Monday, April 30, 2012

Flea Control

How can my pet have fleas?

Here in North Carolina we are blessed with mild winters.  This also means fleas can generally survive also.  In fact, spring and fall can be the worst times because fleas will thrive in that middle ground of temperature and humidity.  Strictly indoor pets can also be targets because the crafty flea will hitchhike on an unsuspecting human's pants or shoes and make its way inside for a tasty meal.  Long story short, any pet you don't want infested with fleas needs to be on a reliable flea control product year round. 

What about the stuff I can get cheap?

There are lots of options in flea control.  We sell several brands here in the hospital, more on our website.   We have had lots of customers try the cheap versions and they call us asking why their dog still has fleas.  (See our blog on Generics) Some of the other products have a spotty safety record.  We have seen seizures and vomiting from these products.  That's why we don't sell them.  We stand behind the products we sell.  They are safe and they work.  Our staff is well informed and can help you find the right product for your pet and your lifestyle.

How to use flea control correctly

Consistency is the key to controlling fleas.  Applying the product every month keeps the flea population from reproducing.  Any new fleas that make it into the area are killed and can't make new fleas.  If you only use the product when you see fleas you are always behind the curve.  If you are seeing fleas, wash all of the pet's bedding in hot water.  Vacuum everywhere you can and remove the bag (or empty the canister) immediately  and take it to an outdoor trash can.  For a bad infestation, you can apply the product every three weeks instead of every month.

Scratch, Scratch

Some dogs have an allergy to flea bites.  If they are bitten by even one flea they will scratch themselves raw.  If you have a cat in your house, she will be a flea's meal of choice.  If you have a dog that goes in and out and a cat that stays in, you should be treating both of them for fleas.

Puppy Vaccines

Why Vaccinate?

Many diseases that can seriously harm your dog or even kill it are preventable with the use of vaccines.  Rabies, a neurological disease that can be transmitted to humans, is required by law.  All dogs and cats over the age of 4 months must be vaccinated against rabies.  Parvo is a virus that can also be vaccinated against.  The disease begins with vomiting and diarrhea and can cause death within days if untreated.

When to Start

Puppies get antibodies from their mother to protect them from diseases, assuming the mother has been vaccinated, and they do not start to lose this protection until about six weeks of age.  If you vaccinate before this time, you are fighting the maternal antibodies.  If you wait much longer, your puppy will be unprotected.  Vaccines work by stimulating you puppy's immune system to produce antibodies to the disease, without actually giving him the illness.  The distemper/parvo vaccine is given in a series of 3 or 4 vaccines, starting at 6 weeks, spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart with the last one when the puppy is at least 16 weeks of age.  This sounds very complicated, but don't worry, we'll keep track and let you know when your puppy needs to come in.

Why have your Veterinarian Vaccinate

Rabies vaccines must be given by a licensed veterinarian or certified veterinary technician working under the authority of a vet. 

When it's Time to Say Goodbye

Euthanasia for Pets

When our pets get old or sick we have the option of deciding to end their lives.  It can be heart-wrenching and is never an easy decision.  It can also save animals from days or weeks or needless suffering.  For each pet owner it is an extremely personal decision based on previous experience, input from the veterinarian and philosophical beliefs.  Most pet owners will be offered this option at some point and we want to give you information to make an informed decision.  All of us wish that when Fluffy or Spot gets sick, he will just fall asleep one night and not wake the next morning.  Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

When is the Right Time?

Many factors go into timing.  Does the pet have more good days than bad?  Is he still eating?  Is she able to walk and use the bathroom?  Is pain manageable with medication?  Are the owners willing and financially able to care for the pet's medical needs?  Your vet can give you input into the medical aspects.  Each situation is unique.  Only you can decide how much care you are able to give and what is right for your family. 

Other Decisions

Once you decide it's time to say goodbye, there are a few decisions to be made.  Do you want to be present for the euthanasia?  It is a very quick procedure and we generally give the pet some medication beforehand so they are sleepy.  Once again, a very personal decision.  Do you want someone to be with you for the drive back and forth to the office?  We are now licensed to do house calls and with a few days notice we can come to you.  Do you want to care for the body or do want us to do that?  We use a crematory service, and you have the option of getting your pet's ashes back as a memorial.

Final Thoughts

Love your pet.  We get dogs and cats knowing that with their shorter life spans we will be saying goodbye to them.  The death of a pet is often a child's first experience with grief.  The pain will be sharp and raw at first, but like all loss, it will get easier to bear.

Warm Winter Means more Pests for Pets

Warm Winter

Our unusually warm winter meant no snow days and also we are expecting a huge increase in fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.  Without a hard frost to kill off some of the population we are probably in for a bad summer, parasite-wise.

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks can be seen by the naked eye and are an obvious parasite.  They can be controlled with either a topical preventative or a combination of an oral medication for fleas and a tick collar.  We have a variety of products that are safe and effective.  A word of caution:  Never use a product labeled for dogs on a cat.  This can be very dangerous.  Also, beware of products that are advertised as "just as good as" something else, but half the price.  They have to cut corners somewhere and even if they are using the same active ingredient, the delivery mechanism is probably where they do it.  This means that the ingredients in the product that keep the flea killing medication where it is supposed to stay put are not the same.  It may kill fleas for a week or two, but then be less effective than you had hoped.  See our posts on Flea Control and Generics.


Mosquitoes are annoying to humans but they also carry heartworm disease and can be deadly to dogs.  A mosquito bites a dog infected with heartworms, picks up the parasite and then spreads it to every other dog it bites.  The cycle then continues with every mosquito bite.  Heartworm disease has no symptoms in its early stages and is frighteningly expensive to treat.  Fortunately we have a preventative.  A pill, given once a month.  Prevention pills are like birth control pills, not 100% effective, so we do test your dog once a year.  The effectiveness is greatly increased if you are vigilant about giving every single pill, on time.  If you purchase your heartworm prevention from a veterinarian, or through our website and your dog tests positive the manufacturer will pay for the treatment if you haven't missed any doses.  They can't offer this same guarantee if you purchase from other online pharmacies because this is diverted product and they don't know where it came from.