PROTECT YOUR PET: SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

I feel like I blinked and suddenly it was spring! In North Carolina, it felt like we had one bad cold spell bringing us small showers of ice then suddenly I look up, and spring has sprung! The dogwoods are in full blossom, and daffodils are poking up everywhere I walk. If you are a pet owner, you know what this means….the dreaded FLEA will be here any day now. Tis the season where Louis comes with us everywhere: from dog parks to breweries to friend’s houses. It’s important to keep him protected against certain parasites that start to come out full force. In the south, this can mean from March-November at least! Boston, you may be ok for another month or so ; ) As a vet, however, I am always worried about them year round so it’s important to know they are at risk for parasites any time of year (certain months more than others).

What are these parasites I speak of? This is anything from heartworms to intestinal parasites to fleas. Today, I am going to focus my attention on fleas as they tend to cause me the most trouble down south with clients. I find people get extremelyyyy frustrated when they get a flea infestation in the house, and I don’t blame them. These little bugs multiply faster than Octo-Mom! My best strategy is that of prevention. Always protect your pet, and you shouldn’t have a problem!

My current *winning combo* is Sentinel Spectrum and Bravecto. It is absolutely amazing and protects Louis against everything I need it to down south. Sentinel Spectrum is a monthly oral chewable that works against heartworms, intestinal parasites (hookworms, roundworms, whipworms), de-worms for tapeworms, and works against the larval form of fleas. Now do you see that last phrase (larval form of fleas)? Almost all heartworm preventatives don’t prevent against adult fleas. So, you need to add this in to get the best protection. That’s where Bravecto (my new love) comes in. This is a chewable tablet that works against adult fleas and ticks for 3 months. That’s right….3 months! I have started shying away from the topical products because a lot of them can cause issues with my cats if they were to get into contact with Louis’s skin when I apply it. Make sure to read the label of your product before using it on dogs if you have cats as well.

For cats, I am always going to be in love with Revolution. All you need for most cats is this one product. This topical preventative works against heartworms, intestinal parasites (hookworms, roundworms), adult fleas, and ear mites. For an indoor or outdoor cat, this is what you need. Cats are meticulous groomers so ticks don’t tend to be as much of a problem compared to dogs. If your area is heavily populated with ticks, then you may need an additional product. Now, on my high horse here…even if your cat is indoors, they can still get these parasites. When it gets nice and warm outside, we are all guilty of opening windows and porch doors to let in the breeze. This puts your indoor cat at risk for fleas and heartworms (from mosquitos).

I am by no means endorsed by these products or getting any compensation. They have just become what I trust for my pet’s lifestyles. There are so many products out there so I have to try them to then narrow down my focus to what product I love and trust. I can’t get into the nitty-gritty of every product, so I have supplied you with some questions to help you determine what is best for your furry friend. You can pose these questions to your vet or simply use good ole google to help you peruse each drug company’s website.

Questions to help you choose the right preventative –> 

1) What parasites is your pet at risk for contracting? (based on region, climate, etc)

2) Do you prefer a topical or an oral chewable?

3) Does your pet have a food allergy? (should use topicals then)

4) Does your pet have heartworm disease? (use Heartgard as it’s safest)

5) Do you have both cats and dogs? (some products aren’t safe if one pet comes in contact with the others)

6) How much does it cost?

7) Do you forget to give your pet this product monthly? (may want a longer acting product such as bravecto or proheart)

No matter what product you choose to use, always remember to use it year round as your pet always has the potential to get exposed to it. This is one easy way you can control your pet’s health by preventing them from getting exposed to parasites that can cause significant disease. Will get into more details in next posts…Stay Tuned!

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WHAT’S UP WITH THESE FELINE PHEROMONES?

Moving with 3 pets, 1 husband, and too many things can be quite stressful! After graduation from veterinary school, we packed up the largest U-haul I have ever seen and made the journey down south. I had thought unpacking would be the hardest part of the new adventure, but life is always full of surprises. Lola, my youngest cat, was hit by a car as a kitten and came into the clinic I worked at as an assistant to be examined. So, 1 broken pelvis and a de-gloved tail fix later, she was mine. She has always been an odd cat. She loves me, and I love her…don’t get me wrong, but she exhibits some odd behavior. Shortly after getting settled in vet school, she decided she wanted to dislike my roommate after 1 encounter…talk about stubborn! Well, as if you couldn’t guess, she absolutely despises the new full-of-energy dog in her life, Louis.

The move into the new 2-bedroom apartment was the first time Lola had to admit she would be playing house with a dog. I adopted Louis toward the end of vet school, and he was fostered for me until the move as I was too busy with school to keep up with his energy demands. The first two weeks of being settled in the new place started with the diarrhea storm. Even as a veterinarian, I am still clueless as to what caused it to blow through my household (I’m blaming the new water…now they are spoiled with filtered water), but it started with Lola and progressed to Louis. One day, he had an uncontrollable moment where he tried to hide it by going in the guest room. Let me tell you, it was all over the new cream carpet and wall. In a sick way, I was impressed with the damage (poor intestinal tract!), but my OCD side was quickly calculating how many scrubbings it would involve to remove it. Now I don’t know what it is with our poor guest room, but then Lola decided to portray her hatred toward Louis by making the comforter her new litter box. Like clockwork for a good 2 weeks, she would take a large #2 right in the center of the bed. It’s almost as if she knew it was a brand new comforter.

Cats are famous for using physical acts to portray their emotions. I am sure you know of someone who has a cat that at one time or another would urinate outside the litter box. Well inappropriate defecation is coined “middening,” and Lola used this to tell us she was unhappy. It certainly worked because we were not a fan of this new routine. I have always heard the product “Feliway” is highly effective for cats but didn’t understand its power until deciding to give it a try. One Amazon search later, and a Feliway diffuser was on its way. We anxiously awaited its arrival and finally were able to plug it in (similar to an airwick). Now, I don’t know if it is the Feliway that provoked this cuddle session, but I certainly never envisioned this happening in a million years! Needless to say, I have now bought a new one every month because the problem stopped right then and there.

I am now a Feliway believer and its benefits can work beyond this for a cat friendly household. The product basically mimics the natural pheromone present on cats that makes them feel safe and happy. When your cat is rubbing their chin on you or your furniture, it’s their way of naturally placing their pheromone on objects to “mark their territory.” Feliway helps promote this same feeling and can be used for multiple different situations. Most noted is urine spraying, middening, and even anxiety issues. If you have multiple pets in your household and don’t have the perfect Noah’s Arc vibe, such as is my household; this product will become a monthly staple.

So if you are planning a move, traveling with your pets, or having another behavioral problem, I strongly recommend giving this product a try. You should always see your family veterinarian first to rule out a medical cause, but if it truly comes down to a behavioral issue, this is the next best step. One of the biggest reasons adult cats get taken back to the shelter are the reasons listed above, so if you love your cat, why wouldn’t you want to try everything first?

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