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Over-the-counter Flea Medications and the Risk to Your Pet

Fleas, ticks and heartworms, as well as intestinal parasites, are medical problems that should have educated medical recommendations. Decisions made at a point of purchase display and motivated by familiar packaging or based on price alone are not always in the best interest of your pet. The wrong decision can even cause severe reactions. Far too often, we see pets and families harmed because someone chose a cheaper price or prettier package over facts.

There are several advantages to purchasing a parasite preventive product through your veterinarian. First, your veterinarian is convenient. You can get all products (fleas, heartworms, intestinal parasites) needed in one location as well as professional advice.

Second, your veterinarian may be economical as well. He or she knows your pet and your pet’s risk factors. It is possible that a single product might work for protecting your pet from all of the parasites. You won’t make a wrong, wasted or even dangerous decision in a store, when your veterinarian recommends and sells you the exactly correct product for your pets.

Next, your veterinary team understands that your pet is unique and may not tolerate certain products as well as others. This medical advice has REAL value as the wrong product used improperly can be fatal to your pet.

Your veterinarian can also review any potential interactions between different products and between these parasiticides and other medications your pet is taking. The doctor or staff will also demonstrate how to properly use the product and that takes the guesswork out of proper application. By purchasing parasite prevention products through your veterinarian, you don’t need to worry about remembering which product was used on your pet. It’s all right there in the medical record!

Finally, and this point can't be stressed enough, when you purchase your parasite preventive products through your veterinarian, you are supporting a LOCAL small business. You are supporting your neighbors by keeping those dollars in your community!

We know that parasites continually evolve and occasionally some products won’t work as well as others. Resistant flea strains mixing with vulnerable strains could give the impression that a product is not working. Veterinarians stay up-to-date on resistant issues as well as other important information about parasites. You can’t get that type of advice from a brochure or a display rack. This will help keep you ahead of the curve and keep your pet safe. The fact that we still see “old-school” products on grocery store and big box store shelves proves this fact.

There are many flea products that are available over the counter and, quite frankly, choosing

one is confusing. You will not often find knowledgeable advice at a retail outlet. Remember, these are medical products, not milk or eggs! Your veterinarian and educated staff will help you make the decision about which product is best for you and your pet.

Even products with active ingredients that are exactly the same can have different effects on the same pet. This is because “inert” proprietary ingredients and carrier ingredients can differ from company to company. In addition, not all products will have ingredients that work on ticks, flea eggs or larvae, heartworms or even internal parasites.

Veterinarians understand your concerns both about your pet’s health and saving money. Before buying the over the counter product or an online product, consult with your veterinarian to make sure it is the best fit for you, your pet and your wallet.

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