Monday, April 22, 2013

So Many Choices...

With the start of Spring (and finally spring weather) it is always a good time to review heartworm and flea protection for your pet.

Heartworm disease is a parasitic infection that is passed by mosquiotoes when they feed on your pet.  Any pet is susceptable even if they don't spend a lot of time outdoors.  If you can imagine those warm summer nights sitting out on the porch (even if just for 5 minutes) and coming back in with what seems like hundreds of mosquito bites.  Well, those mosquitoes don't just feed on you and will look for any warm body to feed on; like your pet.  That being said, it is important that your pet (in particular dogs, but cats as well) be on a montly heartworm prevention.

Same goes for fleas.  You can see the previous post to get a more detailed discussion on fleas.  Basically, the moral of the flea story is it is much easier to prevent them than to treat your house after they have gotten out of control.  Fleas love to feed and love to multiply and if your pet is not protected they are a prime target for fleas.  Even if your pet only goes out for a short time (let's say to use the bathroom), that is long enough for a flea to hop on them and then come into the house and lay its eggs.  Because of this we recommend all pets be on a flea prevention.

Now that you know your pet should be on a heartworm and flea preventative, what preventative should you use?  Recently, it seems like there has been an explosion of different products available for prevention of heartworms and fleas.  Our clinic focuses on a couple of products that we believe work well. 

The first is a product called Trifexis.  The nice thing about this product is it prevents most of your major parasites all in one oral monthly tablet (Heartworms, Fleas, and Intestinal Parasites).  It is well handled by dogs with vomiting being the most common side effect.  We feel that it works very well for fleas; killing adult fleas in as quickly as 30 minutes.  The heartworm prevention in the medication is the same active ingredient as Interceptor, which has proven effective for a very long time.  The one downside with this medication is that it does not prevent against ticks; however, we have been adding in a Preventic collar in dogs at risk for tick exposure.
The other product or combination of products that we use is Heartgard and Frontline.  Heartgard prevents heartworm disease along with intestinal parasites.  It has been around for a long time and works very well.  It comes in a flavored tablet, so administration is easy.  Frontline is a topical flea and tick preventative (goes on the skin over the back).  It also has been around for a long time and works well, but you need to make sure that it is applied correctly.  It uses the natural oils of the skin to spread, so you have to make sure you do not bathe your pet or allow them to swim two days before or after application.  After that time it is water-resistant.  You also have to make sure that when applying the medication it get down to the skin and not just on the hair.  Both products are administered on a monthly basis.

There are numerous other products available, which likely are effective as well.  It is important that your pet be on one of these products as heartworms can be devastating to an animal and fleas not only are a nuisance, but can spread disease as well.