Summer brings with it an increased activity of parasites such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. These insects can irritate your pet as well as carry diseases such as tapeworms, heartworms, and ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lyme disease. Now is the time to start an integrative pest program using natural parasite control and minimal use of chemicals. Your holistic veterinarian can help design the perfect plan for your pet.
While summertime is a time to get together with friends and family, keep in mind that some pets are easily stressed by all of the activity. Summer also means thunderstorms in many areas of the country, as well as loud noises from outside parties. Some pets are easily stressed by any these activities, and I encourage you to consider using a natural remedy such as Stress Away by Vet Classics or Composure by VetriScience (link is on my website to order.) Both are natural remedies that help most pets adapt to various stressors in their environments.
Traveling in the summer with your pet presents special challenges due to the change in weather. Make sure you bring plenty of fresh cool water on your trip, and make a few extra stops to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and rehydrate along the way. When your pet gets out of the car, keep him close by on a leash and minimize the amount of time you must walk on hot concrete surfaces to avoid burning the pads of his feet.
In an attempt to save on the cost of health care for their pets, some pet owners turn to the Internet or even land pharmacies to purchase heartworm preventive and flea preventive medications. While I appreciate the desire of everyone to cut costs whenever possible, it’s important that cost-cutting measures do not put your pet’s health or life at risk, which is why many veterinarians refuse to prescribe these medications through various pharmaceutical outlets.
Recently there have been several class-action lawsuits against flea preventive manufacturers including FidoPharm, which makes popular over-the-counter topical flea medications. These lawsuits have arisen due to a number of pets becoming ill or dying from these products. Over the past four years, more than 75,000 complaints been made to EPA regarding these types of products. Complaints include cases of pets which have experienced the following symptoms after application of these over-the-counter topical flea medications: seizures, paralysis, hair loss, intense itching, vomiting, diarrhea, and death. While these medications are often safer than conventional pesticides used even 10 to 20 years ago, they are not completely safe and not without risk. They’re safest when used under veterinary supervision using products purchased from your veterinarian’s office. In my holistic practice, we rarely used these types of products. However, when they are used, it has been my experience that side effects are much more likely to occur with products purchased over-the-counter or through Internet pharmacies or other pharmacies rather than through products prescribed by my office.
A much more important concern involves the purchase of heartworm medication from places other than your veterinarian’s office. There are several important reasons why many veterinarians will not prescribe heartworm medication if purchased from a pharmacy. First, the manufacturers of heartworm medications do not sell directly to these pharmacies. This means that the pharmacies are acquiring these medications through someone other than the manufacturer. Many of us consider these “black market medications” since it is often impossible to determine where the pharmacies acquire the medications or how they are handled as they are not purchased through professional channels. Additionally, veterinarians constantly report that some pharmacies fill these medications without a prescription (which is a direct violation of the law,) fill incorrect medication for the pet, fill the incorrect dosage of the medication for the pet, or sell individual doses of the medication in plastic baggies rather than in the proper approved packaging (also illegal.)
Finally, heartworm medication purchased through a veterinarian’s office is guaranteed by the heartworm medication manufacturer to be 100% effective per for preventing heartworms. The guarantee means that the manufacturer of the medication will pay for the cost of treating your pet if it develops heartworm disease while taking the medication. This guarantee is good ONLY if the medication is given monthly AND if the medication is purchased from your veterinarian. Medication purchased from other sources is not guaranteed by the manufacturer as they cannot vouch for the medications effectiveness.
While it’s important to save on the cost of healthcare for your pet, it’s equally important to make sure the medication you give your pet is sold and purchased ethically and will do the job it’s designed to do. Prescription medications being diverted in the marketplace pose a danger to all pets (and as we constantly read in the newspaper, black-market medications sold for human use have caused illness and death as well.) To make sure your pet is receiving the proper medication, it’s best to spend a little extra money and have the peace of mind that comes with the guarantee that comes with heartworm medications sold by your veterinarian’s office.