Q: Two wonderful 4-month-old Labrador retriever puppies joined our family recently. I usually put my dogs on a flea preventive this time of year, but these pups seem too young. Is it OK to give them old-fashioned brewer's yeast to prevent fleas?
A: Brewer's yeast is safe, but it doesn't repel or kill fleas.
In 1983, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association published a report titled "Failure of Brewer's Yeast as a Repellent to Fleas on Dogs." Sixty dogs exposed to fleas were given either brewer's yeast or an inactive placebo for seven weeks. The researchers found that the brewer's yeast was no more effective at protecting the dogs from fleas than the inactive placebo.
Fortunately, a number of effective and safe flea/tick preventives are available now. They've been used in millions of dogs, and most are approved for use in young puppies. They fall into three categories: liquids applied to the skin, chewable tablets and certain collars.
Each category has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, if your two pups roughhouse and mouth each other's necks, the flea/tick collars may be a bad choice.
If you live in an area where heartworms are a problem, consider using a liquid applied to the skin that repels not only fleas and ticks but also mosquitos, which transmit heartworms.
Your veterinarian can recommend a product that will be both safe for your new pups and effective against fleas and ticks.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at email@example.com.
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