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Preventing Disease in Dogs: Tips from Will Draper, DVM

09/29/2010

  • Will Draper, DVM:

    Here’s question from the Pet Community Board: "Can flea collars and flea baths work?"

    What do you guys think about flea collars and flea baths?

  • Steven Belew:

    I don’t use either. (Laugh)

  • Will:

    OK, good, good, good.

    That’s good, because they don’t -- they aren’t very effective. Flea collars by nature, unless a flea is going to jump on the collar, aren't going to work very well for you. And flea baths work. But once the patient dries, a flea can hop back on it.  And you have the flea problem again; that’s why there are so many great flea products out there now; topical flea products that actually work with the oils in your pet’s skin to help kill fleas. There are oral flea medications that get in your pet’s bloodstream that are safe, that actually will kill fleas when they bite them. And there are also some heartworm medications that help with fleas as well.

  • Merry Morrow:

    Dr. Draper, I was wondering, when it comes to the topical flea, or any kind of whatever you choose, should you be doing it during the winter, too? Obviously in the summer, it's so hot. But what is your thought on that?

  • Will:

    First of all, it kind of depends on the region, we’re all here in the South as we sit here … in Georgia, where fleas are a year-around problem, because we don’t always get a good frost in the winter that you might get, say, up north.  So an important thing to know is that one stage of the flea is the pupal stage. And it can remain in that stage for months. And I mean lie dormant until there is a proper time to hatch. So it's always important to continue flea preventatives in this sort of climate, year-around. And again, some of the flea preventatives you give are in combination with your heartworm preventative, which you should also do year-around. So that makes it very easy because you are giving it with your once-a-month medication.

  • Suzanne Anderson:

    Is it true, you just have to wait 24 hours after a bath to apply the medication?

  • Will:

    Right, right. The sebaceous glands will put up the oils on the skin and a lot of those topical treatments have to interact with that oil in order to get it down into the gland. So you want to wait 24 hours generally, after a bath, and then, once you put it on, wait another 24 to 48 hours, depending on medication, to bathe them after that.

  • Suzanne:

    One of my Bichons came in from a kennel, and the dog was full of heartworms. It never had any heartworm treatment and it cost me a fortune.

  • Will:

    Dogs get heartworms from mosquitoes. Worms get in their heart and actually in their artery, and can be fatal. And amazingly [this is] one of the easiest things to prevent. ...

  • Suzanne:

    How long is an adult heartworm?

  • Will:

    Female heartworms, if I am not mistaken, can get up to be a foot long. Once they get into that pulmonary artery, I mean there is not much you can do, besides go through that expensive treatment, which is also very dangerous (Yes) because you are killing those worms in your blood system, and those worms are going to die and break up into fragments. And then you worry about things like your dog having a stroke or having a heart attack, so it’s just better to prevent it rather than have to treat.

  • Suzanne:

    Well, I had to keep the dog extremely quiet because they were scared that the heartworm would do something.

  • Will:

    It’s just better to go on -- keep them on preventative.

  • Suzanne:

    Thank you so much.

Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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