do it before a rain, and to keep your pets out of the treated area for a bit while it dries. As you can see, there's a lot of options. Make sure to talk to your vet, and decide for yourselves which option suits you and your lifestyle best. If you're still curious about the myriad of options out there, ask us when you drop by for your next grooming appointment. We've all got different opinions and experiences. See you soon!