Fleas and ticks are common enough parasites that can latch onto your furry family members and make them uncomfortable or sick. Ticks typically occur when pets are outside in the woods or long grass, so you should check their coat when they come inside just like you would check their skin. Pets with longer fur or who are lower to the ground may be more likely to be infested with ticks. When it comes to fleas, the little pests can infect your pet when they are close to other infected animals. Fleas can even stow away on your clothing and proceed to infest your pets from there, even if they are indoor-only pets.
When it comes to flea and tick medications, there are generally two types: preventative and curative. Preventative medicine is a good option for pets that spend a lot of time outdoors where ticks are prevalent or with other animals who might give them fleas. If you already notice a parasite on your pet, curative medicine can kill the pests, allowing you to safely remove them.
These products come in a variety of formats including shampoos, dips, collars, topical creams/gels, pills, and chewable tablets. Some of these products can only prevent and not cure. For example, a flea collar prevents infestation but will have no effect if your pet is already infected.
There are some safety precautions to consider. Many pest medications for pets go by weight, and it's imperative to choose the right formula for your pet's size. You may need to buy multiple products if you have dogs of different sizes to avoid unwanted side effects and to ensure effectiveness. Some medicines may not be safe for puppies and kittens even though adult animals can safely use them.
Furthermore, do not treat a cat with tick or flea medication that's intended for dogs. Cats and dogs have different physiologies, which makes this medication potentially harmful or even lethal. Specifically, avoid products that contain pyrethroids, a common ingredient that many cats are sensitive to. Similarly, cats can be sensitive to products made with ingredients derived from citrus plants, while organophosphates can be toxic to felines as well. Dogs can tolerate these ingredients in parasite medication, however. If you use these products on your dogs, keep them separate from cats in your household.
You may see natural remedies for flea and tick control, but it's best to consult a veterinarian before using these. Unless you can verify the ingredients and dosage exactly, these may not be safe for your pets.
Get Help in Loveland
If you're unsure which product to choose, we're here to help. You can call Boyd Lake Veterinary Center at (970) 593-1717 for more information.