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Please Pass the Prevention

By April 18, 2013 No Comments

by Dawn Todd

Fire DangerBenjamin Franklin first famously uttered, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” in 1736, when he was just 30 years old.

We still quote him today – and although he was talking about fighting fires at the time, the famous advice is just as valuable today as it was 276 years ago.

I find that many clients treat parasite prevention a bit like a fire. They’re not overly concerned until they see “flames”—- or in this case, fleas. And believe me…. may people come in yelling “FLEAS!!!” in the same tone they’d yell “FIRE!!!”.

Human nature I suppose keeps us most concerned about what we can see with our eyes– which in this case is fleas and ticks. Things we can’t actually see with our eyes – heartworms and intestinal parasites – generally fall a bit lower on the list of things that vex us.

Here’s the thing about parasites – they may prefer our furry pets to live on or in – but in a pinch, they’ll all move right over to us for a tasty meal.

This month, let’s focus on what we can do to prevent smoke from becoming flames when it comes to parasites.

Second only to the cockroach, fleas are most loathed. Although they can spread some serious disease, generally in our part of the world they just spread misery with very itchy bites. Last summer I had people coming into the office with dogs and cats just crawling with fleas, and hundreds of bites on the human as well— that’s a lot of misery.

I cannot count the number of people that walk into our office and say “XYZ product doesn’t work anymore, my dog (or cat) has fleas”.

I’m going to cut right to the chase here and tell you a little secret…. All products you purchase in a veterinarian’s office are extensively researched and tested, and they all work … but (and it’s a big but) they’re all monthly preventatives. That means, when you use them each and every month, year round, they prevent a problem from starting.

The secret to rarely seeing fleas is pretty simple:

Apply a veterinary product correctly on each and every furry companion in your life (best to skip husbands), each and every month, 12 months a year.

We’ve analyzed our client’s 2012 purchasing habits in excruciating detail. Over 2000 pets in our practice last year had THREE or FEWER doses of flea &/tick prevention purchased for them the entire year. That’s a lot of money spent on an extraordinarily ineffective strategy for parasite control.

We most commonly see three doses purchased May through October. That’s not enough to effectively keep fleas from building a settlement in your territory. To read extensively about why a year round defense strategy prevents a hostile takeover, click here.

Personally, ticks freak me out even more than fleas do. Maybe it’s because I’m so paranoid about all the really serious diseases ticks can transmit to us.

If you sleep with your dogs, like we do, it’s time to get serious about tick control. If you have children and pets living together in your home, it’s time to get serious about tick control.

For a refresher course on why you should care about keeping ticks from getting too attached to your pets (or you), click here.

What about what you can’t see?

Out of sight out of mind holds true for heartworms. But heartworms are deadly, and they’re a true case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure— literally. It costs, on average, $6 per month to give heartworm preventative to a dog. Treating a heartworm infection costs $600 – $1,000 at Noah’s Ark. (I’ll let you do that math!)

I often mention our partners in Raleigh, Saving Grace. We transport many of the rescue dogs we take in at Noah’s Ark to this fantastic program. Of the rescue dogs that enter Saving Grace, most from rural shelters east of Raleigh, at least 1 in 10 dogs are heartworm positive. Treating heartworm disease is a huge expense for rescues in the eastern part of the state.

It’s not nearly as bad in our neighborhood, although the number of cases we see at Noah’s Ark has doubled in the nine years we’ve lived here in Franklin. Currently we diagnose 1 -2 new cases per month.

But wait, there’s more… for $6 per month your not just protecting your dogs from getting heartworm disease ….

Bonus Prevention…

The Heartgard we recommend giving monthly also prevents intestinal parasites…. and intestinal parasites are zoonotic — meaning our untreated dogs and cats can pass them to us and the kids. In fact, children are most at risk for contracting parasites from pets.

It makes so much more sense to spend your hard earned money preventing “fires” from ever starting versus putting them out once the house is burning down.

We’re experts at helping you decide how to best spend your pet budget. So if you’re not sure, just ask us, we can help you!