Parasite Prevention for Dogs
Dogs can truly make a house a home. They’re excellent door-greeters and couch-snugglers, but unfortunately they also make very hospitable hosts for a variety of unwelcome parasites!
Not only do parasites affect our furry family members’ quality of life, but the ones that target our canine companions can also carry risks that affect our whole families. Fortunately, we can keep these dangerous critters at bay with a personalized parasite prevention plan.
These parasites are here in London:
These are the parasites that we are concerned about in our area. Preventative products are available, but they’re not one-size-fits-all.
Your veterinarian can work with you to create your pet’s personalized prevention plan, taking into account their medical history, the other pets in the household, and their risk factors. We’ll help you find the best product, or combinations of products, to keep your little one safe.
Understanding Your Dog’s Heartworm Test
When temperatures become milder, hungry parasites emerge from their dormant states. Around this time, your veterinarian will likely emphasize the importance of coming in for your furry family member’s annual parasite prevention and heartworm test. But what is that “heartworm test” exactly, and why is it so important?
FAQs about Parasite Prevention
Why is seasonal parasite prevention important?
Most parasites tend to lay dormant in the cold weather and become active during the warmer months. These parasites can transmit diseases to your pet that can make them ill and in some cases even be fatal.
There are many types of parasites and different products protect against different parasites. Talk to your veterinarian or a veterinary technician to determine which product is best for your pet’s lifestyle and risk factors.
My dog hardly, or never, goes outdoors. Should they still receive parasite prevention?
When can my puppy have parasite prevention?
Does my puppy need a heartworm (4DX) test?
Your puppy should be on parasite prevention starting in the spring. For some preventatives, a negative heartworm test will be required prior to starting prevention. Because your puppy will be growing his dosing will change and we will want to conduct monthly weigh-ins and dispense preventatives on a month-to-month basis.
How much is a heartworm (4DX) test?
Which products are available for parasite prevention?
Throughout the rest of the year, but especially in April and May, we still recommend protecting against fleas and ticks. Products with a tick-focus may include regular Nexgard or Simparica.
If you have any cats in the household, they will also need to be on prevention in order for the products to be effective at keeping parasites out of the home. For cats, we typically recommend Revolution Plus.
We also stock Bravecto, Capstar, Profender, Milbemax, Interceptor and Advantage.
How do I know which prevention is right for my furry family member?
Typically, prevention for dogs is divided into two categories by preference: topical or oral.
• Some families prefer an oral preventative (looks like a treat) such as Nexgard Spectra or Simparica Trio
• For topical (a tube of liquid administered behind the shoulders), we typically go to Multi-Duo but it cannot be used if there are cats in the house
Note: Revolution (a topical preventative) was once the go-to parasite prevention for dogs, however, it is no longer the best choice as it does not provide adequate tick protection as more tick species become endemic to our area. We recommend a product by the same manufacturer, called Simparica Trio.
As always, a veterinarian is the best source of information and may have other recommendations based on your pet’s needs.
How much are these products?
If you have an idea of what your pet’s weight is, we can help you find the corresponding cost. For the cost-conscious dog owners, Multi-Duo generally has the lowest price, but all forms of prevention are quite comparable across the different brands.
Most products are packaged to cover a 6 month treatment window with treatments being given once monthly. For each product, you usually have the option to buy one month’s treatment at a time instead of buying the whole 6 month supply. The cost works out to be the same per treatment, however, there is a $5 dispensing fee every time. Therefore there is better value to buy a full pack and only pay the dispensing fee once.
For dogs, there are two product options that “do it all” to be given from June-November: Nexgard Spectra or Simparica Trio. In the past, we would have to use two products combined to do what each product can do individually (i.e. Nexgard + Heartgard or Simparica + Revolution). It is a bit more cost-effective to buy the all-in-one product than to buy its two corresponding combo products individually.
We recommend tick protection outside of the June-November window, though, and especially in April and May when temperatures are consistently mild. Heartworm is not so much of a concern during this time, so for a tick-focused protection such as regular Simparica or Nexgard, it’s usually about half the price of the cost of prevention for the summer months. The exact cost will vary depending on your dog’s size, though.
When should I give my dog his or her prevention?
Ticks become active in mild temperatures, as low as 0-4 degrees celsius, so we also recommend flea and tick protection in the milder months, especially April and May.
You may wish to consider year-round prevention anyway, especially with our fluctuating temperatures and if you plan any travel with your dog during the winter months.
Parasite prevention should typically be given on the same day each month to ensure its effectiveness, but for the details of your dog’s specific products, please confirm with your veterinarian.
Why do I need to pay for an examination to buy these products?
However, if your pet has had an examination in the last year (and is in good health and not growing/changing weight), your veterinarian may use their discretion to dispense the prescription without another examination. They may also request a recent weigh-in or a heartworm test before dispensing.
I found a tick on my dog. What should I do?
The removed tick should be disposed of as soon as possible to reduce the likelihood of transmitting disease, or you may wish to preserve it in rubbing alcohol and bring it to us for identification of the tick species and the associated risks.
If you are not comfortable removing the tick yourself, a veterinary technician will help you. It is important to get the whole tick out and to monitor the site for any signs of irritation or infection afterward, then contact your veterinarian for next steps.
We always recommend doing a 4DX test on any dog 4 weeks following a confirmed tick bite for a dog that is not on prevention.
I found a flea/tick on my dog, but it’s on prevention! Why isn’t it working?
My pet vomited after receiving its oral dose. What should I do?
Why can’t I just give Revolution to my dog? That’s what I always used to use.
Revolution was fine at one point for heartworm coverage and some internal parasites, but it only protects against one type of tick, and does not protect against the black-legged/deer tick, which transmits Lyme disease. Canine Revolution is no longer considered adequate parasite prevention on its own.
We now recommend switching to Simparica Trio, which is made by the same company as Revolution. It is an all-in-one chewable tablet that protects against fleas, heartworm, internal parasites, and many ticks, including the one that carries Lyme disease. We recommend giving it from June-November.
Outside of that window, heartworm is less of a concern, but ticks are still active. You may wish to consider additional tick protection in the early spring and milder winter months, such as giving regular Simparica (tick protection only) in April and May.
If you prefer a topical solution, a veterinary technician can discuss whether switching to another product line, such as K9 Advantix II and Advantage Multi, might be an option for your furry family member.
Transmitted by: infected mosquitos
Risks: Lives in and around the heart, causing heart failure and damage to other organs
Who is affected: Dogs (can be fatal if untreated)
*Note: Rare in cats but risk is increasing
(hookworm, roundworm, whipworm)
Transmitted by: Ingesting the eggs containing larvae
(Often through consuming infected feces)
Risks: They rob the body of nutrients causing GI symptoms, anaemia and even death.
Who is affected: Dogs, cats
*Note: Can be transmitted to humans
Transmitted by: Other animals/ picked up outside or in infested areas (ex. apartments)
Risks: Extreme discomfort from bites, anaemia. Can also carry intestinal parasites (ex. tapeworm).
Who is affected: Dogs, cats
*Note: Will bite humans
(Most commonly the American Dog Tick, Blacklegged/deer tick, Lonestar tick, Brown dog/wood tick, and Gulf Coast tick)
Transmitted by: Picked up outside or in infested areas, burrows in skin to feed where it can then transmit disease
Risks: Depending on the species of tick:
– Lyme disease (lameness, pain in joints)
– Ehrlichiosis (Fever, weight loss, respiratory distress)
– Anaplasmosis (joint pain, fever, lethargy)
Who is affected: Dogs
Cats can carry ticks but have a very low risk of developing tick-borne diseases
(Sarcoptic Mange/ scabies, Demodectic Mange/ red mange/ demodex)
Transmitted by: Skin disease caused by mites. Picked up from other animals/infested areas
Risks: Extreme itchiness, rash, infection, hair loss
Who is affected: Dogs, cats
Note: some forms are transmissible to humans
What is a heartworm test?
More accurately called a “parasite screening test”, this test also typically screens for common tick-borne diseases such as Ehrlichiosis, Lyme, and Anaplasmosis. A drop of your dog’s blood is placed on a test strip, which will indicate if they have antigen to heartworm disease or antibodies to one of the tick-borne diseases.
What are those diseases?
Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes. These parasites live in and around the heart, causing heart failure and damage to other organs. Lyme disease symptoms include lameness and pain in the joints, while Ehrlichiosis includes fever, weight loss, and respiratory distress. Anaplasmosis involves joint pain, fever, and lethargy.
Why is testing important?
Annual testing for parasite-borne diseases allows early diagnosis and treatment before symptoms become severe, and a positive test result would affect your pet’s prevention and treatment plan. It is recommended in the spring because it must be performed a minimum of five months after the last possible mosquito bite.
Is an exam and blood test mandatory?
As with any prescription, your pet must have had an exam recently enough for the doctor to be familiar with their health. Some parasite preventatives are not recommended for heartworm-positive pets, so in those cases, a parasite screening test may also be required. Your veterinarian will use their discretion to determine the safest way to proceed, based on product requirements, your dog’s age, and medical history.
What about cats?
Cats should still be on parasite prevention for their wellbeing as well as their families’. However, they are significantly less likely to contract heartworm or tick-borne diseases themselves, therefore, they typically do not undergo parasite screening.
As with many things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By preventing, testing, and treating the diseases carried by mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and internal parasites, we can prevent illness and discomfort for our furry family members while protecting our families and our communities too.
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