In the Northeast, flea and tick season is officially here. Fleas and ticks are definitely more prevalent in warmer temperatures, but does that warrant a need to use conventional flea and tick medication? The answer is no. Especially if you live in the burbs or a city. It's less of a definite no if you live woods and your dog is constantly outside, then maybe you should, but I would recommend avoiding it if at all possible due to side effects, which can include:
- Ataxia – stumbling, falling, uncoordination
- Loss of appetite
- Skin irritations
(Source Dogs Naturally Magazine)
Aside from the above potential side effects, giving your dog flea and tick medication when you live in the suburbs or the city is unnecessary. There aren't many woods or tall grasses, where ticks predominantly live. If you live in a region where there are cold seasons, the risk of possible tick bites is lessened as ticks are dormant in colder weather. With colder seasons and suburban/city life, the need to give flea and tick medication becomes less and less.
So the question become, do the benefits of flea and tick meds outweigh the cons?
Well, with my dog, Sheldon, my English Bulldog, the cons absolutely outweighed the pros. When Sheldon took Frontline and then K9 Advantix Flea and Tick medication as a puppy, he was extremely lethargic for 2 days or so and then would resume normal behavior. This was very unlike him because he was uper high energy. When I asked his former vet about this, she wasn't the slightest bit concerned and said, "enjoy the down-time." At the time, I should have realized this was a definite red flag about this vet, but unfortunately, I just didn't know any better. Also, the application of K9 Advantix required me to use gloves because it is unsafe to expose direct skin to the medication. Anything that requires additional safety precautions because of its' potential safety issues for humans is highly questionable in terms of safety for our dogs too.
Now that I know better, I realize his extreme lethargy was his way of telling me that his body was working hard to deal with the meds I gave him and was having a tough time doing so. That's probably because they contain harsh chemicals designed to kill fleas and ticks, but most definitely harmed Sheldon, the host. The ingredients used to kill fleas and ticks bombards the immune system and can trigger sickness. Here are a list of common ingredients used in common flea and tick meds:
Ingredients Against Fleas And Ticks
- Afoxalaner – a member of the isoxazoline family
- Fluralaner – for systemic use and also a member of the isoxazoline family; it is the single active ingredient found in one brand of chews that lasts for 12 weeks!
- Sarolaner – an acaricide and insecticide also belonging to the isoxazoline family
- Lotilaner – an ectoparasiticide belonging to the isoxazoline family, with a 1 month duration
- Spinosad – made from soil bacteria that is toxic to insects and found in garden insect spray
- Lufenuron – controls flea infestations by preventing the hatching of eggs, and prevents the flea shell from developing
Unnecessary De-Wormers Often Included
- Milbemycin oxyme – used as a broad spectrum antiparasitic for heartworm and internal parasites including hookworm and roundworm
- Moxidectin – an anti-parasitic to control heartworm and intestinal parasites
- Pyrantel – an anthelmintic, or dewormer
- Praziquantel – an anthelmintic used for parasites like tapeworms
(Source Dogs Naturally)
- Simparica Trio
- Advantage Multi
- ProHeart 6 and 12
- Revolution Plus
You can read more on this here.
Now that I know better, we no longer use flea and tick meds at all. We also don't live in a wooded area with lots of ticks.
If you must give flea and tick meds, do so during the spring, summer and perhaps early fall, but there is no need to do so in the winter when ticks are not around.
If you choose the no flea and tick med route, like I did, you can use a product called wondercide to spray on your dog with a t-shirt on before he/she goes outside to minimize exposure to ticks. Wondercide is 100% natural and does not contain any harsh chemicals that will harm your dog. Since using wondercide and a t-shirt for the last 6 years, Sheldon was never bitten by a tick once.