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Alternatives to Conventional Preventatives
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London, UK


Forum Posts: 1606
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22 February 2019 - 6:44 am
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I’d be interested in hearing what alternatives people use to conventional preventative treatments, for ticks, fleas, worms etc. After the huge amount of intervention Meg had when we were trying to save her leg, the cocktail of painkillers she now takes daily, and the fact we lost Pie so suddenly to liver cancer, I have been trying to remove chemicals from her diet and environment, as much as is possible. My aim is to give her everything she needs to be healthy but absolutely nothing she doesn’t need.

I’m not interested in starting a debate. These are personal decisions and everybody’s circumstances are different. In the UK, we don’t have rabies or Heartworm, for example, so unless I plan to take Meg overseas, that’s two we don’t have to worry about. Lungworm, on the other hand, is now endemic through much of the UK, and cases are increasing. This is a very nasty parasite, so clearly I need to ensure that Meg is protected from it.

We stopped Meg’s DHPP vaccinations around four years ago, when we were trying to build up her immunity to get rid of the chronic infection that ultimately lost her her leg. To the best of my knowledge, she had received no vaccinations when I brought her home, aged about a year. She had her double DHPP then, and was vaccinated according to the vaccine providers recommendations up to the age of six. Several vets I have asked about it, have told me her chances of contracting any of the four diseases DHPP protects from are in consequence close to zero. She is vaccinated against Lepto every year because she spends so much time in water.

For worms, I stopped treating Meg preventatively about a year ago. What I now do, is send off a stool sample to a company called Wormcount.com every three months. They do a faecal egg count looking for all species of roundworm, tapeworm and coccidia and also perform a Lungworm screen. So far, all Meg’s tests have been negative, but clearly should any evidence of worms be found then we would treat her for them. Screening is much cheaper than you might imagine. We pay £24 (around $30) for a full faecal egg count and lungworm screening.

My most recent switch is away from conventional flea and tick treatments. Meg has never been suitable for spot-on treatments, such as Advocate, because she swims so much, but living in an area with a great deal of wildlife (hares, rabbits, deer, foxes..) there are plenty of fleas and ticks around and Meg’s coat appears to be their idea of heaven. I used Bravecto, which we found really excellent, and providing the weather wasn’t too warm, I would always give her a break from it over the Winter. Recently though, I have switched her to Billy No Mates, a combination of mint, seaweed, fenugreek, neem leaves and lemon balm, which I sprinkle on her food. So far, so good, and it’s great for her coat, but we’ll have to see as the weather gets warmer, whether even Billy No Mates will be sufficient to repel stowaways from the MegaCoat. Watch this space…

Anyway, that’s us, and as I say, I’d be interested to hear what other people are doing.

Thanks,

Meg, Clare and Angel Pie xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 11, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


The Rainbow Bridge



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22 February 2019 - 11:18 am
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Hey Clare, what a great discussion you’ve started here, thank you. We will all learn so much from how everyone copes with pests and bugs and viruses! And I have no idea what lungworm is but it sounds nasty! I’ll have to look that up.

Back when we had Jerry, we unquestioningly followed whatever guidelines were in place for parasite and virus management. We vaccinated him when we were told, we doused him with spot-on flea treatments, until he lost his leg to cancer. That was the eye-opener, and the point at which we started questioning everything. During his last two years we avoided vaccinations and conventional parasite prevention medications, and he didn’t suffer because of it.

When crazy Wyatt Ray came along, I vowed to do things differently from the get-go.

For the first six or seven of his life I never used any kind of spot-on flea and tick treatments. Instead I reached for any natural pest preventive I could find, like cedar oil, eucalyptus, etc. I was convinced that feeding him the healthiest diet possible would repel any critters that tried to attach themselves to his body.

During this time I followed conventional vaccination protocols (every 3 years), but skip the ‘extras’ like Bortadella (since he doesn’t board) as well as Lepto. He does swim in mountain lakes and rivers, but I have not given it to him. So far so good, but vets tell me I’m taking a huge risk. 

When it came to heartworm preventive, I struggled with that, but eventually gave in and put him on conventional medication (Heartguard). We are frequently in heartworm hot zones, and I would hate for him to suffer because of my refusal to use the treatment.  And when I saw the data about how heartworm is now almost everywhere in the U.S. because of the frequency in which pets now travel, it just made sense.

Getting back to fleas and ticks . . . in 2016, the ticks were horrendous during a summer we spent in Colorado high country, a place where they didn’t used to be so bad. Natural methods did not keep them off him. So for the first time, I caved and bought the chemicals. I also feared that Jim and I would contract a disease when he brought them home. I put Wyatt on “Revolution”, a 3-in-1 treatment that includes heartworm preventive. However, I do give him a break from the chemicals during winter, and only keep him on Heartguard. In April, I’ll switch him back to the 3-in-1.

Each time I give him a preventive, I apologize to him! I can’t help but feel awful about giving him something I wouldn’t give myself, but climate change has altered the migration patterns of pests and viruses for good. I wrote this blog post about climate change, fleas and ticks as a way to cope with my guilt.

Meanwhile, this year Wyatt is 10. It’s time for his annual rabies vaccine. And I am not going to do it, but rather titer him when we go to Colorado State for his annual exam in May. I’ve heard too many reports of senior dogs being adversely affected by the rabies vaccine. I’m not looking forward to having to prove that titers are just as good to any officials we encounter (like when Wyatt does vet shows with us), but I’m willing to deal with it for the sake of keeping my healthy old boy healthy.

When it comes to preventives, so much has changed over the last ten years. It’s a never ending struggle of trying to balance what I feel in my gut is healthy and safe for my dog, versus unquestioningly following the advice of veterinarians. It almost feels like playing Russian Roulette at times! 

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