This month I am going to discuss Bravecto, the flea and tick preventative that St. Francis Hospital for Animals recommends for all dogs and cats over 6 months of age. The chemical known as fluralaner is the parasite killer in this preventative. When given consistently, it is extremely effective and helps to keep your pets and your home flea and tick free.
It is labeled for dog and cats 6 months or older, and protects against several types of ticks and fleas. One of the great things about Bravecto is the duration of time it lasts. It is effective for 12 weeks, with the exception of one species of tick (the Lone Star Tick), which it is effective for 8 weeks. However, after 3 doses of this medication, the pet is protected all 12 weeks from the Lone Star Tick because of a cumulative effect in the body. This reduces the amount of times you would have to give your pet medication, which means less forgetting when to give the medication. It comes in two forms: a chewable tablet and topical solution. The chewable tablet is available for dogs, and the topical version is available for cats and dogs. It is a veterinary prescription medication.
Bravecto does have an off-label use as well. Off-label means using the medication for a purpose other than what is indicated on the package. It has been found to kill and prevent mites that can be a problem in cats and dogs. The demodex and sarcoptes mites, which cause the general problem called “mange”, are effectively killed by fluralaner. Mange can cause itchiness, hair loss, and skin infections. This means less treatment at the vet if the pet if the problem can be prevented. If a dog is found to have these mites on its skin, it can be treated effectively with fluralaner. Because this medication is working for 3 months, other types of treatments like weekly injections or daily pills would be reduced or not needed.
It is an extremely safe medication. In one study, it was found to have no effective changes within the animals that were given this medication after 6 months of administration. Potential side effects are uncommon but can occur with some pets. Vomiting after a dog is given the oral medication or a skin reaction to the topical form of the medication may be seen. In my experience, I have rarely heard from an owner about vomiting and not experienced an aftermath of a skin reaction due to topical placement. The only relatively common problem I have experienced is that some dogs do not like the taste of the chewable tablet and refuse to eat it. In that case, we recommend using the topical solution for that animal instead of having to force the tablet down its throat, which can cause potential future aversion to medication treatments.
Another reason to prevent fleas and ticks is to prevent the potential disease that these parasites can cause. Some dogs and cats are allergic to the bites of fleas, causing inflammation, itchiness, and skin infections. With a severe flea infestation, pets can have anemia (a low red blood cell count), which causes lethargy, or general malaise. The most common problem we see with fleas is a tapeworm infestation inside of an animal. The pet ingests the flea from licking itself and because the tapeworm larvae live inside the flea, the worms develop inside the intestine after ingestion. This may not be apparent for months even after the fleas are treated and killed. Gross!! Ticks are known to carry diseases such as Lyme, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, all of these are known to affect humans as well. You cannot directly get infected by your dog with these diseases, but using Bravecto consistently on your pet will keep the ticks that carry these potential illnesses out of your home.
We at St. Francis Hospital for Animals feel that Bravecto is the safest and most effective flea and tick preventative for your pets. We want every four-legged friend to be parasite-free all year. The most important thing is preventing potential disease, keeping your cat or dog healthy. Prevention is the goal because treatment of some of these diseases can be time consuming, expensive, and of course, the potential harmful effects of disease can be avoided. If you have any questions about this medication, please ask the next time you are in for an appointment.
Dr. Jaime Kozelka
St. Francis Hospital for Animals