Fighting parasitic infestations is a never-ending war for many pet owners. Parasites cause nutrient deficiencies and disease. Fleas cause itching and contribute to the spread of other parasites and diseases, notably tapeworms. One product that helps with flea and parasite control is Advantage Multi, a prescription product manufactured by Bayer Animal Health. The product is made in separate formulations for dogs and cats and is available through a licensed veterinary medical professional.
Advantage is a brand name medication containing the active chemicals imidacloprid and moxidectin.
Imidacloprid is an insecticide that inhibits nervous system receptors in fleas. The chemical blocks the chemical acetylcholine, which allows an insect's nervous system to send electrical signals throughout the body. When the acetylcholine receptors are blocked, fleas, chewing lice, ear mites and flea larvae are paralysed and cannot breathe or perform bodily functions. After a period of time, the insects die.
Moxidectin works in a similar manner against heartworms, hookworms and roundworms.
Bayer Animal Health states that Advantage Multi stops fleas from biting in three to five minutes. This is based on a 1999 study by Heinz Melhorn, Norbert Mencke and Olaf Hansen. Bayer also states that within 12 hours after the application of Advantage Multi, 99 per cent to 100 per cent of the extant adult fleas die. Flea larvae are killed within 20 minutes and chewing lice are exterminated within a month. The difference in time is because of the difference in the insects' brain structures.
Moxidectin eliminates gastrointestinal parasites and heartworms in one to two weeks and prevents reinfestation, according to "Applied Pharmacology for Veterinary Technicians."
In addition to the quick relief from biting adult fleas, Advantage Multi for dogs and cats is a water insoluble, or waterproof, topical medication. If you bathe your dog or cat or take your pet swimming, Advantage Multi remains on the body.
Advantage Multi is an oil-based product that collects in your pet's hair follicles and is released over a period of time. One application offers cats and dogs protection for one month.
Despite targeting insects, imidicloprid is a poison. The National Pesticide Information Center states that the mode of action for the chemical targets insect brains more than animal brains, but caution should be maintained because the product is of moderate toxicity.
Animals with a sensitivity to imidicloprid or moxidectin should not be given Advantage Multi. In addition, dogs and cats who have a compromised immune system, or are sick, nursing, pregnant, younger than 6 weeks of age or extremely old should not use it.
Do not use Advantage Multi for dogs on cats and vice versa. The drug concentration in each formulation is different. Improper use may result in overdose or adverse effects.
Possible side effects for dogs include irritation, itching or redness at the site of application, decreased energy levels, hyperactivity and anorexia. Side effects in cats include lethargy, agitation, changes in grooming behaviour, anxiety, discomfort at the site of application, increased salivation and thirst, and coughing.
Signs of a serious adverse reaction in both animals include swelling of the face or throat, hives, scratching to the point of injury, diarrhoea, vomiting, seizures, pale gums, reduced circulation, coma and death.
- "Applied Pharmacology for Veterinary Technicians;" Boyce Wanamaker; 2009
- Parasitology Research; "Effects of Imidacloprid on Adult and Larval Stages of the Flea Ctenocephalides felis after In vivo and In vitro Application, a Light- and Electron-microscopy Study"; H. Mehlhorn, H. Menke, O. Hansen; 1999
- National Pesticide Information Center: Imidacloprid (PDF)