Don't let heartworm catch your pooch by surprise
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#1 May 9, 2010
Even water can be toxic in large amounts, so Dr. Hack's argument about the dangers of natural remedies (e.g., garlic) is specious, IMO. Having said that, it's crucial that pet guardians research what's safe and what's not for their pets (e.g., pennyroyal and cats are a very bad mix), but on the whole, natural is healthier than pharmaceutical. I like to used herbal flea collars on my dogs rather than the standard flea poisons. I've also noticed that most vets know little to nothing about herbal remedies, so it behooves you to do that research yourself, through books or the Internet.
I gotta say that I think yearly heartworm tests and prophylaxis are somewhat of a scam. Just a few years ago bi-yearly heartworm tests were recommended by local vets. Then rabies shot requirements changed from every year to every three years, and suddenly vets were recommending yearly heartworm tests. My theory is that they're trying to make up for the loss of income resulting from the rabies shot change.
I live in a no- to low-mosquito rural area of the county (any mosquito in the neighborhood would quickly sniff me out, and it's one of the joys of living where I do that I can get through a summer without a mosquito bite). My dogs are seniors; for most of their lives I've been giving them heartworm prophylaxis every six weeks, not the every four weeks recommended by the manufacturer and vets. And it's worked out fine. Like all pest killers, it's a toxic drug, and the less you need to use it, the better for your dogs. My point is that you need to determine the specific risk in your particular area, and take into consideration any travel with your dogs to areas of the country or state that may have more mosquitos. There are many microclimates in Santa Fe County, some of which are much drier than others.
I'm offering this comment based on my personal experience, not as a medical expert.
#2 May 9, 2010
I moved here from Tampa nine months ago and I can honestly say I have NEVER seen a flea, tick or mosquito here in Santa Fe. I am out in the woods all the time, including overnight camping, during all the seasons I have lived here. These diseased animals probably got infected elsewhere since there are no carrier insects to be found here. It is way too dry here for these insects and without the insects, there is no disease. I just don't believe what the local vets tell me. I am also really surprised to see flea powder in the grocery stores. The containers all look rather old. I would wager that the only people buying this stuff are the tourists that bring the bugs with them.
#3 May 9, 2010
I have four cats and have them tested when they get their yearly shots. I never thought in a milion years one would have heartworms and one of them did get it (she's only 15 months old and is an indoor cat 95% of the time).
#4 May 9, 2010
marc, please don't be fooled. We have an abundance of fleas and ticks here in Santa Fe county. If I'm not really aggressive and proactive about treating my two dogs, I find both fleas and ticks on them usually starting in MARCH. Less than a week ago I took in my daughter's cat (while she's deployed), who is an INDOOR ONLY cat, and found a flea on her about an hour ago. I do NOT live in unusually filthy conditions (in fact, I pay a house cleaner weekly), but the parasites ARE HERE. Please be aware and don't put your head in the sand.
(we have mosquitoes too, trust me):-(
I live in Santa Fe county about 20 miles south of the city...... so maybe our problem here is unique to SF County?? But I don't think so.
(By the way, if we didn't have fleas here, Northern NM wouldn't be the country's hot spot for the plague)
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