Ticks are everywhere in Bali, and every Sunset Vet client will concur that it’s a constant battle to keep them off your dog. Not only are they unsightly, they can transmit life-threatening diseases such asEhrlichiosis and Babesiosis. Previously the weapons we vets used against ticks was mainly Frontline or Revolution spot-ons but they need to be applied monthly and they merely reduce the number of ticks on your dog, not eliminate them completely.
In recent years we have seen new drugs coming onto the market such as Bravecto and Nexguard, which are oral medicines that appear both more effective and longer lasting. These have been game changers in Bali as the tick problem is no longer seasonal but pretty much all year round. However these drugs have also caused controversy with some owners setting up Facebook groups to warn of potential adverse effects to these drugs.
What is Bravecto?
Fluralaner (trade name Bravecto) is a synthetic insecticide from the group of isoxazolines that has been licensed for the control of fleas and ticks in dogs and cats. It has been shown to be effective for up to 3 months (spot-ons like Frontline and Revolution are effective for just 1 month) and the manufacturer states that it is safe to use in puppies, pregnant and lactating bitches. At Sunset Vet it is also used to treatdemodecosis in a single dose.
The drug inhibits antagonist chloride channels by binding to GABA and glutamate receptors in the nervous system of the ticks, but not in the nervous system of mammals. This leads to a spastic paralysis of the parasite. Bravecto is given to dogs as a palatable tablet for oral use and to cats as a topical spot-on. It is rapidly absorbed during oral administration and accumulates in the fat as well as in the liver, kidneys and muscles.
Why is it expensive?
Bravecto is an expensive drug because it provides 3 months of tick & flea protection in a single dose. Therefore the price of that dose should be compared to the price of 3 doses of Frontline/Revolution, as those are applied monthly. Furthermore it is an imported drug and this always increases the cost significantly. At Sunset Vet we try to reduce the cost to the dog owner by selling XL tablets for dogs of 40-56kg bodyweight and splitting them. Thus a typical Bali dog of 10-14kg can be dosed with a ¼ of an XL tablet.
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At Sunset Vet we are well aware that there are some pet owners around the world that believe Bravecto or Nexgard is responsible for their dog getting sick or even dying. Facebook groups have been setup to warn pet owners and lobby Merck the manufacturer to take action.
However we believe that here in Bali, the risk to a dog from tick borne disease such as Babesiosis or Ehrlichiosis is many times greater than the risk of adverse effects from Bravecto. Sunset Vet has sold several hundred boxes of Bravecto to clients and not yet had a single adverse effect that we can attribute to the Bravecto. We have only had positive feedback that it is by far the most effective drug yet for keeping ticks off a dog.
What is ‘Blood Parasite’?
‘Blood Parasite’ is an umbrella term frequently used in Indonesia to refer to a type of bacteria transmitted by ticks that colonize the red blood cells. The main culprits are the rikettsia, which include the speciesEhrlichia and Anaplasma. Also transmitted by ticks are the bacterium Borrelia (causing Lyme disease) and the protozoan Babesia. The most common in Bali seem to be Ehrlichia and Anaplasma, which both cause anaemia, intermittent fever and loss of appetite. They can also interfere with normal coagulation and lead to nose bleeds.
If your dog has been exposed to a significant number of ticks, it is quite likely he/she will have encountered and possibly contracted one of these ‘blood parasites’. A strong immune system can usually keep it in check, but any stress or weakening of the immune system can lead to a severe anaemia and even death. Often your vet may pick up on it incidentally, because the tongue or gums look paler than usual. If you do want your pet to be screened for tick borne disease, this can be easily diagnosed via a blood test at your local vet clinic.
Bravecto a Lifesaver for Strays with Demodex
Demodex is a small cigar shaped mite that lives in the hair follicles and causes them to fall out. The dog is usually itchy and develops alopecia, and in the longer term thickened pigmented skin. It thrives in dogs that are either genetically predisposed to it (pit bulls, pugs , bulldogs) or in dogs that have a poor diet or weak immune system. Any breed can be affected though and it is very common in Bali street dogs.
Previously the treatment for demodex was always either daily oral ivermectin liquid for 6 weeks, or weekly amitraz washes. Neither of these were practical for treating stray dogs suffering with terrible demodecticmange, without hospitalising them for the duration of treatment at great expense.
Although Bravecto was registered as an ‘anti-tick and flea drug’, it was noticed that a single dose also cured demodex. At Sunset Vet we started using it ‘off-label’ for the treatment of demodex and the results were spectacularly successful. Dogs that were completely bald started to regrow their fur after just a single dose. Dog rescuers could now give a single Bravecto dose to a stray with mange, and watch with immense satisfaction as the skin disease resolved and hair grew back within weeks.
Should I be using Bravecto for tick control or can I just stick to Frontline/Revolution etc.?
If you are satisfied with whatever you are currently using for tick control such as Frontline, Revolution or Advocate then by all means just keep going with that. However if those medicines are not providing adequate tick control and you feel you need something stronger then Bravecto or Nexgard are the next step. Please note though that these are very strong drugs that should only be given to healthy dogs.
Sunset Vet offers veterinary services via their Kuta (24hr) and Ubud (8am-7pm) clinics. For further information or to make an appointment call them on 03619348915 (Kuta) or 0361975296 (Ubud), or visit www.sunsetvetbali.com or www.facebook.com/sunsetvetbali
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