As a pet owner, the last thing you want to see on your furry friend are uninvited guests like ticks or fleas; apart from making your pet uncomfortable, they can spread disease and will jump from host to host indiscriminately if left unchecked. A parasitic infestation such as this will spread quickly through your home and will likely begin a new generation within a week, making it critically important to recognize the signs that come with it and take immediate action to prevent further spread.
A tick infestation is probably the easiest to spot, especially once the pests take hold of your pet; after feeding on a host’s blood, a tick may engorge to well over one hundred times the size of a similar specimen that’s still hungry. Additionally, while most ticks begin as miniscule round arachnids with a dark-colored carapace, an engorged tick will become a much larger oval, and frequently changes color to white or light green, making them far easier to spot once they have fed.
Nature also throws pet owners another bone, so to speak, in terms of spotting and eradicating a tick infestation – all but the most advanced cases will target your pet’s head, and particularly the ears, instead of any other part of the body. It is often possible to detect a tick even in the early stages of its feeding cycle while petting your furry friend’s head; even without specifically trying to feel for a tick’s presence, one can usually detect the hard, round shapes of the tick’s carapace through the thin flesh of the ear.
Should the infestation progress to the point where new ticks cannot find room on the ear, they will spread to other areas of the body, all the while trying to target places with the least fur between them and the epidermis and the thinnest possible skin over the greatest possible number of blood vessels. Areas to check your pet for ticks include the nose, eyebrows, teats, and genitals, as all of these present ticks with an ample supply of blood vessels and some of the thinnest skin on the body.
The other parasites most commonly found in house pets are fleas of various kinds; they share the same diet as ticks and are likewise considered parasites, but there are notable differences between the two that any competent pet owner ought to take the time to learn. First and foremost, fleas will attach themselves to a host at nearly any point on the body; they look like small black dots even after feeding, as most varieties of fleas do not have the same engorgement mechanism as ticks.
Another distinctive characteristic of fleas is their leap, which is unusually high for an organism of their size; although they don’t fly, fleas can catapult themselves relatively long distances, and seeing a small black fleck jumping around is a probable sign that you may have fleas. Fleas propagate faster than ticks, and can spread to other hosts or to upholstery faster as well, so noticing an infestation on your pet should make you check the rest of your house as well.
Because fleas do not have the same hook-shaped mouthparts as ticks, they can be removed more easily than a tick and frequently come loose after only an ordinary shower and vigorous scrubbing – no medications are necessary, even over the counter formulae that do not need a veterinary recommendation. This can make them a relatively simple condition to control, although they are harder to detect; frequently, a pet owner will only notice a flea infestation after it has reached the stage where further fumigation of the house is necessary.
A third major kind of pest that afflicts both humans and their dogs are mosquitoes, possibly the most infamous and irritating parasite on the planet. Few, if any, are truly unfamiliar with the hard lumps and itchiness that inevitably accompany a mosquito bite, and people have gone to extraordinary lengths to find either a cure for the side effects or something to keep the mosquitoes away while they are outdoors.
Mosquitoes are more seasonal than either ticks or fleas, and tend to be limited to regions relatively lose to standing water, but will feed intently on anything warm-blooded and can carry more diseases than nearly any other insect is known to transport; mosquitoes have been proven responsible for spreading, among other ailments, for West Nile virus and yellow fever, both potentially fatal afflictions.
Thankfully, it is relatively hard for there to be an infestation of mosquitoes, as they are not resident insects; instead of latching onto a host like ticks or fleas, they fly away once they are done feeding to digest their meal. This offers two distinct advantages for those dealing with mosquitoes – they will only attack again after they are finished eating, and their slower, heavier flight after feeding on someone makes them that much easier to swat.
Swatting is hardly an option for dogs and cats, though, and mosquitoes can attack them with much greater impunity than a human; after all, it is the rare individual that will willingly apply DEET or any other preventative pesticide to their pet. Unfortunately, this leaves the pet exposed to both immediate discomforts and becoming a vector for whatever the mosquito might have been carrying – while disease transmission is rare, it is not discountable.
As mentioned, however, people like their pets a lot and will go to extreme lengths to ensure that no harm or discomfort of any kind befalls them. For all that we have done to invent ways to keep pests away from ourselves, there has been at least as much effort invested in crafting a solution to keeping our pets pest-free. Numerous pharmaceutical products have been created in the attempt to relieve our pets of all the many things that try to feed on their blood, and a number of physical aids that were originally created for use on humans have rapidly been repurposed to be applied to pets as well.
Two of the more common products to be rid of pet parasites of all kinds are called Nexgard and Frontline; they are a pair of freely sold veterinary products that either kill biting parasites or discourage them from latching on in the first place. Of course, you as a pet owner only want the one that’s best for your furry friend; with two items so closely matched, how can you tell which one is the better option?
Breaking It Down
Judging between these two products is harder than one might expect when comparing things side by side, as they take two different approaches to pest control; one is a pill, the other an ointment. This makes for a more subjective comparison than one would usually find while shopping for anything, let alone two products so closely related.
Nexgard is given to your pet as a pill or chewable dose that impregnates your pet’s bloodstream with toxins in quantities that are harmless to the pet but lethal to the parasites that feed on it. Frontline, a topical pest remover, is administered during or immediately after shampooing and allowed to work its way through the pet’s fur and across the rest of the pet’s skin.
Because of the differences in the method of application, it will be necessary to judge these two products on a fairly general set of terms, including the price for a full range of treatment and the period of time for which said treatment will last. More important than either of these facets, though, is the simple question of what bugs it stops and how many; unless it can reliably hold off the pests, one could justifiably claim that it has lost the majority of its value to pet owners.
This is a chewable medicine flavored with pig fat and bacon grease to pique the dog’s natural instincts towards the possibility of being able to devour another animal in the near future. Although there are few pet owners unfamiliar with the repeating phenomenon of dogs (and other animals, to a much lower extent) spitting up or refusing to allow themselves to be medicated, this chewable will dissolve quickly in the dog’s mouth and eliminate those concerns for the user.
The tablets themselves look like soft, brown rectangles roughly one inch by two, with their weight changing depending on what version of the medication you are using. Many users are unlikely to be able to tell the difference between one mediation and another by touch alone, so be sure to check what dosage is in use before discarding the wrapper,
Each tablet contains the active ingredient afoxolaner, in a dosage calculated to provide the best protection possible for the specific weight class that it is marked to treat. Avoid, if at all possible, giving your pets any medication that is not explicitly marked for the specific pet in question. Most manufacturers these days will separate different strengths of mediation by various factors such as age and weight, and dogs should not be dosed with anything outside of their bracket.
Some dogs should not be treated with this product at all; this product is not intended for puppies under eight weeks of age or weighing less than four pounds. It should be used with caution in any dogs that have a medical history of seizures, indigestion, or neurological problems; additionally, any dogs that develop visible side effects to this product should not be treated with it again without being cleared for it by a trusted veterinarian.
In many locales, no dog can be treated with this product without a veterinarian’s approval, as it is considered a prescription product, so make sure that you have the appropriate documentation read when you go to purchase it. This can mean that it will be somewhat slower to arrive if ordering online, particularly if ordering across state or national borders where regulatory differences may come into play.
Before your veterinarian prescribed this product for your pet, make sure that they have been fully apprised of your pet’s medical history, and are well aware of the active ingredients that will come into play. While they should know about any surgeries or injuries the pet has sustained, the most important thing is to ensure that they know what other medications if any, your pet is currently taking. This will allow them to avoid possible negative interactions with other medications that might realistically harm your pet.
Assuming no other obstacles present themselves, a single treatment with these tablets should kill off parasites in as little as a single day, and keep them off for up to 30 days from the time it takes effect. It is effective against all stages in the flea and tick life cycle save the egg stage, effectively stopping all generations of pests that happen to infest your dog all at once; included in this are both the Lone Star tick, notorious for carrying heartland disease, and the deer tick, known for transmitting Lyme disease.
Tablets come in a package of three for $60 USD and are color-coded for the age and weight of the dog that you will need to treat. In between treatments, they should be stored in an area not exceeding 30 degrees celsius, as this may lead to denaturation of the ingredients within the tablet or the active ingredient becoming inert.
- Beef flavoring makes dogs easter to take medication instead of resistant
- Soft and easy to chew for older dogs
- Minimal effort required by the pet owner
- Three months of protection in every purchase
- Highly recommended by veterinary associations of several states and countries
- Classified as a prescription-only product
- Not for use in puppies or smaller dogs
This product is a topical pest control product, intended to be applied directly to your pet’s skin and coat and allowed to spread across them from outside by using their own pulse and breathing to disperse the product through their fur. This approach entirely avoids the struggle to medicate a pet orally, making life easier both for you and the pet in question.
Frontline is sold in individual applicator packets which can be detached from the packaging immediately before use; the product is applied directly to the pet, with no need for dilution or any other treatment before or after. The applicator packets should be safely discarded immediately after use, as children or pets can easily find them and ingest the residue within.
There are two separate active ingredients in this product, fipronil and (S)-methoprene, which create a dual action of both killing existing parasites and preventing eggs or pupae from opening and spawning a new generation. Although it is not applied as directly to your pet’s system as an oral medication, there is still an element of risk in these chemicals, and one should only use versions of the product appropriate for your pet’s age and weight.
One should not use this particular version of Frontline on dogs under 23 pounds or less than eight weeks of age. Dogs in these categories should be treated only with a specific formula intended for dogs of their own age or weight class. Pets with pre-existing conditions, including any other medication they may have been given recently, should not be treated without prior consultation with a trusted veterinarian.
Although veterinary consultation is highly recommended before applying this product to your pet, it is not mandatory; one does not need a prescription for this product, as it is not an orally administered medication. This makes it far easier to obtain, and less likely to be seized by the authorities if one is ordering it across the state or national borders.
For similar reasons, there are relatively few side effects associated with Frontline, although one should still make sure to apprise your veterinarian of any preexisting conditions before using it. What side effects there are likely to occur in the form of dermal irritation or changes in the pet’s coat; internal side effects should be treated as more serious than with oral medication, and should be proportionately greater cause for alarm.
If all goes well during and after treatment, Frontline will kill most pests on contact if applied directly to the infestation; full eradication may take up to forty-eight hours, and it can take as much as 30 days to be rid of any future generations already inside your pet’s coat. Keep in mind that this is far more treatment than prevention, so you may need to reapply it before the 30 days have passed if your pet is exposed to another source of infestation.
Frontline comes in multiple strengths for different species, ages, and weights; each package is clearly marked and color-coded to avoid a potentially fatal application of the wrong medication to your pet. A package costs approximately $30 USD and contains between three to eight treatments depending on the strength of the formula within.
- External application is easier than oral medication
- Kills pests almost immediately
- Does not require a prescription
- Side effects are less dangerous to your pet
- Trusted manufacturer for 20+ years
- Does not have a preventative effect
- Effet may be reduced by rain or bathing
Final Verdict: Nexgard
As mentioned earlier, the most important thing for someone looking to keep their pet pest-free is to what degree their chosen medication can do so; although there are many positive attributes to both products, Nexgard is the one that keeps the bugs away best. Along with its relatively brief incubation time, until the effects begin to take hold, it offers a protracted period of protection that Frontline cannot match; additionally, it will not be impacted by moisture as a topical pesticide would be.
Another thing to keep in mind is that although both medicines use your pet’s natural functions to disperse themselves through the pet’s system. Nexgard is more likely to fully permeate the pet’s body; it is inside the pet and spread by the bloodstream, as opposed to sitting outside and working through fur and other foreign objects. This takes somewhat more time to work, but is negligible in the larger scheme of your pet’s care.
There are disadvantages to using Nexgard, of course, the most notable is the price, which is nearly double what a single package of Frontline demands. It can be difficult to convince your pet to take oral medication, too; even with the beef flavoring and texture, there are still plenty of critters that will turn up their snout at anything but actual food.
It is also worth noting that Nexgard is the more heavily regulated of the two, and in many places needs a veterinarian’s prescription, so you might not be able to get a hold of it as quickly as you would like. Despite all that, though, it is still the more complete protection against parasites and should be the first choice when you are looking to protect your pet.
Keep in mind that should you find that Nexgard is unavailable in your pet supply outlet, Frontline is still a viable choice for immediate treatment of your pet’s condition; while not the same 360 degrees of protection one might find in Nexgard, it still has a proven track record against parasites of all kinds, and costs little enough to make it a realistic stopgap if you need a quick solution. If your pet is generally pest-free and needs only occasional treatment, Frontline might be the better choice overall for its lower cost per treatment and greater shelf stability.
The first thing to do when shopping for a pest control product for your pet is to take an accurate measure of its age and weight, these being the two most common factors by which manufacturers divide up the different strengths of medicine on the market. Getting the wrong strength of medicine can be ineffective against the infestation or harmful to your pet, so it is worth the additional time and effort to have them weighed accurately beforehand.
Pet owners are advised to consider the temperament of the pet in question as well, as this can be the difference between a pet that will or will not take oral medication. If the pet is known for refusing to swallow oral medication, then one should seek out alternative topical treatments such as flea collars or a pesticide ointment.
Once you have bought your preferred pesticide, you should make sure to store it somewhere safe from children or pets, both of whom could be seriously injured by ingesting any more of the active ingredients than medically recommended. Choose a secluded spot in a less-trafficked area of the house, and apply a safety latch for added assurance against unsupervised access.
As with any medication for humans and animals alike, take care to monitor the recipient for side effects until at least a day after they have taken the medicine. Side effects will likely differ from one case to the next, but a good rule of thumb is to look at the area where the medication was applied; oral medication may cause digestive malfunctions, a dermal mediation could result in a rash, and so on.
Should any side effects appear, stop the use of the medicine in question immediately, and seek veterinary assistance; your vet may be disgruntled at you for panicking over trivialities, but you will at the least have a clean bill of health for your pet. Save the packaging from the mediation to show the veterinarian, should the need arise, and try to remember or write down the exact date of the last time it was used as well.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that holds true for pest control products as well. You can help prevent side effects of any kind by checking your chosen product against the pet’s medical history to determine whether or not it will react badly with anything they have taken in the past, and by following the instructions on the packaging or given by your veterinarian as carefully as possible.
The most common pets for either of these products to be applied to are dogs and cats, and both manufacturers provide a number of options for all weights and ages of either species. Never mix the dosages between species if you have other mammalian pets that have been infested, seek out specialist advice before proceeding with either treatment.
As effective as either of these products are, prevention is once again the best policy overall; you can prevent infestations in the first place by cleaning your pet regularly and going through their coat with a fine comb to remove any parasites that may have strayed in before they latch onto your pet’s skin. Should you discover an infestation, remember to treat not only the pet but any upholstered furniture they may have used where egg or larvae could have been deposited.