Simparica Trio for Dogs: right for you? How to know

There has been so much buzz, since March, 2020, about Simparica Trio, an all-in-one medication that promises to keep your dog bug-free….but is Simparica Trio right for your dog?

Simparica Trio protects dogs from heartworms and other worms, plus fleas and ticks, all in one chewable pill.  It is more expensive than using two different preventatives, but it is much more convenient.  This medication contains a powerful Sarolaner, a powerful isoxasoline drug, which the FDA warns can produce serious adverse effects in dogs; pointing to a survey, which revealed that most dogs suffered at least one side effect.  Cautious owners may opt for separate products, including a topical flea/tick preventative, such as Frontline Gold.

Parasites are one of the biggest downsides to owning a dog.  That is why veterinarians recommend putting our pets on medications to prevent infestations of fleas, ticks, and worms, not to mention the diseases they bring.  It can be a challenge, though, to juggle the separate medicines needed to control these pests.  If you’re considering using the all-in-one medicine, Simparica Trio, read on for a balanced, unbiased look at the pros and cons. Note: I am not an affiliate for Sarolaner.  I am, however, an Amazon affiliate; so if you opt for a topical, I hope you will take advantage of the link provided above.

What does the Manufacturer Say About Simparica Trio?

According to their website, it is  a tasty, liver-flavored nugget, and is “approved for puppies as young as 8 weeks old weighing 2.8 lbs or more.”  They also say you can give it without food.  I would not recommend this – A survey (linked above) shows that more than 1/3 of all dogs suffered nausea and vomiting from this medication…and I’m guessing that it was the third who took it on an empty stomach.

The manufacturer, Zoetis Petcare, claims a stunning 100% prevention rate against heartworm “disease.”  Notice how they specify that.  Heartworm medications typically do not prevent heartworms, they just kill them before they get big enough to make your dog sick.

They go on to say that “heartworm disease is a year-round threat that has been diagnosed in all 50 states.” Again, they’re a bit tricky in the wording, being careful NOT to say that it is a year-round threat in every state.  Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites.  No mosquitos means no bites, and no heartworms.  I know many people who err on the side of caution, but I tend to give my dog’s body a break from this medication during the winter months.

Comparing  Simparica Trio with your Current Preventatives

I currently give my greyhound NexGard (afoxolaner) chewables for flea/tick protection, and Heartgard Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel). Let’s see how that stacks up, costwise, against Simparica Trio:

What is in Simparica Trio?

According to the FDA, Simparica Trio contains the following active ingredients:

  • “Sarolaner was first approved by the FDA in 2016 to treat and control flea and tick infestations. 
  • Moxidectin was first approved by the FDA in 1997 for the prevention of heartworm disease in dogs. 
  • Pyrantel Pamoate was first approved in 1977 for the treatment and control of adult roundworms and adult hookworms in dogs.” 

One thing you should be aware of is the Sarolaner.  It is in the Isoxasoline class of drugs, which has been found to trigger seizures and lameness in some dogs.  This class of drugs is what brought about the advent of the chewable; as opposed to the topical, flea preventative, which contains a different active ingredient.  This excellent video gives a good overview of the problem, as covered in 2018, by CRIS 6 News of South Texas:

Does your Dog Really Need to be on All These Medications?

According to Innovative Veterinary Care, perhaps not.  Prescription medications always carry a risk of side effects.  When deciding on treatments for our pets, it is important to weigh these risks against the desired benefits.  IVC clearly states that:

“If your client’s pets are not prone to fleas, or they do not live in a tick-infested area, there is no reason to give them flea and tick medications as preventatives.”

Innovative Veterinary Care

When I read that, I recalled that the Companion Animal Parasite Council has a series of interactive maps that can show the user exactly what’s going on with pests in their area.  I will link to that below, so you can make informed decisions as to exactly which products are necessary.  

An “informed decision” is not necessarily black and white, so a one-size-fits-all medication like Simparica Trio won’t be right for everybody.  For example, my area has a longer tick season than it does mosquito season.  On top of that, it’s too cold for either, for a long stretch of the year.  Because of that, I give Lily Heartgard Plus for 4-6 months, depending on the weather; and Nexgard for 3-4 months.  The rest of the time, the bugs are simply not very active here.  On top of that, Lily is at the very bottom of Nexgard’s weight range for a “large” dog, so I cut it in half.  Even at this dose, it is very effective; so that cuts the cost in half, for us.  

In the near future, however, my costs are going to drop even more.  Here’s why:

Alternatives to Simparica Trio

Last Fall, my Lily had an odd sort of “fit.”  She’s been fine since; but I am planning to go back to using Frontline, after reading about the side effects from these flea/tick oral drugs!  I was shocked to learn that 2 out of 3 dogs experience side effects from them, with a significant amount of them being quite serious.  Even if Lily’s episode was not caused by the medication, it does point to the possibility that she is too sensitive to take a medication that has been known to cause neurological problems.  Take a look at the below infographic:

drug warning

Resources for Further Exploration

Find out about current parasite activity in your area here.

Read about Simparica Trio directly from its manufacturer.

The FDA’s original press release, announcing their approval of Simparica Trio

IVC’s full discourse on flea med danger

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too!

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