Fleas and ticks are gross. And they can cause discomfort and diseases to both your pet and you. As recent as a generation ago, there was little you could do to protect your dog beyond flea baths and powders. Now we have much better options – more effective, safer, and easier to use prescription flea and tick prevention.
Two categories of flea and tick prevention
Now there are 2 major categories of flea and tick control – those available without a prescription at pet stores, big box stores, and online marketplaces, and those available only through a prescription from your pet’s veterinarian.
What is the difference between over-the-counter and prescription parasite control?
Over-the-counter topical flea and tick control (such as Frontline® and Advantage® products) have, for the past several years, showing decreasing effectiveness against fleas. This is similar to the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For bacteria, one problem is people not finishing the antibiotics that they start because they feel better. For fleas, the problem is people not killing the entire flea life cycle before stopping because they no longer see fleas on their pet. Some of this may be due to the topical flea prevention washing off, but many times it is because people are just trying to save money. The most common types of prescription oral flea and tick prevention have only been on the market for a few years. Fleas and ticks have not had an opportunity to develop resistance.
Of course, in some parts of the world, it is not necessary to use flea and tick prevention year-round. However, in most of the United States, fleas can survive indoors, in cars, and in the garage even during the coldest months so it is a good idea to protect your pet every month.
Seresto collars are available without a prescription and are very effective at repelling fleas, ticks, and mosquitos for 8 months. However, like topical treatments, Seresto collars lose their effectiveness if your dog swims frequently. Recently, veterinarians have seen fake Seresto collars available at a reduced price on many websites. Consider whether you trust the source before you buy a collar. Most veterinarians carry these collars purchased directly from Bayer which means they come with a guarantee not offered by other sources such as third-party sellers.These Seresto Collars available via Amazon Prime are being sold directly by Bayer Animal Health. While we are sure that Bayer routinely monitors Amazon for unlicensed dealers pleasse be mindful of the seller attached to the product before making any purchase.
Why are prescription flea and tick prevention options better?
Chewable flea and tick control is more reliable. Once your dog swallows the medicine, it works for the entire 4 to 12 weeks that the label describes. There is no concern about washing off if you bathe your dog or take him to the lake. The medication cannot rub off on your kids or your furniture. And your pet cannot lick it off.
Why do these medications require a prescription?
There are two reasons these medications require a prescription. The first is because of laws and regulations about products that go into an animal’s body. The FDA regulates oral products and those that are absorbed by the body. Therefore, all oral prevention is prescription. The topical preventative Revolution (or Revolution Plus) also require a prescription because it absorbs into the skin. Most topical preventatives just sit on the skin and so are not regulated by the FDA, meaning they do not require a prescription but are also less effective.
Reduce the development of fleas and tick resistance
The second reason is an effort to reduce the development of fleas and ticks that are resistant to this new type of medicine. Since it is a prescription, it gives your veterinarian the opportunity to discuss proper use with you.
Are chewable parasite preventatives safe for my pet?
For most pets, chewable parasite control is safe. If your dog has a history of seizures or epilepsy, consult your veterinarian for the safest options.
The most common side effect is that your dog may vomit. This can usually be prevented by giving the medicine with a small meal and separating it by 24 hours from the heartworm prevention you give your pet. The majority of dogs tolerate oral flea and tick prevention very well.
What are my options for prescription flea and tick control?
Each of the major companies that make dog-specific medication has their own version of chewable flea and tick prevention. Each of these products is a slight variation on the same molecule and are all equally effective. Nexgard, Credelio, and Simparica each protect your dog for one month. Bravecto protects your dog (or cat!) from fleas and ticks for 12 weeks.
Why is Prescription Flea and Tick Prevention more expensive?
The type of medication that makes up the new generation of flea and tick control is, well, new. That means it is only available as the original brand name. Brand names are always more expensive than generic versions of the same medication. The companies that make these products know how effective they are at keeping the fleas and ticks off of your dog, so you are paying for quality. Your pet will thank you.