A PET REPORTER’S PERSPECTIVE
Steve Dale has heard his share of horror stories from pet owners.Most of these stories never had to become a fright night for pet owners. Education holds the key in avoiding both small and big health issues that affect dogs and, ultimately, their owners, Dale says. Their beloved dogs suffered from bites from parasites – ticks, fleas, mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the pet owners who dealt with their dogs’ incessant scratching, illnesses from those bites, sometimes serious, and even flea infestations suffered right along with them.
“Pets are suffering needlessly because pet owners aren’t aware of what’s available to protect their dogs from parasites,” says Dale, host of nationally syndicated radio show Steve Dale’s Pet World and nationally syndicated columnist. “Our pets bring us so much joy but we don’t want parasites in our home. All of the things that can be scary to our beloved dogs and to us can be avoided. These are simple reasonably affordable steps, especially considering the expense and troubles that compound if we allow those parasites to infect our pets.”
For starters, Dale strongly recommends that pet owners avoid “playing veterinarian.” Too often, pet owners try to save a few bucks by buying over-the-counter medications to control and prevent problems from fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites.
“I’ve heard countless stories from pet owners who buy products without consulting a veterinarian,” Dale notes. “These pet owners often end up buying a product that doesn’t work or they simply don’t comply with the product’s usage. Or both. They can avoid problems, save money and better ensure their pets’ health simply by visiting a veterinarian.”
He even received an angry e-mail from a follower who wanted Dale to pay for an exterminator after her home was infested with fleas. The pet owner bought an over-the-counter product that simply wasn’t the best flea control. Plus, as Dale politely told her, the pet owner failed to get the expert advice of a veterinarian.
Other parasites are equally troublesome. Ticks, once thought of as a rural problem, are now pervasive, and can even be found in urban areas such as Lincoln Park, near Dale’s home in Chicago, and Central Park in New York City. The CDC conceded last year that they have been understating the incidents of Lyme disease in people, and Dale notes that Lyme disease in dogs is likely under diagnosed.
There are two big differences when it comes to tick-related illnesses between dogs and people, though. One, people have the ability to tell their doctors symptoms such as fever, aches and lethargy related to tick-borne diseases. Dogs can’t, Dale notes.
However, pet owners have a powerful ally in fending off diseases from ticks. “We have the products to protect our dogs but not humans from ticks,” he adds.
While humans often use repellents to stop the sting and itch of a mosquito or flea bite, or the need to pick off a nasty tick, many pet owners fail to do the same for their dogs. Stopping the bite before it even happens to your dog makes absolute sense, Dale says.
That’s part of the education process, since there’s a big difference between oral medications that fight off diseases from parasites and topical products squeezed from a tube that repel and kill parasites even before these pesky bugs even have an opportunity to bite.
Topical products such as Vectra 3D® combine the best of both worlds by killing dangerous parasites through contact and preventing them from feeding on pets. Vectra 3D® has been proven to help stop the parasite bite from even happening. The product’s repellency is a key factor in helping protect a pet from biting parasites.
“Just one flea bite can result in an allergic response in some pets, and even a handful of bites may lead to major issues,” adds Dale, who recently edited “Decoding Your Dog,” authored by members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. “Those bites also itch and become an annoyance for the pet. Their scratching impacts their quality of life.”
And Dale has heard his share of stories about dogs keeping their owners up all night as they scratch those itches from bug bites. That’s especially true as people become closer to their pets, even allowing them to sleep in the same bed. “Your pet has fleas and he or she is in bed with you? How gross is that!”
“The reality is that oral products require the parasite to bite the pet in order to work, allowing a greater opportunity for the parasite, particularly ticks, to transmit diseases,” says Dales. “If you repel them, they don’t even get a chance to dine with a blood meal from your pet.”
Visit your veterinarian and talk about the options available to protect your dog, Dale recommends. After all, protection against bites goes a long way in helping man’s best friend and pet owners to sleep easier.