So, what is your tolerance for parasites? We're talking about fleas, intestinal worms, ticks, heartworms, etc. I can tell you that my tolerance for these nasty pests is zero! I don't want them on or in my pets, and certainly don't want them on or in me or my kids. And yes, your pets can share these unwelcome visitors with you and your family.
- If your pet has hookworms and is passing eggs in their stool, they contaminate the environment. The resulting larvae may then penetrate the skin of your feet (or hands if you are working in the soil) and result in a disease called cutaneous larva migrans. The larvae actually migrate within your skin causing intensely itchy lesions.
- Roundworm eggs, if ingested by a person (child with dirty hands from playing in a contaminated environment, for instance) may result in migration of larvae from the GI tract and into other organs, including the liver, lungs, and eye. This is called visceral (or ocular, if the eye is involved) larva migrans.
- Fleas are capable of carrying diseases that can infect both people and pets, such as tapeworms.
- Ticks carry a large number of diseases that can be dangerous for dogs, cats, and people.
So, what do you do to keep your pets free of parasites? You'll find our best recommendations below.
These are not necessarily the cheapest parasite control products on the market, but we feel they are the best products for protecting your pets and your family. However, we do think that you'll find our pricng on these products to be very reasonable compared to other vendors.
For Dogs we recommend the following:
- Trifexis or Sentinel Chewable Tablet every 30 days.
- A tick preventive as needed (Scalibor or Vectra 3D).
Trifexis contains two drugs: milbemycin and spinosad. Milbemycin is a very safe and effective heartworm preventive and also controls hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. It has been on the market for a number of years and has a proven track record. We prefer milbemycin over the ivermectin based products (Heartgard, Iverhart, etc.) because the ivermectin based products will not control whipworms.
Spinosad is an excellent flea control product. It rapidly kills adult fleas and because it is administered orally, you don't have to worry that it will wash off if you want to bathe your dog. Spinosad was on the market as a stand alone product under the name of Comfortis for several years prior to being included in the Trifexis combination with milbemycin. If you have used Comfortis in the past, you know how effective spinosad is at controlling flea problems.
There is a second option that works particularly well for dogs that spend most of their time inside and don't have contact with other animals that may serve as a source of fleas:
- Sentinel Chewable Tablet every 30 days.
- A tick preventive as needed (Scalibor or Vectra 3D).
Sentinel contains two drugs: milbemycin and lufenuron. Milbemycin is a very safe and effective heartworm preventive and also controls hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. It has been on the market for a number of years and has a proven track record.
Lufenuron is a flea control product. It is what we call an insect growth regulator (IGR), and it is unique in the way it works: lufenuron is a chitin inhibitor. Chitin is the substance from which insect shells are made. The flea larva also uses chitin in the production of a small "tooth" that it uses to cut its way out of the egg. When an adult flea takes a blood meal from your dog it ingests lufenuron, which is then passed into the eggs. The larvae in eggs, affected by lufenuron, can not grow their egg tooth and thus can not hatch from the egg. So lufenuron prevents any fleas that your dog picks up from reproducing. This makes it an excellent product for protecting your home and your dogs sleeping areas from flea infestations.
With either Trifexis or Sentinel being used year round, you get reliable heartworm, intestinal parasite, and flea prevention all in one tablet given every 30 days. You don't have to worry about them washing off.
Some common questions we receive:
Should l add a topical flea product such as Vectra 3D, or Scalibor to the protocols above?
Well, there are two reasons you may want to do that:
1. If you are starting your dog on Sentinel, there may be some flea eggs and larvae in the environment, even if you are not seeing adult fleas. Using a topical adulticide (which will kill adult fleas) for a few months will eliminate these fleas as they hatch out. 2. Periodic use of a second product will help prevent resistance to lufenuron or spinosad in the flea population. We have seen development of resistance to some flea products currently on the market. While this has not been noted with Trifexis or Sentinel, it is possible.
What about ticks?
If you are in an area where ticks are a common problem, we recommend using either Vectra 3D, or a Scalibor Protector Band in conjunction with Sentinel. The videos below will provide more information on these two products.
If I'm using Vectra 3D or Scalibor (or some other topical product) for fleas and ticks, why use Sentinel instead of a cheaper heartworm preventive such as Interceptor or Heartgard?
1. New pricing on Sentinel is cheaper than most other heartworm preventives.
2. Interceptor is no longer available, and ivermectin based products don't control whipworms.
3. Because lufenuron (Sentinel) is the primary barrier to fleas infesting your house. With topical and oral adulticide flea products, there is usually some decrease in effectiveness during the last few days of the month, and if you are 3 or 4 days late with the next application, the effectiveness drops further. This gives any fleas that escape the chance to lay eggs in your house, and the cycle starts over. If your dog is on Sentinel, those eggs will not hatch.
Won't the protocols above cost me more?
Possibly. You may spend a bit more on the recommended products. However, your dog will not have fleas, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, heartworms, or ticks. Your own exposure to these pests will be dramatically decreased. You will not have to spend money to treat illness resulting from these pests. And you will very likely not have to spend money having your house or lawn treated.
For cats we recommend the following:
- Revolution applied every 30 days.
Revolution prevents heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, ear mites, and fleas in cats. It is one of our favorite products for cats because it covers so many concerns with a single, easy to apply dose, once a month. While it is applied topically, selamectin (the active ingredient in Revolution) is absorbed through the skin and works systemically. You don't have to worry about it being washed or groomed off.
While heartworm disease in cats is not something we have traditionally been concerned about, there is a growing amount of new information that shows that heartworms do pose a significant threat to the health of cats. Watch the video below for more information on heartworm disease in cats!