Fleas and ticks are tiny blood-sucking external parasites that view your dog and you as mobile smorgasbords. Found outdoors in wooded and shady areas, these little freeloaders seek out and infest any warm-blooded host that happens by. More alarming than their blood-stealing habit, fleas and ticks often carry internal parasites and diseases to your dog, and sometimes to you via your infested dog. Prevention measures applied to your dog eliminate or greatly lower the risk of flea and tick infestation and help to ensure the comfort, health and well-being of your entire family.
Consider total pest prevention. Flea and tick control products vary greatly in function and efficacy. Some provide incomplete protection or require more frequent applications. Many kill only adult fleas, leaving the eggs and larvae untouched. Look for a flea control product that kills not only adult fleas and ticks, but also kills flea eggs and stops development of immature fleas into adults. Some flea and tick preventatives, such as Bio Spot or K9 Advantix II, also repel and kill mosquitoes, helping to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and heartworm disease.
Compare the delivery method. In addition to pills, flea and tick medications are available as collars and sprays, topical applications and shampoos. Determine which type works best for your situation, as some dogs don't tolerate swallowing pills well or develop reactions to topical treatments. Also determine whether you are able to administer this treatment yourself, or whether you'll need help from a friend, groomer or your veterinarian. Some dogs may resist some types of treatment, leaving one or both of you injured.
Consider frequency of application. Depending on the active ingredients and application method, some flea and tick preventatives may require more frequent attention than you'd prefer. Topical solutions typically offer one month of coverage, while flea and tick collars can last up to three months. Shampoos and sprays typically offer the briefest protection, requiring more frequent application.
Review the minimum age or weight requirements for each medication. Protection against fleas and ticks should start as early as possible in your dog's life, but some medications are not safe for puppies and smaller dogs. Pay close attention to the age and weight restrictions printed on all flea and tick treatments. Do not attempt to split larger, stronger doses into smaller portions to treat several dogs with one treatment, as this can pose a health threat and is not recommended by the manufacturers.
Research possible side effects of the medications your are comparing. All chemical flea and tick preventatives pose side-effect risks, but some may pose more risk than others, depending on the number of active ingredients they contain. Topical treatments, including collars, shampoos and sprays, could cause skin irritation and other physical reactions, while pills may cause behavioral or possible medical issues. Consult your veterinarian on your dog's health and individual risks before deciding upon the best flea and tick treatment option.
Some dogs will ingest droppings of other animals. This behavior can introduce intestinal worms and other parasites to your dog. Be aware of your dog's outdoor habits, and keep your cat's litter box out of his reach.
Flea and tick medications may produce an unwanted reactions in certain dogs.Consult your veterinarian if your dog has sensitive skin or allergies that may be affected by this preventative treatment.
Research recalls and customer experiences with preventatives to avoid poorly rated products, and be aware of possible issues not discussed in the product's normal disclaimers.
Your dog may react badly to a flea and tick prevention treatment, so monitor his behavior closely after application. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog begins vomiting, is lethargic, or experiences seizures after treatment.
Keep your dog on some form of flea and tick medication year-round to prevent possible infestation.
Have your dog tested regularly for internal parasites, as many types of intestinal worms cause no outward symptoms until their numbers have grown to disturbing size.
Treat all pets in your home for fleas and ticks simultaneously, to prevent one dog or cat spreading their infestations to others.
Ask your veterinarian for her recommendation regarding flea and tick treatment.
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