The Prevention Post: Say No to Fleas & Ticks

The Prevention Post: Say No to Fleas & Ticks

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Winter seems to finally be slipping into the past. The sun is out, temperatures are warming up, and all the pesky bugs are making their way into our lives. Personally, I enjoy the outdoors no matter the weather, and my dogs do too, but spring and summer do bring some negatives along with all the bright, sunny positives.

Fleas and ticks are no fun for you or your dog, and they can potentially be very harmful for your pet. It's important to stop before venturing out into the beautiful weather and remember that protection against these pests is imperative.

What are Your Options?

There are all kinds of products on the market for flea prevention. Once-a-month topicals, sprays, collars, shampoos, dips, and flea combs; enough to make your head spin and leave you asking, “Where do I start?” Here’s some information on the many different types of flea and tick preventatives available to you, and which are our favorites.

Topical prevention is one of the more common options. Products such as Advantage, Advantage Multi, and Advantix use an ingredient that employs the natural oils on your dog’s skin and coat to spread the active ingredients, covering your dog’s entire body. These products are applied to a small area on your pet’s neck once a month. There are many topicals on the market, but we’ve found that most aren’t as effective as Bayer products. One of the many reasons we recommend Bayer products is that they not only kill pests, but also repel them. Other topicals and ingestibles require the flea or tick bite the dog before they die.

BayerDVM offers a wide array of options including:

  • Advantage II for dogs – kills fleas, flea larvae, flea eggs, and lice, safe for use around cats
  • Advantage II for cats – kills fleas, flea larvae, and flea eggs
  • Advantage Multi for dogs – only by vet Rx, protects against heartworms, fleas, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, heartworm microfilaria, and sarcoptic mange
  • Advantage Multi for cats – only by vet Rx, protects against heartworms, fleas, roundworms, hookworms, and ear
  • Advantix II – protects against ticks, all flea life stages, mosquitos, biting flies, and lice, not the safest choice for use around cats because of active ingredient, permethrin

Flea collars are another option but 90% of the products on the market are not effective. The only flea collar we at Hollywood Feed trust is the Seresto collar by Bayer. This collar has active ingredients infused into the plastic during production. Others are dipped or powdered on the collar and don’t protect the entire pet or last very long. The Seresto collar is effective for up to 8 months and uses the same ingredient as topicals to spread protection across your dog’s entire body. Most other flea collars on the market only protect within three inches of the collar.

Ingestibles do not repel pests. Your pet must ingest the product, which then travels through their bloodstream, making their blood poisonous to fleas and ticks. A flea or tick must bite the dog to die. In the case of a sudden flea infestation, Capstar is a good option. One pill is effective for 24 hours and kills any fleas that are currently on your pet. Comfortis is an Rx option that kills fleas for up to 30 days. Some ingestibles such as Trifexis and Comfortis have received media backlash regarding claims of sickness and death. Trifexis denounces these claims. According to a TV news station in Atlanta, WSB-TV 2, that has been following the story closely, the FDA cautions there is no solid evidence linking Trifexis to any dog’s death. However, the anecdotal evidence warrants you doing further research on your own.

Flea sprays are another option, but are time consuming and less effective. The sprays should be sprayed directly onto your dog, and while you don’t have to soak him, you do need to thoroughly cover your entire dog with spray and rub it in for it to be effective at all. Even then, sprays are usually only effective for 24-48 hours. Many flea sprays claim to be a long-term solution for prevention but in fact are not. Vet’s Best offers all natural sprays (made with peppermint oil and clove extract) for your pets, as well as sprays for your home and yard that help in ridding your living space of pesky fleas. If your dog has fleas, his bed and living space definitely has fleas and flea larvae and eggs. It’s important to treat the dog’s bed, the area around the dog’s living space, your couches, rugs, curtains, etc. to rid your home of fleas and flea eggs and prevent the infestation from occurring again. There are also options for your pet, home, and yard that aren’t all natural such as Adams Flea and Tick Sprays.

Shampoos are often effective at removing fleas and ticks that a dog currently has on him, but usually have no residual effects past 24-48 hours. Work the shampoo into a lather over your dog’s entire body, using caution around his eyes and ears, and leave on for the recommended amount of time before rinsing.

How Do You Know What's Right for Your Pet?

1. Does your dog enjoy a daily frolic in the water? Do you have a dog that loves to swim on a daily basis? While topical flea preventatives like Advantix are said to be waterproof, constant exposure to water will decrease the efficacy throughout the month. A better option might be a Seresto collar. These collars protect against fleas and ticks for up to 8 months. They are indeed water-resistant so your pup can continue to wear them on their daily swims. If your dog is in the water daily, the protection will decrease in length to about five or six months. This still offers protection for a much longer period of time than topical preventatives. For those of you with hunting dogs that don't work in collars, you might be concerned the collar could get snagged on something. Bayer considered this when designing these collars and included break/release safeguards.

2. Does your dog play with small children often? With topical solutions, a child can get the liquid on them, and ultimately in their eyes and mouth as the solution takes a few days to dry. It’s important to keep your pup away from children for a few days after application. Seresto collars are a great alternative. The collar is very safe because it secretes lower doses of active ingredients over a longer period of time. Bayer even says a dog can ingest the collar without any major issues.

3. Does your dog live indoors in a city and rarely venture outside? Or do you live in an arid desert environment with few ticks? Ticks aren’t usually problematic in the city so a form of flea preventative such as Advantage might work well.

4. Do you always remember to apply preventative on the first of every month? Do you apply flea and tick preventative consistently every month? Most people have the best intentions and try to apply on the first of every month, but most forget and apply a few days late, if not more. Sadly, a few days is all it takes for one bite to send your pet's life in a different, not-so-good direction. If consistency is an issue for you, Bayer's Seresto collar might be the answer. Put it on your dog and eight months later, put a new one on! No one can argue with the ease of this preventative!

5. Do you have cats and dogs living together in your home? Permethrin is toxic to cats and just the exposure from playing together within 48 hours of application can cause harm to the feline members of your family. Advantage is a great option for protecting against fleas with active ingredients that are safe for cats.

A Few Things to Note about Flea and Tick Preventative:

1. Our favorite way for our dogs to wear their Seresto collars at Hollywood Feed is to hide it from sight under our favorite Mississippi Made dog collar. Simply place the Seresto collar under the dog's regular collar and affix it with ponytail holders so it's hidden underneath the regular collar.

2. Advantage and Advantage Multi vs. Advantix:

  • Advantage II is a topical flea preventative that comes in formulas for cats and dogs. It protects against fleas, their larvae and eggs, and lice. It is safe for use around cats. Advantage does NOT protect against ticks. If they are prevalent in your area you will need to choose a different preventative, or add tick protection.
  • Advantage Multi is only available through your veterinarian. It protects against heartworms, fleas, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, heartworm microfilaria, and sarcoptic mange. Advantage Multi does NOT protect against ticks. If they are prevalent in your area you will need to choose a different preventative, or add tick protection.
  • Advantix II using the ingredient, permethrin. It repels and kills ticks, all flea life stages, mosquitos, biting flies, and lice. If you use Advantage Multi for heartworm protection you can also use Advantix II for tick protection as long as they are applied at least seven days apart. A simple way to remember to apply them is to apply one on the first of the month, and one on the fifteenth.
3. Permethrin, an ingredient in many topicals that repels and kills ticks on dogs, is extremely toxic to cats as they don’t metabolize the ingredient. Dogs can metabolize permethrin, therefore it’s a safe product for use on your canine companions. Cats can be exposed through close contact with a dog that has been treated within the past 48 hours or an accidental application on your part (if you have dogs and cats always double check which product you’re applying to your cat BEFORE you place it on him). Cats also enjoy grooming their furry family members’ fur. If they groom them after application they can be exposed to the ingredient.

If you notice your cat behaving differently, appearing depressed, experiencing a loss of coordination, drooling excessively, vomiting, twitching (even if it’s just the tips of their ears), having seizures, or refusing to eat, seek veterinarian treatment immediately. Symptoms can show up within a few hours or up to three days after their exposure to permethrin.

If you share your home with dogs and cats, restrict your cat’s access to your dog for at least 48 hours after application. You might also consider using a different flea and tick preventative. Seresto collars and natural flea sprays are great options.

4. Trifexis, since 2013, has long been a suspect of major health issues and even death in many dogs. Sadly, many people are not aware of this issue. Our personal stance and statement is: Below is the research we have available from credible sources. Please do your own research as well. We have concerns for the health of all of our customers' pets, and this raised too many red flags to not share.

Do also please note that this product is also a heartworm preventative. If you stop using Trifexis, you will need to get on a heartworm preventative AND something like Advantix II for fleas and ticks.

WSB-TV - Atlanta: July 30, 2014 - http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/owners-vets-reporting-even-more-deaths-connected-t/ngq59/
WSB-TV - Atlanta: July 31, 2014 - http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/national/owners-vets-reporting-even-more-deaths-connected-t/ngrZx/
Whole Dog Journal - December 23, 2013 - http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/-20898-1.html
WSB-TV 2 - Atlanta: November 27, 2013 - http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/owners-blame-700-dog-deaths-trifexis/nb5B4/
Vital Animal.com - April 13, 2014 - http://vitalanimal.com/trifexis-hoax/
ABC 8 News - Richmond, VA - December 9, 2014 - http://wric.com/2014/09/26/8news-investigates-owners-believe-popular-pet-pill-killed-dogs/

5a. Applying topicals is simple. Separate your pet's hair between their shoulder blades. 

5b. Apply topical flea and tick preventative.

For small animals, applying in one spot between the shoulder blades is sufficient. For larger dogs, apply in up to three additional spots down the pet's back.

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