Dr. Laurel Davis, Asheville’s integrative vet, offers “Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian”, the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
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Make it a Healthy Spring, Pt 2: Fleas & Flea Allergies
It is truly a wonder how much such a tiny insect can affect our furry friends, and it can be heartbreaking to see an animal with flea allergies struggle to cope with the damage they inflict.
Fleas are persistent, so to limit their threat, take preventative measures to make certain that you and your furry friend have the healthiest spring possible.
Eek! I found a flea on my cat/dog. What should I do?
When you see one flea on your pet, you can be sure there are already many flea eggs and larvae in the environment. For an animal who is allergic to flea bites, this is a hazardous cycle, and the best way you can help them is to prevent those fleas from hitching a ride on your beloved dog or cat in the first place.
Wondercide Flea & Tick Spray is an excellent holistic option for repelling fleas. It is made with essential oils and can be used on dogs (cats are very sensitive to essential oils, so I do not recommend applying essential oils or products containing them directly to your cat.) and around your home as a repellent throughout the season.
However, If your furry friend has flea allergies, it is important to kill fleas before they bite your animal because your friend’s allergy is actually to the flea saliva. So go ahead and reach for a tougher, chemical-based substance that actually kills the fleas to supplement your holistic battle plan.
At Sunvet Animal Wellness Clinic, we offer an interesting method of decreasing your animal’s allergic response to flea saliva. We use a technique called Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) to reprogram the animal’s body so that it no longer looks at the flea saliva as something to react against. It is another wonderful holistic option to lessen the effects of flea allergies on your dog or cat.
But Dr. Laurel, I can’t stand those pesky beasts, and my animal has a flea allergy! What flea & tick preventative should I use?
I always recommend using topical flea & tick preventatives for your dogs and cats if at all possible. In my Asheville, NC clinic, I carry Frontline Gold and Advantage II, and those products are my go-to for chemical flea and tick prevention. Whereas tablets or chews work to combat fleas and ticks from the inside out, topical preventatives are distributed by the oils in your furry friend’s skin, so they can be washed off if, in rare instances, the animal has a reaction. In my evaluation, both of these preventatives are much less chemically nasty than many other products on the market.
This time of year, when ticks are hatching throughout most of the U.S. (including our hometown of Asheville NC), I recommend Frontline Gold for canines, which combats both fleas and ticks, and Advantage, which combats fleas, for my feline patients. On average, dogs tend to be outside more often than cats, so they are more exposed to ticks. To keep your feline friend tick-free, I recommend regular brushing and observation so that you can pull any of those pesky freeloaders off your favorite feline.
In mid-to-late summer, the tick population usually starts to diminish. When you’re not seeing ticks in the environment, you can switch back to using a flea-only preventative. My philosophy is to use only what you need, and only when you need it!
If you are unable to use a topical preventative on your dog or cat, because you share your home with humans who are sensitive to the chemicals in topical preventatives (like small children), your dog is frequently in water, or for other reasons, then I recommend NexGard as an internal flea & tick tablet for dogs and Comfortis for cats. You can find both of these products in my Asheville, NC clinic or at your local holistic veterinarian.
Don’t forget to check out Part Three in my Make it a Healthy Spring series where I talk about another warm weather pest, the mosquito, and how to protect your dogs from heartworms.
Dr. Laurel Davis is Asheville’s integrative vet, offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
Get to know Dr. Laurel by reading her blog.