itchy dog.

No one likes unwanted houseguests, and pet parasites like fleas and ticks are low on the list of critters that you might invite in. Are flea and tick medications dangerous for pets, though? Thankfully, there are great options for pet parasite prevention available, and Sky Canyon Animal Hospital is happy to help you sort through choosing. 

Why You Should Prevent Parasites

It may seem tempting to just wait and treat your pet if there is a problem, but the truth about pet parasites is that, by the time you know that they are there, you are often too late.

Prevention is the best way to be sure that you avoid dealing with:

  • Flea bite allergies that can lead to hair loss, sores, and infection
  • Tapeworm infestation (carried by fleas)
  • Flea infestation in your home (one flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day before you notice it)
  • Tick-borne disease such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis
  • Blood borne parasites like Haemobartonella

Are Flea and Tick Treatments Dangerous?

All medications can have side effects, and flea and tick treatments are no different. We have come a long way, though, and modern options are very safe and quite effective. 

Steer clear of older, less safe, and often over-the-counter options that include pyrethrins or pyrethroid compounds. These topical spot ons, shampoos, sprays, and collars are not terribly effective and carry a high risk of side effects, particularly for cats. Pyrethrin toxicosis can results in symptoms including:

  • Intense scratching/itching
  • Agitation
  • Vocalization
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

While more modern options can also have side effects, they are much less common. Talk with us about the safest and best option for your pet. 

The Safest Flea and Tick Medications

Because any side effects can be scary, many people are tempted to go a more natural route. These options unfortunately can be a little deceiving. Often not very effective, they can leave pets at risk. Some of them also are inherently dangerous, albeit natural. 

  • Garlic: Many natural flea remedies utilize garlic. Claims that feeding garlic will discourage fleas from biting are not backed by any scientific proof. It can also be toxic to pets in large amounts.
  • Dish soap: Dawn dish soap and a flea comb can definitely aid in removing fleas from an infested pet, but they do nothing to prevent fleas from jumping back on. If you see adult fleas on your pet, remember that only about 5% of the parasites in the environment are in their adult form. The rest are in larval, pupal, or egg form and will be waiting to jump back on their host as they mature.
  • Diatomaceous earth: Many sources will cite the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth for parasite control in pets. While this clay particle does, in fact, kill many parasites, it also is a known carcinogen when inhaled. 

Natural solutions, while tempting, are often not the safest choice despite appearances. Let our expert staff guide you through the options available to your pet, taking your individual needs and your pet’s health into account. 

We hate fleas and ticks, too, and we are here to help you choose the best option for your furry family.