Tag: fleas

Keeping Safe While Killing Fleas

Keeping Safe While Killing Fleas

Some of you may have seen the recent CBC Marketplace episode on dog car harnesses and also on the safety of certain flea products.  For my American audience, Marketplace is a show on Friday nights here in Canada that is investigative reporting based.  Watching the show as I sat in my home near Kingston, I noted a general theme in the discussion about flea products and also one glaring point missing from the report.

flea collar

The featured dog on this report was named Digby and he was wearing a flea collar.  Using a powder placed around Digby’s collar, they tracked to see essentially how many places came into contact with the flea collar.  Theoretically, this has the potential to spread the pesticide around on furniture & people.  While I suspect the amount that may rub off may not be in concentrated enough amounts, it does make me buy into the possibility that it could be harmful.  But what about effectiveness against fleas?colored flea

I’ve never advocated for flea collars.  In another small part of the segment on fleas, they showed numerous boxes of flea and tick products which have been reported to cause side effects to pets.  Many of these shown were over the counter products that I’ve known people to use and many times have been told they aren’t working.  Partly it’s due to the ingredients.  The other part is often improper use, most often because the proper dose is not applied.  Regarding safety, the most common mistake is that people have “just used a few drops” of the permethrin-flea-collardog product on their cats figuring that it would work since cats are smaller.  Typically, there is permethrin in these and it will cause cats to seizure.

The glaring problem I saw with the report?  Not once did they ever suggest talking to your veterinarian, even in their tips at the end.  The products carried by your veterinarian have undergone much more rigorous safety & efficacy testing.  Also, since they are being dispensed by medical professionals, you will know you’re getting the right product.  Regarding safety, we can better support your pet if something should happen to them but also we have options that will be safer for your family.advantage

The topical products we use (Advantage, Advantix, Advantage Multi,  & Revolution being the most common) will dry within 24 hours and if any skin exposure happens, a simple soap & water wash will remove any residue; but even then they haven’t been noted to have any side effects towards people like the products mentioned on Marketplace.  Even more concerned about safety?  In the last year (here in Canada, longer in the USA), a few oral tablet/chewable forms that will pose NO threat of exposure to your family have been developed.  Bravecto & NexGard are both orally taken flea & tick control methods that won’t leave a residue to get on people or objects in the home.  Another one is Comfortis which has been around longer and just does fleas.

bravecto

nexgard

comfortisWhile the CBC Marketplace report does make for good television, I am disappointed that they have neglected to include or consult a veterinary professional to help us educate the millions of pet owners out there.  I’m sure that for many people after they saw it there could have been a lot of fear & uncertainty.  We as a veterinary community are here to help you and your pets so don’t be shy about contacting us.  Fleas aren’t a huge issue in the winter right now, but when spring rolls back around, we’ll be here for you & your pets.

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

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A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

 

A lot of people have always asked, “how do you do it?”  Most often, they are referring to the act of euthanasia and relieving animals suffering.  But our profession is more than that.  And no, it’s not just playing with puppies and kittens though sometimes that is the best part of our day.  All this in consideration, I thought I would take you through a recent 24HourIconday I had with all the ups & downs that may come with it.  Just to preface this, it will try to be like an episode of “24” except no explosions, car chases, or Kiefer Sutherland.

 

My job at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic is scheduled from 9am to 6pm every Tuesday.  The particular Tuesday we’re looking back at happened like this…

 

Charlie Taylor waiting7:00am – The buzzing of the alarm goes off.  Yes, it’s good to be alive but the sound is still unpleasant.  The morning begins as I get ready for work and take care of all 5 of our own family pets.  Then I leave the house with 30 minutes to go before work.

 

9:00am – I arrive at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic and have a quick look at the schedule.  It’s a full morning as I’m completely booked up with appointments from then until noon.  Alright, time to start!  The first appointment looks to be a simple one – a dog with an ear infection.  But the owner just cleaned the ears at home!  This makes a diagnosis more difficult but we agree on a symptomatic treatment plan and they depart.  In the next room, a family awaits with their kitten they just adopted from the humane society.  No problems but they want to establish a relationship and just have a general health check up.  I examine the kitten and deem her healthy so we have a discussion on feeding & litterbox use before they depart.

 

A healthy puppy I vaccinated

A healthy puppy I vaccinated

This continues over the next few hours.  Vaccines on a middle-aged dog, itching & scratching for 3 weeks on another dog (he had fleas!), a cat urinating outside of the litterbox and her owners are frustrated by it…that was just the next hour.  I had a few more appointments involving a mixture of vaccines, skin & ear problems (which are very common in the summer), and a case of diarrhea in a dog that eats whatever he wants.

 

11:30am – I came to my last appointment of the morning which was a cat who had a 3 day history of being lethargic and breathing a little heavier than normal.  His owners were concerned but had not felt this was an emergency so he was not brought in earlier.  As I examined this kitty, I could see an abnormal movement in his breathing pattern and I could hardly hear any lung sounds.  I was suspicious of a pleural effusion, which is a build up of fluid in the chest surrounding the lungs which makes it difficult to breathe.  I was given consent to take an x-ray (radiograph) and the diagnosis was confirmed.  I went over the possible causes and prognosis with the owner then explained how we would have to drain the chest which they agreed to do.

 

More normal lung capacity in a cat

More normal lung capacity in a cat

Pleural effusion in a cat

Pleural effusion in a cat

12:15pm – I spent the next 45 minutes getting the patient ready and doing the procedure of tapping the chest.  The intricate details of this will be told at another time.  Once we were finished, the cat was breathing much better and I called his owners with an update.

 

1pm to 3pm – This is the time of day on Tuesdays when I can get caught up on records, phone calls, filling prescriptions, maybe have a bite to eat, or take my dogs out if I brought them to work that day.  On rare occasions, I’ll end up seeing an emergency if the other doctors are fully booked or I could get an emergency surgery (which everyone I work with knows I would drop everything in a heartbeat to help a patient).

 

3pm to 5pm – Appointments start up again with another mixture and variety of vaccines, a limping dog that we determined was a likely sprain, and a check eye.  For the check eye, the owners aren’t sure what happened but this particular cat is squinting and has a discharge.  I try to get a look at the eye but this particular cat is not very happy,

Example of fluorescein stain

Example of fluorescein stain

possibly because he is in pain.  I get one of the veterinary technicians to hold onto the cat by wrapping him in a blanket.  We are able to get his eyelids open and put some numbing drops in there.  When I look again, I can see some cloudiness and we decide to stain the eye.  I explain the findings to his family and we get him set up with some antibiotics and pain medication to go home.

 

5:30pm – Appointments have run over by a bit and my pleural effusion patient is waiting to be discharged.  The prognosis is not great but they are going to take him home for as long they can keep him comfortable.   I would dearly love to get out on time and get home to my dogs as I know my wife will be at work late (her shift runs an hour later than mine this day) but a few more medication refills have been added to the list as well as the records I still have to do.  I’m also reminded that a client is waiting by the phone to hear about some blood tests we did yesterday.

 

By the time I’m done, admittedly with a brief social break to chat with a co-worker, I’m finally done just after 7pm and begin the commute home.  It’s time to take care of my own pets with a walk outside, some food for both them and my wife & I, and then I settle in with some television as I put the final touches on my next blog post.  It was a busy day and I’m thankful that I didn’t have to euthanize an animal.  And sometime around 11pm I’ll finally get some sleep and rest up for the next day.  Not everyday is like this where it can be a bit hectic but everyday is different which is part of the fun and enjoyment of being a veterinarian.

Jennifer & I with Charlie & Taylor...the cats don't pose well

Jennifer & I with Charlie & Taylor…the cats don’t pose well

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Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

 

To Tea Tree or NOT to Tea Tree?

To Tea Tree or NOT to Tea Tree?

 

For many people in today’s world, they are constantly looking for different ways to treat their pets ailments and keep them in general good health.  This can range for diet selections to home remedies and unfortunately can include some old wives’ tales or incomplete/improper information.  I’m not saying they aren’t useful for some conditions, but they should be discussed with your veterinarian and if safer therapies exist they should be used first.  Here in Kingston (like in many other parts of the world), one of the biggest concerns many pet owners have with their pets is the wicked flea!

A common cat flea (which also lives on dogs)

A common cat flea (which also lives on dogs)

These nasty little bugs can cause a multitude of diseases that many people may not see including tapeworms, Bartonellosis, and anemia.  More often though the biggest problem bothering everyone is itching and skin problems.  I can only recommend that you talk to your veterinarian about the best way to handle individual cases of flea problems.  I DO want to keep you from making your pet sick however!

tea tree oil

Many people have found information on the internet about using tea tree oil as a natural remedy for flea control.  Firstly, there is no proven research behind this to prove any efficacy.  And more importantly, it can be toxic to your cat or dog if used (cats do appear to be more sensitive) improperly.  Full strength tea tree oil is sometimes mistakenly applied to the skin of the pet.  Sometimes it is also mistakenly fed to an animal.  When these types of exposures occur, a pet will begin to show signs of toxicity within a few hours.  Most commonly this will include weakness, muscle tremors (twitching), depression, ataxia (walking like they are drunk), and development of hypothermia.  Oral ingestion can lead to liver damage and electrolyte disturbances.  I have personally seen signs disappear in adult dogs in 24 hours but when used in puppies or kittens, they will often be more serious and may require veterinary care.  This was a kitten that I saw once that was so lethargic and depressed from a bath with tea tree oil that she almost died due to hypoglycemia because she was too lethargic to be able to eat.

Exposed to tea tree oil

Exposed to tea tree oil

After treatment, feeling better!

After treatment, feeling better!

 

 

 

 

 

While there is no way to reverse the effects or control neurologic signs without the help of a veterinarian, the first step taken at home should be to wash your pet with a liquid hand dishwashing soap that will de-grease the coat & skin.  After taking this measure, you should contact your veterinarian for further advice.  For oral exposures, you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

 

In short, it is best to avoid using any natural or home remedies without consulting your veterinarian.  The same goes for any type of over the counter human medications.  There are many safe and approved products for use in flea and parasite control.  Ask your veterinarian what’s best to rid your pets and home of those pesky parasites!

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!