Frontline is a popular brand of flea and tick control products for pets. Though Frontline is recommended by most veterinarians for its effectiveness, some pet parents feel that the dangerous chemicals found in Frontline may cause more damage to their pet than the fleas and ticks it protects them from.
The main active ingredient found in Frontline flea-control products is an insecticide called Fipronil, which kills fleas and ticks on contact. Since Fipronil is only effective against adult fleas and does not protect pets against flea eggs or larvae, Frontline Plus was developed to provide pets with more complete flea control protection. In addition to Fipronil, Frontline Plus includes another insecticide called Methoprene, which prevents flea eggs and larvae from developing into adult fleas. Frontline products are applied to pets topically and use an alcohol carrier to disperse the active ingredients around the animal’s body.
Frontline Side Effects
For some pets, the active ingredients in Frontline products are as harmful to them as they are to fleas and ticks. Monitoring pets for adverse reactions to flea control products is highly recommended. Skin irritation at the site of application is a common side effect found in Frontline products. Sometimes the irritation is so intense the animal scratches himself to the point of creating open sores or ulcers on the skin. Pets with sensitive skin or allergies should not use Frontline products. The neurotoxin properties of chemicals like Fipronil can sometimes damage the nervous system of pets. Signs of nervous system damage might include convulsions, wobbly movements or loss of appetite. Fipronil is known to have carcinogenic properties that are linked to instances of thyroid cancer in dogs. It has also been found to accumulate in organs like the liver and kidney, leading to organ damage and failure. Prolonged exposure to Frontline products allows the toxic ingredients to build up in the animal’s system and increases the potential for future health problems. While giving your dog scheduled breaks from use of the product during periods of low infestation may help, using an alternative to Frontline products is your pet’s best defense.
Environmental Control of Parasites
The first line of defense against fleas and ticks that does not require applying dangerous chemicals to your pet is a clean environment. Cover all areas where your pet lays with cotton sheets, wash the sheets in hot water weekly and thoroughly vacuum all areas inside the house on a weekly basis as well. Free your outside space of any areas where fleas and ticks can hide like debris, dead vegetation, brush, or objects that collect rainwater. Use citronella candles as repellents and if possible, install insect screens on porches and patio areas.
Pests and parasites are more likely to infect animals with compromised immune systems that eat unhealthy diets. Feed your pet a wholesome, nutritionally complete diet. Since most commercially available pet foods fail to provide complete nutrition, it may be necessary to supplement your pet’s diet with additional vitamins and nutrients. Grooming is also a crucial part of keeping your pet free from fleas and ticks. Regularly bathe your pet using warm water and a flea shampoo. Thoroughly brush your pet’s coat with a flea comb on a daily basis.
If the flea and tick infestation in your home is severe, it may be necessary to hire an exterminator or use a fogger to clear the environment of pests. Treat your pet with a flea and tick dip at a groomer before returning him to the disinfected home. Some Internet sources suggest the use of essential oils in treating your pet for fleas and ticks, but these methods should be used with caution since many pets can develop allergic reactions to the oils.
- Tick image by netzfrisch.de from Fotolia.com