Keep canines parasite-free during warm weather
|Dr. Ray Habermann|
By Dr. Ray Habermann
Q: Dr. Habermann, now that spring is here, what approach should we be taking to keep our dogs free of parasites and the diseases they carry?
A: As the weather warms up, I understand the confusion that exists because of the many different products now available to control both internal and external parasites in our canine pets.
The first thing we need to discuss is what parasites need to be controlled or prevented. Heartworms (year-round), intestinal parasites (year-round), fleas (year-round) and ticks (April through mid-August) are the primary bugs that need to be discussed and treated.
While most of the oral heartworm preventives available also protect pets from intestinal parasites, only a few control fleas, and none covers all of those and ticks. Many of the store-labeled products for fleas and ticks don’t cut it. Every day during this time of year, I find fleas and/or ticks on dogs that are on some type of generic product containing the same ingredients as the name-brand products – yet the dogs are still being infested.
My clinic’s new favorite product is Trifexis. This is a heartworm, intestinal parasite and flea control product we have seen to be effective, over two years, in doing what the manufacturer claims. However, if you use this product, you must also use something else for ticks. You can safely use Frontline. However, this is a fairly expensive combination, and the flea control you pay for in Frontline already is being covered by the Trifexis.
To save money, and use a “superior” tick control product, I recommend using Trifexis in conjunction with a Preventic collar. This collar has been around for a little more than 20 years and is still considered the “gold standard” for dealing with ticks. A collar is supposed to last three months (which is not long enough for one season), but I can provide a trick to extend the effectiveness of a single collar through the entire tick season in North Georgia.
If you don’t want to use Trifexis, then Heartgard or Sentinel oral products can be used, but you must remember to use another product to combat fleas and ticks. Advantage (a topical) is excellent for fleas, but provides no tick control. Advantage Multi (another topical) is great for heartworms, fleas and intestinal parasites, but you’ll still need something for ticks. Revolution (another topical) works great on cats for heartworm, fleas and ticks, but I have been less than thrilled with its effectiveness on canines, so I don’t recommend it for them.
While this list is far from complete, it should give dog owners some knowledge of what needs to be considered when purchasing parasite control products. The best advice I can give is to consult with your veterinarian about which product(s) would be best for your pets before deciding what to use.