Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Flea and Heartworm Prevention 2012

Question:  How important is flea and heartworm prevention?

There are many different options today for good parasite control, but heartworm and flea control products are among the most commonly used, and for good reason.  Heartworms are carried by mosquitoes and their infective larvae are microscopic.  Without routine blood testing, these worms are usually undetectable until a pet goes into heart failure.  The other culprit, fleas, can multiply extremely fast, stay dormant in the carpet or furniture folds for months, can carry tapeworms, and cause chronic and severe skin problems. 
If your pet is out and about regularly, you should have them on some type of heartworm and flea preventative year round.  In general, the medications and dosages used for prevention are typically lower than would be used for treatment.  Especially in the case of heartworm disease, the toxicity of medications used for prevention is significantly less than those used for treatment.   In the long run, we end up saving on medications to treat preventable conditions, and more importantly, have healthier dogs with less risk of complications secondary to these infections. 
Luckily there are many safe options for our pets and their owners.  It is best to discuss these options with your veterinarian to decide the best fit for you and your family.  The best product is one that you will use regularly, controls the issues, is effective for your lifestyle, and minimizes your family’s exposure to medications.
I personally like Sentinel as a good heartworm and flea prevention product for dogs to use year round.  It combines the active ingredients: milbemycin for heartworm prevention, and loratidine for flea control.  Neither of these products is a pesticide, and the active ingredient which prevents flea infestation is completely inactive in mammals.  Loratidine prevents the development of an exoskeleton in insects – something mammals don’t have.  This breaks the reproductive cycle.  In addition to providing heartworm prevention, milbemycin also treats for intestinal parasites including whipworms.  Whipworms can be difficult to remove from the environment and are one of the most common intestinal parasites we still find in adult dogs.  For the occasional flea outbreak that can occur when adult fleas hitchhike home from the park, Comfortis is a very effective and safe oral medication that will kill adult fleas for one full month.  I use Sentinel regularly and have had to treat with Comfortis only once in over 4 years when a possum came into our yard with fleas. 
Many times we wonder whether the benefits outweigh the risks of giving all of these products to our beloved dogs.  In the case of flea and heartworm prevention, they do.  Fleas can cause serious dermatologic as well as medical problems, and heartworm disease is a costly and dangerous disease to treat should your dog contract it.   Intestinal parasites can also pose a risk to the people in our families as well.  Prevention is still the best medicine.


Mike Rowe from "Dirty Jobs" has partnered up with Novartis Animal Health to bring you fun and educational episodes about fleas.  Visit http://www.sentinelpet.com/ for more "The Dirty Truth" episodes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our Beehive Experience

A week ago we experienced a bee issue that had developed on the property next door.  The bees there made a significant population size that we felt needed to be addressed. We were concerned about the possibilities of bee stings to humans and animals, as both can be allergic to the stings.  The stings of bees and other insects have the potential to cause a histamine reaction resulting in swelling around the sting site or worse, anaphylactic shock!  We decided to contact a beekeeper from the Sacramento Area Bee Keepers Association. Past President Brian Fishback came out within the hour and removed the hive free of charge.  The issue was considered a “Swarm” of bees. This is a large group of helper bees along with a queen that are trying to establish a hive.  The estimated amount of bee in this swarm was around 40,000 bees.  We learned from Brian that this particular swarm had probably developed within a 5 day period.
Mr. Fishback gave us some fun facts regarding bees.  Bees can produce about 7/16th of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime.  This doesn’t sound like a lot but multiply that by 40,000 bees and you have a pretty large amount of honey produced from one hive.
Mr. Fishback and his team were able to remove the swarm humanely.  They did this by using a 5 gallon bucket on a pole, and with a little “bumping” of the swarm, the bees would fall into the bucket. They then placed the extracted bees into a beehive box.  The smell of past honey in the box and ideal conditions for a hive made the bees happy.  The bees let off a pheromone hormone by fanning their wings to let the rest of the swarm know to come down to the box.  The biggest trick for beekeepers when collecting a hive or swarm is to actually remove the queen as well. 
By the next morning, the bees were in the beehive box. The property owners were eventually contacted and they were happy that the bees were removed.
Bees are at an all time high this year.  If you happen to see a hive or swarm of bees developing on your home or property, we suggest calling a professional pest company or beekeeper in your area to remove them for you.

If you need Brian Fishback’s services you can contact him on his website: www.beesarelife.com.