Fleas, Ticks, and the FDA. - 11/05/2018
We’ve gotten several calls about the FDA press release last month with respect to oral flea and tick control products and adverse effects.
Considering that here we are, well into November and the temperature is still cracking 60 degrees, well above the active temperature minimum zone for parasite activity, I thought that I would address the issue.
Flea and Tick Diseases
First off, I think it is important to realize that ticks and fleas should be a concern beyond the icky factor that bugs crawling on our pets elicit. These parasites carry diseases. We know that ticks carry Lyme disease which can infect dogs, cats and us. But they also carry Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as a host of other diseases. One tick causes an allergy in people (and possibly pets) to red meat. That’s right, one bite and say good bye to slow cooked barbecue next summer. Fleas can carry a host of diseases as well including Bartonella (cat scratch disease) as well as typhus, plague, and tularemia. So the question is not should you use flea and tick control, but rather which product is the safest and most effective.
What We Used to do About Fleas and Ticks
Historically, (going way back to ancient history), we used really toxic products, many banned due to their horrific side effects for pets and people.
These sprays, dips and powders killed fleas and mammals.
I think back with a shudder to the summers that I worked in kennels as a student applying organophosphate dips to dogs.
No fleas on them, and no mosquitoes on me. Hopefully, I’ll have no long term ill effects.
A revolution in flea and tick control came about with the release of Frontline.
The active ingredient is Fipronil to kill adult fleas and ticks paired with a growth inhibitor to prevent the immature fleas from developing into adults.
The product was safe for mammals and when applied once a month prevented fleas and ticks from pestering our pets.
It is actually used in agriculture as well to treat food crops.
It was rapidly followed to market by Advantage and Advantix (dogs only) for topical use to prevent flea and tick infestations in our pets. A host of over the counter products made their way to market, some less effective, many more dangerous.
A few years ago, we started to notice that there was resistance developing in the fleas and ticks and these products were starting to lose their effectiveness.
What We Do Now About Fleas and Ticks
Bayer had the next innovation in external parasite control.
The Seresto collar kills fleas and ticks for up to 8 months.
We have found them to be very safe and effective, for both dogs and cats.
The efficacy is diminished by frequent bathing so we recommend changing the collars every 6 months.
This is the product that I use on Bella.
Many people don’t like the idea of a collar and their cats do not go outdoors.
That does not put them at zero risk for fleas or heartworm, although the chances of picking up a tick is quite low. For these pets we recommend Advantage Multi or Revolution once a month.
This product will safely prevent fleas, heartworm and intestinal parasites.
Combine with the collar for full protection.
We did have a case of feline heartworm this month in a cat that hasn’t been outdoors for over 10 years.
Go figure, mosquitoes can get in the house.
The next round of products to market was for dogs.
Isoxazolines are an oral product that will kill fleas and ticks, some for up to 3 months (although not all ticks and not as well as the monthly products).
These are the products that the FDA released the new warnings about, so let’s talk about that for a bit.
When a new drug is approved, it must go through thorough testing for both safety and efficacy.
Drugs must be shown to be effective, that’s why we picked the two drugs that we prescribe, Simperica and Credelio, both are very effective over the dosage interval of once a month.
As far as safety, new drugs must be given to a group of animals at the label dose, as well as 3x and 5x the label dose, alone and in combination with other commonly administered medications.
All side effects must be reported.
A single dog, under 6 months of age, had transient neurological side effects at 5x the label dose of Simperica.
Therefore, the FDA granted a label for Simperica for dogs over 6 months of age.
Credelio did not report this side effect so was given a label for dogs over 8 weeks of age.
We are currently following the label recommendations.
Puppies under 6 months old get Credelio, over 6 months we are satisfied with the safety and efficacy of Simperica.
We have had no side effects from either medication in our patients.
Furthermore, when I questioned my colleagues, none have reported any side effects in their patients.
However, there must have been some side effects reported to the FDA, because they are working on adding more information to the labels for all drugs in this class.
Keep in mind, that the current package insert already carries this information where applicable.
Furthermore, if you read the entire press release, beyond the sensational headlines that are springing up all over the internet, you will find that the FDA says that “these products continue to be safe and effective for the majority of animals”, adding that it <the FDA> carefully reviewed studies and other data on Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard, and Simparica prior to approval. The agency is asking the manufacturers to change product labeling in order to provide veterinarians and pet owners with the information they need to make treatment decisions for each pet on an individual basis.”
We recognize our clients’ concerns for their pets’ safety and continue to monitor studies as they become available.
Not using flea and tick control is not safe either as insect borne diseases are seriously dangerous to our pets and ourselves.
We are striving to provide a balance so that we can keep our pets and families safe.
International Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day - 08/06/2018
Dr. Sandra Wu
August 22, 2018 is Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day, but “My cat hates going to the vet, she seems fine, why should I bother bringing her?”
We all know how much cats hate to travel, but it is essential to your cat's health to make that annual trip for the physical examination. Here are some major reasons why:
- Cats age faster, even than dogs in the first few years. In the first year, cats become 15 in human years; after the 2nd, they are 24 human years. Every year thereafter they gain another 4 years. A lot of changes can happen over these years. Annual examinations help us to detect changes and provide preventative care.
- Cats are survivors who know how to mask disease and pain until they are so far gone, it makes it difficult for anyone to help them. By bringing them in routinely, we can examine and evaluate them for earlier signs of disease. By detecting diseases earlier, we have a much better chance at helping them.
- They are not just “fluffy.” More than 50% of cats are overweight, which puts them at risk for diabetes, heart, kidney and lung disease. We can help regulate a diet and exercise plan to keep your kitty from becoming a statistic.
- Adult cats have 30 teeth that most owners never brush. And those mouths get gingivitis and cavities that can be so painful, their teeth chatter when we touch them. Let us check out those teeth and make plans to keep them healthy.
So how do I get unwilling “Fluffy” to the office?
- Get a carrier that feels safe - a hard-sided carrier with top and front doors that can have the top removed. Try stuffing your cat into a tiny carrier door and you'll understand why it's nice to have the top hatch through which you can lower her into the carrier. Being able to lift the top off at the office so she can still hide in the towels make her feel safe.
- Leave the carrier out for a week before using it so your cat can get used to the smell. You can place treats in the carrier so he associates good things with it. He may even climb in it to check it out on his own, it makes a nice hidey-hole!
- If your cat is a bit resistant or aggressive about getting into the carrier, we can occasionally provide medicine or recommend products like Feliway to calm him down before coming. Call us for sugggestions.
- And if all else fails and there is no way you're getting your cat to come into the office, we also do housecalls! Call us to set up an appointment for a doctor to make the trip to your cat instead.
Call us to schedule an appointment or request an appointment on line.
We are working on special offers for this event, so stay tuned to Facebook and check your e mail for details.
Cruciate Ligament Injury - 07/11/2018
Copyright 2018, Veterinary Information Network, Inc
Gross and Dangerous: TICKS! - 06/13/2018
If I say tick, most people’s immediate response is something along the lines of eww, or yuck, or gross.
They are truly disgusting, and we have been seeing a lot of them on both dogs and cats in the office this spring.
It appears that although the weatherman cannot predict whether or not it will rain in the next hour accurately, the parasitologists have hit the nail on the head with their prediction of a bad tick season this year. And, unfortunately, the cool, damp spring is not helping matters any.
Most pet owners are worried about Lyme disease and with good reason. The incidence of infection with Borrelia Burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is way up this year in our area. While Lyme Disease is an important problem for dogs and their owners, there are many other tick borne diseases that we need to be concerned about. Different ticks carry different parasites and we have seen spikes in positive tests for Anaplasma and Ehrlichiosis as well as Lyme disease this spring.
Along with emerging diseases spread by ticks, we are seeing changes in the species of ticks that we are seeing in our area.
Lone Star Ticks, named for the single white spot on the back of the bug (not for the state of Texas) are emerging as a problem, especially out east.
They are problematic because many tick preventions are not as effective against this species as one would like. They also spread diseases like Tularemia and Human monocytotrophic ehrlichiosis.
If that’s not bad enough, they also can cause a serious and sometimes lifetime allergic reaction to red meat.
That’s right, as bizarre as it sounds, a protein in the saliva of the Lone Star Tick can cause it’s bite victims to become allergic to all red meat.
A new species of east Asian tick has raised it’s ugly head in New Jersey and we are girding ourselves for it’s appearance on Long Island in the near future.
So, what can we do to keep ourselves and out pets safe?
Stay out of tall grass when possible.
Treat your yards if you are in high tick areas.
Use an effective tick control product.
We recommend Simperica oral chews or Seresto collars for our pets.
Pyrethrin treated clothing for humans.
Ticks need to attach for a period of time to spread disease.
Check your pets and yourselves daily for ticks.
A useful tool is a tape lint roller up and down your pet after it comes in.
Ticks will stick to the tape.
If you find an attached tick, gentle traction with a small tweezer, close to the skin will get the tick to release.
Do not crush it with your fingers.
If you need it identified, put it in a plastic baggie and bring it to your veterinarian.
Have your dog tested regularly for tick borne diseases.
It’s a simple blood test.
We have effective vaccinations against Lyme disease, the most common tick transmitted disease in our area.
If your pet is at risk, vaccination is imperative.
H3N2 Dog Flu and You - 05/11/2018
Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) has been a cause of canine cough in the US since 2003. The original strain of the virus was first seen in racing Greyhound kennels and rapidly spread throughout the country and is now endemic to many states including Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The original strain of CIV is s subtype of an Influenza A virus, identified by it’s protein receptors as H3N8. It causes a dry hacking cough, similar but more serious than that associated with Bordetella, the bacteria that causes Kennel Cough. It is easily spread through direct contact, nasal aerosols (think coughing and sneezing), and fomites (objects and clothing that has been sneezed or coughed on). Since it was a new virus on the block, all dogs were susceptible to infection, there was no immunity. A vaccine was quickly developed and we were able to control infection in our pet populations. The game changed again in 2015 with the appearance of a new strain of the virus, H3N2 CIV. Unlike human influenza viruses, this was not simply an annual mutation of the virus but an entirely new strain. The H3N8 is still around. Originally appearing in the Midwest, H3N2 has since started to spread. We monitored the spread of the outbreaks (somewhat more severe than the original CIV infections) and since there was no spike in cases in our area, we did not change our vaccine protocols. However, an outbreak of H3N2 CIV has been identified just last week in Brooklyn and so now we are trying to get the word out to dog owners so that they can protect their pets. While flu season in people is winding down, dog flu season is just getting started. That’s because the risk factors increase as the weather gets warmer. We see increased exposure for dogs that go to boarding, day care, dog runs, grooming, social groups, or now, go into Brooklyn and they need to be protected against this virus. What does this mean for your dog? If your pet has any of the above risk factors, we recommend vaccination against both strains of CIV. An initial series of 2 vaccinations is followed by annual boosters. If you are anticiapating a high risk situation (boarding for example) the series should be completed at least 2 weeks prior to potential exposure. If your dog has had the H3N8 vaccine, it just needs the new vaccine. If it has not had a flu vaccine in the past, it will need to be vaccinated against both strains, which can be done at the same time. We will be setting up some clinic times for flu shots so that we can keep the cost down for owners. Patients of ours that have been seen in the past 6 months and have no health issues can just receive the flu shots without and examination or office call fee. If your dog is not a patient of ours, we will perform a courtesy examination during clinic hours to make sure that it is healthy enough to vaccinate before we administer the vaccines. Details for vaccination clinics will be posted on our facebook page so keep an eye out. We will also be reaching out to our clients via text or e mail to let you know when the clinic hours will be available.