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Flea and Worm Treatments – Are Any of Them Good?

Having pests – including fleas, worms and ticks – attacking your dog and possibly your family is awful. But, finding a way to prevent them can be challenging. While there are lots of products on the market, it does seem like none of them work 100% of the time.

Topical Flea Treatments

These are the most common. They are easy to apply and once they have been absorbed, you don’t have to worry about your family being exposed to the toxins like you do with flea collars.

Like most pests, these common household plagues do adapt to our chemicals. So something that has worked, may stop working. We have found that Frontline doesn’t really work anymore. Personally, for fleas we recommend Advantage or Advantix. For worms, it really depends on the type of worms your dog may have, which you may need to have a vet diagnose. Especially if you suspect heartworms, which need to be treated by a vet.

Oral Flea Treatments

Oral flea treatments have become very popular lately. They are quickly replacing topic flea treatments in terms of sales. This is because brands like Panoramis and Comfortis are said to be 99.9% effective, which is 11.5% more effective than what the topical treatments have been rated as. That’s a big difference! Plus, for many, all they have to do is put a pill in some wet food or a piece of cheese and their dog swallows it. Done! No chance of contamination– your kids can immediately snuggle the dog. Bonus, these orals also prevent/kill worms. Panoramis even prevents heartworm. Nexgard kills ticks and adult fleas.

BUT THERE COULD BE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THE ORAL TREATMENTS!

The drugs in these treatments attack the nervous system of the fleas and ticks, causing death. Of course, the question is – how does that affect the dog who is also ingesting them? Is the dosage enough to cause harm?

There have been some scary reports on forums asking for people’s feedback on the different medications. One lady lost her 9 month old puppy after giving her an oral flea medication (Bravecto) 7 weeks prior. She said her vet confirmed it was a reaction to the drug. The dog had been perfectly healthy prior. Another one said her dog went into stage 4 kidney failure (also on Bravecto).

On the other hand, a March 2014 study published in the journal Parasites & Vectors said they found no serious adverse side effects when Bravecto was given to “healthy dogs at dose rates of up to 281.3 mg/kg on three occasions at 8-week intervals. [The study] did not lead to any treatment-related findings that could be detected through careful clinical observation, clinical pathological evaluation or on gross or microscopic post mortem examination.”

But there are still people who do not feel it’s worth the risk. There are even petitions on Change.org asking that these drugs be removed from the market. While not as severe, there has also been anecdotal evidence of oral medications causing itching and other health problems in some dogs.

Tick Treatments

Ticks are tricky. Nothing really prevents them 100% of the time. I do have a friend that lives in a bad tick area and he likes the tick collars. While he still finds ticks on his dogs, he says they seem to be more easily removed when the dogs are wearing the collars.

Natural sprays for ticks have been found to be somewhat effective as well. Rose geranium oil (not for cats!) has been known to work. And so do products containing Neem and Eucalyptus oil. However, none of them are 100% either, so you should always check your dog (and yourself!) over after being outside anywhere there are ticks.

This fight against these pests is not any easy one. Definitely noticing an invasion early can help get rid of them faster and reduce the risk that you will end up being plagued as well. A note – If you have carpet and just cannot get rid of your fleas, you may have to replace the carpet. Fleas lay eggs in the carpet and often that is the culprit behind you not being able to break that cycle, even if your dog is covered in flea preventions.

Also with all these treatments use common sense. In the cooler areas of Australia fleas and ticks only come out in the warmer months so I don’t even use these products from Autumn to the end of winter. Same goes for worms. Its recommended to worm your dog every 3 months. If your dogs are relatively worm free and you don’t live in an area where worms can be an issue then you don’t have to be too religious with it.

Heart worm is probably the most life threatening of the worms so best keep up to date with that one. Even so, it is curable these days with long term continued ivomectin treatment.

(Important Notice- There is an Ivermectin intolerance shown by Collie breeds. Collies, Shelties, Border Collies, Old English Sheepdogs and Australian Shepherds have been known to suffer serious side effects and even death due to a genetic defect which allows the toxin to build up in the brain.  Even low doses can present an unacceptable risk in susceptible dogs, especially puppies, and should be avoided unless your collie breed dog has tested clear of this defect.)

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