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Flea & Tick Treatments: Details & Differences

Dog on grass

Fleas and ticks may seem like just a part of life for your dogs or cats, but they don’t have to be. In fact, preventing contact with these parasites is the surest way to keep your pet from contracting the infections or diseases they may carry. With so many products on the market to combat fleas and ticks, which is best for your pet? Here is a breakdown of the differences between flea and tick treatments, in ingredients, strength and method, to help you make the right choice. A detailed comparison between several popular flea and tick treatments may be found at VeterinaryPartner.com. The major distinctions between treatments can be found by asking the questions below:

  • Does this treat fleas, ticks, both, or anything else?
  • Is the treatment for dogs or cats?
  • Is it given orally or applied topically?
  • Is it a presription product, or can be it purchased over-the-counter?
  • What is the minimum pet age for using this product?

Fleas, Ticks and Other Insects Many treatments work on both fleas and ticks, but some have a single focus on either parasite. The right choice for your pet is the one which fits your pet’s potential exposure to fleas and ticks. This depends on your pet’s time spent outside, as well as the area you live. Dogs who spend time outside, or among other dogs—such as a dog park—are bound to come into contact with both ticks and fleas. Indoor cats, on the other hand, may be less prone to ticks. However, if you live in a wooded area with a high tick population, a tick may find its way inside. Additionally, some flea & tick treatments also cover heartworms. Choosing a product that treats heartworms is highly recommended if you have mosquitoes in the summer, both for dogs and cats. For Dogs or Cats? While there are many treatments which may be used on both dogs and cats, some are not. It’s vital to make sure the treatment you choose is approved for use in your species of pet. Many include active ingredients which cannot be used on cats—ask your veterinarian which treatment is right for felines and read the product carefully before administering. It’s also important to give the correct dosages for size and weight. Follow the directions from your veterinarian carefully. Oral or Topical Topical treatments can be found in a variety of formats: spot ons, which are dripped onto the skin through the coat; medicated shampoos; or treated collars. Oral flea & tick treatments are administered like any other medication. You know your pet and whether they are comfortable taking oral medications—or whether they are annoyed by collars. Prescription or Over the Counter Your veterinarian will be able to guide you to the right treatment option, which depending your pet’s situation may be a prescription medication. A prescription medication will treat specific parasite issues your vet can diagnose, and will direct you to an over-the-counter option if it’s the best fit for your pet’s needs. Approved Age Flea and tick medications vary wildly in their minimum approved pet age for use. Please read directions carefully and follow the age limits seriously. Simple Steps The easiest thing you can do to limit your pet’s exposure to parasites is follow a few simple steps:

  • After being outside, check your pet all over for bugs.
  • Give your pet regular baths with a treated, over-the-counter shampoo.
  • Check yourself for ticks after being outside.
  • Wash pet beds and soft toys regularly.
  • And when you’ve found the appropriate flea and tick option, schedule your treatments and don’t skip!
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