Dog Health · Dogs · Pet Parents · Product Review

Fleas, Ticks and Worms OH MY! Everything You Need To Know and How to Combat Them!

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No, it is not the season for fleas, ticks and worms. It is ALWAYS the season for these little buggers! There is no time of year that we as pet owners don’t face these guys! Some parts of the year, or parts of the world, will deal with these parasitic creatures more or less but year around protection is key for our dogs health!  As much as it makes us squirm to talk about these pests, it is important to not only understand what they are but also to understand what we can do!

We’ve seen the advertisements on TV, our veterinarian tells us about all the new and improved products on the market and of course people like myself, offer you totally unsolicited advice while you enjoy your dog park run! Okay, in my defense, your dog is gnawing on himself right now and then just ate another dogs poop. It wasn’t really unsolicited.

Regardless of where you live we want to give a run down of what products exist for use on our pooches. There are so many ways to give these medications now and so many offer different levels of protection. So let’s do the basic breakdown of what we are fighting against first.

Fleas: These little guys are the worst! They can live in homes far after pets have left the home. They hang out inside, outside and I swear anywhere in between. Fleas can cause dogs to have hot spots, skin infections due to scratching and gnawing. Of course, some pets are even allergic to flea saliva and then can become extremely uncomfortable. In severe infestations fleas can even cause anemia in dogs (though mostly the smaller ones) because they are stealing all the precious blood from our pets! Not to mention they even cause humans to have skin irritation from their nasty little bites.

Flea medication can come in topical serums and oral chews.  There are monthly doses that kill fleas when they bite. Additionally, there are monthly doses that act a “birth control” for fleas and actually kill the eggs of fleas instead. Killing these eggs is an important function as well. If your pet has fleas, then well, Fido probably has worms too from bitting at those fleas and infesting eggs. (Which I hesitate to mention that it puts us, the humans, at risk for worms too!) It really all goes full circle!

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Ticks:  Okay, I already said fleas are the worst. I probably need to stick to that. But, ticks can carry SO many diseases into our homes by taking a free ride on our pets! Some diseases are equally detrimental to our pets, others are not. But, when that roly poly blood sucker falls off your dog that isn’t protected and rolls into your home, you are now at risk of that nasty guy biting you too. Our dogs our more prone to these pesky free loaders because they spend more time outside, in the grass and pretty much running, playing, rolling and fetching through our local ticks homesteads.

Many of our flea medications on the market today do tackle ticks in various ways. If you live in an area that has a high tick problem you may opt to add an added level of tick protection. These forms of protection can be in the form of pesticides and preventatives. I also will talk about the Lyme vaccination and blood work that can be done when you have your dog tested for heart worms to tackle other tick carried diseases.

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Heartworms: Gross. All the gross. Not to mention deadly. These nasty guys come from mosquitoes, so truly, no one and no season is exempt from this plague. In order to get a heart worm protection you MUST have your pet check annually to make sure they don’t have heart worms. This is standard to have this testing done by your veterinarian every 12 months. For more details on heart worm disease I recommend checking out The American Heartworm Society.

Of course, there is a double edged sword to heart worm medications. (Though this is why it is required to do annual testing.) Giving heart worm medication to a dog with heart worms, without treating those heart worms, can be deadly. It can lead to the worms dying in the heart and therefore killing the dog. We will talk about the types of medications that are used and make sure you understand the process of a heart worm positive dog as well. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world it just means if your pup is diagnosed, you have a long road ahead of you. This road is also just as pricey as it is long and it is SO much easier to prevent this from happening to your beloved dog. (As a side note: for those of you with furry feline home companions there is NO approved treatment for a cat with heart worms. Preventative is the only way to save our furry feline friends from heart worms.)

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Intestinal Worms: More gross. Okay, all of the above listed are gross. Many of the heart worm medications on the market tackle some intestinal worms, but not all of the types of worms that are prevalent in our pets. It is important to understand what parasites are killed by which type of wormer. You should also have a fecal done by your vet accordingly. Many times people try to go to their nearest pet store, buy a dewormer and say “all done!”. The problem with that is without a microscope, you don’t even know what worms your dog could have. We will go through what worms there common dewormers kill and the ones they don’t.

For puppies, these vet visits are much more frequent as puppies are normally carriers of worms due to digesting the mothers milk, which also can transfer worms if the mother hasn’t been dewormed. Puppies can also show signs of anemia and malnutrition from worms riddling their little bodies and taking over. This post isn’t directly related to this but I will plug in that we found the Puppy Wellness Plan at Banfield Pet Hospital very convenient for Pippin’s first year. I would almost always recommend a local practice into your dogs adulthood but I would recommend Banfield for all growing puppies to take care of these multiple visits without breaking the bank!

If saying worms this many times doesn’t make your stomach turn, remember you can get them from your dog! If you have worms there are precautions to take while handling doggie doo doo to make sure you and your family don’t pick up these worms. If your puppy has worms, I won’t recommend sharing a bed with them until they have fully shed the worms out. Many medications will make the dog shed the worms out. I cannot tell you how many owners said these words, “I didn’t see ANY worms at all! But then we dewormed and now theres worms EVERYWHERE? Is my dog dying? What is this? What have I done?”

Well, you’ve done the right thing. You’ve ridded the dog of the pests, but make sure not to stop there. Rid the yard of the feces and make sure everything is cleaned up and your hands are washed. Within a week or so, you can be worm free. Once you keep up with the maintenance of deworming you shouldn’t have these problems. Keep in mind, if your pup gets worms it is simply because they are so different from us! They will eat anything, including poop. They eat off the ground, lick walls and buildings. Pretty much, they ask for it. Just do your job as a pet parent and everything will be just fine!

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Yikes! Have you already had a freak out?

Checked to see your medication stash?

Asked your spouse, “Hey! What are we giving the dogs? Did we miss last months dose? Do we even give anything for these things?”.

Some of you may have even done a tick check, looked for fleas and taken fido outside for a stink check. That’s okay but we want to give you the tools that you need to be able to tackle those problems right now.

Before continuing, I always try and make very clear, please see a vet if you have any concerns about your pet. If you haven’t had a heart worm test before, or recently, please make that appointment as soon as possible. If your dog has been scratching relentlessly, please make sure you don’t just think it’s fleas while you have been treating fleas. There is a possibility it could be a skin infection of some kind.

So what do we, as pet parents, need to do to make sure our pets are safe? Let’s talk about medications and what they do. The listed medications are VERY specific. Please, I beg of you, please do not purchase “over the counter” medications from your local super store. It is very important that the medications are vet approved, stored in the correct temperatures and that their expiration is valid. For this reason, and this reason alone I will recommend you purchase all of our list medications from either your vet, 1-800-PetMeds which is Vet-VIPPS accredited as a pharmacy.

 

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Flea (Tick) Medications: Some of these medications will be multipurpose. We will tackle benefits of each one and information on each medication. I recommend oral flea medications and that is what you will see a majority of here.

ORAL FLEA MEDICATIONS: I prefer oral products for a few reasons. Starting with they aren’t messy! Topical medications can be ingested by family or other pets while being touched not to mentions it’s greasy! Other with than that you can also bathe your pet, play in streams and everything without thinking twice with most oral medications!

  1. Bravecto Flea and Tick Medication: Bravecto is a unique medication in the field because it is a chewable tablet and starts killing fleas within 2 hours of giving your dog the medication. Additionally, it also lasts for 12 weeks! That’s right, 12 weeks. It is proven to kill fleas as well as 4 species of tick that includes; black-legged tick(deer tick), American dog tick, brown tick and lone star tick. (Bravecto protects against the lone star tick for 8 weeks)  Fluralaner (fleas and ticks) is the main ingredient of Bravecto and works by attacking the fleas nervous systems after they bite the dog. Within 24 hours this has worked on the ticks as well.  The plus side – it makes it easy for us pet parents to remember dosing.  You will still need heartworm and deworming medication with Bravecto. We also recommend adding an additional tick collar if you are “BROWN” area listed in the above image for our tick section. 
  2. Nexgard Flea and Tick Medication: Nexgard is a flea and tick medication made by the makers of Frontline Plus. Unlike Frontline Plus, Nexgard is a soft, beefy chew that is taken orally by your dog. It will feel like a special treat given every 30 days. Nexgard uses afoxolaner (fleas and ticks) that attacks the fleas nervous systems thereby making it impossible for them to continue their generations and die off. Nexgard is effective against the following ticks; American dog tick, the black legged tick (deer tick), and the lone star tick. This medication does not prevent against the brown tick.                            FREE FLEA MEDICATION: This link will take you to a free trail print off that you can take to your vet as well as a $35 rebate when you purchase 6 doses of Nexgard and 12 doses of Heartgard for your pet. (Heartgard is below under heartworm medication.) You will still need heartworm and deworming medication with Nexgard. We also recommend adding an additional tick collar for extra prevention. 
  3. Trifexis: Trifexis comes to you with more than just flea preventative. Trifexis protects your pet against fleas, heart worms and the following intestinal worms; adult hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm infections. Trifexis is given every 30 days to your dog in a chewable tablet. The great thing about Trifexis is that it uses spinosad (fleas) and milbemycin oxide(dewormer) to protect your pet from all three pests. If you follow their website they also have a $25 rebate when you purchase Trifexis for your dog. It is also recommended to give Trifexis with food.  You will still want to look at the other types of dewormers when using Trifexis. You will also need to provide tick prevention for your dog while using Trifexis. 
  4. Sentinel: Sentinal Spectrum is a flea preventative that also works to protect against heart worms and protects against the following intestinal worms; roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms.  This is the only medication that works against tapeworms. You can use the basic Sentinal Flavor Tabs for the same protection without tapeworm protection.  Sentinel works by targeting the eggs and larvae of the flea instead of the adult flea. It eliminates the ability to procreate and acts like a birth control for the fleas. This is a favored chewy treat that is given every 30 days to Fido. The main ingredients in Sentinel are milbemycin oxime(deworming) and lufenuron(fleas) and in Sentinel Spectrum there is an added medication of mpraziquantel (tapeworms). You will still need a tick preventative while using this medication. If you are using Sentinal Spectrum you should be covered on all major intestinal worms! 
  5. Comfortis: Comfortis is for use just on fleas. This is a chewable tablet that is given every 30 days to your dog to prevent against flea infestation. Comfortis starts working in 30 minutes to kill all live fleas on your pooch. If you follow the link on their website they have a $25 rebate when you purchase Comfortis. Comfortis uses spinosad(fleas) as their active ingredient to have a rapid killing effect on the fleas. You will still need heartworm and deworming medication with Comfortis. We also recommend adding an additional tick collar to prevent against tick infestations on Fido as well when using Comfortis. 

TOPICAL FLEA MEDICATIONS: Some people prefer topical flea medication and it has its benefits. One big reason people use topical medications is many of them have repelling agents in their formulas that aren’t found in oral medications. For that reason I wanted to tackle some of the best topical flea medications on the market. Please, again, never purchase “over the counter” brands. I won’t list any in particular, but I think if you talk with your vet and use 1-800-PetMeds you will be choosing safe, EPA and FDA approved topical brands for your pets.

  1. Advantage Multi: Advantage Multi is a topical solution that is applied to your dogs skin and coat every 30 days. The active ingredients are imidaclprid (insecticide) and moxidectin (deworming). What makes Advantage Multi unique is that is the only FDA approved medication for Dirofilaria immitis microfilaria which causes heart worms and circulates within the bloodstream when infected. Advantage Multi also protects against fleas, scaroptic mange and the following intestinal worms; roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. While using Advantage Multi you would need to have tick preventative to keep your pets safe from the blood suckers. If needed, you would have to look into other deworming medications for tape worms.
  2. Revolution (For Dogs): Revolution for dogs is a topical solution that is applied to the skin and coat of your dog every 30 days. Revolution uses a unique medication called selamectin that is approved for use to prevent fleas, ear mites, scaroptic mange and American dog ticks. Revolution does not prevent against intestinal worms. While using Revolution we recommend that you find a monthly dewormer to protect against the most commons worms. Depending where you live you may want to invest in additional tick coverage since the Deer Tick is the most common for transferring Lyme disease and this prevents only the American dog tick.
  3. Frontline: We have two brands by Frontline that I want to highlight in this section. As we talked about already, Frontline Plus creates have made Nexgard above in our chewable section. They are probably one of the most well known brands of protection. They have two topical brands that are Frontline Plus and Frontline Tritak. The similarities that you need to know is these medications both are topical medications and are applied every 30 days to your pooch. They both protect in some ways against fleas and ticks. The differences though I have decided to use 1-800-PetMeds Comparison Chart for you to really compare what each product does. You will still need to provide a heartworm medication as well as an intestinal parasite medication. For additional tick medication you may want to consider adding one of our below tick products. 
  4. K9 Advantix II: K9 Advantix II works to prevent fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, biting flies, and chewing lice. Fleas and ticks are killed on contact so the fleas and ticks don’t have to bite your pet to actually die. K9 Adventix is a topical solution that is applied every 30 days to your pet to kill and prevent infestations. K9 Advantix achieves all of this by using a combination of  imidacloprid (insecticide), permethrin (insecticide) and pyriproxyfen(insecticide). You will still need a heartworm medication that tackles intestinal parasites as well. For additional protection from ticks you can look into a tick product though K9 Advantix advertises repelling ticks as well. 

TICK MEDICATIONS: The following collars are listed for tick control. Some of these collars also have flea medication in them as well. One of the pros for these collars is that they last longer. One thing we recommend when using collars is to make sure they are banded underneath your pets normal collar to eliminate human contact with the collar as much as possible.

I also want to use this time to mention that your vet can give a Lyme vaccine to your pet. Please ask them which kind of vaccine it is. There are two types of Lyme vaccine on the market. One vaccine simply protects your pet from getting Lyme disease. The second type actually neutralizes the Lyme disease within the tick. This means the tick is no longer a carrier of Lyme until it bites another Lyme carrying animal again. This can be done at any vet. If you have a PETCO in your area please look and see if they have a Vetco Clinc coming soon. The Vetco Clinic is a great place to get blood work done to find out if your dog has any bacterial tick borne disease as well as get your lyme vaccine if you’ve already had your annual appointment. While you are getting this Lyme vaccine you can also do a 4DX test that will screen for multiple blood borne disease as well as your heartworm test.

  1. Preventic Collar: The Preventic collar made by Virbac lasts for 90 days. The main ingredient is amitraz and it’s primary use is that it kills and detaches ticks that are already on your pet. Within 48 hours of your dog wearing this collar it will then prevent ticks from latching on to your dog. This collar also protects against other biting parasites like mites and lice as it paralyzes the jaw of these beings with its medication. You will still need to provide flea, heartworm and intestinal worm medication for your pet while using Preventic. 
  2. Seresto Collar: The Seresto collar is made by Bayer and protects against tick, fleas, chewing lice and scaroptic mange for 8 months! That’s right, 8 whole months! Seresto uses flumethrin and imidacloprid as the main ingredients to combat these little biting beasts. You will still need to provide heartworm and intestinal worm medication for your pet while using Seresto. 
  3. Scalibor Protection Band: The Scalibor Protection Collar is made my Merck brand and protects your pet against fleas and ticks for 6 months! Another great, long lasting option for us pet parents! One of the additional advertised perks to this collar is that is waterproof and can be worn when swimming! So go ahead retrieving dogs, dive right in! You will still need to provide heartworm and intestinal worm medication for your pet while using the Scalibor Protection Band.

HEARTWORM AND INTESTINAL WORM MEDICATIONS: We all need these for all of our pets. This a all year around medication and probably the most important thing you can do for you pet. Heartworm medication is very reasonable, with heartworm treatment for a pet can be 15x the amount of the annual cost for heartworm protection. Before providing your pet with protection they must have a blood test done at your local vet. Don’t forget as listed above, you can as for the 4DX test to make sure that there are no other bacterial infections within your dogs blood from parasites.

Heartworm medications will also prevent against your common worms as well. So keep in mind while looking at these medications what other benefits you can gain per medication. I personally want to go the extra mile and make sure my medication will be preventing tapeworms as well. I have also chosen to highlight the PLUS or MAX version of each brand. These will be the most comprehensive of their range of parasites.

The ivermectin medication is listed as sensitive for herding breeds. Though ivermectin is labeled as tested effectively in some of the flea medications listed above caution should be taken when giving ivectimin medication to dogs at risk. The dogs at risk are “collie dogs”  or  dogs predisposed to the MDR1 gene mutation. Please talk with your vet about using this medication if your dogs breeding could be at risk. 

  1. Heartgard Plus: Heartgard Plus is a beef flavored chewable tablet that is given to your dog every 30 days and produced by Merial. Heartgard Plus protects against heartworms as well as controls roundworms and hookworms. To prevent against heartworms and intestinal worms, Heartgard Plus uses ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate. You will find that Heargard Plus, Frontline and Nexgard are all owned by Frontline Plus. This is a part of the listed deal under NexGard for a rebate. You can also get a $12 rebate from just buying Heartgard. You will still need to provide flea and tick protection for your dog while using Heartgard Plus. You may need additional protection for intestinal parasites. 
  2. Iverhart Max: Iverhart Max is a beef flavored chewable tablet that you give to Fido every 30 days to protect him against heartworms, roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. Iverhart Max is produced by Virbac. Iverhart Max uses ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate to protect against heartworms, round worms and hook worms. Additionally, they use praziquantel to prevent agains tapeworms. You will still need to provide flea and tick protection for your pet while using Iverhart Max.
  3. Triheart Plus: Triheart Plus is a beef flavored chewable tablet made my Merck that you give every 30 days. Triheart Plus will protect your pet using  ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate to ward of heartworms, roundworms and hookworms. You will need to provide flea and tick protection for your pet while using Triheart Plus. You may need additional protection for intestinal parasites. 
  4. Interceptor Plus: Interceptor Plus is brought to you by Norvatis and uses milbemycin oxime and  praziquantel to protect your pet from Dirofilaria immitis, adult heart worms, adult roundworms, adult hookworms, adult whipworms and adult tapeworms. When given monthly, it will prevent all the worms as they get through their stages of growth. This is a chicken flavored chewable tablet, and is noted that it is the only one that is chicken favored for allergies to beef. It is also given every 30 days to your pet. For those pets that shouldn’t have ivermectin this is a safe alternative. Collie dogs CAN have this type of dewormer which I think makes it a popular alternative. The link above is from Australia but I think you’ll find that it has all the info you need.

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Fleas, ticks and worms don’t seem so scary now, right? When we have the knowledge then we have the power! There are so many options of what you can do to help protect your pet from illness and disease. Heck, you’ll even be keeping your and your human family healthier and safer as well.

All you have to do now is know your needs, pick your product and give it to Fido. I also recommend setting a monthly alert in your phone or place a reminder on your calendar so that no doses go overlapped. This will make sure you are fully protected. Check all sites for coupons and trials as well.

Talk to your vet about these options and know your dog! If you have a dog with special needs (MDR1) or an allergy to certain flavors you might want to look at a topical flea and tick medication and Interceptor Plus. If you are looking for something that you don’t always have to remember, one of the collars or Bravecto would be a good choice! No matter what your pets personal needs are, there is a product for you!

Pippin Tails is proud to bring you this article and we hope that it helps you and your canine family understand the topsy, turvy and oh so gross world of fleas, ticks and worms. We know SO many people would benefit from this so please don’t hesitate to share this post. I promise one of your other furry families would love this too! 

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