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Pearls of Wisdom on Parasite Control

Dr. Andy's Pearls on Parasite Control
 
     Preventing an infestation of parasites saves money and makes your pets life much more comfortable.  There are so many products available to fight these creatures that it can be confusing.  The first step in parasite control is to determine which organisms your pet will be exposed to and therefore in need of protection.  Living in Northwest Florida, our two biggest problems are heartworms and fleas. While intestinal parasites are also an issue, the products to control heartworms usually protects against these organisms as well.  Ticks are also present in our area and can be a defining consideration when developing a prevention protocol for your pet.  The good news is that, now more than ever, we have products that are effective and convenient.  
      Trifexis, Sentinel and Advantage Multi are all triple threats that protect against heartworms, intestinal parasites and fleas.  Trifexis combines the flea control pill Comfortis with the same heartworm preventative in Novartis’s Sentinel which also protects against the three most common intestinal parasites.  
The only difference between Sentinel and Trifexis is that Trifexis will actually kill adult fleas, while Sentinel only prevents fleas from laying viable eggs.   The main complications with Trifexis are that some dogs have gastrointestinal upset with the Comfortis component of the medication, pregnant dogs and dogs with a history of seizures shouldn’t take Trifexis.  Sentinel doesn’t have these issues, but the flea control component Lufenuron does not kill adult fleas, so it will only keep the local population of fleas under control.  Advantage Multi is a topical application that contains the flea control Advantage and a transdermal preparation of moxidectin to prevent heartworms and intestinal parasites.  Of the three, Advantage Multi is the only product available for cats.  Advantage Multi can also treat and prevent ear mites.  All three products are effective when given on a monthly basis and range in price from about sixteen to twenty-three dollars per monthly dose.  In most cases, one of these three products is all the parasite protection required.   If the price is a major concern, I recommend Heartgard Plus because heartworms in my opinion are the most important parasite to prevent.
     Unfortunately, if your pet is exposed to ticks, additional protection is necessary.   The medications for ticks are Frontline Plus, K9 Advantix, Vectra 3D, and Certifect.  Frontline and Certifect both contain fipronil which kills fleas and ticks, but the makers of Frontline added a product known as amitraz that kills ticks much faster.  K9 Advantix and Vectra 3D both have a chemical called permethrin that kills and repels ticks, while they each have a different product to kill fleas.  The biggest drawback to these medications is that, except for Frontline, these products can be lethal to cats.  Amitraz and permethrin are very strong pesticides and should be used with caution especially around small children.  I always recommend using these products when the dog will not be handled for several hours after application.
     If a pet is past the point of prevention due to an active infestation of parasites there are some treatment options that are very effective.  Most intestinal parasites can be treated with a broad spectrum de-wormer such as Panacur (fenbendazole) or Nemex (pyrantel pomate).  Tapeworms are commonly treated with one of two medications Droncit (praziquantel) or Cestex (epsiprantel).  There is a product called Drontal Plus that combines praziquantel with pyrantel pomate for convenient treatment of both tapeworms and intestinal parasites.  Coccidia is treated with a product called Marquis (ponazuril) and giardia is treated with Flagyl (metronidazole) or Panacur (fenbendazole).  Fleas can be quickly treated with a product called Capstar and ticks can be treated with a good flea and tick shampoo.  All of these treatments are short action and should be followed by one of the types of prevention already discussed.  Heartworm treatment is the most costly both in terms of money and the comfort of your dog.  A drug called Immiticide has to be administered two to three times in the muscle of the dog’s back.  The treatment can be life threatening and uncomfortable. 
     The good news about parasite control, is that companies are working hard to provide even more options for your pet.  New products come on the market all the time.  When it comes to parasites the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely applies.  I am glad that there are effective products available that make prevention easier.  If you have any questions please call 850-433-2812 or stop by and I will develop a customized prevention protocol for your pet.