Yes, it is that awful time of year again. Give me snow, give me freezing temperatures, because those are the times that we don’t face ticks and mosquitos. I’d much rather bundle up than pick ticks off my dog, or worse, off me.
There have been a lot of viral videos and posts recently about many flea and tick treatments and the horrible reactions that can happen. The majority of animals do not have a reaction to most products, but those that do can have catastrophic results. Depending on the situation, taking the risk might be the correct decision. It is a tough choice to make, and worth spending a little time and research to make sure the decision made is in everyone’s best interest.
There are different modalities of tick prevention. Some rely on repelling the tick before it bites, others use chemicals to kill it before it bites. Others use insecticides that you feed to your animal, making their whole bodies poisonous to fleas, ticks and even flea eggs.
For me, repelling the pest seems the most appealing way to attack the problem. There are a multitude of home remedies on the internet using essential oils (careful, some oils used for people can be dangerous to dogs/cats, make sure the recipe you are using comes from a trusted source and formulated for pets). Some are sprayed on the pet before you enter a danger zone, others are placed on bandanas or collars. There are even commercial collars made of silicone that are infused with the oils and can last up to 8 months. These collars work by releasing the oils slowly so that the dog’s coat has a small amount on it at all times. When the dog is bathed or swims, the oils start replenishing by themselves. It might mean they are less effective right after a bath or swim, but they will eventually replenish to full strength without any action on your part. Some animals may have a reaction to essential oils, but most reactions are minor.
The “spot” treatments that are administered by applying to the back of the neck / base of the tail seem to be very effective, but these are ones we see the viral posts about. These can contain harsh chemicals which may damage or cause a reaction in sensitive animals, and if left untreated, can become a very dangerous health issue. Some animals may also find them irritating, causing them to scratch or bite at the areas if they can reach them. The chemicals used are generally very effective, but because it is a one time application, it only lasts about 3 weeks, much less if the dog swims, and bathing with a shampoo can remove it completely. If you choose this method, I recommend putting a small amount on first, not the whole dose, and watch for a reaction.
The oral treatments can contain ingredients that are generally recognized as safe, but may again cause reactions in certain animals with sensitivities. While the reactions are very few and far between, when they do happen, they can be quite disconcerting. If you are purchasing them from your vet, it might be an idea to administer it right there, and see it there is an immediate reaction, just in case. These are the most expensive options, and while they are considered safe, they may not be the choice for people looking for more natural options.
Whatever your choice, it is very important to protect your animals from the perils of tick, fleas and mosquitos. The diseases that these pests spread are life threatening, and treatments can be very expensive. An ounce of prevention…