Internal parasites (worms)
All puppies are born with internal parasites. Parasites are actually part of a dog's natural flora. The problem arises when they become out of balance with the rest of your dog's flora and become high enough in number to cause disease. Because of this, all puppies are born with parasites. Responsible breeders will manage and care for your puppy in a way that minimizes these parasites to ensure your puppy is as healthy as possible.
A responsible breeder will send your puppy was sent home with a veterinary exam that included a negative fecal test and a routine deworming. However, a negative stool test can miss some parasites so it’s not a bad idea to take a stool sample to your vet when you bring your puppy in for his booster vaccines.
Adults are much less susceptible to parasites than puppies, so you will only need to deworm your dog when you see evidence of parasites. Signs of parasites include:
Worms apparent in feces (these can look like regular worms or grains of rice)
Loose stool or diarrhea
Dogs get tape worms from fleas, so if your dog has fleas, ask your vet about tapeworm treatment.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos and are prevalent in most areas of the US, except for Alaska.
Heartworms infest a dog’s heart and at best will cause serious heart disease and at worst will kill your dog.
The good news is that heartworm disease is easily prevented with monthly topical or chewable treatment.
We prefer Advantage Multi. This is an older, safer topical preventive. Advantage Multi has the added benefit of preventing flea infestations, and controlling roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, microfilaria, and sarcoptic mange. Additionally, a recent study has shown that the active ingredients in Advantage Multi were much more efficacious than other preventatives.
Heartgard Plus is an option, but it does not control fleas or several other internal parasites.
For flea and tick control, the Seresto collar is a safe and effective choice.
Seresto collars work well and last for about 7-8 months.
We used to recommend Bravecto, a pill and lasts for about 3 months. However, a recent FDA safety communicationannounced that Bravecto and similar products have been associated with adverse neurologic events. So until we hear otherwise, we do not recommend Bravecto except as a last resort for intractable flea infestation.
All flea and tick products have possible side effects and some dogs tolerate one and not the other. Some of the older products have been around long enough that the parasites have developed resistance to them. We have found that certain products work better in certain areas so you might have to try different products to find the ones right for your area.
Some heartworm preventatives also provide flea and tick prevention but we have found in areas where with higher flea and tick burdens that you have to use a specific product for fleas and ticks plus the heartworm medication. ALWAYS consult your Veterinarian about side effects and what she thinks is working well in your area.
Some veterinarians carry certain lines of preventative products in their office for convenience and tend to prescribe those medications only. Remember that you can request another medication and order it online if your vet does not carry it.