Topical, pill or chewable? Pet owners weigh in on preventives

March 6, 2018
Sarah Mouton Dowdy
Sarah Mouton Dowdy

Sarah Mouton Dowdy, a former associate content specialist for, is a freelance writer and editor in Kansas City, Missouri.

At Fetch dvm360 in San Diego, we wanted to know the real reasons veterinary clients choose one route of administration over the other. Sometimes its the mess. Other times its ignorance.

( Conrad, CVPM, practice manager for Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Washington, hosted a live panel of local pet owners at Fetch dvm360 in San Diego, so veterinary professionals in the next room could hear their unfiltered responses to the kind of questions that make you scratch your head on a daily basis.

At one point, the pet owner panelists were asked whether they preferred to administer ectoparasite prevention via collar, topical, pill or chewable. Here's a peek at their preferences.

Team topical

“Topical-at least for a cat. You can put it on the back of its neck where he can't get it … My cat is a cough-up-a-pill wizard.”

Chewable champs and pill proponents

“Our cats would always make a mess of [the topical product] or wipe it on something. I have no problem making them take a pill.”

“In San Diego, my experience is that topicals do not work. The fleas are outrageous. The only thing that's worked has been the chewable. I tried the topical for a while, and … no luck.”

“I have a bad habit of putting the topical on and deciding it's a really good time to scratch the dog. Bad track record.”

Chewables? What chewables?

The two members of team topical revealed later in the discussion that they didn't know a chewable flea preventive for cats even existed. In fact, the client with the “wizard” cat later said she might change her mind about preferring topical administration in light of the chewable revelation (though she also admitted she's not currently giving her cat flea preventive “because he lives inside”). 

With this in mind, make sure your clients know about the different routes of administration available and the benefits they carry. Perhaps the pet owner of an indoor cat that clearly doesn't need flea preventive (wink, wink) will be more likely to take the plunge once she learns about all her options. Perhaps the pet owner who can't keep his hands off his fluffy dog needs to hear there's a better way. Whatever the reason, don't miss an opportunity for client education-and better protection for pets.

You. Can. Do. This!

At Fetch dvm360 conference, we're the support system you need. With every conference this year, we intend to nurture your mind (meaning quality CE for days) while also encouraging you to take stock of your physical and emotional health. Register now.