Are Flea and Tick Products really safe?


So you went down an internet rabbit hole and read that the treatment you are using on your pet isn’t safe, its a big pharma conspiracy and vets are out to kill your pets by recommending unsafe products. You aren’t sure who to believe. I mean, you like your vet right? They’re nice people right? They wouldn’t really recommend something that might be harmful to your pet…right?

Actually, we do. We frequently give your pets products that might be harmful for your pet. In fact, every time we prescribe a medication, we have weighed up the pros and cons of whether or not the cost outweighs the benefits in your pet’s particular situation.

Antibiotics wipe out the “good bacteria” in your pets digestive system, and probiotics or yoghurt can only help restore that by so much. Pain killers can affect your pet’s kidneys and liver function. Allergy treatments work by stopping a part of your pets’ immune system. These side effects are actually really common, and yet we choose to use these drugs regularly.

And Nexgard and Bravecto? Simparica? Those isoxazoline class flea and tick products? They also have a few side effects. They can cause vomiting on an empty stomach. And in rare cases can cause some neurological effects such as shaking or tremors. They are NOT linked to sudden death, or killing animals from any research or study, except in social media. And social media is completely unreliable when it comes to anything medical. (Side note: Please don’t take medical advice from Facebook. Or Instagram. Or someone’s personal experience story.)

So, WHY would we prescribe them if they are so dangerous??

Well, lets just take a look at this. In one month – let’s take September 2021. Despite our best efforts, sadly we lost 3 patients to Tick paralysis at Tweed Coast Vet. Over that entire year, we lost a total of ZERO patients to tick prevention. We had no major reactions in that entire year, and we have almost all our patients (including our own pets) using either of these medications. Among all the vets I know, over the last decade or so of using these drugs, I have heard of only one colleague who has seen only one severe reaction that they could probably link to one of the drugs. Maybe.

Which means that in the situation we are in, surrounded by deadly ticks, this class of drugs is a much safer option than no prevention. So as vets we continue to and will continue to recommend the best prevention available for your pets. Often this means Nexgard, Bravecto, Simparica or one of many other available products. Click here for information on tick products that are available.
And on a personal note, I do understand it is hard to trust professionals, expert opinions and research when you have someone’s impassioned personal anecdote on social media, but in this situation, we believe it is absolutely essential.