flea and Tick prevention

As we approach warm weather season again, here in the “frozen” north, our thoughts naturally turn to shedding our multi-layered wardrobe and spending more time outside in the warm sunshine, walking on the new green grass, hitting the park trails or traveling.

This also means our pets are going to be spending more time outside. We need to ensure their safety from fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks become active anytime the temperature rises above 40 degrees – not very Spring-like to most of us, but true. So the time to think about this is NOW!

There was some confusion that arose last fall on the safety of these preventatives. In September 2018, the FDA issued an alert to pet-owners and veterinarians, regarding potential neurologic side effects from flea and tick preventive products containing a class of medications called Isoxazolines. Products containing this class of drugs, include Bravecto and Credelio (two flea/tick preventive products recommended by the doctors here at Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital & Exotic Care, Inc.) as well as, Nexgard, and Simparica.

It is important to remember it is a well-known fact that there is the rare potential for virtually all effective flea/tick products to very cause neurologic signs, but they are considered safe for the vast majority of animals. The newer types of flea/tick products, including the Isoxazoline medications, target the insect neurologic system preferentially over the mammalian system. They have proven to be very effective, and usually very safe. We, the doctors of Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital & Exotic Care Inc., have been recommending Bravecto as our preferred flea/tick product for dogs, for over two years now and Credelio for a little over 1 year. We have had very few reports of any side effects mostly relating to GI upset after administration.

Since 2013 when the first Isoxazoline flea/tick product, Nexgard, was approved there has been widespread use of the preventatives in this class by many millions of pets. Unfortunately, some pets have experienced muscle tremors, ataxia and seizures after receiving one of these medications. This information came to the attention of the FDA as part of its routine post-marketing surveillance. In that alert the FDA stated, “These products continue to be safe and effective for the majority of animals,” adding that it carefully reviewed studies and other data on Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard, and Simparica prior to approval.

All medications have potential side effects that must be weighed against the benefit that they offer.

Unfortunately, “natural” flea and tick prevention products (garlic, brewer’s yeast, cedar-oil, citrus-oils, to name a few) are simply not effective and can be quite toxic as well. Treatment of the home and yard with Diatomaceous Earth (FleaBusters) to desiccate the environment and shrivel-up flea eggs can be effective over time, but can also lead to asthma and other respiratory problems.

We continue to believe that effective flea and tick control is very important to the health of our patients. Our flea-season has steadily broadened and is now nearly year-round. The first frosts are coming later and later each year.

Fleas cause severe distress to those for individual pets and those with allergies, and it can result in severe skin inflammation and secondary skin infections. Fleas can also spread blood parasites (i.e. Hemoplasma in cats), tapeworms (Dipylidium in dogs) and when present in large enough numbers can cause severe anemia in some small animals. Ticks are being seen in ever increasing numbers here in the Midwest. Along with these increased ticks we are seeing a significant increase in tick-borne illnesses as well. Good and effective flea and tick prevention medications are a must for our beloved pets!!!

In animals with known neurologic or seizure disorders, or those with known MDR1 gene mutation, it is generally safest to use only topical products that do not get absorbed systemically. Animals who are suspected to have had an adverse reaction should be switched to a different class of flea/tick protection

We continue to believe that Bravecto and Credelio are very safe and effective flea/tick preventive product s for the vast majority of our patients. If you have questions or concerns, please let us know. We are here to help! However, you must make this decision for your pet.

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