Yonge Sheppard Animal Hospital

280 Sheppard Ave E. Unit 102, Toronto, ON M2N 3B1 | 647-260-8387 | yonge.sheppard.vets@gmail.com

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A Comparison of Parasite Prevention Medications in Southern Ontario

Keeping your pets free from parasites is crucial for their health and well-being. Southern Ontario, with its diverse climate, presents unique challenges. In this article, we explore the best parasite prevention options available.

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What is Parasite Prevention?

Parasite prevention is all about stopping parasites—like fleas, ticks, and heartworms—from making a home on your beloved pets. These tiny troublemakers can cause serious health issues, ranging from annoying itching to Lyme Disease. In Southern Ontario, our humid summers and mild winters create an ideal environment for parasites to thrive year-round. That’s why regular parasite prevention is a must for pets in this region. By using preventive medications, you can protect your furry friends from the discomfort and health risks associated with these unwanted guests.

How does Parasite Prevention work?

Parasite prevention medications work in various ways to protect your pets. Most treatments target specific stages of the parasite’s life cycle, either killing the parasites before they can harm your pet or preventing them from reproducing. For instance, flea and tick preventives often contain insecticides that kill these pests on contact or after they bite your pet. Heartworm preventives, on the other hand, usually work by eliminating the larvae that mosquitoes transmit before they can mature into adult heartworms. By regularly administering these medications, you create a continuous barrier against infestations, ensuring that your pet stays healthy and parasite-free.

 

It’s important to remember that different parasite preventions can work different ways to protect our pets. Some medications may offer month-long protection against a broader spectrum of parasites, and some may be fast-acting against only a few types of parasites. Knowing what your pet is protected against is crucial because their risk factors can vary depending on your lifestyle together.

Parasite Prevention Comparison Chart 🔎

The chart below lists the most commonly available parasite prevention medications in Southern Ontario, what they protect against, their on-label claims, and important things to consider based on the active ingredient in the medication. This chart is only a comparative guide for pet owners, and does not replace veterinary recommendations.

Click on the image to view a larger version!

What's Inside? An Active Look at Active Ingredients 🔬

Understanding the active ingredients in parasite prevention medications can help you make informed choices for your pet’s health. Here are some common ingredients and their functions:

Did you know? Nicotine naturally occurs in plants and is toxic to insects.

 

Imidacloprid is an insecticide made to mimic nicotine. It works by targeting the nervous system of sucking insects, which include mites and fleas. When applied topically, the imidicloprid spreads through the oils of skin and hair follicles on pets, in a process called translocation. Fleas and their larvae get exposed to it by direct contact on the pets body.The imidaclopriod binds to nerve cells of the fleas, leading to their paralysis and death.

 

While imidacloprid is a very useful insecticide for humans and pets, great care must be taken of when disposing of it as it can have great impacts on the environment. Agricultural use of this insecticde has been stroingly linked with honey bee failure and colony collapse. Make sure to follow all label instructions for proper disposal.

Pyriproxyfen is an insect growth regulator that mimics a natural insect hormone, disrupting the development of fleas. After topical application, it spreads through the oils in your pet's skin and hair follicles via translocation. Pyriproxyfen prevents flea eggs from hatching and larvae from maturing into adults, breaking the flea life cycle. It can also spread to areas where your pet rests, exposing flea eggs and larvae in the environment to pyriproxyfen and preventing further infestations.

Moxidectin is an antiparasitic that interferes with the nerve transmission of parasites, causing paralysis and death. When applied topically, it is absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. This makes it effective against both internal and external parasites, such as mites and intestinal worms, by paralyzing and killing those that feed on your pet's blood. Moxidectin also targets heartworm larvae in the bloodstream, preventing heartworm disease by killing the larvae before they can mature.

 

Moxidectin belongs to a class of compounds called macrocyclic lactones. These medications are commonly used in vetgerinary medicine to protect animals from various internal and external parasites, including heartworms, intestinal worms, mites, and fleas. Dogs with the MDR1 gene mutation (commonly found in herding breeds like Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Shetland Sheepdogs), are more susceptible to toxicity from macrocyclic lactones. Using multiple macrocylic lactone medications in these pets can further increase risk of toxicity. Symptoms of toxicity may include lethargy, drooling, tremors, or seizures. It's crucial to consult your veterinarian before administering these medications to ensure the safety of your pet.

Milbemycin is an antiparasitic that targets heartworms, roundworms, and hookworms. After oral administration, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed throughout your pet's body. Milbemycin oxime works by binding to nerve receptors in the parasites, causing paralysis and death. This process helps eliminate existing parasites and prevents the development of immature stages, providing comprehensive protection for your pet.

 

Milbemycin belongs to a class of compounds called macrocyclic lactones. These medications are commonly used in vetgerinary medicine to protect animals from various internal and external parasites, including heartworms, intestinal worms, mites, and fleas. Dogs with the MDR1 gene mutation (commonly found in herding breeds like Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Shetland Sheepdogs), are more susceptible to toxicity from macrocyclic lactones. Using multiple macrocylic lactone medications in these pets can further increase risk of toxicity. Symptoms of toxicity may include lethargy, drooling, tremors, or seizures. It's crucial to consult your veterinarian before administering these medications to ensure the safety of your pet.

Ivermectin is an antiparasitic that protects against heartworm disease and treats various parasites such as mites and intestinal worms. When administered orally or by injection, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the pet's body. Ivermectin interferes with nerve transmission in parasites by binding to their nervous system receptors, leading to paralysis and death. This mechanism ensures effective elimination of both internal and external parasites, keeping your pet healthy and parasite-free.

 

Ivermectin belongs to a class of compounds called macrocyclic lactones. These medications are commonly used in vetgerinary medicine to protect animals from various internal and external parasites, including heartworms, intestinal worms, mites, and fleas. Dogs with the MDR1 gene mutation (commonly found in herding breeds like Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Shetland Sheepdogs), are more susceptible to toxicity from macrocyclic lactones. Using multiple macrocylic lactone medications in these pets can further increase risk of toxicity. Symptoms of toxicity may include lethargy, drooling, tremors, or seizures. It's crucial to consult your veterinarian before administering these medications to ensure the safety of your pet.

Pyrantel is an anthelmintic. After ingestion, it is absorbed through the GI and released into the bloodstream. When intestinal worms bite, and are exposed to the treated blood, they become paralyzed. The paralysis causes them to dislodge from the intestinal wall, and be passed with the natural digestive process.

Permethrin is a neurotoxic insecticide. When applied topically, it is distributed into the oils of skin and hair follicles in a process called translocation. It binds to nerve cells of insects. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, lice and mites that come into contact with it on the skin are paralyzed and eventually die. It also acts as a mild repellant to insects. Permethrin is toxic to cats - cats lack an enzyme to safely metabolize permethrin.

 

Permethrin belongs to a man-made class of compounds call pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are made to mimic a naturally occuring pesticide found in chrysanthemums, called pyrethrin. While the natural pesticide pyrethrin can be safe for cats, almost all pyrethroids are toxic for our feline friends. Pyrethroids like permethrin are commonly found in flea and tick sprays sold in pet stores. While these flea and tick sprays are safe for dogs, please avoid using it on dogs that live with a feline friend.

Much like Imidacloprid, Nitenpyram also mimics nicotine. Nitenpyram is a neurotoxic insecticide. After ingestion, it is absorbed through the GI and into the bloodstream. When adult fleas bite and consume blood, they are exposed to nitenpyram. It binds strongly to the central nervous system of insects, causing rapid paralysis and death, often in as little as 30 minutes. This fast-acting treatment provides immediate relief from flea infestations, though it doesn’t have long-lasting effects, so it’s often used in conjunction with other flea control methods.

Fluralaner belongs to a class of medications called isoxazolines. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, ataxia, and seizures. Medications with this active ingredient should be used with caution in pets with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders.

 

Isoxazolines are a potent class of compounds used in veterinary medicine to protect pets from external parasites like fleas and ticks. Depending on the compound, it can be adminstered topically or orally, prior to being absorbed into the bloodstream. Isoxazolines work by targeting and inhibiting specific nerve receptors in parasites, leading to uncontrolled nerve activity, paralysis, and death.

Afoxolaner belongs to a class of medications called isoxazolines. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, ataxia, and seizures. Medications with this active ingredient should be used with caution in pets with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders.

 

Isoxazolines are a potent class of compounds used in veterinary medicine to protect pets from external parasites like fleas and ticks. Depending on the compound, it can be adminstered topically or orally, prior to being absorbed into the bloodstream. Isoxazolines work by targeting and inhibiting specific nerve receptors in parasites, leading to uncontrolled nerve activity, paralysis, and death.

Selamectin is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic; it is effective against parasites such as fleas, ear mites, heartworms, and certain intestinal worms. Administered topically, selamectin is absorbed through the skin and enters the bloodstream, where it targets the nervous system of parasites. By disrupting nerve signals, selamectin causes paralysis and ultimately leads to the death of the parasites. Selamectin also offers preventative benefits by affecting the eggs and larvae of parasites, helping to break their life cycle and reduce the risk of future infestations.

Sarolaner belongs to a class of medications called isoxazolines. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, ataxia, and seizures. Medications with this active ingredient should be used with caution in pets with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders.

 

Isoxazolines are a potent class of compounds used in veterinary medicine to protect pets from external parasites like fleas and ticks. Depending on the compound, it can be adminstered topically or orally, prior to being absorbed into the bloodstream. Isoxazolines work by targeting and inhibiting specific nerve receptors in parasites, leading to uncontrolled nerve activity, paralysis, and death.

Esafoxolaner belongs to a class of medications called isoxazolines. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, ataxia, and seizures. Medications with this active ingredient should be used with caution in pets with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders.

 

Isoxazolines are a potent class of compounds used in veterinary medicine to protect pets from external parasites like fleas and ticks. Depending on the compound, it can be adminstered topically or orally, prior to being absorbed into the bloodstream. Isoxazolines work by targeting and inhibiting specific nerve receptors in parasites, leading to uncontrolled nerve activity, paralysis, and death.

Eprinomectin is a parasiticide used to protect pets from internal and external parasites, like intestinal worms, lungworms and mites. It belongs to a class of drugs called macrocyclic lactones, which work by disrupting the nervous system of parasites, leading to their paralysis and death. When given to a pet, eprinomectin is absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body, targeting parasites in different tissues.

 

Eprionomectin belongs to a class of compounds called macrocyclic lactones. These medications are commonly used in vetgerinary medicine to protect animals from various internal and external parasites, including heartworms, intestinal worms, mites, and fleas. Dogs with the MDR1 gene mutation (commonly found in herding breeds like Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Shetland Sheepdogs), are more susceptible to toxicity from macrocyclic lactones. Using multiple macrocylic lactone medications in these pets can further increase risk of toxicity. Symptoms of toxicity may include lethargy, drooling, tremors, or seizures. It's crucial to consult your veterinarian before administering these medications to ensure the safety of your pet.

Praziquantel is a medication used to treat parasitic infections in pets. It is highly effective against tapeworms, a common intestinal parasite in cats and dogs. Praziquantel works by causing muscle spasms in the parasites, leading to their paralysis and subsequent expulsion from the body. Administered orally, praziquantel offers a simple and efficient solution for eliminating tapeworm infections in pets.

Parasite Prevention Puzzle: Finding the Right Fit 🧩💊

With so many options available, choosing the right parasite prevention medication for your pet can feel overwhelming. Here are some factors to consider:

 

1. Pet’s Lifestyle: Assess your pet’s lifestyle to determine their exposure to parasites. Do they spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking through wooded areas, or do they mostly stay indoors?

2. Parasite Coverage: Consider which parasites are prevalent in your area and ensure the medication you choose provides adequate coverage. For example, if ticks are common in your region, opt for a medication that specifically targets ticks.

3. Administration Method: Some pets may prefer chewable tablets, while others tolerate topical solutions better. Choose a medication that is easy to administer and fits your pet’s preferences.

4. Duration of Protection: Determine how long you want the protection to last. Monthly treatments may be convenient for some pet owners, while others may prefer longer-lasting options.

5. Additional Benefits: Some medications offer additional benefits, such as preventing heartworm or treating intestinal parasites. Consider whether these extras align with your pet’s needs.

6. Veterinary Recommendation: Consult your veterinarian for personalized advice. They can recommend the best medication based on your pet’s health status, risk factors, age, and lifestyle.

 

By considering these factors and consulting with your veterinarian, you can make an informed decision and choose the parasite prevention medication that’s right for your furry friend.

Common Issues with Parasite Prevention Medication:

While medications are highly effective, some common issues might arise:

 

Missed Dose: If you forget to give your pet their medication, administer it as soon as you remember and then continue with the regular schedule.

Adverse Reactions: Some pets may experience side effects like vomiting or lethargy. If this happens, contact your vet immediately.

When to Seek Veterinary Help 🩺🐾

Certain signs indicate it’s time to consult your vet:

Persistent Scratching or Biting: Even after treatment, if your pet continues to scratch or bite, it could indicate an underlying issue.
Visible Parasites: If you notice fleas or ticks on your pet despite treatment, a vet visit is essential.

Changes in Behavior: Lethargy, loss of appetite, or other behavioral changes warrant professional attention.

If you suspect your pet might have been exposed: It happens! Sometimes you forget to give them a dose, sometimes you run out of their medication. Sometimes, their weight can fluctuate and affect how well their medication can protect them at the current dose! Thankfully there’s a way to check. 

If pets were exposed to parasites like heartworm and ticks and caught something, antibodies about the infection show up in their blood within 4-6 weeks of exposure, and can be tested for. The most common lab test for this is Antech’s Accuplex and Idexx’s 4Dx which both screen for exposure to heartworm, and 3 common tick-borne illnesses (Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis).

Choosing the right parasite prevention medication is crucial for keeping your pet healthy and happy. At Yonge Sheppard Animal Hospital, we’re here to help you make informed decisions about your pet’s care. Remember, it’s always better to prevent than to treat! For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us at 647-260-8387 or yonge.sheppard.vets@gmail.com.

 

Stay bug-free and keep those tails wagging!

 

– The Yonge Sheppard Animal Hospital Team 🐾