The variety of shampoos, dips, collars, pills and spot-on products can be confusing. Following these simple tips will lead you to the best options for your pet.
Talk To Your Vet
A correct product choice depends on your pet’s health status and lifestyle. Never use a flea or tick product on a pet — especially if they are unhealthy, immature, elderly or pregnant — without discussing it with your veterinarian first. Children and other pets in the house are also a big concern and may influence your vet’s recommendation. Location also factors in. Northern fleas are susceptible to some treatments; pets in a southern climate will derive greater benefit from different formulations. In all cases, safety and efficacy can only be assured by consultation with your vet.
Beware of Over-The-Counter Pesticides
The EPA has yet to test all marketed flea and tick preventatives. Your vet is up on the latest news so always rely on his or her professional guidance and don’t take chances! Not only is your dog at risk from some over-the-counter products, they may cause brain and nervous system problems in children. Cats are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of these drugs, so a one product-fits-all solution is DEFINITELY NOT AN OPTION. You’ll want to separate pets when treating simultaneously.
Control Those Pests
Recently the arsenal against pests has been strengthened with the discovery of products that inhibit a flea’s ability to mature and reproduce effectively. They are found in a variety of products, from sprays to spot-ons. Because these drugs target biologic functions of the flea that mammals (such as you and your pets) don’t have, the safety for both people and pets is outstanding. Also fleas have not developed the resistance to these products that is seen with old over the counter remedies. The ability to hinder flea development at all life stages — egg, pupae, larvae and adult — makes modern flea treatments and preventatives much more effective, saving your pet a lot of itchy discomfort from a full blown infestation.
Know How it Works
Label reading is critical. Long-lasting topicals may provide protection for several months while some shampoos and dips only work the day of application. Longer residual action translates to fewer applications for the pet, which can be less costly in the long run. Some topicals can stand up to swimming and bathing, while others require reapplication if your pet gets wet. Collars and pills might contain IRGs which will not kill adult fleas or ticks, requiring addition of a second product if you have an adult pest population.
The Bottom line
With your vet’s help, tailoring a flea and tick control plan to you and your pet’s lifestyle can keep everyone in the household be happy and bug free.