Friday, May. 1st 2015

Flea and Tick Control, Training Tips, and Vaccination Exams

Flea and Tick Control

What are your options?

Aren’t we having a lovely spring?  Hope all your pets are enjoying it as well.  Don’t forget if storms cause anxiety, we have a great herbal product called NutriCalm available.  And remember to get a handle on your pet’s summer allergies and itching sooner rather than later.
On that note, by request, we will cover flea and tick prevention in this issue.  There are SO many options!  One important thing to remember is the difference between cats and dogs.  Cats are much more sensitive to chemicals than dogs so you should NEVER use a dog product on a cat, you can’t use our favorite garlic product on cats, and you even need to be careful if you have dogs and cats in the same household so your cat isn’t exposed to freshly applied product on your dog.  Remember with any pesticide you use for your pets to completely read package directions before use.  Here is a listing of the various categories:
Oral:  These are taken by mouth.  They include garlic (Bug-Off by Springtime), Capstar, Comfortis, Trifexis, Bravecto, NexGard, and Sentinel.  Of these, garlic, Trifexis, Bravecto, and NexGard are labeled for dogs only.  Several of these have been known to cause reactions in some pets, and garlic is the only one this clinic recommends for dogs.  Yes, garlic can be safe in dogs (not cats) when used in appropriate dietary amounts!  The study that showed toxicity used far-beyond-normal quantities of garlic.  You would probably get sick as well if you were forced to eat a half-pound or so of garlic every day.  If you have used any oral products in the past and your pet has not reacted badly, you may choose to continue using them.  Both Debbie and Dr. Leonard have used garlic in their dogs for years with good results.  Indoor-only cats may not need flea and tick control at all if any dogs in the household are well protected.  Dr Leonard has used garlic in her dogs for six years now, and the unprotected indoor cats in her household have never had fleas during this time.  Since garlic is quite distinctive in flavor and odor, some dogs may resist eating it.  We suggest starting them well below the recommended minimum dosage, working up to the minimum over a week or two, and only increasing beyond that if you see a flea or tick on your pet.  The Bug-Off product is safe up to three times the minimum dosage but we never need to go that high.
Topical:  These are the ones squirted onto the neck or back.  When used correctly, they spread over the entire body, penetrate into the hair follicles, and kill or repel fleas and/or ticks for a month or so.  They include Advantage, Advantix, Profender, Vectra, Cheristin, Activyl, Frontline Plus /Tritak, and Revolution.  Products that are not safe in cats or don’t have a version for cats are Advantix, Vectra 3D, and Activyl TickPlus.  If you have a cat, or a dog that doesn’t like the garlic, these are the ones we recommend.  Frontline Plus is the one we carry at our clinic due to its long history and safety record.  Remember if using these products in cats, to apply it above where the collar sits to keep the cat from licking it off.  Some of these products have label directions to isolate cats for a certain amount of time after application so they can’t lick it off their house-mates.  Another reason we prefer these is they prevent fleas from biting your pet which is important if your pet has flea allergies.  Oral and Injectable products do not have this advantage.
Collars:  Familiar to most people.  One concern we have with these products is exposure to children in the household to the chemicals in these collars, and many over-the-counter types have limited effectiveness.  However, the new Seresto collars have an 8 month effectiveness so may be appropriate for some pets.  We hope your cats are indoors-only, but if they go outside and you wish to use this collar, be sure it is applied loosely enough that if they got caught on something they could squeeze their head out of it.
Injectable:  Program 6 month for cats.  This product is protective against fleas only.  As with the oral products, once it’s in it can’t be taken out.  So if your pet has a bad reaction to this product all you can do is hope it isn’t too severe and treat the symptoms as well as possible. 
Combination products:  Some of these products also prevent heartworms and/or intestinal parasites of various types.  These include Advantage Multi, Trifexis, Sentinel, and Revolution.  We’re actually not big fans, mainly because the more chemicals you are putting inside your pet, the more likely a reaction is.  But for some people, the convenience is worth the risk.  This chemical dosage is why we prefer topical products that are not absorbed for flea control, thus limiting the chemicals used for parasites to heartworm prevention plus or minus intestinal parasite control.  Our clinic carries Heartguard Plus for heart/hook/roundworms and Tri-Heart Plus for the same in a smaller pill form if your pet doesn’t like the big “treat” of Heartguard.
We encourage you to do your own research to decide the pros and cons for you, your family, and your pet to determine the best choice for your circumstances.

Training Tips:  I was asked to give some dog training tips in this newsletter.  To be honest, it’s pretty much impossible to distill over twenty years of experience including competitive obedience and agility, plus all the possible issues a pet might need training for, in one tiny newsletter.    But I think I can pare it down to a few helpful hints.  Here goes:

1. BE CONSISTENT!  Everyone in the family must agree what the dog is and isn’t allowed to do and what commands will be used.   And they must be used every time they are appropriate.
2.BE POSTIVE!  Reward your dog frequently when it is doing things you like.  Shoot for 10 rewards for every correction of bad behavior.  Too often, we forget to catch our dog behaving and express our appreciation.  If you don’t reward the good things, they won’t know that’s how you want them to behave.  Toss that puppy a treat when he’s laying quietly chewing on his own toy!
3.INTERRUPT AND REDIRECT.  Rather than actual punishment for behavior you don’t like, it is better to use a mild aversive like a sharp “AAAAHHH” or “NO” or a hand clap to get the dog to stop doing what you don’t like, then redirect the dog to a behavior that is more positive so you can reward it.  Stop the pup from pottying on the carpet.  Then take it outside with a treat in your hand so you can reward when they finish up outside.  Stop the dog from chewing on the sofa, then give it a dog toy and praise when they take it.  Rolled up newspapers are so old school. 
4.PREVENT WHEN POSSIBLE.  When you know an undesirable behavior may take place, do what you can to prevent it.  Crate train puppies to help with housebreaking, and never let that pup get out of your sight until you can trust them.  Put dogs in a crate, yard, or back room until they have been taught jumping on visitors or chewing on things is not allowed.  Keep shoes and children’s toys put away so they can’t be chewed on.  Don’t leave food sitting out on counters until the pet has been taught to leave it alone.
5.FIVE SECOND RULE.  Pets have about a five second attention span.  Punishing a pet for something it did an hour ago is pointless and will only damage their bond with you because they have completely forgotten they did it.  The body language people interpret as guilt is actually that of submission because of the anger in your voice.  You MUST catch a pet in the act if aversives are going to work.  Punishing a pet for things it does while you are gone is probably the number one cause of separation anxiety behaviors.  Don’t do that.  See number 4.
6.COME TO OUR SEMINAR!!  May 23, 3 p.m., here at Whole Health Pet Center, Mike Deathe with K.I.S.S. Dog Training will be giving a free lecture on Dog Training 101 for pet owners.  After the seminar, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and indicate if you have interest in classes offered at our location by Mr. Deathe.  If he gets enough interest, we will get them scheduled.


Vaccines and Our Office Protocols:  We occasionally have clients ask us the cost of vaccination who are then upset when we quote the cost including a physical exam.  I thought it might be a good idea to explain why we do this.  First, at our clinic we don’t even recommend annual vaccinations for most pets.  If you aren’t getting the vaccinations done every year, it is very important to make sure they get at LEAST an annual physical exam.  We actually recommend two a year since pets tend to hide illness, have higher metabolisms, and shorter life spans than we do.  It’s important to catch disease as early as possible.  Second, it is not only unwise, but I consider it malpractice to vaccinate a sick animal.  Vaccines take a toll on the immune system.  They force it to kick into high gear immediately.  If the pet’s immune system is busy fighting a low-grade infection, severe skin infection, or cancer, vaccinating that pet can actually reduce the immune system’s ability to respond to that illness while it responds to the vaccine.  This could allow the illness to suddenly become much more severe.  This is why you should have concerns if your pet is getting vaccinated and the vet suggests antibiotics, steroids, or other medications at the same time.  If your pet is sick enough to need treatment, it is sick enough that vaccination should be delayed until they are healthy.  Our pre-vaccination physical exam is a complete one, including evaluation of skin and mouth health, eyes and ears, abdominal palpation for tumors or bladder issues, chest auscultation to listen to heart and lungs, full-body check for growths, and taking their temperature.  Doesn’t your pet deserve at least that much?  We don’t treat vaccines lightly here.

Kind of a long issue, thanks for bearing with me this far!  By the way, if you have “liked” our Facebook page Whole Health Pet Center, but never seem to see our posts, please know that we post at least daily, sometimes several times a day.  If you aren’t seeing these, it is because Facebook has decided you aren’t interested in our content due to lack of interaction with it.  To correct that, first visit the page and make sure you have clicked to “like” the page, and just to the right of that, to “follow” the page.  While you are there, find a few posts you can click “like” on, or comment or share a few.  These actions should get us showing up on your news feed.  Then make sure you continue to interact with those posts regularly to keep them there, again through likes, shares, and comments.  You can also click on “liked” and then on the pulldown select “get notifications” and/or “add to interest lists” to improve your chances of seeing our posts.  Facebook  would really prefer we business pages pay for advertising, so they limit how much of our content is shown.  We don’t want you to miss out on our regular posts about upcoming events, news about pet health issues like dog flu or food recalls, and other things we think may interest you.  
Since I’ve gone on so long, I will remind you that you can always find news about our upcoming dog massage days (May 22), seminars (May 23), and our business hours and when Dr. Leonard will be out of the office on both our Facebook Events tab and on the calendar at the bottom of our home page on the website at

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18011 E St. Rte 58
Raymore, MO 64083

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