Dealing with fleas and nasty worms is part and parcel of being a proud pet parent. However, many dog owners are quite confused about how they should go about it.
On the one hand, giving your dog a flea and worm treatment at the same time saves you a lot of hassle. You just set a timetable, mark it down on the calendar and you can be sure your pet is protected. On the other hand, many people worry how different chemicals applied or ingested at the same time might affect their pets’ health.
So what do you do?
Can you flea and worm a dog at the same time?
Some of the products at pet stores claim to deal with both fleas and worms at the same time but keep in mind that they do not rid your pet of all parasites. You need to pay special attention to heartworms and find something specific against this most dangerous parasite that can kill your dog.
If you’re using different products for fleas and worms, many vets will tell you they can be used at the same time. However, be very careful when you use different drugs, including topical ones and flea collars, as you don’t want to get too many chemicals into your pet’s body at the same time. Best wait at least 24 hours between the two treatments or, even better, schedule them two weeks apart. Better err on the side of caution when your faithful companion’s health is at risk.
Also, always make sure to read the instructions carefully and see what dosage you should use considering your dog’s age and weight.
Worm and flea schedules
The first thing you need to establish is how often does your dog need a flea or a worm treatment.
Let’s see what experts have to say about this.
How often do you need to de-worm your dog?
Puppies need to follow a strict deworming program as you cannot know what parasites that little yapping fur ball is carrying. Puppies can get worms from their mothers and even the most responsible breeder cannot guarantee your new pup is parasite-free.
A puppy needs to be given deworming treatment every two weeks until they are 12 weeks old. After that, they will require monthly deworming until they reach their six months milestone. After that age, you should stick with an adult dog schedule, giving your pet worm treatment at least twice a year.
Any responsible pet owner should deworm a new dog as soon as he becomes part of your family. Repeat after two weeks as some worms are very stubborn and hard to get rid of.
How often do you need to give flea treatment to your dog?
Now, this is a very tricky question and many pet owners believe their vet’s recommendations about flea prevention are a bit excessive. For instance, many believe that fleas are a problem only in the warm months and there’s no need to bother with flea prevention during the cold season. Others prefer to deal with the issue only when the issue arises, that is when they discover fleas on their dog. Multiple fleas, a whole gang of them. One random bugger doesn’t warrant outside intervention, according to them.
However, experts believe that the best way to deal with the nasty bloodsuckers is prevention. Making sure your dog is protected all year round is the only way to keep them safe. Remember that fleas are not just an annoyance, they can be a real health-threat as they carry diseases and can infect them with tapeworms. At the same time, a poor dog plagued by fleas will scratch and bite his own skin until he bleeds, letting him exposed to bacterial infection.
Types of worm and fleas treatments
The question of whether you can give your dog worm and flea treatment at the same time depends on the products you’re using. Some of the treatments on the market are touted as a remedy against both fleas and worms, so the short answer to your question is Yes, you can kill two parasites with one stone. The big problem is that a normal dog sticking his nose everywhere is faced with multiple threats, and there is no cure-all treatment.
Let’s have a look at some of the most common flea and worm products.
Take Advocate which is presented as effective against fleas, mites, roundworms, hookworms, lungworms and prevents heartworms. As you can see it doesn’t work against tapeworms, although, technically, by being flea-free your pet might be safe from those, too. This is a spot-on product you apply on the back of the dog’s neck and is effective for around four weeks, after which you need to give your pet a new round.
Another spot-on treatment is Stronghold, which can be used against flea, various types of mites, roundworms, and hookworms. This must also be applied every four weeks, but the protection offered against worms is quite limited.
Frontline Combo only works against fleas and larvae and doesn’t rid your pet of worms.
Many other products like Panacur, Miblemax, or Profender are designed to kill only worms and don’t help with fleas at all.
If you want to solve all your dog’s parasite problems you can use a broad-spectrum treatment like Advocate or Stronghold as directed and use something like Miblemax or Droncit every six months to take care of all the other worms.
Are worm and flea treatments safe for dogs?
No treatment for either humans or pet animals comes without side-effects. The treatments recommended by your vet or the products available at the pet store are probably approved by your country’s drug board, like the American FDA, but this is not a guarantee your dog won’t experience side effects.
As a responsible pet owner, you should always check out the products you’re using on your dog and be aware of health alerts. For instance, in July 2020 the FDA issued an alert concerning flea and tick products that use the active ingredient Isoxazoline and there are many of them. This ingredient has been shown to cause muscle tremors, ataxia, and seizures in some dogs. According to the FDA, while these products are still considered safe for both cats and dogs, pet owners should watch out for neurological symptoms in their companions and talk to the vet about whether or not they should be concerned and change their pets’ treatment scheme.
Another problem is that you can never know if you’re dog is at risk of developing a reaction to a certain treatment until you’ve tried it. Some spot-on treatments can cause an allergic reaction, characterized by red irritated skin, blisters, and ulceration. The first thing to do is to bathe your dog using a mild soap to alleviate the symptoms, remove the product from his skin and fur or the flea collar if that’s what you’re using, and then contact your vet for advice.
Safety tips for worm and flea treatments
Just as with flea products, most dewormers can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or lack of appetite. Such products can be very taxing on a dog’s stomach, liver, and kidneys. Your pet might experience all sorts of symptoms if he’s suffering from a serious worm infestation and his body is in the middle of getting rid of them.
If a dewormer is likely to cause some side-effects, consider how hard it will be for your dog’s system to deal with a different product against fleas, even a topical one as it also gets into the blood.
Technically, you can worm and flea your dog at the same time, but it would be better to avoid doing so, just in case your pet has a severe reaction to either of them.
Wait at least 24 hours between giving your pet the two drugs, although a better solution would be to use the products some two weeks apart. This way you allow your dog’s body to deal with one chemical product before giving him another drug.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach, talk to your vet before administering any deworming product.
Keeping worms and fleas at bay
Giving your dog regular treatment against flea and worms is just half of the work as you also need to make their environment parasite-free. Honestly, you might never achieve this but at least you can try.
Keep your house flea-free
There’s no point in treating the dog for fleas if you don’t clean your house thoroughly. The main issue here are not the fleas themselves, those stay mainly on the dog, but their eggs and larvae can be lurking all over the house. To keep your pet safe you need to use a house spray that can kill fleas and eggs, particularly on the carpet and the places your pet is fond of spending most of his time. You also need to wash your dog’s bedding at high temperatures to destroy eggs and larvae.
Treat all the pets in the house
Fleas are not picky and they won’t just stay on the dog that brought them home from his play session in the park. A house cat that never sets foot outside might just as easily become a host for those fleas that find the dog’s fur a bit too cramped for their taste.
Deal with your dog’s poo appropriately
Many don’t understand the need to clean after their pets. It’s not just about keeping the streets clean for other humans but other pets as well. After all, people learn to navigate the streets and to avoid stepping in dog waste, but your pet and your neighbor’s pet will most certainly want to inspect that and this is how most worms spread. Even if your dog takes care of business in the backyard make sure to dispose of the end product responsibly, bagging it and binning it. At the same time, try to clean the yard at least once a week by using a garden hose.