JustOneMorePet

Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

New Parasite Prevalence Maps Help Pet Owners Prepare

 Dr. Becker at Dr. Mercola.com

Story at-a-glance
  • The Companion Animal Parasite Council now provides online maps pet owners can use to see if the area they live in or plan to visit has parasite problems. The maps are a good tool to find general information about the presence of parasites in counties and states across the country. But they shouldn’t be used as a tool to scare pet owners into subjecting their animals to a barrage of potentially toxic chemicals.
  • The best way to protect pets from parasites is not to put them on monthly, year-round preventive drugs. Under certain circumstances, chemical preventives may be necessary, but they should not be used indiscriminately. They carry side effects like every drug, and their overuse is contributing to the problem of parasite resistance to these preventives.
  • No matter what parasite preventives you use, including chemical agents, your pet can still attract pests and parasites. In fact, even animals loaded with chemicals to the point of toxicosis can still acquire parasites.
  • Do all you can to avoid parasites, relying on natural preventives as much as possible, and then have your vet run a SNAP 4Dx test every six months to check for the presence of heartworm and tick borne diseases, as well as a stool sample to check for GI parasites.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) has redesigned its website1 for pet owners and now features a set of maps you can check for information on parasite prevalence in a specific area.

If you’re only interested in heartworm disease, you can select your state from a drop-down menu on the right side of the home page to see the infection risk for your state. If you’d like more extensive information, you can view the entire U.S. map.

If you choose the second option, you can find out the risk for several different diseases for dogs and cats individually, by state. The maps include infection rates for:

  • Tick borne diseases (Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis)
  • Intestinal parasites (roundworm, hookworm and whipworm)
  • Heartworm

You can also click on a state and see infection rates for individual counties, then hover your mouse over a county to see its name.

According to Dr. Christopher Carpenter, executive director of CAPC, "Our unique parasite prevalence maps provide localized statistics about diseases that affect dogs and cats in consumers’ backyards, and we update them monthly."

Keep Your Pet Safe from Overuse of Parasite Preventives

I think these maps are useful for pet owners looking for general information about the prevalence of a certain disease in a certain location. The intent of the maps is to "… help drive clinic visits," according to Dr. Carpenter, because "People respond to and appreciate it when experts share pertinent information."

He goes on to say that CAPC hopes veterinarians leverage the maps "… to strengthen client relationships and consistently ‘tap consumers on the shoulder’ with facts that underscore the risk of parasitic disease that exists everywhere."

Since the Companion Animal Parasite Council is sponsored by a "Who’s Who" list of major veterinary drug manufacturers, I think it’s safe to assume the real intent of the maps is to get pet owners to buy into the belief that every dog and cat in the country should be on parasite preventives year-round.

And while I agree pet owners appreciate learning information pertinent to the health of their furry family members, I think it’s extremely irresponsible of veterinarians to encourage the overuse of parasite preventives. These drugs, like all drugs, have side effects.

Just because a drug is used as a preventive doesn’t automatically put it in the category of "better safe than sorry." This is a lesson the traditional veterinary community is slowly learning about vaccines. Every single thing we put into or onto an animal should be carefully assessed to insure its benefits outweigh its risks.

And keep in mind that even pets loaded down to the point of toxicosis with chemical preventives still frequently wind up with pests and parasites. There is no absolutely foolproof method for keeping every single pet protected from every single pest.

Around this time last year I saw my first dog patient with Lyme disease AND heartworm disease – conditions she acquired while taking a monthly, year-round heartworm preventive drug AND a spot-on flea/tick preventive prescribed by her regular vet. This is a good illustration of the ineffectiveness of some of these drugs, as well as the fact that parasites are growing resistant to them because they are being overused.

Preventing Tick Borne Diseases

  • In the spring, summer and fall, avoid tick-infested areas.
  • If you live where ticks are a significant problem, check your pet for the little blood suckers twice each day. Look over his entire body, including hidden crevices like those in the ear, underneath his collar, in the webs of his feet, and underneath his tail. If you find a tick, make sure to remove it safely.
  • Use a safe tick repellent like Natural Flea and Tick Defense. If you live in a Lyme endemic region of the U.S., your veterinarian will probably recommend you use a chemical repellent. Remember: it’s important to investigate the risks and benefits of any medication before you give it to your pet. Natural repellents are NOT the same as toxic preventives … they are not a guarantee your pet won’t be bitten by ticks….they only reduce the likelihood of infestation. So frequent tick checks are really important.
  • Create strong vitality and resilience in your dog or cat by feeding a species-appropriate diet. Parasites are attracted to weaker animals. By enhancing your pet’s vitality, you can help her avoid the ill effects of a tick borne disease.

Preventing Intestinal Parasites

  • Puppies and kittens can get intestinal parasites from an infected mother – either across the placenta or from their mother’s milk.
  • Beyond that, most pets acquire intestinal worms by eating infected poop. So the best way to prevent infection is to make sure your pet’s environment is clean and ‘feces-free.’ Pick up your pet’s poop and make sure she doesn’t have access to infective feces from wild or stray animals around your property or anywhere else outdoors.
  • Whipworm eggs in the environment are extremely resilient and resistant to most cleaning methods and freezing temperatures as well. They can be dried out with strong agents like agricultural lime, but the best way to decontaminate a whipworm-infested area is to replace the soil with new soil or another substrate.
  • Keep your pet’s GI tract in good shape and resistant to parasites by feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet. I also recommend either periodic or regular probiotic supplementation to insure a good balance of healthy bacteria in your pet’s colon, as well as a good quality pet digestive enzyme.
  • Have your vet check a sample of your pet’s stool twice a year for GI parasites.

What You Need to Know About Heartworm Disease Prevention

According to heartworm preventive dosing maps, there are only a few areas of the U.S. where dosing your dog with 9 months to year-round heartworm medicine might be advisable. Those locations are in Texas and Florida, and a few other spots along the Gulf coast. The rest of the country runs high exposure risk at from 3 to 7 months. The majority of states are at 6 months or less.

Preventives don’t actually stop your dog from getting heartworms. What these chemicals do is kill off the worm larvae at the microfilaria stage. These products are insecticides designed to kill heartworm larvae inside your pet. As such, they have the potential for short and long-term side effects damaging to your canine companion’s health.

To reduce your pet’s risk of exposure to heartworms, control mosquitoes:

  • Use a non-toxic insect barrier in your yard and around the outside of your home.
  • Don’t take your pet around standing water. Eliminate as much standing water as possible around your home and yard by cleaning your rain gutters regularly and aerating ornamental ponds and decorative water gardens.
  • Stay out of wet marshes and thickly wooded areas.
  • Keep your pet indoors during early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are thickest.
  • Make liberal use of a safe, effective pet pest repellent like my Natural Flea and Tick Defense.

If You MUST Use a Chemical Heartworm Preventive …

If you live in an area of the U.S. where mosquitoes are common and you know your pet’s risk of exposure to heartworm disease is significant, here are my recommendations for protecting your precious furry family member:

  • With guidance from a holistic vet, try using natural preventives like heartworm nosodes rather than chemicals. Make sure to do heartworm testing every 3 to 4 months (not annually) as natural heartworm preventives can’t guarantee your pet will never acquire the disease.
  • If your dog’s kidneys and liver are healthy, try using a chemical preventive at the lowest effective dosage. This could mean having the drug compounded if necessary for dogs weighing in at the low end of dosing instructions. Give the treatment at 6-week intervals rather than at 4 weeks, for the minimum number of months required during mosquito season.
  • Remember, heartworms live in your pet’s bloodstream, so natural GI (gastrointestinal) dewormers, such as diatomaceous earth, and anti-parasitic herbs (such as wormwood and garlic) are not effective at killing larvae in your pet’s bloodstream.
  • Avoid all-in-one chemical products claiming to get rid of every possible GI worm and external parasites as well. As an example, many heartworm preventives also contain dewormers for intestinal parasites. Remember – less is more. The goal is to use the least amount of chemical necessary that prevents heartworm. Adding other chemicals to the mix adds to the toxic load your pets’s body must contend with. Also avoid giving your pet a chemical flea/tick preventive during the same week.
  • Follow up a course of heartworm preventive pills with natural liver detox agents like milk thistle and SAMe, in consultation with your holistic vet.
  • Always have your vet do a heartworm test before beginning any preventive treatment. A protocol I put in place in my clinic last year is to run a SNAP 4Dx blood test every 6 months on dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors during warmer weather. The 4Dx tests for heartworm and tick borne diseases. Because parasites are becoming resistant to overused chemical preventives, the sooner you can identify infection in your pet, the sooner a protocol can be instituted to safely treat the infection with fewer long-term side effects.

References:  1 Pets and Parasites

July 22, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Allergies and Springtime Ailments in Pets

Help Stop the Itch-And-Scratch-Bite-And-Lick!

Itch Scratch Bite Lick

Allergies can cause misery for pets and humans alike. But allergies in animals are not always easy to diagnose and treat.

All dogs and cats can get allergies, and the most common reaction is scratching.

Allergies are a real head-banger. They are frustrating for vets, they’re frustrating for clients and the dogs and cats itch like crazy so we know it is frustrating for them. Allergies are very challenging to diagnose accurately because it’s a diagnosis of exclusion. It takes a lot of money and a lot of time. It takes a very dedicated owner.

There are four kinds of pet allergies: airborne (tree, grass and weed pollen; mold, mildew and dust mites), fleas, food and contact (like carpeting or detergent). The most common pet allergy comes from fleas.

People and pets can cause each other problems: People can be allergic to pet hair or dander and pets can be allergic to products humans use.

Most pet allergies cause scratching. Some other symptoms include discoloration of hair between toes, rashes, open sores, watery eyes, ear infections, runny noses, vomiting and diarrhea.

Most pet owners will try to help their pets with allergies, The signs are so annoying and so significant, it rarely goes untreated. The scratching drives owners crazy. Beyond money, it takes time. If a pet is hurting, the owner wants a quick fix and it can take months, going on years, to find the answer.

Flea allergies pose unique problems. “One flea can jump on a dog, bite it and keep it symptomatic for seven days.

h/t to the Arbor Hills Veterinary Centre

 

FLEA & TICK REPELLENT DOG FOOD RECIPE

NOTES:

  1. USE ONCE A MONTH TO CONTROL FLEAS & TICKS.
  2. IF YOU DO NOT FEED RAW EGG; THEN, ADD EGG TO THE MEAT WHILE STILL HOT.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked hamburger meat, fat drained
  • 1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast
  • 1 fresh garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 raw egg

Directions:

  1. Cook hamburger meat in skillet until browned, set aside to cool.
  2. Combine egg, garlic, and brewer’s yeast.
  3. Add mixture from step 2 to hamburger meat, stir until blended well.
  4. Serve a little warm.

Related:

10 Dangerous Everyday Things in Your Home

Harmony and Health – Creating Wellness for Your Pet

Does Lead in Toys Pose Danger to Pets?

 

JustOneMorePet – Photo by PetMD

March 22, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Health, Pets | , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Don’t Get Ticked Off By Lyme Disease

Summer is upon us and for many folks that means spending time outdoors,  hiking, camping, walking and exploring forests and wooded areas. It also means working and playing in your own backyard.Tick Warning

No matter where you live in the continental United States, you are at risk for the tick-borne illness known as Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks harbor these bacteria and spread it when feeding on animals and humans. People in the Northeast, Midwest and Northwest are at highest risk, but these ticks can be found in any grassy or heavily wooded area — even your own backyard!

Signs and Symptoms

Most cases of Lyme disease start with a rash that looks like a bump, and then grows into something like a bull’s eye, as illustrated below. lime

This rash is called erythema migrans, and can start where the tick bite occurred. It happens in 70-80% of Lyme disease cases. Flu-like symptoms can also occur, such as fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and headache. The symptoms and pattern of Lyme disease can vary from person to person because the illness can affect many different body systems.

If you develop a rash and flu-like symptoms and feel that you may have contracted Lyme disease, you should seek medical attention. At this point in time, treatment is easy and can prevent the serious and sometimes severe complications of Lyme disease. Your doctor can fully evaluate and examine you for the illness. There is a blood test that can check to see if you have Lyme disease, but this test does take a few weeks after exposure to show a positive result.

If your doctor feels you have the early stages of Lyme disease, he or she will probably offer you a 10-14 day course of oral antibiotics to kill the bacteria and prevent complications. As the blood test can take some time before it becomes positive, oral antibiotics are recommended as a preventative.

If Not Treated…

What are the complications? It is amazing that a tick-borne illness can produce such serious issues. If not treated, severe joint pain can develop associated with swelling and redness. The knees are the most common joints affected, but the pain and swelling can move from joint to joint, a condition known as migratory arthritis.

People with untreated Lyme disease also can develop neurological problems. These include meningitis, Bell’s palsy (facial nerve paralysis), and numbness and weakness in the arms and legs. These problems can persist for months, even years, in an untreated infection, and can be very debilitating. Some people also develop an irregular heartbeat, eye problems, hepatitis and very severe chronic fatigue.

Take Precautions

You may be bitten by a deer tick and not even know it because it doesn’t hurt or sting. The tick attaches to your skin and eventually the Lyme disease bacteria will get into your bloodstream. This usually takes 48 hours. Common sense precautions include wearing protective clothing when in wooded/grassy areas and using a tick repellant containing a strong concentration of DEET —10 to 30%. Oil of lemon eucalyptus can also be used as a preventive. Do not use these products on children under the age of 3.

Checking yourself for ticks after possible exposure and removing the tick greatly lessens your chance of getting Lyme disease. Just grasp the tick with tweezers and remove as much of it as possible. Lastly, maintaining your yard by keeping the grass mowed and brush trimmed will keep the tick population down.

Your pets are also at risk for deer tick bites, and they should be checked carefully for ticks and/or a rash after being outdoors. Also, there have been cases of Lyme disease where people weren’t in the woods or grassy areas, so be aware of your risk just spending time outdoors.

Using these precautions and preventive strategies, you greatly reduce your chance of getting a deer tick bite and developing Lyme disease. If you are bitten by a tick, you now know what the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are and can seek early medical attention to prevent the serious complications of the disease.

So, enjoy this summer and the great outdoors to the fullest…and protect yourself against Lyme disease!

By Lisa Forgione, MD

[Ed. Note: Lisa Forgione, MD, is an Emergency Medicine Physician, a Diplomate of ABFM and a Member of AAFP and NCAFP.  She has received several Physicians Recognition Awards for teaching from the AMA and AAFP.  Dr. Forgione was recently selected as one of the Top Family Doctors of 2009 by the Consumers’ Research Council of America.]

Source:  True Health Is True Wealth  

Posted: Just One More Pet

May 15, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments