DEAR DR. FOX: I have used Frontline Plus on our two Shih Tzus for 10 years with no problems.
Because, apparently, many ticks and fleas have become resistant to the original Frontline Plus, our vet has begun using the new Frontline Tritak. I used the new Frontline Tritak for the first time three weeks ago on our dogs. One experienced mild itching that began about two hours after the application and lasted for two days. However, our second Shih Tzu experienced a horrible reaction.
About two hours after the application, she began itching and scratching herself. Shortly thereafter, she started going after her tail. I thought she may be experiencing some anal gland issues, which she occasionally has. I called the vet and scheduled an appointment for the next morning. As evening approached, she became very hyperactive -- running up and down the stairs, jumping on and off the furniture, digging on the furniture -- and she never settled down. She did not sleep one minute that day or night. I stayed up with her most of the night because I was so worried about her. I took her to our vet first thing the next morning. On the way to the vet, I felt small spasms on her back and knew this was more than an anal glad issue.
Our vet gave her a thorough exam and checked her anal glands, which were empty. He could find nothing wrong with her and believed it was a reaction to the Frontline Tritak. He also noticed the spasms she was having, which were mild at the time. He prescribed tramadol, but asked us to hold off giving it to her until he was able to reach the company that makes Frontline Tritak (Merial) to confer with their veterinarian.
When we got home, I did some online research that suggested bathing our dog to remove any of the oily medication. I did this with Dawn liquid dish detergent, and it seemed to calm her down a little. At this point, she was still hyperactive, and the spasms in her body were getting worse. We knew this had to be extremely uncomfortable for her. I called our vet, and he said to start the Tramadol; he was still waiting for a return call from the veterinarian at Merial. Once the Tramadol started working, she calmed down. Our vet called again to tell us he had reported all of this to the veterinarian at Merial, who confirmed that our dog was having a reaction to the application. He suggested bathing her and applying a vitamin E capsule to the Frontline Tritak application spot.
Our sweet Shih Tzu was able to sleep that night. We had to keep her on the Tramadol for five days because of the spasms. The spasms gradually lessened each day; however, it took exactly one week before they were totally gone.
Given the experience with Frontline Tritak and where we live, I would appreciate any comments you have on what we should do in the future. One thing is for sure: We will never use Frontline Tritak again. -- K.W., Round Hill, Virginia
DEAR K.W.: Climate change, habitat change and lack of natural tick predators (quail and other insectivorous birds and reptiles, millions eliminated by pesticides) have created the perfect conditions for the spread of Lyme and other insect-borne diseases that are in large part anthropogenic (caused by human activities). Insects rapidly evolve resistance to insecticides, just as bacteria do to antibiotics. So we need stronger drugs to combat them, and in the process, harm our animal companions and ourselves. These and other similar drugs are used by the food industry on crops and livestock and finish up in our food. Both are "regulated" by the publicly funded Food and Drug Administration, which is hard torn between two evils making product approvals and market recalls.
I regret your poor dog's adverse reaction and applaud the follow-up to the manufacturer that your attending veterinarian made. This should also be reported to the FDA to add to the thousands of other adverse reactions reported with spot-on anti-flea and tick products.
Property owners can reduce such potentially harmful insects by clearing brush and raising guinea fowl, which are tick-eradicators. Dog owners should put light coats on their dogs going into infested areas coupled with natural essential oil repellents on the dogs and themselves.
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