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Flea and Tick Protection for Dogs and Cats


There are many types and brands of flea and/or tick protection for dogs and cats available on the market. Everyone has seen the sprays, powders, shampoos, dips and collars on the store shelves for flea and tick control. Most of these products have been around for many years. Some work better than others and most are messy and only last 10-14 days on the animal.

There is also a group of products for flea and/or tick control that can be applied as a drop to a place on the skin of the dog/cat and will last up to 30 days. Most of these products are water and shampoo resistant. These products contain drugs that paralyze the insect's nervous system, are insect growth regulators that prevent the insect from maturing, or insecticides that kill adult insects. All the products are easy to apply and are odorless once they absorb into the skin. Examples of these products are Frontline, Frontline Plus, Advantage, K9 Advantix and Revolution.

Regardless of the product you use, there are several important safety rules to remember:

  1. Check the label. Is it approved for the age of your pet?
  2. Check the label. Is it approved for dogs or cats? Do NOT use a product for "dogs only" on your cat. It may kill your cat! Dogs and cats are completely different species. What works well on one, may not be safe for the other.
  3. Watch for reactions to the chemical. Bath your pet quickly and call your veterinarian if you see lethargy, seizures, trouble breathing or skin irritation after the product is applied. These are rare, but can occur. All products can react badly with an individual animal, but so can the health risks of being covered with fleas and ticks.
  4. IMPORTANT!! Get a recommendation from your veterinarian on the type of flea/tick prevention you should use on your dog or cat. You and your vet know the animal best. Does your dog or cat have a pre-existing medical condition that would make using these products too risky?

Acknowledgement: 
by Dr. Barbara Espe, Heart River Animal Hospital, PC, Located in Bismarck, ND, Dr. Espe specializes in small animal, avian and exotic medicine.