Side Effects of Flea and Tick Spot Treatments

The warm spring weather means that flea and tick season is coming!  Topical spot products are the preferred treatment for many dog and cat owners.  When used correctly, they can be very safe and effective.

But it is possible that your individual pet may experience an adverse skin reaction to the treatment.

Here’s an overview of the most common reactions, courtesy of the Veterinary Information Network:

Epidermal paresthesia:  This is a fancy term for an itching, prickling, or burning sensation on the skin.  This reaction is most common with spot treatments that contain pyrethroids.  The itching can start minutes after treatment and last as long as 24 hours.

The skin looks normal with paresthesia, but you will notice behavior changes in your pets if they feel uncomfortable.

Contact dermatitis:  This skin condition occurs when your pet develops an inflammatory reaction to the spot product.  Your pet’s skin will look red and irritated at the application site.  In severe cases, the skin may blister.  The reaction time is more delayed than with paresthesia.

Wash off the product and seek veterinary care if the skin does not improve after the product is removed.

What should you do if your dog or cat has a reaction to a spot treatment?  Veterinary experts recommend that you discontinue use of the product.  You can try another treatment that uses different active ingredients and monitor your pet for signs of a reaction.

Important reminder:  Certain canine flea and tick spot treatments can be very toxic to cats, especially those containing permethrin.  Permethrin can cause life-threatening neurological damage in cats.  Never use canine treatments on cats.

If your pet experiences an adverse reaction to a spot treatment, you can report it to the manufacturer as well as to the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency if you live in the U.S.

 

 

How to Keep Your Yard Safe for Pets

Here are a few springtime safety tips for pet owners who enjoy spending time with their fur kids in the garden!

Most dog and cat owners have a good idea about what plants are safe for their pets, and which ones can be toxic.  If you are unsure about what to plant, be sure to check out the ASPCA’s toxic plant list before heading to the garden center.

Pesticides in the garden can also be hazardous to our pets.  Make sure the products you use are pet-safe.  Health and safety experts recommend learning about the integrated pest management approach, which minimizes the use of toxic pesticides.

Besides plants and pesticides, there are other less obvious pet safety risks in the garden that even the most responsible pet owners may not think about.  Here’s a brief overview:

Standing water

Ponds, birdbaths, and other still water sources can harbor algae and other substances that may harm a dog or cat that drinks from them.  Provide a bowl of fresh drinking water for your animals when they are outside.

Fencing

Is your backyard fencing tall enough and strong enough to keep pets in and other critters like coyotes out?  Be sure to check your fencing for any gaps, holes, or wood rot.  It’s also a good idea to check the locks and latches on all gates.

Compost

Keep curious pets (and other animal visitors) out of your compost bins.  Compost, especially moldy compost, can be harmful if ingested.  Keep bins securely lidded or in an area that’s inaccessible to pets.

Mulch

Certain kinds of mulch can be toxic if eaten by pets.  Mulch made from cocoa shells is especially toxic to dogs.  Safe types of mulch include pine and cedar.  However, all mulch pieces can become a choking hazard if swallowed, so supervision is always a good idea.

Interested in learning more?  Click HERE for more pet garden safety tips.

 

April is Heartworm Awareness Month

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, heartworm is a potentially serious (even fatal) parasite that affects dogs, cats, and pets such as ferrets.  In the wild, heartworm is found in many animals, including foxes, raccoons, and opossums.

Mosquitoes transfer the heartworm parasite from animal to animal, usually in the form of larvae.  The larvae mature in animals and adults can reach lengths of up to 14 inches. Worms affect the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected animals.

If male and female heartworms are present in your pet’s body, they can reproduce and create new larvae.  The larvae can also affect your pet’s immune system.

Heartworm can be found all over the US and in other parts of the world.  Many pet owners think heartworm is a canine problem, but cats can also become infected.  Exposure to mosquito bites is a major risk factor.

Your veterinarian can perform tests to detect the presence of heartworm in your pet.  Early detection is key to successful treatment.  Treatment can be challenging as it involves killing the parasites and then managing your dog’s response.  Treatment for cats can be even more difficult.

The good news is that heartworm is preventable!  Your vet will test for the presence of heartworm before providing preventives.  Ongoing testing is important to ensure that your pet has not become infected.

You can learn more about heartworm prevention on the American Heartworm Society’s website.

 

 

Health and Safety Tips for Camping and Hiking with Your Dog

With the warm spring weather just around the corner, many outdoorsy dog owners are already planning this season’s outside adventures!

The American Veterinary Medical Association has created a series of disease prevention tips for dog owners who take their pets hiking, backpacking, and camping.

Here are some highlights, but be sure to check out the AVMA website for the full list!

  • Make sure your dog is up to date on all her vaccines, especially rabies.
  • Avoid feeding your dog raw or undercooked meat while camping.
  • Report signs of sick wildlife to your state fish and game agency, and never let your dog consume dead wildlife.
  • Wash cooking tools and equipment thoroughly and wash your hands between handling animals, equipment, and food.

  • Apply flea and tick prevention treatments to your dog and avoid areas known to be tick infested. Check your dog for ticks often.
  • Carry a pet first aid kit in addition to a human first aid kit, and consider getting some basic pet first aid training.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about getting stool samples from your dog checked for intestinal parasites.

 

CDC Traces Campylobacter Outbreak to Pet Store Puppies

Animal advocates have been warning potential dog owners to avoid getting puppies from retail pet stores because they come from large scale, for profit breeding operations known as puppy mills.

Now there’s another reason to say no to pet store puppies.

A report on the American Veterinarian website notes that 118 people in 18 states have become infected with the Campylobacter jejuni bacteria after being exposed to pet store puppies.  These puppies were traced to multiple puppy mills and distributors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been monitoring the outbreak, virtually all of the infected humans have had direct physical contact with pet store puppies, including several pet store employees.

The Campylobacter bacteria causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.  No human fatalities have been reported with this outbreak, although there were several hospitalizations.

The CDC reports an added concern with this outbreak…the bacteria has shown a resistance to all the antibiotics commonly used to treat Campylobacter.

The CDC recommends that people wash their hands thoroughly after touching pet store puppies (employees should wear gloves for cleaning) and avoid eating around the animals.

They also note that overuse of antibiotics in commercial breeding facilities can contribute to drug resistant bacterial strains, and the use of antibiotics should always be supervised by a veterinarian.