Is NexGard Safe for Dogs? Potential Side Effects

As the war against fleas and ticks intensifies, many pet parents are resorting to potent medications to shield their furry companions from these unwelcome invaders. Among the most widely used products is NexGard, a chewable flea and tick preventative designed for dogs. However, as with any medication, the possibility of side effects arises, sparking discussions and concerns among dog owners. So, is NexGard safe for your dog, and what potential side effects should you be aware of?

What is NexGard?

NexGard is an oral flea and tick control medication for dogs. Manufactured by Merial, it’s known for its efficacy and convenience. The active ingredient, afoxolaner, acts as an insecticide, killing fleas and ticks by overstimulating their nervous system.

Potential Side Effects of NexGard

While NexGard is considered a safe medication for most dogs, there have been instances where dogs experience adverse reactions. Here are some potential side effects that you need to be aware of:

Digestive Disturbances

The most common side effects reported are digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. These side effects can typically occur within the first 48 hours following administration.

Skin Irritations

In some cases, dogs might develop skin irritations such as redness, itching, or hives. However, this symptom is relatively rare and should subside within a few days.

Neurological Side Effects

Although extremely rare, there have been cases where NexGard triggered seizures in dogs, particularly those with a pre-existing seizure disorder. This warrants a discussion with your vet before beginning a NexGard regimen.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Exhibits Side Effects?

If your dog experiences any adverse reactions to NexGard, it’s vital to contact your vet immediately. They can advise you on the best course of action to minimize your pet’s discomfort.

Tips for NexGard Safety

While the potential for side effects may seem daunting, remember that most dogs tolerate NexGard well, and adverse reactions are relatively rare. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always administer the correct dosage based on your dog’s weight.
  • Monitor your dog after giving them NexGard to identify any adverse reactions early.
  • Consult with your vet if your dog has any pre-existing health conditions.
  • Do not use NexGard on cats as it’s not designed for their unique physiology.

In Conclusion: NexGard – A Balance of Risks and Rewards

It’s essential to remember that the risks associated with not protecting your dog from fleas and ticks, such as Lyme disease, can be far more severe than the potential side effects of NexGard. So while keeping an eye out for any possible adverse reactions, understand that NexGard offers crucial protection for your pet. As always, open communication with your veterinarian will provide the best care for your furry friend.

Frequently Asked Questions about NexGard

Q1: Can NexGard Cause Long-Term Side Effects in Dogs?

Although some dogs may experience side effects from NexGard, these are typically short-lived and resolve within a few days. There is currently no significant evidence linking NexGard to long-term health complications in dogs. However, if your dog has a history of seizure disorders, discuss this with your vet to weigh the risks and benefits, as NexGard may, in rare cases, trigger seizures.

Q2: How Fast Does NexGard Work?

NexGard starts killing fleas within 3 hours and ticks within 8 hours after administration. Its protection lasts for up to 30 days, making it a convenient monthly treatment. This rapid onset of action can provide fast relief for dogs struggling with a flea infestation.

Q3: Can I Give My Dog NexGard If They Are on Other Medications?

NexGard is known to be safe when used concurrently with other medications, including vaccines, dewormers, and antibiotics. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to discuss your dog’s full medication regimen with your vet before starting NexGard to ensure there are no potential interactions that could increase the risk of side effects.

Q4: Is NexGard Safe for All Dogs?

NexGard is designed for dogs and puppies at least 8 weeks old and weighing 4 pounds or more. However, it’s essential to remember that each dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Dogs with specific health conditions or sensitivities may require a different approach to flea and tick prevention.

Q5: What If I Miss a Dose of NexGard?

If you miss a dose, administer NexGard as soon as you remember. Then, adjust the schedule so that the next dose is given 30 days after the missed dose. Regular, consistent dosing is key for maintaining effective flea and tick protection.

Q6: Can Pregnant or Lactating Dogs Take NexGard?

NexGard has not been evaluated for use in breeding, pregnant, or lactating dogs. Therefore, if your dog falls into one of these categories, consult your vet to discuss the best option for flea and tick prevention.

Q7: How Should NexGard be Stored?

NexGard should be stored at room temperature, ideally between 68°F – 77°F (20°C – 25°C), with excursions permitted between 59°F – 86°F (15°C – 30°C). Keep it in its original packaging until use, and out of reach from children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion.

Q8: Can I Use NexGard All Year Round?

Yes, NexGard is designed to provide year-round protection against fleas and ticks. Some pet owners mistakenly believe they only need to protect their dogs during the warm months when fleas and ticks are most active. However, these parasites can survive indoors in winter, so it’s essential to maintain consistent, year-round protection.

Q9: What Should I Do in Case of NexGard Overdose?

If you accidentally administer more than the prescribed dose of NexGard, monitor your pet for any signs of adverse effects and contact your vet immediately. An overdose may increase the risk of side effects, but studies have shown NexGard to be safe even up to five times the recommended dose.

Q10: Does NexGard Kill Flea Eggs and Larvae?

NexGard primarily targets adult fleas and ticks, disrupting their nervous system leading to their death. By killing adult fleas, NexGard interrupts the flea life cycle, indirectly reducing the population of eggs and larvae in the environment.

Q11: Is NexGard a Prescription Medication?

Yes, NexGard is a prescription medication, meaning it can only be obtained with a prescription from a licensed veterinarian. This allows your vet to consider your dog’s overall health and specific needs before recommending NexGard.

Q12: Is NexGard Safe for Dogs with Food Allergies?

NexGard is a beef-flavored chewable, and dogs with beef allergies may have reactions. If your dog has known food allergies, consult with your veterinarian for a suitable flea and tick prevention alternative.

Q13: Can My Dog Experience Weight Loss with NexGard?

While NexGard is generally well-tolerated, every dog can react differently. Weight loss is not a commonly reported side effect of NexGard. However, if you observe significant changes in your dog’s weight or appetite after starting NexGard, it’s crucial to consult with your vet immediately.

Q14: Can My Dog Swim or Bathe After Taking NexGard?

Yes, your dog can continue to swim or bathe after taking NexGard. Unlike topical treatments, NexGard is an oral medication, so its effectiveness won’t be impacted by bathing, swimming, or exposure to sunlight.

Q15: Can NexGard Treat Heartworm Disease?

NexGard is designed to treat and prevent infestations of fleas and ticks. It does not have efficacy against heartworms. For heartworm prevention, other specific medications like Heartgard are necessary. Always discuss with your vet about comprehensive parasite protection for your pet.

Q16: What is the Active Ingredient in NexGard?

The active ingredient in NexGard is afoxolaner. Afoxolaner is an insecticide and acaricide that belongs to the isoxazoline group. It works by interfering with the nervous system of parasites, resulting in uncontrolled activity and ultimately death.

Q17: Can I Use NexGard for Cats?

NexGard is formulated specifically for dogs and should not be used in cats. Different species metabolize medications differently, and using a dog-specific treatment could cause severe adverse reactions in cats. Consult with your vet for appropriate flea and tick prevention options for cats.

Q18: Can NexGard Cause Changes in My Dog’s Behavior?

Behavior changes are not a common side effect of NexGard. However, individual reactions can vary. If you observe unusual behaviors such as lethargy, aggression, or changes in eating or sleeping patterns after starting NexGard, reach out to your vet immediately.

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