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Vets: Don't misconstrue FDA warning on flea meds

Cases very rare in oral flea med warning
Posted: 9:18 PM, Sep 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-24 19:13:31Z

The FDA warned pet owners on Thursday that some flea and tick medicine could cause neurologic adverse events for dogs and cats. 

But local veterinarians are afraid that this warning could be misunderstood.

The flea and tick medicine involved in the warning are in the isoxazoline class, including Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard, and Simparica.

For more information from the FDA, click  here

Karissa Charette relies on oral flea medication Necgard to keep her dog Bentley's fleas in check.

"I have a cat and she had fleas, so it was probably the worst experience I've ever had," she said. "You can't get rid of them, you can bomb it and they come back. So with him, I'm really preventative."

Her veterinarian, Dr. Chris Lapsley of Village Animal Clinic in North Palm Beach , hopes this latest news regarding oral flea medications making the rounds on social media could cause a misconstrued fear in pet owners to not give their animal flea medication.

“We have a couple of thousand dogs that come through these doors every year -- and cats -- and we don't see anything," he said.

Lapsley said the announcement by the FDA isn't anything new. The government agency is required to re-evaluate medications every five years and update symptoms based on studies.

“We've known about this possibility for a long time since they've introduced these meds," he said.

He said that's why veterinarians examine every pet before prescribing oral flea medication.

“Because there is that possibility of neurologic issue, but it's incredibly rare. And the reason we're very comfortable using these medications is because of the issues and diseases that come with fleas and ticks," he said. "The risk of flea and tick-borne diseases way outweighs the small possibility of a neurologic thing."

If your pet is taking one of these oral flea medications, typically the most common side effect is stomach upset.

Dr. Lapsley hopes pet owners don't get the wrong idea and stop giving flea control to their pets.

"I would never use a medication on my patients that I wouldn't use on my own dogs and my guys have been using this for three or four years," he said.

Dr. Mark Planco of Planco Veterinary Care in Wellington prescribes Nexgard and Simparica to patients for flea problems.

"Not every product is perfect for every animal," he said. “Every medication has some degree of reaction."

And with flea season lasting year-round in Florida, he says any hiccup in treatment can leave pet susceptible to contracting disease spread through fleas and ticks.

“Infestations are bad and tick infestations are worse," he said. "Getting rid of ticks is very hard, preventing them is very easy."

As always, vets urge pet owners to do their research and get informed.

"I'd rather prevent and go with what my vet says than just discontinue," said Charette. "The prevention is pretty important to me for the fleas."