Inspired by the natural chemical defenses of sea sponges to fend off predatory snails, Merial has developed a new molecule—afoxolaner—designed specifically to kill fleas and ticks in dogs. Presented in a soft chew formulated to taste like braised beef, NexGard Chewables are given orally and provide month-long protection.
Merial says that when ticks and fleas encounter afoxolaner in the dog’s system, the chemical disrupts the parasite’s central nervous system, causing hyperexcitation and death. “This is a little morbid, but we’ve actually seen the parasites come to the surface of the dog’s coat and dance around,” Merial technical services veterinarian Lauren Olavessen said during a press conference at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando earlier this week. “We call it the ‘dance of death.’”
Afoxolaner is approved to prevent flea infestations by killing fleas before they can lay eggs and continuing to kill new fleas throughout the month. According to the product label, it also kills the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the leading transmitter of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Research on how the drug affects other tick species has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Merial officials say.
Merial hopes delivering the active ingredient in a palatable oral formulation will make for better client compliance. In its own research, the company found that 90 percent of dogs readily accepted the chew. Despite its beefy flavor, the product is meatless and vegetable-based so will not trigger beef allergies. There is no need to give NexGard with food. Here are a few other key points about the product:
> NexGard will be distributed as a prescription-only product available exclusively through veterinarians.
> In field studies, the product was used concomitantly with other medications and no serious adverse reactions were observed.
> NexGard will be priced slightly higher than Frontline Plus.
NexGard is approved for use in dogs and puppies 8 weeks of age and older weighing 4 pounds or more. In both laboratory and real-world field studies, NexGard was shown to be safe and effective when used according to the label. To learn more, visit NexGardForDogs.com.