Dog Flea Control Comparison Plus Tick, Heartworm and Intestinal Wormer Review

Demystifying the most common healthcare products for your dog!

27 October 2016
Disclaimer: Information in this article is offered as a helpful public service. Although this article is written by  professional veterinarians, the accuracy of its content cannot be guaranteed, and it is therefore not intended as medical counsel or to take the place of your own veterinarian's professional guidance. No guarantee is given that the information provided herein is correct, complete or up-to-date. Please consult your vet before administering any treatment to your pet.

 


If you are confused about which flea, tick, heartworm and intestinal worming product combination to use for your dog, you are not alone! With over thirty main products on the market today, each covering a different range of parasites, even we get confused, and we're vets! Unfortunately there is currently no one single product which will treat or prevent all parasites, so a combination is needed.

We have gathered together all of the information into this single flea control comparison guide, along with our vet's recommendations, to help you with choosing the best products to keep your beloved pet covered all year round.


STEP 1 - Choosing a Flea and/or Tick Product

Fleas
Flea protection is essential year round to not only kill any adult fleas which your pet might pick up during their normal daily activities, but also to prevent the developmental flea stages and larval forms from becoming rooted in your home and pet's environment, even in winter. Approximately 1/3 of the flea population in a home exists in the egg stage, and each adult flea can lay up to 40 eggs a day!

There are generally 4 main situations a pet owner might find themselves in when it comes to fleas:

  1. No adult fleas seen (prevention)
    When fleas haven't taken hold of your pet or your home yet, the main aim is prevention. In these situations, we recommend using a product which has an active ingredient that inhibits the developmental stages. If your pet picks up the one or two odd fleas, using a product like this means the flea will not be able to reproduce, and so you stem the problem early. Our vet's recommendation for these situations is Sentinel Spectrum.
     
  2. Adult fleas seen (light infestation) 
    If you have noticed a few adult fleas on your pet but have yet to try many products, your best bet is to choose a product, or combination of products, that can kill adult fleas as well as inhibit the developmental stages. In this instance you can still use Sentinel Spectrum, but also give your pet a capstar tablet whenever adult fleas are seen. Referring to the chart below, other options would be Advantage, Advantix, Advocate, Frontera or Frontline Plus.
     
  3. Adult fleas seen (heavy infestation) 
    If you have noticed a lot of adult fleas and you have tried many products but nothing seems to work, we recommend using a combination of products. In our personal experience in heavily infested flea areas, nothing compares to the fast knockdown of comfortis (kills 100% of fleas in 4 hours, and starts working within 30 minutes), combined with the ability to break the flea life cycle of sentinel. Combining comfortis and sentinel has recently come to be known in veterinary specialist circles as the "gold standard" for a flea free home and pet. In severe cases, comfortis can even be given every two weeks, although this is off label use and you should check with your vet prior to initiating this dosing frequency.
     
  4. A pet with flea allergy dermatitis
    A pet with flea allergy dermatitis has a true allergy to flea saliva and will inevitably scratch so much around the tail and rump areas that they will often lose hair in patches. If you are unsure if your pet is scratching due to fleas, one of the easiest ways to find out is to give your pet capstar every second day for a full 30 days. Capstar is effective for this purpose because it paralyses the mouthparts of the flea as soon as they go to bite your pet. This prevents the flea saliva from being injected into your pet's skin, and stops the itchy chain reaction from occurring. After 30 days of this regime, you should notice a drastic improvement in your pet's itchiness and coat if the issue is flea related.

This is a dog with severe flea allergy dermatitis. Notice the hair loss around the rump and tail base.

 


Ticks
If you live in a tick prone area, obviously you will be looking for a product that has some sort of tick prevention or repellent. Unfortunately it is very difficult to repel ticks all together and stop them from ever jumping on your pet and biting them. Therefore, no matter which product you use for ticks, you should always regularly check your pet's coat, feeling for little bumps that might be ticks, and remove them as soon as possible.

If you are unfortunate to live in an area which has the paralysis tick variety (generally eastern seaboard of Australia), tick control is even more crucial as paralysis tick toxin can be fatal to pets. In these areas, it is recommended to use products like advantix or frontline TWICE MONTHLY instead of the usual monthly dose for fleas. You can also often combine a topical product such as advantix or frontline plus with a tick collar for extra protection. Unlike flea collars, tick collars are quite useful, as the paralysis tick is often attracted towards the head of your pet since they like the carbon dioxide your pet exhales.


A comparison of popular flea and tick products in Australia:

 

  Advantage Advantix Advocate Capstar Comfortis Frontera Frontline Plus Panoramis Revolution Sentinel
Adult Fleas
Developing Flea Stages
Ticks
Heartworm
Whipworm
Hookworm
Roundworm
Tapeworm
Other Parasites None Repels flies & mosquitoes Ear Mites, demodectic & sarcoptic mange, lice None None Lice Lice None Ear mites & sarcoptic mange None
Youngest Age to Start 8 weeks 8 weeks 8 weeks 4 weeks 14 weeks 8 weeks 8 weeks 8 weeks 6 weeks 4 weeks
Waterproof
Approved for Pregnancy and Lactation Consult vet first
Time Until Maximum Effect 98% existing fleas dead in 12 hours. New fleas dead in 2 hours 98% fleas dead in 12 hours 98% fleas dead in 12 hours 99% fleas dead in 4 hours 100% fleas dead in 4 hours - 24 hours for product to disperse, then 4-18 hours. 100% fleas dead in 4 hours 100% dead in 42 hours Peak activity 6 hours
Method of Administration Topical (spot on) Topical (spot on) Topical (spot on) Oral (tablet) Oral (tablet) Topical (spray) Topical (spot on or spray) Oral (tablet) Topical (spot on) Oral (chewable)
Dosing Frequency Monthly Monthly for fleas. Twice monthly for paralysis tick Monthly Daily or when adult fleas seen on pet (no lasting activity) Monthly Monthly for fleas. Twice monthly for paralysis tick Monthly for fleas. Twice monthly for paralysis tick Monthly Monthly Monthly
Additional Cautions None Do not use on cats Pets should test negative for heartworm before use None Should not be used in dogs with known seizure disorders None None Puppies under 14 weeks may experience higher rate of vomiting Pets should test negative to heartworm before use Give with food. Pets should test negative to heartworm before use
Approximate Cost* Per Treatment (10kg Dog) $7.10 $10.90 $13.90 $3.35 $10.20 $4.50 - $9 $10.10 $12.35 $14.10 $13.60

* Cost is approximate as at date of publication of this article and is subject to change


STEP 2 - Choosing a Heartworm Preventative

The next thing you should consider is heartworm prevention. Heartworm is spread by biting insects like mosquitoes. This means that a mosquitoe which bites a dog infected with heartworm can subsequently bite your dog, even in it's own back yard, and potentially pass on this deadly parasite. Heartworm is most prevalent in tropical areas such as northern Australia. Be aware that pets travelling from these areas may also be carriers.

Before initiating any heartworm preventative treatment, it is recommended that you visit your veterinarian for a heartworm test, as initiating treatment in a pet already carrying adult heartworms can be fatal.

Some of the flea and tick preventatives in the above table, such as Advocate, Panoramis, Revolution and Sentinel already cover for heartworm. However if you are using a product which does not cover for this, then you might want to consider adding in one of the heartworm products in the below table.

 

  Heartgard Plus Interceptor Milbemax Proheart Tablets
Heartworm
Whipworm
Hookworm
Roundworm
Tapeworm
Youngest Age to Start Use 6 weeks 4 weeks 2 weeks 6 weeks
Approved for Pregnancy & Lactation
Dosing Frequency Monthly Monthly Monthly Monthly
Approximate Cost* per Treatment (10kg Dog) $4.50 $6.40 $9.25 $3.60

* Cost is approximate as at date of publication of this article and is subject to change


STEP 3 - Choosing an Intestinal Wormer
Out of all of the steps, this would have to be the one which has the most gaps in coverage for people with pets. Pay particular attention to this group, as it is also one of the most important things not to miss, for your family's sake as well as your pet. A number of worms can be passed from pets to humans, especially children (who are often more lax with their hygiene). Roundworms and tapeworms (hydatids) are the more common worms to pass from dog to human.


Proper intestinal worming is an often overlooked part of a dog's health plan,
but it is also one of the most important - for them, and for your entire family.

The biggest culprit to be missed is tapeworm. An important point to remember is that no spot on flea treatment for dogs currently on the market will treat tapeworm. The molecular structure of the drug which controls tapeworm is too big to be able to pass through the thickness of a dog's skin. It's just not possible! So if you are using a spot on flea treatment for your pet, it is crucial that you are at least giving an oral tapeworm tablet as well.
 
...'if you are using a spot on flea treatment for your pet, it is crucial that you are at least giving an oral tapeworm tablet as well.'

Below is a comparison of some of the most popular intestinal wormers on the market today.
 
  Aristopet All Wormer Canex Puppy Suspension Drontal Endogard Paragard Pyraquantal Worm Enda Droncit (tapeworm) Popantel (tapeworm) Virbac Tapewormer
Whipworm
Hookworm
Roundworm
Tapeworm
Youngest Age to Start Use 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 12 weeks
Approved for Pregnancy & Lactation N/A
Method of Administration Oral (tablet) Oral (liquid) Oral (chewable) Oral (tablet) Oral (tablet) Oral (tablet) Oral (tablet) Oral (tablet) Oral (tablet) Oral (tablet)
Approximate Cost per Treatment (10kg dog) $2.99 $7.50 $5.95 $3.75 $3.95 $1.35 $2.95 $2.85 $2.75 $2.10
* Cost is approximate as at date of publication of this article and is subject to change


STEP 4 - Piecing it all together

Take a step back and have a look at your pet's current treatments using the charts above. Are there any gaps in your pet's health plan?

If you are using advocate for instance, you will see that it doesn't cover ticks or tapeworm. This might not be a problem if you do not live in a problem tick area, but you should definitely then include a tape wormer only tablet such as droncit, popantel or virbac tapewormer into your pet's regime.

Another example is if you use advantage, you will see that your pet is not covered for heartworm or intestinal worms, so you might choose to add proheart for heartworm coverage and drontal for intestinal worms.

There are many more possible combinations.

Hopefully by laying out all of the information in one easy to use place, we have demystified some of the confusion surrounding these pet products.

If you are having any difficulties working out the plan best suited to your family and pet, drop our vets a line at info@mammothpetsupplies.com.au and we will be more than happy to help.

Until next time, stay safe, healthy and happy.