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Main Street Pet Care - Joplin, MO - Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention
Fleas are a parasite that we battle year round in the Four State Area. Ticks rear their ugly heads for much of the year. Heartworms also pose a serious health threat to pets in this area. So what's the best way to protect your pet? There are many options when it comes to control of these pests. In fact there are so many it is often hard to figure out what works, what doesn't work, and what is the best for your pet. Here are our staff's recommendations for parasite prevention, as well as some things to stay away from.
Before we get into particular recommendations there are a few things to keep in mind:
One of our favorite preventatives is Sentinel Spectrum. Here's what Dr. Leavens has to say about it:
"Twenty years ago, Sentinel was introduced to the market for flea control. From the standpoint of owning pets, it has been the best twenty years of my life! Since we started using Sentinel in our house (and we have a broad exposure to fleas from many sources), we have not had fleas! It works extremely well, it is non-toxic to mammals, and it is the only flea control program that ALWAYS works."
Sentinel Spectrum is by far the safest, most effective, comprehensive, and cost effective prevention available today. It is a once monthly, flavored chewable and needs to be given with a full meal. It is effective against fleas, heartworms, tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms. It does not protect against ticks. If you live in or visit an area where your pet has exposure to ticks, you can supplement Sentinel Spectrum with additional preventatives that will protect against those parasites (we recommend Bravecto or Nexgard).
Sentinel Spectrum is a very effective flea control in the long term, but it works slower than most in the short term because it does not kill adult fleas. When a flea bites a pet taking Sentinel Spectrum that flea is unable to lay eggs that will hatch. Those eggs in turn affect the larval stages (think maggots) of fleas and they are unable to become adults. Because of how Sentinel Spectrum works if you choose to use it for your pet's parasite prevention you will need to have all your pets on it. If you have cats, they will need the 6 month Program injection. Program is essentially the flea control portion of Sentinel Spectrum without the heartworm or intestinal parasite prevention. If you are concerned about injections in cats, Program also comes in an oral form that you give monthly.
While Sentinel Spectrum is very safe, works extremely well, and is very cost effective, there are circumstances where we recommend other options. If you are unable to give Sentinel Spectrum consistently every month, it will not work very well. If you have many pets and are unable to give them all Sentinel Spectrum or Program, it will not work very well. If you are not patient and allow Sentinel Spectrum/Program to work as it is designed to, you will likely become frustrated and should probably use a different prevention.
Trifexis is a safe, effective, comprehensive product that is effective against heartworms, fleas, hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms. Trifexis is not labelled for ticks, but many clients report that they have fewer ticks for up to a couple weeks after giving it. Our recommendation is that if you live in or visit areas with tick exposure you will likely want to use a supplemental tick prevention. Trifexis is also a once monthly, flavored tablet that must be given with a full meal. The flea control in Trifexis works differently than Sentinel Spectrum, it kills adult fleas very quickly, but does nothing for egg or larval stages. It is competitively priced and convenient to give.
For multiple pet and mixed pet households, Trifexis is our recommended product.
While Sentinel Spectrum and Trifexis are our main recommendations for parasite prevention they do require that your pet be current on a physical examination and heartworm test in order to purchase them. If this is not the case we have other options, but none as cost effective and comprehensive. Below are other options that we recommend in these cases.
Bravecto - Flea and Tick Control
Bravecto is a newer prevention that we are really excited about. It is a flavored, oral medication that is effective against fleas and ticks for three months. That's right, an oral flea and tick prevention that you only give every three months. While the cost of Bravecto is more than other preventatives, when you factor in it's three month effectiveness it is actually very cost effective.
Nexgard - Flea and Tick Control
Nexgard is another flavored, once monthly chewable that is effective against fleas and ticks.
Comfortis - Flea Control
Comfortis is another monthly, flavored tablet, but only kills fleas. Like other oral preventatives, Comfortis needs to be given with a full meal. It is highly effective at keeping your dog free of adult fleas. Comfortis is essentially Trifexis, but without added heartworm prevention and intestinal deworming. We recommend Trifexis over Comforits because in most cases it is only a few dollars more and provides better protection for your pet.
Capstar - Flea Control.
Capstar is the pill that eliminated dipping. It is the reason that we can say with confidence that we are a flea-free clinic! It kills all the fleas on a dog or cat or puppy or kitten in 20 minutes and lasts for about two days. It only affects insects, and it is extremely safe. We have never seen a side effect to it...ever.
Preventic Collars - Tick Control.
If you have tick problems, which Dr. Leavens’ pets do, then you may need to use a Preventic collar for dogs in addition to your monthly heartworm and flea preventative. We learned about Preventic collars from our hunting dog clients, who use them extensively because they work so well. Preventic collars kill and detach ticks from your pet, are water resistant, and very effective. They are only for use on dogs, never put a Preventic collar on your cat. Please note that Preventic collars are not the same as a flea and tick collar that most people are familiar with. We do not recommend flea and tick collars commonly found at places like feed stores, pet stores, or discount stores.
Best Topical Options
In light of the availability of safe, effective, cost friendly oral preventatives we feel there is no longer a valid need to dump insecticides on your best friends. However oral preventatives require a current doctor-patient relationship, which means if we have not seen your pet in the last year then we cannot sell these medications to you. In this case and in cases where owners may not be reliable with giving an oral medication monthly, the only option may be an over the counter topical preventative.
Revolution - Flea Control, Heartworm Prevention, Partial Intestinal Dewormer (Hookworms and Roundworms).
Revolution is one of the exceptions to out general dislike of topical preventatives. Revolution works well at killing fleas, but not as fast as the newer oral medications available. Because of this it is not a good option for pets with flea allergies. It also kills some ticks, hookworms and roundworms (it does not get whipworms, which have been known to cause serious illness), but does require supplemental deworming at a more intense rate than Sentinel Spectrum/Trifexis. Revolution protects against heartworms and works on many forms of mange and is also a good ear mite treatment (you do not have to put anything in the ears!).
We have recommended this drug for flea control and heartworm prevention in cats and ferrets because it does so many other things that are beneficial. We also use it in puppies and kittens due to it's safety record. In adult dogs, it lacks enough punch on the fleas and worms to make us entirely happy with it.
Parastar Plus- Flea and Tick Control.
Parastar Plus is a topical product for dogs that provides good, but slower (compared to some of the newer oral preventatives available) flea control. You will likely still see fleas on your dog when using this product. We like it mainly for its ability to start killing ticks very quickly.
Advantage - Flea Control.
Advantage is a product that rapidly kills most fleas before they bite the dog or cat. It is a good option for pets with flea allergies. Advantage does not take care of any other parasites. You must still provide heartworm protection and more intensive deworming than when using Trifexis or Sentinel Spectrum.
Side Effects: We have seen a few adverse, non-life threatening reactions to Advantage. K9 Advantix, on the other hand, does have some side effects in a significant number of dogs (NEVER use it in cats, it can be fatal!). Side effects have included itching at the site of application (sometimes severely, sometimes just an annoyance for a few days), shaking, hyperactivity, vomiting, and depression. If any of these reactions are pronounced or severe, do not use this product again on that pet.
While many products make some great claims on their labels, time and our extensive experience has shown us that the product doesn't live up to the claims. It is our opinion that Frontline Plus does not effectively control flea reproduction, K9 Advantix does not adequately repel ticks or mosquitos, and Advantage Multi is fraught with serious side effects.
Obviously there are many choices for flea control. We encourage you to discuss your options with us if you have any questions.
Things That Do Not Work
Flea and Tick Collars
Flea and tick collars commonly found at discount stores, feed, stores, pet stores, and other places are totally useless at best. We see several pets a year that have life threatening reactions (especially in cats) caused by these types of collars. Please do not waste your money and sacrifice your pet's health. There are some newer collars on the market that are safer. We recently tested one that is supposed to work against fleas and ticks for eight months. It cost around $80, and it kept falling off our dogs. Hard to recommend something that expensive that falls off all the time.
Discount Drip-on and Spot On Products
There are a lot of generic products available from discount stores and feed stores that are based on old technology. Often these products no longer work when used at safe doses. We see several cat fatalities and severe illness in dogs EVERY YEAR from these products. Again, please do not waste your money and your pet's safety by using these products.
Flea shampoos are a commonly asked about product and we do not recommend them. The medications in these products do not offer any sort of long term parasite prevention and we see several fatalities in cats and severe illness in dogs EVERY YEAR from these products. If you feel you must give your pet a bath to get rid of fleas please use a gentle grooming shampoo. It will be much safer for your pet and just as effective. Be sure to follow up with an effective parasite preventative to effectively treat your pet's flea infestation.
Dips are obsolete and we expect them to be outlawed at some point. Dips are also dangerous, both to the pet and to you. They can be devastating to the environment as well. Any place that offers to dip your pet for fleas and/or ticks does not have your pet's best interest at heart.
Bombs and Foggers
Bombs and foggers for your house are essentially a waste of time. You can make them work, but it is such an effort if done right that no one ever does it right!
Household insecticides are not effective for flea control and should never be used on your pet.
Garlic does absolutely nothing for parasite prevention. It has been studied extensively for flea control, but it simply does not work. It can have other minor health benefits in people, however, so do not quit using it for your food!
Preparations with yeast for control of parasites are useless, despite the wonderful testimonials you may see in certain venues.
Skin So Soft
This Avon product has been studied as a flea and mosquito repellent. It has no effect that lasts for more than 60 to 90 seconds.
Motor oil applied to pets can lead to severe illness and death. Applying motor oil to your pets can be prosecuted as a crime in the state of Missouri.
Chewing tobacco or cigarette tobacco are often said to be effective intestinal dewormers. Nicotine is toxic to dogs and cats and can cause severe illness. Never give your pet tobacco. There are safer and more effective dewormers available.
Finally a warning: Most parasite control products available from online sources are bootlegged products and do not carry any warranty or recourse if they do not work. No major manufacturer provides their products to online retailers. At this time, we strongly recommend that you do not get your heartworm and flea prevention medication from online sources. This is a genuine problem and not something we make up in order to sell the products ourselves.