Sentinel, Advantage, Program, Frontline, Tick Arrest, Preventic, Revolution. If your animal’s flea and tick preventative wasn’t listed … read on.
Fleas and ticks are very successful parasites. An untreated animal can easily support a flea colony of 60 to 100 fleas per week, each producing 20 eggs per day, hatching in as little as 2 days … resulting in 18,000 eggs in a month! Ticks, while infinitely slower to reproduce are formidable opponents as well, because they can transmit serious diseases to humans.
As people and pets are so mobile, so are the parasites. The good news is that we do have the necessary tools to effectively control these pests. Let me say that there is no shortage of products on the market from which to choose. Most are smoke and mirror cures. The claims can sometimes tax your sensibility.
For example, Scott Peterson, a very successful developer with a passion for hunting dogs told me that all you have to do to get rid of these parasites is to put a stick in your dog’s mouth and make him swim in the lake. In a short time the fleas and ticks will crawl out onto the stick for immediate removal. Need I say more? How about leaving a light bulb burning at night hanging over a small bowl filled with dishwashing liquid to trap the fleas as they are supposedly drawn to the light? This is a complete waste of your time.
I have read with amazement the claims made by many over-the-counter products. They are oftentimes ineffective or dangerous. Other treatments that may deter but cannot stop a hungry flea (but are very popular and have many supporters) are Vitamin B/brewers yeast (researchers use this to feed their fleas),pennyroyal, eucalyptus, garlic, walnut oil, and cedar bedding. Ultrasonic sound devices are ineffective and may cause insects and other pests to reproduce at a faster rate.
I want to be perfectly clear about the do’s and don’ts concerning parasite control. Do speak with your Veterinarian. Don’t buy remedies from a pet store or supermarket. Convenience is no substitute for experience and the correct choice. Boone Narr and Mark Harden, the brilliant Hollywood trainers on movies such as “Cats and Dogs” and “Stuart Little” have some experience with parasites after they had a flea epidemic on their ranch. At the time, the only solution was to bathe all the animals multiple times daily as well as fumigate the premises. According to Boone, the sets in Hollywood are often overrun with fleas and this can be devastating to his animals. Today, Boone’s use of Advantage on a monthly basis totally protects his animal actors with no side effects or messy, smelly, residue.
Prevention is the key to treatment. The public health significance of the debilitating diseases often associated with fleas and ticks is enormous. Normal human immunological responses eliminate most of these entities but millions of immunocompromised individuals, like those with congenital immune disease, AIDS, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney or liver disease are at a higher risk and exposure can be especially dangerous. Of these individuals 40% own companion animals.
Cold clear logic wins the day. If correct flea and tick products are applied at appropriate dose and treatment intervals, your pet will enjoy the best protection you can give him.
Dr. Hammond is CEO of Falls Road Animal Hospital, Baltimore, MD. In practice since 1981, he provides veterinary services the world-over for groups ranging from the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry to the Peace corp. He is the father of two German Shepherds and a miniature poodle.