You can pick up some flea and worming treatment for your dog from the pet shop or supermarket for a few pounds, why should you spend more on products from your vet?
There are three main categories of parasite control products:
These are classified by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) as Authorised Veterinary Medicine – General Sales List (AVM-GSL). They are considered to have a wide safety range and can be supplied by anyone without any special advice.
Many of these products are quite old compounds (including organophosphates), and there is increasing resistance to these products by fleas so many are ineffective. I have seen numerous flea-infested animals which have been treated with these products. They are the cheapest option but if they do not work, that is a waste of money!
Supplied by non-veterinary surgeons
There are two VMD categories that fall in this section – Non-food animal – veterinarian, pharmacist, suitably qualified person (NFA-VPS) and Prescription-only medicine – veterinarian, pharmacist, suitably qualified person (POM-VPS). Most dog parasite medication will fall in the NFA-VPS category.
These medications can only be supplied by a veterinary surgeon, pharmacist or suitably qualified person (i.e. someone who has undergone specialist training in these medicines). If in a pet shop, these are the products sealed in locked cabinets. They are usually effective products against the parasites they are designed to treat, but may be quite limited in their capabilities (i.e. only targeting a limited number of parasites). These will tend to be mid-range products, they are not often sold in supermarkets but may be bought in certain pet shops, online pet shops and veterinary practices.
Prescription-only medication (POM-V)
These are the more expensive products and can only be prescribed by a qualified veterinary surgeon. They tend to be the newer products with higher efficacy. Many target multiple parasites. Lungworm, for example, is a potentially deadly parasite and there is no non-prescription product that will protect against this.
They may be obtained from your veterinary practice, or from an online pharmacy when you have a written prescription from your veterinary surgeon.
Which should I choose?
Your vet or vet nurse is the best person to advise on the parasites which your dog is at risk of. If your dog is at risk of lungworm (most dogs in the UK), a prescription-only medication is the only option to protect against this. This may be combined with a flea treatment, or an all-encompassing wormer.
If you only wish to protect your dog against fleas, roundworms or tapeworm, you could consider NFA-VPS products and your suitably qualified person should be able to advise you on the best combination.
If you are travelling with your pet, the parasite risk to them increases significantly. Always speak to your vet to discuss the best protection for your pet.
I would not recommend using AVM-GSL products for parasite control.