Thursday, April 16, 2009

Anti-tick products, are they safe??

Recently I've had people ask me why I am promoting the Frontline and Advantix, etc. anti-tick products when I don't use them on my own dogs. Well, there are a couple of reasons.

First, my dogs don't seem to need them. We check our dogs every day for ticks, and only occasionally find one burrowed into the dog's skin; when we do, we just pull it out. Our dogs are very involved in our family life and we are always touching their coats, so we can easily find anything that shouldn't be there. I am also lucky because all of our dogs have short hair. It is obviously easier to spot and/or feel a tick when you don't have to sift through a thick coat. Finally, and in my experience the most important reason, is that we are not afraid to take the ticks off the dogs. As a groomer, I've found that 75 percent of people are afraid to yank a tick out of their dog, cat, child, whatever. For this reason alone, many people use tick medicine. (As a side note, I am going to make some instructional videos on nail clipping,etc... and one of these videos will be "how to take a tick off.")
My reluctance to use chemicals on animals is this: If I am supposed to put gloves on before I apply it to my pet, why is it OK to be applied to my pet's skin, where it is absorbed into his/her body..( It works by its active ingredient, fipronil. Fipronil is absorbed through your pet's skin and into its oil glands. This allows Frontline to be released to your pet's hair follicles and skin every time the oil glands are activated.) Just on principle this does not sound safe to me, so, since I don't have to use it, I don't.

That said, I totally understand why some people do use the tick products. If your dog is going out and getting 20 ticks a day and depositing some in your house, on your kids , and in your bed, your dog needs something to deter the ticks. The last thing you want is a tick infestation. Also, obviously, it is not good for the dog and the humans to be exposed to ticks and the diseases that they can carry. Lyme disease can be transmitted to humans and dogs, as can Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Basesiosis. The results of having these diseases can be quite devastating, so ticks are not pests to be taken lightly.

I guess it is up to each pet owner to balance the benefits and the risks of using preventive tick/flea chemicals.

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