By Dr. Kate Gribskov September 2nd, 2013
There are a lot of new flea and parasite products on the market, as well as shortages and backorders that have made decision making a little difficult (and quite frustrating!). We are sending out an email explaining our favorite products to help you make an informed decision about the best choices for your pets. Year-round flea control is important here in Oregon. Fleas not only have the “ick” factor that you don’t want in your home, but can cause severe discomfort and skin infections for your pet, lead to severe anemia and even death in very small pets. They also carry parasites like tapeworms, Bartonella, Hemoplasma and even the plague. Preventing fleas is the best way to keep your pet and family healthy. Feel free to call us if additional questions arise. Your pet’s annual exam visit is a great time to talk in depth about the right choice for your pet.
Cats are easy when it comes to making a decision on flea products. Revolution is a once-a-month topical product that currently does the best job of controlling fleas. It has the added bonus of also preventing ear mites, heartworms, roundworms and some ticks. Revolution is a prescription product, so we need to see your cat for an annual exam to send this home.
If you have stray cats or cats that you cannot get in to the clinic, Activyl is another good choice. It only treats fleas, but is very effective and is a non-prescription product, so we can send it home as long as we know what your cat weighs.
If you have a cat that reacts to topical treatments, you have a difficult time with remembering to give a monthly treatment, or you have an indoor cat with less flea exposure, Program may be the right choice for you. Program is a flea only product that prevents fleas from laying eggs, and is an injection given once every 6 months.
Things get more complicated when it comes to dogs. There is no one perfect product for dogs, so we will discuss your lifestyle with your pet and where you may travel with your dog(s) before deciding what is the best product for your household. Some dogs may need more than one product to protect against all the parasites we worry about. Our first choice for most dogs is Sentinel, a once a month chew tablet that treats and prevents fleas, heartworm, hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. Sentinel’s flea control product is a “flea birth control” preventing egg formation and stopping fleas from getting a hold in your environment. Sentinel is a very safe product, has been on the market for over 20 years with no resistance in the flea population, and it treats most of the parasites we worry about in our area. However, it does not kill adult fleas, but it does prevent them from infesting your home and yard. For the rare instances where your dog does pick up fleas away from your home, we can give Capstar, a tablet that kills all fleas on the dog within 30 minutes.
For dogs with allergies to fleas or if you live in an area where your pet seem to constantly be picking up fleas, like an apartment complex or near wildlife corridors, Trifexis may be a better choice. Trifexis is a similar product to Sentinel, but kills adult fleas within 4 hours of exposure. We used to also recommend Comfortis, which is the active flea ingredient in Trifexis, but the cost difference is negligible between the two products and we get more parasite coverage with the Trifexis. Before starting Sentinel or Trifexis, we will want to test your dog for heartworms.
Revolution is a once a month topical that kills fleas, some ticks and prevents heartworm. Revolution is our first choice for cats, but we generally recommend the oral products for dogs. Sentinel, Trifexis and Revolution are all prescription products, so we need to see your dog annually to send these home.
Activyl is available for dogs as well as cats, and is a non-prescription product that works much better at killing fleas than some of the older over-the-counter flea products, and is a good choice for those dogs we haven’t seen in awhile.
One last option available is the Scalibor collar. This is a water-resistant collar that is the best available for repelling and killing ticks for 6 full months. We are generally pretty lucky in Oregon not to deal with many ticks, but if you travel frequently to tick infested areas with your dog, this may be a good choice, and can be used in conjunction with the other products discussed.
Whichever flea product we use with your pet, remember that fleas (and other parasites) can live year round in our climate, so we strongly recommend using year round protection. It is much easier to prevent fleas than to deal with them once they have invaded your home!
The Doctors and Staff at Aloha Dog and CatHospital.