On pets: Options abound when it comes to flea and tick prevention for your dog
Fleas and ticks are more than just an annoyance. These parasites can transmit diseases to both dogs and their owners.
A few diseases caused by fleas are flea allergy dermatitis, tapeworms and cat scratch disease, while ticks can cause anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and, of course, Lyme disease.
Year-round prevention is an easy way to protect your dog from fleas and ticks, and there are several different ways to administer these safe and effective preventions. The most common are oral and topical medications or medicated collars.
Oral medications come in either a chewable tablet or a soft chew. Most dogs think they are delicious, even considering them a treat. Given monthly or once every three months, depending on the specific product, the medication enters your dog's bloodstream and circulates throughout his body.
When a flea or tick bites, the active chemicals in the medication kills it. It is important that these medications are given as directed on the package so there is no lapse in protection.
Topical treatments are liquids that are applied to your dog's skin -- usually at the base of the neck or between his shoulder blades so he can't reach it to lick it off. Depending on the specific product, it is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream and works the same as oral medications.
Other products applied topically spread across your dog's body through his skin oils and release over time. The medication's active ingredients repel pests or kill them on contact.
Administer topicals monthly, or as often as directed on the package
The best medicated collars contain a concentrated chemical that is released and spread throughout the fatty layers of the skin, making it very unpleasant for pests. The collars first repel pests.
If fleas or ticks dare to land on your dog, his skin will feel very hot to them, so they will jump off. And the pests will die if they come into contact with the active ingredients.
Less expensive collars only emit the chemical that repels fleas and ticks. Be sure to read the label of collars first so you know what you are purchasing. Collars can provide protection for up to eight months, depending on the brand.
There is no best solution for everyone, and it is important to discuss the benefits and risks of each product with your veterinarian. She will review your dog's medical history and ask questions about your family and lifestyle.
Are there toddlers or multiple pets in the household? Do you do a lot of camping or hiking in the woods? Do you have a pond in your backyard in which your dog swims?
Together, you will decide which type of prevention is best suited for your dog. Once you do, be sure to purchase it from a reputable source.
Saving a few dollars now may end up costing you a lot more money if your pet needs treatment for a disease the less expensive product was supposed to prevent but didn't.
• Diana Stoll is the Practice Manager at Red Barn Animal Hospital with locations in Hampshire and Gilberts. Visit redbarnpetvet.com, or call (847) 683-4788 (Hampshire) or (847) 422-1000 (Gilberts).