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How Do I Choose the Best Flea and Tick Products?

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  • Written By: Rhonda Rivera
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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The best flea and tick products are sometimes not the cheapest or even the most popular; they are effective products that do not harm your pets, yourself, or your family. Start by looking for reputable organizations that rate flea and tick products by level of safety. These organizations usually detail known dangers of using the product and how to combat them. In addition, the best flea and tick products are products designed specifically for your kind of pet. It is never safe to use tick and flea control meant for dogs on cats and vice versa.

To choose the best flea and tick products, look for up-to-date lists of products. These usually contain hundreds to thousands of products that give information based on scientific research and personal expertise. Often, these lists will even rank the products according to quality, cost, safety, or other criteria. Do not solely choose a product because of a friend’s anecdotal evidence.

The chemicals in a flea product meant for dogs can be highly toxic to cats. These products should not be placed on cats, nor should a cat be allowed to groom a dog that recently had a flea product placed on it. If any pet shows signs of distress after being given a flea and tick product, such as vomiting, loss of coordination, and shaking, veterinary treatment should be sought as soon as possible.

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Some effective and relatively safe chemicals to treat pets with are nitenpyram, lufenuron, and spinosad. Phenothrin, also known as sumithrin, can be used in a home with no cats, pregnant women, or children. In cats, phenothrin can cause severe health problems, such as seizures, that eventually lead to death. While unlikely to affect unborn human children, researchers found that adverse effects occurred in pregnant lab animals, and it is generally best to avoid the chemical when pregnant.

Natural flea and tick products can be safe and effective, but some are known to frequently cause severe allergic reactions in dogs, cats, and humans. For example, cinnamon oil, citronella, and clove oil can irritate both cats and humans. Other essential oils like peppermint and lemongrass are often used in cosmetic products, but there is little scientific evidence proving their effectiveness in controlling fleas and ticks. Oil of rosemary, lemongrass, and other natural oils are usually safe when diluted with water and not sprayed directly on dogs and cats.

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