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PET PEEVES: Protect animals from ticks

Dara Johns

Dear Readers,

We find ourselves gravitating to the outdoors and nature since so many establishments have been closed down due to the coronavirus. If you find yourself enjoying walks in the park with your pet, don’t forget to protect your pet from parasites such as ticks.

A Petri dish contains several Brown Dog Ticks, a species researchers believe has become resistant to the most commonly used pesticides.

Ticks are not one of the more common parasites here in the Panhandle.

Ticks don’t like sand. But they do like woods and bushy grown up areas. Ticks like to inhabit the underbrush and trees and drop down on unsuspecting prey that runs through the forest.

There are several different types of ticks. They include the Deer Tick, American Dog Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Lone Star Tick, the Black Legged Tick and the Gulf Coast Tick. The life cycles of each tick vary, but for the most part they have four stages: eggs, larva, nymph, and adult. These stages occur over a period of two to three years, and each stage requires a new host. This change in host with each stage of the life cycle is how disease transmission occurs.

They find their host by sensing vibrations, body heat, breath and body odors. They hang out on grass and shrubs along paths, waiting for a victim to walk by so that they can attach. Once they attach to their victim, any disease they caught during their last feeding stage can be spread to the current host. Diseases carried by ticks include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Lyme Disease.  And these are just a few of the diseases carried by ticks.

So, we want to be sure, as we walk down the nature trail, we are doing everything we can to prevent tick borne diseases in our pets. Dogs are great hosts for ticks. They wander into the bushes, panting and rumbling around and being tick magnets.

So, what’s out there for tick protection these days? The old stand by is Frontline, which has been out forever and is super safe. It can be used on cats as well as dogs. I think we are seeing resistance in fleas to Frontline, but I haven’t heard the same thing for ticks, so it might be the prevention of choice for your pet (cat or dog) when dealing with ticks.

The newer products for tick and flea control in dogs are Nexgard, Bravecto, and Credelio. They are oral products. Nexgard and Credelio are given once a month. Bravecto is given once every three months.

While Bravecto for dogs only treats for fleas and ticks, Merk, the company that created Bravecto, has come out with Bravecto Plus for cats that treats for fleas, ticks, roundworms, hookworms, and heartworms. It is a topical product and is applied every two months. Zoetis has a cat product called Revolution Plus that also treats heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, fleas and ticks. 

The only thing comparable for dogs at this time is Simparica Trio by Zoetis. It treats for ticks, fleas, roundworms, hookworms and heartworms too. So, if you want a product that will do it all for your pet, get Bravecto Plusor Revolution Plusfor your cat and Simparica Trio for your dog.

One disclaimer about all these products except Frontline: Their active ingredient is part of the Isooxazoline class. This class of drugs has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions that include tremors, ataxia and seizures. This is a rare occurrence, and all these products have passed safety studies to be allowed on the market, but be aware that this is a possible reaction.

Have a question for Dr. Johns? Email her at JohnsDVM@aol.com. Write to Pet Peeves, P.O. Box 2949, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32549. Johns is a Niceville veterinarian.