Prevention vs Risk…What Do I Do?

Aaah, finally the arrival of spring. Of course, now we are impatiently waiting for the warm weather (it’s been rainy and muddy). Thankfully, the weather has been staying above freezing. Even the ticks and fleas are starting to come out of hiding. Recently, I’ve been taken aback by a few statements from a number of owners – “There are no fleas and ticks out yet.” or “My pet rarely goes outside and never goes in the woods.” or “I have never seen a flea or tick on him.” or “There are no mosquitoes near us.” and so on. Let’s have a look at these statements.

Why do we wear seatbelts? It’s for safety, it’s the law, and you never know when an accident can happen. You have the option to wear your seat belt or not. However, there is a penalty if you get caught. We know that the consequences of an accident can be much more severe, even fatal, without a seat belt. Each person weighs the risks and benefits for themselves. Generally, most people would tend to wear them to be safe and to avoid a ticket. It becomes such a daily habit that we rarely think about it. The same goes for parasite prevention. You do NOT have to take the prevention; it’s optional. Prevention for your pet is not even mandatory by law. But what are the risks? Let’s play a game that I used to play with family and friends hiking in the mountains – it’s called “Fortunately/Unfortunately.” I hope this helps you realize that we do not want to sell you something. Instead, we want to help protect you and your pets so you do not have to deal with potentially detrimental consequences.

Fortunately, you may never see a tick or flea on your pet.
Unfortunately, ticks can take their meal and leave. The next host may be a person, and the tick could carry the dreaded Lyme disease. Fleas are very tiny and very fast – by the time you do see a flea, there are hundreds and hundreds more hiding around the house. We have already removed several ticks this year and seen quite a few pets with fleas!

Fortunately, it’s cheaper not to buy any prevention.
Unfortunately, it can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars for the additional testing and treatment that your pet may need. That’s not even including the additional cost of living with a chronic condition! But, by the time that you see signs of illness and the disease is confirmed, there may be permanent damage (e.g. heart damage from heartworms, joint pain and kidney damage from Lyme disease). And this all could have been prevented.

Fortunately, you can pick up cheap flea and tick prevention online or at the stores.
Unfortunately, products sold online that say that they are a veterinary product are not – the packaging is the same, but the real medication is a farce. The reason we use the products we do is that we can request safety and trial data from the companies that manufacture them. Also, a vet-patient-client relationship is required – I want to know your pet and their needs so I can help you make the best choice for them. Other medication may not work and how safe the product is, is very questionable.

Fortunately, your pet stays indoors or only goes around the neighbourhood block for walks.
Unfortunately, ticks and fleas and mosquitoes travel. They are in the backyard, on wildlife that travels through your yard and some of them are sensitive to temperature. Ticks and fleas can hitch a ride on your clothes, and you can bring in eggs from worms on your shoes. We used to think that these issues only existed in higher risk areas like the woods. But not so – these pests are in our neighbourhoods and backyards!

Fortunately, you may never see worms or diarrhea.
Unfortunately, your pet can still harbour intestinal worms. The adult worms can live very happily in your pet’s gut for a long time without your pet showing signs of illness. You will only see an adult worm in poop if there are too many worms crowded together. Eggs are invisible so you can only see them under the microscope. Some of these worms can be dangerous in people, so once again your pet and family members are left exposed and vulnerable.

Fortunately, there are lots of safe, natural remedies to use.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of data about “natural remedies.” Who decides the dose? What are the potential side effects? Where is the information about the clinical trials and efficacy studies, i.e. how did they determine what is the right dose and how well does the product work? The dose makes the poison. The products that I use – I know that they work, I can look at the studies, I can see what happened when animals were given increasing amounts so I know what could happen. Any pet can react to any medication. Beware of all the Google rants and raves – there is a lot of misleading information, and people love to complain.

The arrival of the warmer weather allows us to shed our heavy protective clothing. You have the opportunity to protect your furry friend and family members. We are here to help answer questions and address any concerns you may have. We do NOT want your family exposed to parasites. We want your pet healthy, and prevent your pet from potential suffering from the diseases that these parasites can cause. Let’s have a safe summer together!

Written by: Dr. Rhonda Boulter, DVM