Talking Tick Prevention
The question below was featured in the Summer 2018 issue of On Call, the magazine for friends of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine. This expert response comes from Juliet Caviness DVM’17, primary care veterinarian at UW Veterinary Care and SVM clinical instructor.
Please send them to our On Call magazine editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot guarantee responses to all submissions. For any urgent pet health issue, please contact your veterinarian directly.
Question: Are the ingestible tick preventatives okay to use on tiny dogs? My dogs are under five pounds.
–Denise, Barrington, Illinois
Answer: Tick prevention is a key component of preventative medicine to keep your pet free of parasites and reduce the risk of parasite-transmitted diseases. Tick-borne disease (like Lyme disease or Anaplasmosis) is a very common problem in Wisconsin, which makes year-round administration of tick preventative even more important.
There are many options on the market these days for tick preventatives, ranging from topical spot-on products to collars, sprays, and oral medications. Newer oral products (including brands like Simparica, NexGard, and Bravecto) have been shown to be very effective and can avoid the mess sometimes involved with liquid spot-on products (such as Frontline and Advantix), which are applied directly to the skin, usually between the shoulder blades.
Oral products are very convenient for those who might hold their pets often, have small children, or have dogs who love to swim or are bathed frequently due to allergies or other skin conditions, as one concern with topical medications is that they must remain in contact with the skin for long enough to be absorbed before the pet can get wet.
On the other hand, an oral medication may not be well-suited to dogs with sensitive digestion, as some dogs may experience vomiting or diarrhea as a side effect. Other limiting factors would include the age and weight of your pet. Some oral products are not labeled for use in very young dogs (Bravecto and Simparica are for puppies six months and older) and some are only labeled for dogs just under five pounds and up, such as NexGard and Bravecto.For the tiniest of adult dogs or older puppies, Simparica is available in 2.8-to 5.5-pound doses.
As always, we recommend that you consult with your veterinarian in choosing the appropriate medication for your pet.