By Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP
Educational Director, VeterinaryPartner.com
Brand Name: Droncit, Interceptor Plus, Milbemax, Profender, Drontal, Drontal Plus, Sentinel Spectrum, Iverhart Plus, Virbantel, Iverhart Max
Available as injectable; 23 mg tablets for cats and 34 mg tablets for dogs; as a topical dewormer combined with emodepside; tablets for dogs combined with milbemycin and lufenuron; tablets for dogs including ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate
How This Medication Is Used
A member of the Taenia genus of tapeworms. Photo courtesy of CDC.
Praziquantel is primarily used against parasites known as cestodes (tapeworms). The common tapeworm of dogs and cats, Dipylidium caninum, is the usual target of this medication although praziquantel is also effective against less common types of tapeworms such as Taenia species and the more dangerous Mesocestoides species and Echinococcus species. Praziquantel is also effective against flukes.
A single treatment of praziquantel should clear a Dipylidium caninum infection although a second treatment is sometimes recommended if it is felt that immediate re-infection is likely. Immediate re-infection might take place if a heavy uncontrolled flea problem is in the pet's environment; Dipylidium caninum is contracted when an infected adult flea harboring a tapeworm larva is eaten.
Praziquantel is also available in combination with other single use oral dewormers as well as with more comprehensive monthly worm protection products. (Numerous brands are available. See the list above.) Such products provide regular deworming against assorted worm parasites. Plain praziquantel is available in non-prescription tablets that may be purchased at pet supply stores. Brand name products, combination products as described above, and injections are available only through veterinarians as they are prescription drugs.
As of late 2007, praziquantel is also available in a topical combination with the anti-parasite drug emodepside. This combination product is applied to the cat's shoulder area and is effective against the tapeworms of the above types as well as hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeformae) and roundworms (Toxocara cati). The brand name of this product is Profender® and is available by prescription. Unlike other roundworm/hookworm dewormers, only a single dose is necessary for this product.
Praziquantel is available in non-prescription tablets that may be purchased at pet supply stores. Brand name products, combination products, and injections are available only through veterinarians as they are prescription drugs.
How This Medication Works
Praziquantel acts by damaging the parasite's skin internally such that the parasite disintegrates and is removed by the host's immune system. Unlike the situation with roundworms, dead tapeworms generally will not be seen passing from the host after deworming.
Injectable praziquantel tends to sting more than most injections and it is not unusual for a pet to scratch at the site or express discomfort immediately following injection.
The oral form of praziquantel tastes bitter and approximately 5% of patients taking it experience nausea.
It has been reported that approximately one cat in ten will experience weakness, salivation, or nausea after a tapeworm injection with praziquantel, but such reactions have been seen far less frequently. This is generally of minor significance and resolves on its own.
Interactions With Other Drugs
The following medications can increase the blood levels of praziquantel: cimetidine (an antacid), ketoconazole (an antifungal), and itraconazole (another antifungal).
Cautions And Concerns
Praziquantel is felt to be safe for use in pregnant patients.
Praziquantel should not be used in puppies under age 4 weeks or kittens under age 6 weeks. The topical Profender product described above is approved for feline use only and is not approved for kittens under age 8 weeks.
Fasting is not necessary prior to praziquantel use and oral praziquantel can be given with or without food.
Tablets should be stored at room temperature away from light exposure.
It is our policy not to give dosing information over the Internet.