Flea and Tick Preventive Products: Consider Your Options

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They’re creepy, they’re crawly…and they can carry diseases. Fleas and ticks are not just a nuisance, but pose animal and human health risks.

They suck your pet’s blood, they suck human blood, and can transmit diseases. Some of the diseases that fleas and ticks can transmit from animals to humans (zoonotic diseases) include plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, bartonellosis and others. That’s why it’s critical to protect your pets from these pesky parasites and keep the creepy crawlies out of your home.

Fortunately, there are many effective flea and tick preventives on the market to help control the pests and prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases.

Knowing what kind of product to use, and how to use it, is critical to the health and safety of your pet. Many are spot-on (topical) products that are applied directly to your pet’s skin, but there are some that are given orally (by mouth). Although medicines and pesticides must meet U.S. government-required safety standards before they can be sold, it is still critical that pet owners carefully consider their flea and tick preventive options (and closely read the label) before they treat their pets with one of these products.

Ask your veterinarian

Consult your veterinarian about your options and what’s best for your pet. Some questions you can ask include:

• What parasites does this product protect against?
• How often should I use/apply the product?
• How long will it take for the product to work?
• If I see a flea or tick, does that mean it’s not working?
• What should I do if my pet has a reaction to the product?
• Is there a need for more than one product?
• How would I apply or use multiple products on my pet?

Parasite protection is not “one-size-fits-all.” Certain factors affect the type and dose of the product that can be used, including the age, species, breed, life style and health status of your pet, as well as any medications your pet is receiving. Caution is advised when considering flea/tick treatment of very young and very old pets. Use a flea comb on puppies and kittens that are too young for flea/tick products. Some products should not be used on very old pets. Some breeds are sensitive to certain ingredients that can make them extremely ill. Flea and tick preventives and some medications can interfere with each other, resulting in unwanted side effects, toxicities, or even ineffective doses; it’s important that your veterinarian is aware of all of your pet’s medications when considering the optimal flea and tick preventive for your pet.

How to protect your pets

To keep your pets safe, we recommend the following:

• Discuss the use of preventive products, including over-the-counter products, with your veterinarian to determine the safest and most effective choice for each pet.
• Always talk to your veterinarian before applying any spot-on products, especially if your dog or cat is very young, old, pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
• Only purchase EPA-registered pesticides or FDA-approved medicines.
• Read the entire label before you use/apply the product.
• Always follow label directions! Apply or give the product as and when directed. Never apply more or less than the recommended dose.
• Cats are not small dogs. Products labeled for use only for dogs should only be used for dogs, and never for cats. Never.
• Make sure that the weight range listed on the label is correct for your pet because weight matters. Giving a smaller dog a dose designed for a larger dog could harm the pet.

One pet may react differently to a product than another pet. When using these products, monitor your pet for any signs of an adverse reaction, including anxiousness, excessive itching or scratching, skin redness or swelling, vomiting, or any abnormal behavior. If you see any of these signs, contact your veterinarian. And most importantly, report these incidents to your veterinarian and the manufacturer of the product so adverse event reports can be filed.

Be aware that certain flea and tick preventives are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while others are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It can seem confusing at first to figure out which agency regulates the product you’re using, but it’s actually pretty straightforward: if the product is regulated by the EPA, there’s an EPA number clearly listed on the package. If it’s regulated by the FDA, there should be a NADA or ANADA number clearly listed on the package. Check the label for either an EPA or an FDA approval statement and number. If you see neither, check with your veterinarian before purchasing and especially before using the product.

• To report problems with EPA-approved pesticides, contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378.
• To report problems with FDA-approved drugs go to How to Report An Adverse Drug Experience or call 1-888-FDA-VETS. Additional reporting information is available on the FDA’s Report a Problem.

photo source: Pexels

source: AVMA

Beware: Algae Can Poison Your Dog

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Dog owners have reported this summer that their pets became fatally ill after swimming in freshwater lakes and ponds, apparently after ingesting water laden with toxic blue-green algae.

Intense blooms have led to swimming bans from lakes in the Pacific Northwest to the entire Mississippi seacoast, to Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest lake. Algal blooms tend to thrive in high temperatures and after heavy rains carry fertilizer runoff and sewage into waterways.

The health threats to animals range from skin rashes to neurological problems. The blooms can release toxins that can cause liver damage, lead to respiratory paralysis or produce other fatal conditions. The danger drew national attention in recent days after a woman in North Carolina lost her three dogs — Harpo, Abby and Izzy — after they had gone swimming in a pond.

Cyanobacteria, the main organisms that produce the toxins that make the freshwater blooms harmful, can cause ailments in people, but dogs are more susceptible because they ingest them, said GreenWater Laboratories, which tests water samples for the toxins.

Sometimes the algae look like grains of floating green sand or scum. They can go undetected by dog owners if they lurk under the water’s surface or attach to plants. Wind can blow algae from one area into another that had previously looked clear.

While the sight and odor of algae repels humans, animals sometimes lap up the water, ingest floating pieces of algae or snap at floating algal balloons. They could fall fatally ill after licking their wet fur. Toxic algae can also dry up into crusts onshore, where dogs might nibble on them.

Brittany Stanton took her 2-year-old golden retriever, Oliver, on Aug. 3 to Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Tex., where he jumped off their kayak into the water.

In a Facebook post, Ms. Stanton said he collapsed after getting out of the water and died at the veterinarian’s office. “It only took one hour from the time we left the water for Oliver to breathe his last breath,” she wrote.

The next day, the city of Austin advised pet owners to keep their animals out of the lake because of the potential presence of harmful algae. On Friday, it said the advisory remained in effect after tests confirmed a neurotoxin from algae had been found in one area called Red Bud Isle.

Morgan and Patrick Fleming of Marietta, Ga., took their Border collie, Arya, to Lake Allatoona, about 35 minutes north of Atlanta, on Saturday, a local television station reported on Monday. The animal became ill and died from what a veterinarian said was “most likely” an algal toxin, it reported.

“It happens every single year in the U.S. and around the world,” Val Beasley, a professor of veterinary, wildlife and ecological toxicology sciences at Pennsylvania State University, said on Monday.

“A lot of times, the neurotoxins will kill the animal before they can get to the veterinarian,” he said. “This time of year is when you have the most numbers of cases and people are out and about with their animals and the conditions are ripe for the cyanobacteria to grow.”

He said that there were no nationwide figures of dog deaths from the poisoning.

Melissa Martin, the owner of the three dogs in North Carolina, said Harpo jumped into a pond in Wilmington, N.C., on Thursday. “He just splashed around in it a little bit,” she said. A few times, he put his face under the water as it he were “bobbing for apples.”

When he got to shore, he apparently got Abby and Izzy, who had stayed out but were muddy, wet with the pond water, she said. When they went home, Ms. Martin started to give Harpo a bath when she heard her wife shriek from the yard.

Abby was having a seizure.

“Her back legs were trembling. Her body was in the shape of a C,” she said. “Burning to the touch.”

Ms. Martin raced Abby to an animal emergency hospital. Their veterinarian was not available to comment on Monday, but Ms. Martin said she was asked whether their other dogs had been around water.

When she said they had been, she was told, “Get your other dogs here right now.” All three animals had been infected she said the vet told her.

“I told him he was such a good boy and he had done so much,” Ms. Martin said, describing her last moments with Harpo, a therapy dog, just before he and the other two dogs died. “He put his paw on my arm.”

photo source: Pexels

source: NY Times

How to Prepare Your Pet Traveling by Airplane

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Traveling with animals can be tricky and stressful, especially if they are like every pet I have ever owned and have a naturally skittish temperament. But there are some steps you can take to make air travel less stressful for them—and you.

Check your airline’s policies

Every airline’s pet policy is different, so before you start booking tickets, make sure the airline you choose can accommodate your pet. Some airlines allow only dogs and cats small enough to fit into a carrier you stow under your seat. Others allow a wider variety of animals, such as household birds and rabbits, and some will transport animals in the plane’s cargo hold, depending on capacity and weather restrictions.
This pet travel policy comparison by People will get you started, but always check with your individual airline for complete details and clarifications. The last thing you want is to show up to the airport with luggage and dog in tow, only to find out that Bailey is three pounds over the airline’s weight limit.
Oh, and while you’re booking, go for a direct flight if at all possible. If your pet will be in the cargo hold, try to also time your flight for their comfort—in the morning or evening hours during the summer and midday during the winter to avoid extreme temperatures.

Go to the vet

Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian shortly before your flight to make sure the animal is in good health and all vaccinations are up to date. You may need a health certificate dated within 10 days of your departure for travel within the continental United States, and foreign travel may come with additional requirements; be sure to research requirements specific to other countries ahead of time.

Choose the right carrier

In all cases, your pet’s carrier should be as compact as possible while also being roomy enough for the animal to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. Soft-sided carriers are great for stowing under your seat in the cabin; hard-sided carriers with holes for ventilation are better for animals traveling in the cargo hold. Each airline’s pet policy should have detailed carrier-size requirements; measure it ahead of time to be sure it fits within their guidelines.

The American Veterinarian Medical Association also suggests that travel crates:

• Be strong and free of interior protrusions, with handles or grips.
• Have a leak-proof bottom with plenty of absorbent material.
• Be ventilated on opposite sides, with exterior knobs and rims that will not block airflow.

You’ll also want to make sure the animal is familiar with and comfortable in the carrier before you take flight. Let them test it out on trips around town for a few weeks before your scheduled trip if they’re not already used to resting in it.

Make sure they can be identified

Your pet should be wearing identification tags and you should label the carrier with their name, your contact information and the information of someone who could be contacted in your destination city. A permanent identification method, such as a microchip, is also a good idea. And carry a photo of your pet with you on the flight in case they become lost and an employee needs to go searching for them.

Should you sedate?

The AMVA says you should not tranquilize your pet for air travel because it may increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems. Short-nosed dogs and cats, in particular, can have more difficulty with travel, the AVMA says. Plus, a sedated animal may not be able to brace itself to prevent injury.

Preparing them to board

You don’t want to starve or dehydrate your pet before a flight, but you also don’t want them to be stressed out and holding it for hours on end. Talk to your veterinarian about the best feeding schedule, depending on your pet’s size and dietary needs, for your travel days.

If it at all possible, it’s usually best for an animal to fly on a fairly empty stomach, hydrated (but not overly so) and after having enough exercise prior to the flight to make it easier for them to remain in the crate for the duration.

Research ahead of time whether your airport has a grassy patch or “dog-relief area” so you can take them out for one last pit stop before the main event.

photo source: Pexels

source: Life Hacker

Is Sunscreen Safe for Your Pet?

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When you are outside on a summer day, sunscreen is usually something you have on hand. We are all aware of the risks of prolonged sun exposure in people—from superficial wrinkles to dangerous skin cancer and damaging burns—and using sunscreen can help prevent all these things. While sunscreen is good for us, what about our pets?

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) gets a lot of calls about sunscreen and pets. Common questions are whether it’s toxic, or if animals need to wear it. So, we’ve put together a handy guide to answer all your burning questions below!

Do Fido and Whiskers Need Sun Protection?

Does your pet need to wear sunscreen? Well, skin cancer is seen in pets, but that doesn’t mean that sunscreen is necessarily the answer. Pets with white or light-colored fur tend to be more predisposed to skin cancer than other pets. Light-colored pets are prone to developing skin cancer from the sun on their nose, the tips of the ears and around their eyelids and lips. But instead of using sunscreen, you should be mindful and limit their time in the bright sunshine during peak hours. Limiting your pet’s time in the hot summer sun also prevents overheating and dehydration.

Pet-Friendly Doesn’t Always Mean Safe

While there are some sunscreen products marketed for pets, they are usually not tested by the FDA. So the effectiveness of these products is unknown.

The main ingredients to avoid when picking a sunscreen for pets are zinc oxide and a group of chemicals referred to as salicylates. With repeated exposure to zinc oxide on the skin, pets can develop zinc toxicity, which can damage the red blood cells. Salicylates are products in the same category as aspirin, and when applied to the skin, your pet may develop mild skin redness and irritation. If you do pick a veterinarian-approved sunscreen for your pet, make sure it does not contain zinc oxide, and make sure it has a low concentration of salicylates.

However, if your pet eats the sunscreen that’s when real problems can occur.

If your pet eats sunscreen, they can develop stomach upset and will likely vomit; they may even have some diarrhea. If they eat a very large amount of sunscreen, the salicylates in the sunscreen can potentially cause ulcers in the stomach and even liver damage, although this is very unlikely. The zinc oxide in some products can contribute to stomach upset and possibly an allergic reaction, which can lead to swelling of the face and hives on your pet. In addition to the ingredients found in the sunscreen, if your pet eats the tube that the sunscreen came in, it can cause a blockage in their stomach or intestines, which can require surgery.

Prevention Is Always Key

The best way to keep your pet safe from the sun is to talk to your veterinarian to determine what products, if any, your pet may need. When out in the sun, make sure you are limiting your pet’s time and taking breaks from the sunshine, especially during peak afternoon hours.

And when you’re out sunbathing or lounging poolside yourself, don’t forget to keep an eye on your skincare products. Keep any products far out of paws’ reach!

If you have questions about whether to use sunscreen on your pet, or which products to use, contact your local veterinarian. If your pet develops a reaction to a product or gets into your supply of sunscreen, please contact an emergency veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 for guidance.

photo source: ASPCA

source: ASPCA

Health Issues to Look for When You Have an Older Dog

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All dogs get older. And like us, dogs age at different rates, especially dogs of different breeds and size.

For example, giant breed dogs like Great Danes are generally considered to be a senior by roughly 5-6 years old, whereas a smaller breed dog like a Chihuahua would probably only enter the senior stage at 10-11 years.

As your beloved dog enters his senior years, you should be prepared for certain changes that might occur in your dog’s health. Visit your veterinarian regularly; many vets recommend twice a year for senior dogs.

If you notice any of the following issues, talk to your veterinarian to determine the course of treatment.

1. Vision Loss and Other Eye Problems

Has your dog begun bumping into things, falling or displaying signs of eye discomfort (redness, cloudiness, etc.)? He may be suffering from vision loss or an eye disorder.

Deteriorating eyesight is part of the normal aging process for dogs. Many dogs will develop a cloudiness in their lens as they age, and though this is normal, it does decrease the precision of their eyesight.

Even though it may be due to aging, take your pet to the vet to rule out treatable eye diseases such as corneal damage, dry eye syndrome or conjunctivitis. Cataracts can also be treated surgically.

Loss of vision is usually irreversible, but there are certain things you can do to help your dog adjust. Ask your veterinarian for tips on handling senior dogs with vision loss.

2. Increased/Strained Urination

Increased urination or straining to urinate may be an indicator of kidney disease or urinary tract infection, both of which are more commonly seen in middle-aged to older dogs.

Fortunately, urinary incontinence and strained urination can often be alleviated with prescription dog medication or dietary changes. Urinary incontinence quickly leads to uncomfortable urinary tract infections. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect a problem.

3. Bad Breath, Bloody Gums and Other Oral Problems

If you haven’t been diligent on brushing your dog’s teeth or bringing him in to the vet’s office regularly for a professional cleaning, he’s probably beginning to display the signs of oral diseases (bad breath, excessive drooling, gum inflammation and loose teeth).

Dental hygiene, after all, is primarily about good maintenance. However, it’s not too late to start. Take your dog to your veterinarian and discuss how you can resolve the issues and prevent them from occurring in the future.

4. Lumps, Bumps and Other Skin Problems

Your dog may encounter skin and coat issues at any age, but he is more susceptible to them as he gets older. These may show up as rashes, lesions, swelling, lumps, dry skin or hair loss in dogs.

But there are often things your veterinarian can do to help alleviate the symptoms (such as make dietary changes) or even cure the underlying cause of the issue.

Many dogs develop lumps under their skin as they age. Lipomas, or fatty growths, are common and benign—meaning they pose no problem for your pet.

However, fatty growths and other more dangerous growths can look very similar, so it is best to have them evaluated by your veterinarian.

Lumps are of increased concern when they are new, when they grow, or if they change shape, color or size.

5. Weight Gain or Loss

Some older dogs have difficulty maintaining their weight and may need a dog food with a higher calorie content or better palatability, while other dogs tend to gain weight and may need a diet for less active dogs.

Neither being overweight nor underweight is ideal for your dog. Overweight and obese dogs, for instance, have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even cancer.

Discuss with your veterinarian when it would be appropriate for your dog to switch from an adult dog to a senior dog diet. Ask about the benefits of therapeutic diets, which can provide key benefits to help manage conditions commonly associated with aging dogs.

In addition, devise an age-appropriate exercise routine for your senior dog with the help of your vet. A proper diet and exercise plan can be important in delaying the signs of aging and increasing your dog’s longevity.

6. Difficulty Playing and Getting Around

It may be hard for you to see your previously active dog having difficulty getting around the house or playing fetch like before, but joint issues such as arthritis are common in older dogs.

Discuss with your veterinarian whether dietary changes (such as the addition of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids) would be helpful. Dog ramps and orthopedic dog beds can also help you accommodate your senior dog’s less-mobile state.

Physical rehabilitation can also reverse some mobility losses and is a valuable tool for aging pets.

7. Behavior and Memory Problems

Changes in your dog’s behavior may be a normal part of aging or a symptom of a disease like dog dementia (canine cognitive dysfunction).

Therefore, you need to consult your veterinarian should he exhibit signs of confusion, disorientation, memory loss, irritability, unusual pacing or other personality changes.

Some specific signs of canine cognitive dysfunction include staying awake or pacing at night, having urinary accidents and forgetting cues (e.g., sit, stay) that he once knew.

photo source: Pexels
source: Pet MD