Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Healthy Dogs

Select An Article
Font Size

Dog Ticks and Fleas Q&A

WebMD veterinary experts answer commonly asked questions about fleas and ticks on your dog.
(continued)

continued...

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 unsafe?

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.

Q:  What are the best ways to control fleas and ticks?

A: Besides the flea products we’ve discussed, if you have a cat, don’t ever let it go outside. Try to keep your home as dry as possible. I would recommend not having any carpet because carpet is a flea’s best friend. Keep the brush and weeds in your yard to an absolute minimum.

Q:  Are there natural ways I can control them if I don’t want to use chemicals?

A: There really aren’t from a natural standpoint. Over the years, we’ve spent some time looking into the more natural or holistic approaches and as yet I’ve not found any that’s actually effective. The garlic, the brewer’s yeast, all the research shows none of that stuff works. If it did, I’d be using it. The ultrasonic devices? The data shows they don’t work.

And just because something is “natural” or “organic” that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Most of the poisons in the world are actually organic poisons. Some of these citric extracts people used to use can be fairly toxic to cats. The cats’ livers just can’t handle them.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
 
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
Lady owner feeding dog
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
bulldog in party hat
Slideshow