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NexGard, a new option in parasite prevention

Don'T make your dogs worry about flea and tick prevention
Don'T make your dogs worry about flea and tick prevention
Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

For those of you who live in areas where ticks are a far more pressing issue than fleas (like the arid southwest) products to keep ticks off your pets have been limited to topicals and collars. Products like Frontline are extremely effective at killing and repelling ticks, but their drawback is that they leave a greasy slick of hair after application, and some dogs appear to have a reaction to the product, spending several distressing moments rubbing pesticide all over the floor and furniture trying to scrape it off.

Finally there's an alternative. Made by Merial, the makers of Frontline, NexGard was FDA approved in September and is available to veterinarians now. This innovative flea and tick product is oral - so no greasy residue or smelly collar.

The chewable tablets are extremely safe with the most common side effects being vomiting and diarrhea. The product has been proven to be highly compatible with Heartgard and can be given at the same time. At this time there have been no known drug interactions with NexGard.

NexGard uses a novel molecule derived from sea sponges. Researchers discovered that oceanic snails that nibbled on the sponges would quickly die. They isolated the molecule and it has been shown to be effective against insects.

The downside of this product is that it does not have any insect repellant attributes. The insects must take a bite out of your pet for the product to be effective. In the case of fleas this is not really an issue as they attach almost immediately after finding their host, but ticks are more particular and can take up to six hours to figure out where they want to snack on your pet. This means that unattached ticks may be encountered strolling through your pet's hair.

This leads to one downside of the FDA process, during product testing, the ticks must all be dead within 48 hours, but the company cannot make any claims about the product working faster than that (though the reps may whisper it in your ear). Additionally, at this writing the packaging can only mention that the product kills Brown Dog Ticks. Again, a largely off the record conversation with representatives from the company indicates that this is due to a glitch in an independent lab's findings and not necessarily a limit on the product's ability to kill other species of ticks.

How soon the product kills ticks after attaching is relevant because of the risk of disease spread. Ticks carry dangerous diseases that are spread through their bite, and in some cases how long the tick must remain attached for disease organisms to spread is unknown. Right now the best information available for Lyme disease is 24 hours.

As with all of the products, only time in the real world can tell how they work. But for those people who live in areas where ticks are a nuisance and who do not like the topical, this is
an exciting new product.

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