When Sarah decided to adopt a furry companion, she had no idea how complex pet health could be. As she researched different options, she fell in love with the idea of having a pet rabbit. However, Sarah realized that she knew very little about keeping a bunny healthy and protected against common pests and parasites.
Heartworms are a potentially fatal disease caused by parasitic worms called Dirofilaria immitis. They live in the blood vessels of dogs and cats. If left untreated, they can cause serious health problems. Heartworm infection occurs most often in puppies and kittens under one year old. Puppies and kittens are usually more exposed to beef and pork than those fed cooked meats.
While it is important to note that the study did not prove cause and effect, researchers say consuming raw meats may increase the risk of reproductive problems in pregnant and lactating dogs.
Consumers are advised to avoid feeding raw meat diets to pets during pregnancy and while nursing. In addition, if you provide your pet with raw meat, keep them away from areas where children play.
There are three types of all-in-one flea and heartworm medication and prevention available today: monthly, quarterly, and annual. While each type of pill provides some level of protection against both parasites, there are differences among the options. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best one for your dog.
Monthly vs. Quarterly vs. Annual Flea and Heartworm Medication
A monthly pill contains a combination of fipronil and pyrantel embonate. This combo kills adult worms and eggs while preventing fleas from biting your dog. A quarterly tablet includes a similar dose of active ingredients.
However, it’s formulated differently. Instead of containing both fipronil and pyrantel, this version only has fipronil. Pyrantel is used as an adjuvant (additive) to help increase the effectiveness of the other ingredient.
An annual pill contains just one active ingredient – selamectin or milbemycin oxime. Both these drugs are highly effective at killing adult fleas and preventing their reproduction.
Types of Medications
Three preventative medications are used to treat heartworm: monthly injections, daily chewable tablets, and monthly topical treatments. There are pros and cons associated with each treatment method. This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each type of heartworm preventive medication.
Monthly injectables are typically safer and more effective than daily pills. However, monthly injectables require a needle each time, whereas daily medications only need a pill box. Monthly injectables also cost more than daily pills.
Daily Chewable Tablets
Daily chewable tablets are less expensive than monthly injectables. The downside is that they may need to be more effective. Daily chewable tablets contain lower doses of active ingredients than monthly injectables.
Topical treatments are applied directly to the skin. These include spot-on and spray formulations. Spot-on is designed to be rubbed into the coat. Sprays are sprayed onto the coat and allowed to dry before being brushed off.
The advantage of topical treatments is that they don’t require needles or oral administration. The disadvantage is that they do not provide long-term protection.
Medication Options For Your Pet
Heartworms are a parasitic disease spread by mosquitoes. Heartworm tests are used to detect the presence of the intestinal parasite in dogs. If you suspect your dog has been infected, talk to your veterinarian about treatment options.
Here are the top 3 heartworm and flea control products recommended by veterinarians:
1. Advantage Multi Plus – Topical Medication
Advantage Multi Plus is a combination of ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate. Both ingredients kill adult worms and larvae. Pyrantel pamoate kills intestinal worms. Ivermectin kills internal worms.
This product provides excellent coverage against heartworms and flea infestations. It is safe for puppies and kittens too.
It is liquid and can be applied directly to the skin using a syringe.
2. Frontline Plus + Spot On Combo – Monthly Injection
Frontline Plus + Spot On combo is another popular choice among veterinarians. It contains fipronil and permethrin. Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide. Permethrin is an insect growth regulator.
Both ingredients kill adult worms and fleas. Fipronil also kills immature stages of insects. Permethrin prevents eggs from hatching.
This product is injected once per month. It is safe for pregnant animals.
3. Revolution – Oral Medication
Revolution is a chewable tablet containing imidacloprid. Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid pesticide. It kills fleas and ticks.
This product is safe for puppies and cats. It does not contain any harmful chemicals.
It is highly effective against heartworms and fleas. It should be taken daily.
These are the three best heartworm and flea prevention products recommended by vets. Which one would you choose?
Other Medication Options
The Trifexis product combines three different parasites into one pill. This makes it easier for pet owners to administer to their pets and helps keep costs down.
A lot of people think that this is an expensive drug. However, it is much less costly than monthly treatments such as Frontline Plus or Advantage Multidose.
Vomiting is the most commonly reported side effect of TrifeXis. Other possible side effects include diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting. If any of these occur, contact your veterinarian immediately.
A new product from Bayer Animal Health is explicitly designed for fleas-sensitive dogs with allergies to certain foods. Sentinel contains lufenuron, a chemical that disrupts flea development without killing them.
Lufenuron disrupts the growth of fleas, preventing eggs from hatching and larvae from developing into adult fleas. This prevents the spread of disease.
The product is available in three flavors — chicken & rice, beef & rice, and turkey & rice — and is recommended for dogs weighing up to 25 pounds.
The Sentinel® family of products is designed to help keep your pet healthy and happy. We offer various solutions, including flea control, tick prevention, heartworm prevention, dental care, nutritional supplements, grooming tools, and more. Our goal is to provide safe, effective products that make life easier for you and your pets.
Benefits of Heartworm and Flea Medications for Dogs
There are several benefits to treating your dog with heartworm and flea medicine.
- These medicines prevent the development of heartworms and fleas. This means that your pet won’t become infected with either parasite.
- These medicines kill existing worms and fleas. Finally, if you don’t treat your dog with these medicines, he may develop severe symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.
- These medicines protect against future infections. If you don’t give your dog heartworm and flea meds, he may contract one of these parasites later in life.
- These medicines can relieve itching caused by heartworms and fleas, which makes your dog feel better.
- These medicines can improve your dog’s overall quality of life. For example, they can eliminate the possibility of your dog developing lung damage due to heartworms.
- These medicines can save your dog’s life. Without treatment, heartworms can lead to death. In addition, fleas can transmit dangerous diseases, such as tapeworms, to your dog.
These products are safe for use in dogs, but they are different. Some of the main differences include the following:
- Cost – Each brand costs anywhere from $10-$30 per month, depending on the size of your dog.
- Side effects – Some side effects, such as stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, and muscle tremors, may occur. These side effects should subside after treatment.
- Efficacy – The efficacy of each product varies based on the type of heartworm present. For example, some products are effective against adult heartworms, others are effective against larvae, and others are effective against both.
- Treatment length – Most of the products last about 30 days. However, some effects last longer than 30 days.
- Interactions – Certain drugs and foods can interact with certain heartworm medications. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations.
- Dosage – Each product comes with a different dosage recommendation. It is essential to follow the instructions provided by your vet.
- Storage – All of the products mentioned above must be stored properly. Store them away from heat, moisture, sunlight, and pets.
- Resistance – Overusing any heartworm medicine can create resistance to the medication. Therefore, it is essential to rotate the heartworm meds every six months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.