Our customer asked:
I am looking to possibly change from an all in one dog http://www.viovet.co.uk/Effipro_Spot_On_Flea_Treatment_for_Dogs_Cats/c6057/">Effipro Spot On
and Endoguard worm tablet) so i wonder if you could offer some pre order advice please? Are prescription treatments considered more effective than non
prescription items? It seems that Advocate covers almost every disease/plague/infestation known to dog (apart from tapeworm) but as a customer i'm not even sure
if what it covers applies to us or if we needed to supplement Advocate with, say, Drontal. Is it like us getting a full course of Foreign/Tropical travel
vaccinations for a visit to skegness :) Would a combination of Effipro and Endoguard "cover our bases"? Do we need a carpet spray too, as i understand some treatments don't actually break the flea life cycle.
This is not a simple question, but I will do my best!
The range of parasites treated by Advocate are broadly similar to those treated by Effipro plus Endoguard, or a similar combination. However Advocate will provide some protection against mites, lungworm and heartworm, none of which are treated by Effipro/Endoguard. Very few dogs in the UK have any trouble with these additional parasites, so the odds are it will make no difference. However for a few dogs it can be a big deal, as the more "exotic" worms are becoming more common in the UK, and occasionally dogs have died from picking them up. (Some people die in car accidents, but that does not stop us getting into a car. How you assess these things depends on your general outlook and philosophy perhaps.)
Conversely Advocate is not active against ticks, which are treated by Effipro and the similar flea treatments. Tapeworms in dogs are only treated by worm tablets. Tapeworms are not regarded as disease-causing, and they can be treated specifically if you see them (they wriggle out of the bottom and move around on the hair nearby, so you will see them if they are there!) Ticks are common in some areas, less so in others. In some parts of the country ticks transmit serious diseases, though not many dogs suffer that way in this country. Ticks themselves are unsightly and occasionally painful, but not usually too bad in themselves. The problems they transmit however can sometimes take a while to show and then be difficult to diagnose, so might be missed by the vet.
On balance I would say that you should try to find out if ticks are common where you live (worst perhaps in New Forest, West Country and Wales) or if Lungworm cases have been reported in your area. This information might sway the argument. If not, then I would say that the two strategies are of approximately equal merit, in which case you might go for the cheapest. It would be possible to argue a case for using all 3 products in combination, applying the spot-ons at 2 week intervals. That would give the absolute best control, but very few people bother to do that!
I do not think that the prescription/non-prescription issue is a guide to how effective they are. All of the products you mention have a very high percentage control effect, but nothing is 100% every time. A few parasites may survive whatever you use.
Finally, using an environmental flea spray is very helpful if fleas tend to be difficult to control, but for most households with just one pet, they are not needed in most years. (This year has been worse than many due to the wet summer we think, so not every year is the same when it comes to flea control.)
Personally on balance I would go for Advocate if I thought that ticks were not a problem. If ticks are seen in your area, especially if you are in one of the areas I mentioned above, then I would definitely use something to control them.