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Proper Use of Flea and Tick Medications

Most dog owners need to confront the issue of fleas and ticks at some point. For some, this means dealing with infestations. For others, it means being diligent about monthly flea and tick medications. Because fleas and ticks cause irritation and disease in dogs, pose health risks to humans and are usually more expensive to treat than to prevent, regular prevention is the wiser course. This means that all dog owners should educate themselves about the proper use of flea and tick preventatives.

Choosing the Best Flea Medication for Your Dog

The best flea medication for your dog depends on your pet’s health status, lifestyle, the area in which you live and your personal preferences. For example, if you live in an area where ticks are a problem, you might want to choose a product, such as Frontline Plus or K9 Advantix, that protects your dog from both fleas and ticks. In addition, if you know that it is difficult to give your dog pills, choose a topical product such as Frontline or Revolution. Make sure to consult your veterinarian when choosing a flea product, and share any concerns you have with the doctor to ensure you receive the best medical advice for your dog.

Administering Flea Medication

When administering flea medication, make sure to pay close attention to the directions. Proper application is important, because it assures maximum safety and effectiveness. Topical flea medications are usually applied directly to the skin between the shoulder blades. Applying the medication to the skin allows for efficient absorption or spread. Applying it between the shoulder blades makes it less likely that your dog will lick or paw the medication off before it has a chance to dry.

Even if your dog is receiving an oral flea medication, you need to pay close attention to the directions. For example, the flea medication Comfortis is most effective when given with food and is chewable. The flea treatment, Capstar, on the other hand, is meant to be swallowed whole.

Possible Side Effects

While most flea medications are safe when used as directed, side effects are possible. The most common side effect of oral flea medication is vomiting. Hair loss and mild skin irritation are the most common side effects of topical medications. Other more severe side effects and allergic reactions are rare, but they can occur. Signs of a more serious reaction can include:

– Hives.
– Vomiting after receiving a topical medication.
– Severe or prolonged vomiting after receiving an oral medication.
– Diarrhea.
– Lethargy.
– Muscle tremors.
– Disorientation.
– Seizures.
– Difficulty breathing.

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms or is exhibiting other concerning signs, please take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Serious reactions can be life threatening if left untreated.


Safety and Proper Disposal

Medication safety is as important with flea medications as it is with other drugs. These products should be kept out of reach of children, and you should seek immediate medical attention in the case of accidental ingestion. In addition, you should consider wearing latex or nitrile gloves when applying topical products due to the fact that these are absorbed or spread through the skin. Additionally, none of these flea and tick products should be flushed down drains or disposed of in regular landfills due to the risk of water and soil contamination. Instead, you should follow the individual manufacturer’s specific instructions for disposal of any remaining product. For example, the Frontline Plus for dogs directions advise contacting your local solid waste agency if you must dispose of any remaining pesticide.

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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