Stop stressing over fleas and ticks, get help from an online vet
Fleas and ticks are among the most common annoyances for pet parents and they can cause serious health repercussions for humans and pets alike. With all of the products available on the market, you may not know where to begin your pet's treatment or prevention program. Luckily, with new online vet platforms like Vetster, it’s easier than ever to get professional recommendations for dealing with fleas and ticks. Whether you have a cat, dog, or even a rabbit, online virtual care for pets can save you time, money, and stress over flea and tick treatments.
Should you worry about fleas and ticks?
While fleas and ticks are irritating to both animals and humans, the primary concern is that they can transmit diseases across different species. Safe and effective parasite control products reduce or eliminate the long term effects of flea and tick infestation by killing these pests and breaking their life cycles on your pets and in your household. Always consult a veterinarian before choosing external parasite control for your family, as there are many products available that have not been proven safe and effective for use.
Even when your pet is on an appropriate flea and tick medication program, you should still check for ticks after spending time outdoors. Both fleas and ticks are good at hiding their presence which can cause harm to both you and your pet. Health problems caused or transmitted by fleas or ticks include:
- Allergic dermatitis (skin irritation)
- Lyme disease
The safest and most effective flea and tick treatments
Consistently using a safe and effective product all year round is the best way to eliminate and prevent fleas and ticks in nearly all situations. Flea and tick treatments are available over the counter and by prescription. You can count on a product recommended by your veterinarian to be the safest and most effective option for your whole family. It is important to note that some products can be unsafe and/or ineffective, so talk to a veterinarian to decide what’s best for you and your pets.
The current generation of top-tier pest control products come in one of three formulations:
- Oral medication (monthly pills)
- Topical spot-ons
Oral medications prescribed by your veterinarian are the safest and most effective options for treating and preventing fleas and ticks for the vast majority of pets. As with medication, side effects can occur. Limiting these products to use by prescription only helps to ensure they are used and dosed correctly. The FDA has released this fact sheet to address consumer concerns about these products.
Topical spot-ons for flea and control were revolutionary when they were introduced near the end of the last century. Prior to that, pesticide dips, shampoos, and poorly-functioning collars were the only tools in the tool box and it was nearly impossible to get rid of fleas once you had them. Monthly spot-ons changed the scene due to their highly effective and long-lasting ability to kill fleas and ticks for an entire month. Many of these products are still good options today as long as they are used correctly as directed by a vet.
When it comes to safety and efficacy, the best choice for most pets will be a pill or spot-on, so collars are a special exception. Very few pesticide collars on the market are effective, so talk to a veterinarian first before selecting a collar.
Natural remedies are ineffective and many over-the-counter products are actually unsafe. Navigating the pet parasite control marketplace is difficult and professional guidance is the best way to avoid wasting time and money on something that might not work or may even be harmful to your pets.
The best practices to safely provide effective flea and tick protection for your pets can be summarized as:
- Seek out and follow veterinary guidance: make sure your vet is aware of other animals or children in your household
- Choose only vet-recommended products
- Use the products exactly as directed
- Repeat application/administration on time
- Continue treatment for at least three months if you have an existing flea problem
- Treat all mammalian pets in the household
All pets are not the same when it comes to external parasite prevention and treatment. You can read more about how to help your dog if he has fleas or ticks. Cats are especially sensitive to pesticides and many products are not safe for use on them. Some products are even dangerous to cats when only applied to a dog in the same household. Small mammals like rabbits and ferrets are in a special category requiring veterinary oversight because the latest generation of products aren’t labeled for use on them.
The latest generation of veterinarian-recommended external flea control products are so effective that environmental treatment is not necessary unless there is an extremely large household infestation. This is due in part to the fact that these products are shed along with the pet’s dander into carpet and bedding where fleas spend part of their life cycle. If you have a flea problem and want to hasten your progress eliminating them, treat the environment as well as your pets. Start by removing flea eggs, pupae, and larvae from the house by vacuuming and washing bedding, then follow-up with a veterinarian-approved environmental treatment product. Choose a spray or aerosol that contains an insect growth regulator (IGR) and follow the labeled instructions.
Avoid ineffective products
Over-the-counter flea and tick products based on outdated pesticides and delivery methods are ubiquitous on the market. These aren’t designed to prevent fleas and won’t kill enough of them to significantly impact an existing infestation. Similar tick products won’t fully cover the dog’s body or stay on the skin long enough to provide decent protection. As a result, these types of products don’t have a role in modern external parasite control for most pets:
- Most sprays
- Most flea collars
- Natural or herbal products
Ordering flea and tick medications online
Once you know what types of flea and tick products are best for your pets in your unique situation, you’re off to a good start. The next step is purchasing them. In many jurisdictions, veterinarians are allowed to prescribe flea and tick medications following a virtual telehealth appointment.
If you live in a state or province that allows virtual prescribing and have a telehealth appointment with Vetster, you can discuss your options and the vet can enter the prescription directly into the secure platform. From there, you can easily order the flea and tick medication and opt for one-time delivery or sign up to receive a new supply every month. Auto refills will save you a trip to the vet or store and ensure that your pet is receiving the best treatment for them, on time, as prescribed. If you have any questions about your pet's treatment, you can easily access an online vet whenever you need one from your phone, tablet, or computer.
Vetster makes this easy with 24/7 on-demand, online virtual care appointments that put your pet’s health first. You can choose from thousands of licensed vets based on their specialty, location, or availability and see their flat-rate fee upfront. For emergencies, check-ups, prescriptions*, and everything in between, take control of your pet’s health anytime and anywhere with Vetster.
*Prescription services vary by state and province.
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