Confused about parasiticides? Your clients are! - Veterinary Practice
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Confused about parasiticides? Your clients are!

EMMA RIXON of Ceva Animal Health reports on recent surveys and market research which revealed confusion over the use of parasiticides in pets and discusses various points to be considered

A RECENT survey carried out by Ceva Animal Health revealed that over 60% of pet owners were confused about what their current anti-parasite product was actually protecting their pet against.

The survey showed that many owners thought their pets were being protected against specific parasites, when in actual fact they were not. This is worrying news because it leaves pets and their families at risk from the parasites themselves as well as vector-borne diseases.

As a profession we have a responsibility to educate and advise clients on the use of prophylactic treatment against parasites to avoid unwanted pain, discomfort and disease in both pets and their owners. Good advice enhances the client’s relationship with your practice and of course the animal-owner bond.

What is important to owners?

A survey by Ipsos market research in 2012 found that owners wanted a parasiticide to be safe, efficacious, work quickly, be easy to use and have a broad spectrum of activity.

There are many licensed products available today, all of which have a high level of efficacy and safety; however, speed of action, spectrum of activity and ease of use do vary considerably. So how do we choose between them? Well, we can actually use these variances to help us decide.

With ectoparasiticides we also have a choice of treatment methods. To bite or not to bite – that is the question!

Topical products

Due to the variation in topical products the following points should be considered:

  • Is both flea and tick protection provided? A product that treats for both is more cost-effective, easier for clients and prevents the need to use two separate products, which may interact with each other.
  • Is repellency and/or anti-feeding activity provided? Products that prevent a parasite from biting benefit the pet by preventing potential pain and discomfort, allergic reactions and disease transmission from the bite.
  • Is it easy for the owner to apply? Is the product easy to open? Will the product leak if put down once opened? Does the application method ensure it gets on the skin rather than the hair? These questions can be easily overlooked but have a direct bearing on the efficacy of a product as well as safety implications for the owner and the household.

    Manufacturers are now developing ways to help the owner, such as easyto-open pipettes that won’t leak if put down once open and new, less messy, ways to apply (e.g. a line-on technique rather than the more “traditional” spoton method). Frequency of application may also affect compliance and a monthly application may be easier to remember than a specific number of weeks.

  • Does the pet require regular shampooing? This may mean that a topical product is less suitable for this pet, although some preparations are waterproof, allowing a level of regular shampooing.

Oral products

Again, there are a number of oral products available, so when choosing one, these points should be considered:

  • Frequency of administration. This currently varies between monthly and three-monthly and different owners will prefer different protocols. A recent survey found that two out of three dog owners found a monthly treatment routine easier to remember than a quarterly one. It is also important to check how many months of the year a product can be used.
  • Does the owner understand their pet must be bitten in order for the parasite to be affected by the product? Oral products are systemic and require the parasite to bite in order to come into contact with active ingredients. Are we making the owner aware that this leaves the pet open to potential discomfort, allergic reactions and vector-borne diseases from parasite bites?


Collars vary hugely in their spectrum of activity and their speed and duration of action.

They are easy to apply but require the physical presence of a collar on the pet and mean that owners and their families can potentially come into contact with the active ingredients whenever they are handling the pet.

And that brings us on to wormers…


The majority of these are oral tablets, with the exception of a few topicals, and as with ectoparasiticides, their spectrums of activity vary considerably. It is important to ensure a pet is protected against both roundworms and tapeworms, as well as considering other worms such as lungworm and heartworm, which can be found in certain areas of the UK and abroad.


When choosing any product, it is important to assess the requirements and lifestyle of each individual pet and family. This should include the household, the pet’s activity, location and potential exposure to various parasites. Once these have been established, a product can be chosen that meets the needs of that client and the pet.

It may be worth considering the different ways in which the products are presented to ensure the greatest level of compliance in each individual case, e.g. will a flavoured tablet help, or does the owner prefer a topical application?

With all this choice it is easy to understand why practices can end up with a plethora of products on their shelves and owners may be confused about the level of protection provided. Thankfully, there is help at hand!

In response to the recent customer survey and anecdotal feedback from the field, Ceva Animal Health has provided solutions to help both owners and veterinary professionals alike make an informed decision when choosing a parasiticide for each pet.

These solutions include an informative educational brochure for clients as well as a clear and concise canine dispensing guide for vets and nurses. For more information, contact a Ceva representative or call 01494 781510.

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