In the tropics we have always struggled to control fleas and ticks on dogs. The warm humid climate is the ideal environment for fleas and ticks to survive and multiply, often building up to plague proportions within weeks. Fleas and ticks can cause scratching, skin allergies, hair loss, sores and in some cases anemia, due to loss of blood from the feeding parasites.
There are various products on the market to control fleas and ticks but many are ineffective or only effective for a short time, requiring constant retreatment of the dog.
For example, Frontline plus helps with ticks but doesn’t completely get rid of them and only lasts for two weeks. Tick collars can help, however if the dog swims a lot or is outside in the rain, the effectiveness of the collar is greatly reduced. Tick injections (ivomec injections) work for three to four weeks but are ineffective against fleas. The injection is also painful for the dog and Nymphal (juvenile) stages of ticks are often not killed by it. So even after getting the tick injection you may find small “baby” ticks on your dog.
Sometimes the only effective way to control fleas and ticks was to use two or even three different products such as Frontline, tick collars and ivomec injections together and only then could we totally eliminate the parasites.
In the last six months, two new products have come onto the market. Both products work extremely well to control and eliminate fleas and ticks. They are called NexGard and Bravecto. NexGard is a once-a-month beef-flavored chewable tablet sold in packs of one, three or six tablets, in various strengths depending on the weight of the dog. It is produced by the makers of Frontline Plus. One Bravecto chewable tablet lasts for three months against fleas and ticks. Both products are very comparable in price to Frontline plus, Advantix and Comfortis and can be used on puppies from eight weeks of age.
The other advantage of these products is that they are effective against mange caused by the Demodex mite. The Demodex mite is a small microscopic insect that lives in the hair follicles of dogs. This mite initially causes the loss of hair in small patches, mostly around the face and legs, which can eventually spread to hair loss all over. These patches of hair loss can become severely infected and painful. Previous treatment involved either an oral medication given every day or an injection given once a week for up to three to four months, sometimes even longer.
Now treatment is so much easier with NexGard or Bravecto with one chewable tablet given either once a month or once every three months.
With Doctor Karin O’Connor, from Port Vila Vet Clinic