Apr 10 2013

Choosing the Right Parasite Control Products for Your Pet

As winter is finally giving way to springtime here in Minnesota, it is time to consider the products best suited to protect your animal friend from the many parasites and associated illnesses they can carry. Over the past few years, our experience has shown that many of our patients can be afflicted all year long with a variety of problems associated with parasitic infestation, both internally and externally. Our efforts are aimed at the control and prevention of heartworm disease, several common intestinal parasitic worms and protozoan organisms that often are unseen internal parasites. We also battle the more obvious external parasites such as ticks, fleas, and skin mites. There are many products available in the veterinary marketplace, and with many years of experience in these matters, several of these products have risen to the top of the list, and we believe they are the best products available to protect your pet from trouble.

Current recommendations from the American Board of Veterinary Parasitology, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, warrants the use of a monthly administration of an oral heartworm/intestinal parasite control product all year long. Intestinal parasite infestation with roundworm, hookworms, and whipworms has gradually become more prevalent here in Minnesota. The dog and cat roundworm is considered a public health threat as it can infect children and those with compromised immune system function. We recommend using either Heartgard Plus chewable, or the Iverheart Max chewable products, once a month, all year around in dogs. The topically applied product, Revolution, is best suited for cats. Revolution is much easier to administer to our feline friends, and it protects against heartworm and intestinal roundworms, as well as, fleas and earmites. Any cat that goes outside at all should also be treated twice a year with a topical dose of a product called Profender, to eliminate intestinal parasites including tapeworms. As many of our dogs spend a great deal of time outside, we have other exposure sites to be aware of, such as a boarding facility, the dog park, walking a commonly traveled trail, or even a visit to the groomer, can expose an animal to parasites.

Ticks and fleas also must be aggressively controlled, even in the colder months here in Minnesota. Many problems are associated with these common external parasites, and control and preventive measures are extremely important.

Fleas are common anywhere dogs and cats may encounter other dogs and cats, but a host of furry creatures can harbor fleas as well, such as rabbits and squirrels, foxes, etc. Last summer was an especially bad year as it was hot and dry through the mid summer, which is perfect for this bug, and most infestations go unnoticed until a significant parasite burden grows in the home environment. Prevention is key and is far easier, and less expensive the treating the environment in the house later. Pets that are frequent boarders or are groomed regularly should be protected with monthly application of appropriate control products all year long.

Ticks are a tough customer and they carry Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, as well as other less common blood-borne pathogens. There are now very good diagnostic testing capabilities in the veterinary world, and we are seeing a steady increase in tick-borne diseases as a result. Our knowledge in the clinical manifestation of these diseases has also grown, and we know that the use of a certain group of products seems to work better than others, and with these, we can optimally protect dogs against exposure to these tick diseases. Tick control should be tailored to the season each year, as some years brings early warm weather, some years not. Typically, tick control measures should begin mid-March or early April and continue through November. Optimal protection is afforded with monthly application of an appropriate product all year long.

There are three products in our “toolbox” that we recommend in our hospital for dogs. Frontline Plus, Vectra 3D, and Activyl Tick Plus. All work very well to control both ticks and fleas. Vectra 3D and Activyl Tick Plus contain a permethrin compound and they are better in repelling ticks from biting. For dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, especially up at the cabin, the Frontline Plus product may need to be supported with a Preventic collar to control tick attachment, as this product does not contain a permethrin agent.

We must be diligent to protect our pets from parasite exposure, and with so many potential threats around us, aggressive management is very important. While no one product can do it all, we try to match the proper products with your pets lifestyle. Please feel free to contact our doctors and staff if you have any questions and we can help formulate a parasite control strategy for your pet.

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