Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Can It Be Safe For Your Pet But Not For Your Children?

OK, I may sound like a broken record, and some people might accuse me of being biased, strategically aligned with the manufacturers of the products I sell at my clinic, or even worse a proponent of the manufacturing of chemicals that pollute our pets and environment. BUT, I promise I will only prescribe a flea & tick preventative because I know, and have seen first hand, too many pets get sick, and some even die from diseases spread by these preventable parasites.

There are many options available to keep fleas and ticks off your pet. Please talk to your vet about which is best suited for your pet.

Now I know that there are handfuls of skeptics out there. People who believe that the products you get at the grocery store are as good as those big name brands that come with a prescription and a heftier price tag. Sadly, it is not some cloaked sect of veterinarians protecting the big pharmaceuticals. It is merely a market full of ancient old unsafe and worthless products AND a bunch of newer safer well studied product guarantee backed prescription products.

You see the biggest problem with the whole world of veterinary products across the board is that the policy makers, lobbyists for the pet care companies, and the mindset in general, is that there is a huge disparity in what we expect and demand with respect to safety and efficacy in human medications versus pet medications and products.

For those of us who love our pets as children this news flash is unsettling.

I saw an elderly woman at my local grocery store yesterday. She spent about 15 minutes riffling though the many different flea & tick products. Now I am going to assume a few things; First, anyone who spends that much time reading about a product cares. And, secondly that those packages will never help you understand which product is safe and which one works. And, yes probably she was looker for a more economical option than the prescription products.

Here's a great article on what you need to know about OTC flea and ticks:

GreenSpace: Chemicals on pet collars can affect children

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r eoppoepwqoepqweop wqepwo pwqoeqweqwewqewqewq ewq qweqweqwewqewqe wqewqGALLERY: GreenSpace: Chemicals on pet collars can affect children
Got fleas on your cat?
Ticks on your dog?
In deciding on a treatment - and yes, you do want to treat these little varmints - not all chemicals are equal.
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with two companies to take pet collars containing the chemical propoxur off the market.
After an assessment, the agency found "unacceptable risks to children" the first day after the collar is put onto the pet.
Here's the rub: The products won't actually be gone until 2016, if then.
Under the terms of the agreement, the companies, Sergeant's Pet Care Products Inc. and Wellmark International, can distribute the products until April 1, 2016. Even after that, stores can sell them until all are gone.
The EPA says the collars leave a residue on the pet's fur that can be absorbed through the skin of children who hug or pet the animal. Also, children can ingest the chemical if they pet the animal and then put their hands in their mouths.
The move came after the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the agency. It also asked for action on a second flea and tick chemical that the EPA did not address - tetrachlorvinphos, or TCVP.
"We've known for a long time that they're neurotoxic," said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, a senior scientist with the national environmental nonprofit. "These products should not be on the market."
The chemicals, she said, cause an overexcitation of the nervous system. "That is what happens to the poor flea. . . . Its nervous system overfires."
Unfortunately, mammals have similar neuropathways, and the council says that the chemicals, in high enough doses, can interfere with the development of a child's nervous system - the smaller the child, the bigger the worry.
I found products with propoxur in a local big-box pet store, and the label bore a warning: "Do not allow children to play with collar."
The EPA specifies an additional warning: "Try to keep the pet away from your young children for a day after putting on the pet collar."
Caryn Stichler, a Sergeant's vice president of marketing, said the company was "pleased to be able to work with the EPA to resolve this matter amicably and ensure that our customers can continue to benefit from uninterrupted access to Sergeant's products."
Fortunately, much better products are available anyway, said Daniel Morris, a veterinary dermatologist at Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine.
In the last three or four years, there's been an explosion of products that attack parasites through enzyme systems that mammals don't possess. They have "amazing safety margins," Morris said.
Products are available through veterinarians and over-the-counter. They come in oral doses, on newer versions of collars, and as "spot-on" products applied to a small area of a pet's neck or back.
He suggested looking for products that contain imidacloprid and selemectin, which have been around a while, or those with newer compounds such as nitenpyram, spinosad, and afoxolaner.
Another game-changing development: The chemical fipronil, which until recently was the only tick protection available for cats, came off patent, so it's in a lot more products.
(Note: Don't assume it's OK to use a product for a dog on your cat. Permethrin, which kills ticks, won't harm your dog, but it's toxic to cats.)
Supposed "natural" remedies - such as brewer's yeast or garlic - are not effective, he said. Overall, it's important to limit your - and your pet's - exposure to fleas and ticks because they are vectors of disease.
Ticks carry Lyme disease, which can be a chronic, debilitating condition in some people. Fleas carry tapeworms and bacteria and can cause severe allergic skin reactions.
The flea, especially, is a formidable foe. One female lays up to 50 eggs a day, so if your pet has just 20 fleas, that could mean 1,000 eggs every day.
The eggs fall off your pet and hatch into larvae, which burrow into the carpet or hide under the baseboard. There, they wait.
When vibrations or an increase in temperature or carbon dioxide signals the presence of a four-legged hairy creature, Morris said, the insects emerge and seek the blood meal they need to survive.
That's why some people think flea products don't work. But, often, they simply didn't use a product for long enough. Or they didn't use one that has not only an adulticide, but also an "insect growth regulator" that will keep the eggs from hatching.
Morris advises pet owners to consult a veterinarian to determine the best flea and tick strategy.
"There's not a cookbook recipe . . . that works for every household," he said.
Some have only dogs. Or only cats. Some have both. Some have ferrets or rabbits as well. Lifestyle matters, too. If your dog swims every day, an oral product might be best.
The council says frequent combing, bathing and vacuuming can help. For more information on flea and tick chemicals, it has a product guide at www.greenpaws.org.

"GreenSpace," about the environment and health, appears every other week, alternating with Art Carey's "Well Being" column.
215-854-5147 @sbauers

Sandy BauersInquirer GreenSpace Columnist

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/science/20140413_GreenSpace_Chemicals-on-pet-collars-affect-children.html#L1ciX2diEU6AIBp7.99

For the entire article please visit: Greenspace article

OK, so here is the real honest opinion of a veterinarian who sees the deadly effects of these products.
If you want a good and safe flea and/or tick product I recommend you ask your vet. You see there are many products to choose from and what is best for one pet is not necessarily best for another. Talk to your vet about your pet's lifestyle, other pets in the home, and yes, even your budget.

For those of you who think that the vets products are too expensive it is important to remember that every year flea and tick products are over used, negligently used, and that the cost might be your pets life. I would never ever recommend that my clients buy the products above. Not only do most of the grocery store brands not work they are terribly toxic. What's the point of buying them if they don't work? And those decades old flea collars impregnated with that powdery goo, ugh, they are really a waste of money.

I am also very concerned about the old wives tales about feeding your pet garlic, or onions (toxic!!!), the list goes on. Remember the point is to be specifically targeting the parasite only. Not killing your pet in the process.

Every single Spring and Summer I see too many cats dying from completely preventable and treatable conditions like flea anemia, death by using a dog flea and tick product on a cat. And tick borne diseases that kill dogs. Having dogs and cats who live long, happy, healthy lives is not an accident, nor is it all luck.

If you are a complete die hard anti-parasiticide person the only recommendation I can make is to comb your pet from tip to tail top to bottom every single time they come in from the outside with a metal flea comb. With each swipe of the comb immerse the comb in a bucket of soapy water to remove the fleas from the comb and kill them. For a ten pound dog it will probably take you 20 minutes each tie they come inside. Me, if you ask me what I do for my babies who I love, adore, and live for? For the dogs I use monthly Frontline and Heartgard year around. For the cats I use either Revolution or Frontline, based on time of year and which cat it is. But I am equally comfortable with other products.

If you have a question about what you are giving your pet you can ask me at Pawbly.com. I'll be honest, and all I care about is the safest and efficacy of the product you use on your pet. And if I am not selling you the product, who knows maybe you will even believe me?

If you would like to discuss your pet and their specific flea and tick preventative you can find me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, in Jarrettsville MD.

You can also find me Tweeting the top pet stories of the day @FreePetAdvice.

1 comment:

  1. I can understand how frustrating this is for you but it is pretty frustrating on the other end as well. I am a Pharmacist and I spend time researching the medications I am giving my dog- it is important for me to have an understanding of what I give him. However trying to get information is incredibly difficult. When I speak to my vet about it they usually don't have much more information to give me other than what I have found through (reliable sources) online. Often it seems that the veterinary surgery has a contract or an alliance to a particular brand. The veterinary practice I go to is very good and I am happy in other respects. I think that perhaps the level of pharmacology taught to vets at Australian universities is not particularly extensive. For example- my vet recommends a spinosad/milbemycin combination product for fleas/heart worm/intestinal worms. I don't want to use this particular product regularly because spinosad is relatively new to the market and I like to give a bit of time for post-marketing reports to come in. Also this combo doesn't cover tapeworm. I prefer to use Sentinel Spectrum (praziquantal/milbemycin/lufenuron) but Ted has a bit of a problem with fleas and I need to give him something to kill the adult ones from time to time. In trying to find the safest thing to give him or when to give spinosad in relation to sentinel I get a confusing range of answers.
    I had to change vets once before because the vet would not even discuss with me the best monthly treatment- she just kept saying I should give my dog the heartworm injection because otherwise I will forget to dose him.
    Fortunately I have never had to have a discussion about medications of a more serious nature but I know the time will come and the thought terrifies me based on the lack of information I can get about the simplest of treatments.