The sweet sounds of spring are here. Listen to the birds chirping and the breeze through the trees as you and your dog take the first of many long walks through the park. Don the hat and the long-pants and perhaps some bug spray for the humans, but what about your pup? The numerous options available for flea and tick protection can become overwhelming, but we can simplify it by distinguishing the different categories of these medications.
Tick collars were a mainstay of flea and tick prevention for a long time but over the years, fleas and ticks became resistant to some of these collars and many of them did not work well. Recently, a new product called the Seresto collar became available for both dogs and cats as a very effective way to both repel and kill ticks, fleas, and mosquitos that land on your pet. It works for approximately 8 months and can be worn while your pet is in the bath or swimming. Notably, this product is also approved for 8 months in cats.
Some pets have an uncanny ability to shed any collar. For these pets, there are both topical and oral options.
There are multiple options for chewable preventatives available for dogs. Since these preventatives are swallowed and the active ingredient will be absorbed, the medication works by being present in your dog’s bloodstream so that when a flea or tick bites your pet, the bug will ingest some of the medicine and die. Depending on the product, it will need to be given every 1-3 months.
“Spot on” topical preventatives for dogs come in many different varieties as well. Some will repel and kill the bugs while others require the bug to bite your pet to ingest the medicine. Some will be absorbed into the bloodstream while others will stay within the layers of the skin. Children must be separated from your dog until the product has dried and this recommendation can vary from 4 hours to 2 days, depending on the product. It is also important to note that some of the “spot-on” products that are safe for dogs are NOT safe for cats so please be on the look-out if you own both cats and dogs. The dosage frequency can also vary with the “spot-ons”, ranging from every 1-3 months.
Cats are unable to tolerate the same medications and dosages that dogs do and because of this there are no oral products approved for them. In addition, all “spot-on” products approved for cats require the flea or tick to bite the cat in order to kill the bug. The feline products do not repel ticks. There are options for products that last for 1-3 months.
In dogs, there is also a very effective vaccination to protect against Lyme disease. It is recommended in dogs that are likely to be exposed, since no tick preventative can be assumed to kill or repel 100% of the ticks. In New York State, veterinarians see a lot of Lyme Disease, and it is important to discuss this vaccination with your vet if your dog goes into at-risk areas.
Cats do not get Lyme disease with the same regularity as dogs, either because of a natural resistance to the Borrelia “Lyme” bacteria, or because of their fastidious grooming habits, so they do not get vaccinated for Lyme Disease.
Contact your veterinarian to discuss the best options for your cats and dogs to help keep them healthy, whether it is for a walk in the woods or just lounging in the sun.
Peter Romano is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and owner of Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital. Find out more about Dr. Romano and his team at www.sleepyhollowanimalhospital.com.