Dog Ticks and Fleas Q&A
WebMD veterinary experts answer commonly asked questions about fleas and ticks on your dog.
Q: I know about Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but now
I’m hearing about new diseases my dog can get from ticks. Are these diseases
rare? How worried should I be about my dog contracting a tick-borne
A: It depends on where you live. Some of these diseases are local. What you
have to do is, depending on where you live, talk to your veterinarian and find
out what diseases are important in your area. The diseases that are important
to dogs and cats in Kansas are not the same diseases that are important to dogs
and cats in Connecticut.
Q: An environmental group has sued several pet stores and
manufacturers claiming that flea collars have high concentrations of chemicals
in them that are dangerous to pets and people. Are these over-the-counter flea
A: I’m not a toxicologist and I try to steer clear of all that. But I will
say that I believe the best way to manage fleas and ticks is go to your
veterinarian and find out what products they recommend for your area. The issue
we have with many of the over-the-counter products is that many are what we
call pyrethroids, or synthetic pyrethrins. We know that is a class of insecticides
that fleas are commonly resistant to, so one of the reasons over-the-counter
formulations don’t work very well is that fleas are resistant to them. What
that leads to is people tend to over apply them because they didn’t work that
well and then you tend to have problems.
Q: There are also reports that the EPA is looking into an increase
in adverse reactions from topically applied flea control products, the ones we
usually put on our dogs and cats between their shoulder blades. So are these
A: I generally believe, based on my experience and our field studies, that
the products we get from our veterinarians are generally very safe and
generally do a very, very good job. But you’ve got to understand that millions
of doses are used each year. With that many doses, things happen. Do
rare reactions occur? Absolutely. We know they do. But generally with a
veterinary-recommended or prescribed flea or tick product, if they are used
according to label directions, they are extremely safe in my experience.