Fleas, ticks and heartworms are more than just a nuisance for pets. Fleas transmit tapeworm and cause flea allergy dermatitis. Ticks spread spotted fever, Lyme disease and many other diseases. Heartworms, which are transmitted by mosquitoes, can cause liver failure, damage to the heart, lungs and other organs, and many other serious health problems. Heartworm disease may even kill your pet. Flea, tick and heartworm prevention is, therefore, essential for the health of your cat or dog.
Flea, tick and heartworm prevention medicines come in topical and oral forms. Some products are intended for both cats and dogs and some are intended only for use on dogs. Flea and tick medicines are available as prescription or non-prescription forms. Products containing heartworm preventatives are only available as prescription medications.
Currently, selamectin, which is the active ingredient in the drug Revolution, is considered safe to use on either dogs or cats. Selamectin kills fleas and ticks, prevents heartworm and also kills ear mites, some types of mange mites, hookworm and roundworm in cats. However, most medications on the market do not kill fleas, ticks and heartworms. Some can be used in conjunction with other medications, but discuss this with your veterinarian before using any combination of products on your pet.
Sentinel, which contains lufenuron for fleas and milbemycin oxime to prevent heartworm, hookworm, whipworm and roundworm diseases, is for use on dogs only. This medicine interferes with fleas’ life cycles, preventing fleas from developing from premature stages, but does not kill adult fleas, nor does it kill ticks.
These preventatives are easy to administer--most are topical medications or are flavored, chewable tablets--and are a positive step in keeping your pet healthy. Flea and tick preventatives can save your pet from tick-borne diseases, tapeworm (from fleas), flea allergy, and many other health problems. Heartworm preventatives can save your pet from serious heartworm-related diseases or even death.
Never use products intended for dogs on cats. Many contain chemicals that are considered safe for dogs but are toxic to cats. In mixed-pet households, make sure your cat does not groom the dog or otherwise come into contact with topical medicine meant for use on dogs.
Discuss side effects and your pet’s general health before starting heartworm prevention. Your veterinarian may need to give your pet a thorough exam and test for existing heartworms before prescribing a heartworm preventative.
If ticks aren’t a problem for your cat or dog, you can also get a product such as Advantage Multi, which kills fleas, prevents heartworm and treats mites, whipworm, roundworm and hookworm.