What are some things to consider when making a decision to give a dog medication?
Original Question: I am concerned about using Bravecto or Nexguard because they stay in a dog’s system so long. Are there alternatives you support that are safe to use? - Sherry
Thanks for your question.
I understand your concerns. It is a common one among pet owners.
In my role as an independent advice provider and due to medical licensing laws, I do not engage in the support or endorsement of products. However, I can provide advice on how to educate yourself so you can make an informed decision that you are comfortable with. I do not believe in simply saying you can trust a product just because I do. You are the protector of your pet and I believe my job is to educate and empower you to make the decision that you think is right, not me.
Here are some thoughts you can consider to achieve this.
Always consider calling the company that manufactures it. You will likely be surprised at how helpful and engaged they are. You can request information about side effects, dosages, complications, reactions, breed-specific concerns, administration and effectiveness that could guide your decision to use their product on your pet.
Request research trial information. To approve the commercial sale and use of their products in the pet industry, the company had to create and execute large research trials to prove its usefulness. Reviewing the information may give you a greater confidence of its safety and effectiveness.
Discuss with your veterinarian the risk of exposure to the disease you’re trying to protect against. It’s important that before we use a medication, we fully understand the indication for its use and whether it is necessary. Veterinarians need to look at your individual pet rather than the population of patients that visit their hospital to determine the specific risk your pet has to a disease. They need to take into account your pet’s travel history, lifestyle, routine, community, behaviour and activity area to determine if they are at greater or lesser risk of encountering the infectious agent you protect them against by giving this product. For example, the products you mention protect against ticks, among other entities. If you travel to a cottage with a very active Labrador Retriever who roams the property that is a known hotbed for tick presence then your pet’s risk of getting a tick is greater than the client who owns a Chihuahua that lives in a condominium and visits a small patch of landscaped, well-maintained property around the building.
Avoid valuing individual reports as the common experience. If you look at reviews online from other pet owners, no doubt you will consistently find a horror story of a complication that one individual dog experienced from being exposed to the product. It’s not to be dismissed but every dog is an individual and despite encouraging research trials, there will always be a patient that reacts uniquely and severely to a product. Often these individual stories are shared whereas the masses don’t bother because their experience with the product was reasonable and successful. So be cautious of individual reports but this is not my attempt to have you turn a blind eye to the failures of modern pharmaceuticals, it’s simply advice on a measured approach to evaluating a treatment option.
Consider alternatives. You could look in the marketplace for other products that could possibly achieve the same success without the risk of harmful reactions. Even though I mention this, it worries me a great deal because I have seen endless products that aim to replace a tried and true medication and in some cases, they fail miserably and are unreliable. Again, I’m not telling you to avoid this option, in fact, you can investigate it, but don’t take the products claims at face value. Put them under the same scrutiny I describe above for traditional pharmaceuticals. Investigate the research behind them to see if they consistently achieve the success they claim across a widely tested population of pets.
These are some recommendations and I hope they help you educate yourself about the products that are being presented to you.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.