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Mar 02 2016

The Ticks are Coming

Most people don’t think of March as the time to worry about ticks, but the truth is, ticks spend the winter safely underneath the snow cover, and can begin “questing” – that is, searching for food – as soon as the temperature gets above freezing; so it’s never too early to begin thinking about tick protection for your pets.

While choosing tick protection can be confusing, depending on your pet, their age, and their lifestyle, there are several options, all with their own advantages and disadvantages; and different forms of protection can be safely combined to provide the best scope of protection for your active, outdoor pet.

Tick Protection for Dogs

1. Bravecto Oral Chew

Bravecto is an easy to administer oral chew, providing up to 12 weeks of tick protection.

Pros:

  • Easy to administer: Bravecto is flavoured, like a dog treat, so it’s easy to give
  • Long-acting: Bravecto provides protection from ticks for up to three months on a single dose
  • Safe: Bravecto is not only safe for dogs, but also for the people and animals that come into contact with them, so it is ideal in multi-pet households
  • Can’t wash off: Since Bravecto is ingested, its effectiveness can’t be compromised by bathing or swimming
  • Can be combined with other forms of protection: If your dog spends a lot of time in highly-infested areas (out hunting, or at the farm or lake for example) it is safe to combine Bravecto with a topical application to maximize tick protection as necessary.

Cons:

  • Not for dogs under six months of age: Since puppies grow so rapidly, Bravecto given to young puppies will likely not be effective for the same length of time, since their dose requirements may change as they grow
  • Decreased effectiveness over time: Since it’s only administered once every 12 weeks, Bravecto isn’t quite as effective at the 11 week mark as it is at the 1 week mark (it’s still up to 88% effective at 12 weeks, however, and 100% effective against fleas all the way up to week 12)
  • Sensitivity: While there are very few reports of stomach upset with Bravecto, if your pet has a sensitive stomach, or a food allergy, you may want to discuss its use with your veterinarian.

2. Nexgard Oral Chew

Nexgard (by the makers of Heartgard) is an easy to administer, once-monthly oral chew that provides 4 weeks of tick protection.

Pros:

  • Easy to administer: Nexgard is flavoured, like a dog treat, so it’s easy to give
  • Safe: Nexgard is not only safe for dogs, but also for the people and animals that come into contact with them, so it is ideal in multi-pet households
  • Can’t wash off: Since Nexgard is ingested, its effectiveness can’t be compromised by bathing or swimming
  • Consistent dosing: Since Nexgard is given once monthly, you need not worry about a decrease in tick protection over time
  • Good for Puppies: Since Nexgard is administered once monthly, the dose can be adjusted to suit the needs of your growing puppy
  • Can be combined with other forms of protection: If your dog spends a lot of time in highly-infested areas (out hunting, or at the farm or lake for example) it is safe to combine Nexgard with a topical application to maximize tick protection as necessary.

Cons:

  • Has to be given consistently: Nexgard must be given once a month, so be sure to mark the date on your calendar!
  • Sensitivity: While there are very few reports of stomach upset with Nexgard, if your pet has a sensitive stomach, or a food allergy, you may want to discuss its use with your veterinarian.

3. Revolution Topical Liquid

Revolution is a liquid applied directly to your dog’s skin (usually between the shoulder blades and sometimes also at the base of the tail in larger dogs) that repels ticks for up to 4 weeks.

Pros:

  • Applied to the skin: Some owners worry about oral medications because of allergy or sensitivity issues (although those problems are rarely encountered) but Revolution is applied to the skin, not ingested
  • Consistent dosing: Since Revolution is applied once monthly, you need not worry about a decrease in tick protection over time
  • Good for Puppies: Since Revolution is applied once monthly, the dose can be adjusted to suit the needs of your growing puppy
  • Can be combined with other forms of protection: If your dog spends a lot of time in highly-infested areas (out hunting, or at the farm or lake for example) it is safe to combine Revolution with an oral medication to maximize tick protection as necessary.

Cons:

  • Contact with other pets: It’s recommended that dogs who are in close contact with cats be separated from them for a short time after using Revolution (there is a Revolution product that is made specifically for cats, but they may have adverse reactions to the compound which is made for dogs)
  • Contact with water: Since Revolution is applied to the skin, its potency may decrease with bathing or swimming
  • Given once monthly: Revolution needs to be re-applied once every 4 weeks, so mark the date on your calendar!
  • Applied to the skin: Some owners have said that Revolution leaves an oily residue on their pet’s skin.  While this doesn’t seem to happen to all pets, it’s something to be aware of.
  • Sensitivity: If your pet has sensitive skin, you may want to discuss the use of Revolution with your veterinarian

4.  Tick Collars

There are several brads of tick collars (sometimes called “flea and tick collars”) which are effective for repelling ticks.  They are worn alongside the dog’s normal collar, and usually last for 3-4 weeks.

Pros:

  • Easy to use: worn just like your dog’s usual collar.
  • Not ingested: if you’re concerned about the sensitivity of your dog’s stomach to certain oral medications, a tick collar can be a good alternative
  • Can be combined with other forms of protection: If your dog spends a lot of time in highly-infested areas (out hunting, or at the farm or lake for example) it is safe to combine most flea collars with a topical or oral application to maximize tick protection as necessary (but best to consult your veterinarian first.)

Cons:

  • Sensitivity: If your pet has sensitive skin, you may want to discuss the use of a tick collar with your veterinarian.
  • Potency: Since there are many brands of tick collars on the market, made by many different companies, their potency and effectiveness can vary widely, and may change significantly over time.
  • Removable: Since the collar isn’t a part of your dog, it could be removed or fall off if not fastened properly, which would mean the end of their tick protection.

Tick Protection for Cats

Indoor-only cats are at low risk for ticks, but cats who spend time outdoors, or who live with dogs, should be protected, just like their canine counterparts.  Currently, there are no oral tick medications (like Bravecto or Nexgard) approved for use in cats in Canada; however Revolution is available for use in both cats and young kittens, and there are also tick collars which can be used for cats.

Be Aware, however, that you should NEVER use the same tick medication you use for a dog on a cat, as it can be highly toxic.

 

As always, if you have any questions about if your pet needs tick protection, or if the protection you’re using is right for your pet, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian, or the veterinary support team.  Don’t wait until they ticks start biting!  Call, email, or drop by the clinic today, and we’ll be happy to help.

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