Bayer Animal Health has made the former prescription-only flea and tick products available at specialty retailers and pet specialty Internet sites. For Advantage® and Advantix® products, PetSmart is offering a coupon with a savings of $5 and free shipping until April 26. To order, visit their website (and sign up for e-mail specials).

Bayer is Offering a $20 Rebate

Bayer has also launched a national multi-million dollar rebate program. With the blue economy, pet owners are putting veterinary visits on the back burner. With Bayer’s rebate program, “March Back In” pet owners qualify for the $20 rebate. Just purchase any Advantage® Family flea and tick treatment from a licensed veterinarian during the month of March and return to the same veterinary clinic for any preventive treatment before December 31.

Flea & Tick Season is Here

With flea and tick season here, dogs and cats, as well as their owners benefit from using preventative products. Fleas and ticks begin to flourish in the spring and thrive throughout the summer and into the autumn. In Mid-Atlantic States, the flea and tick population actually becomes worse in September and October. Fleas thrive in humidity and once they make your home, their home, it can be a nightmare.

With a warm spring, ticks, which generally begin to appear in the summer, will appear as early as March (in the Mid-Atlantic States). Pet owners should be prepared with products to prevent potential health risks associated with tick bites.

Mid-Atlantic States are Densely Populated Tick Areas

For dog owners who live in densely populated tick areas, it is beneficial to protect dogs with a Lyme disease vaccination. There are several vaccinations available at veterinary clinics. Vaccinations are not 100% effective, but for people who live between Massachusetts and Virginia where the tick population is the highest in the country, it is an additional preventative measure. Some veterinarians have criticized the Lyme vaccines for its ineffectiveness, so it is best to ask your trusted pet care giver for advice.

Remember, tick control is the most important step to prevent Lyme disease in a pet. Not only do ticks carry Lyme disease, but they carry other diseases as well. During peak tick season, avoid heavily wooded areas, and always, inspect for ticks after a dog walk.

Lyme disease vaccinations are not available for cats.

At the University of Colorado James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, canine health is a priority. While the hospital routinely sees patients of all species, sizes and breeds, canine hip dysplasia is a familiar complaint here, and one with which Dr. Narda Robinson is well acquainted. When she is not examining a German Shepherd puppy or evaluating the arthritis diagnosis of a Golden Retriever, she is researching the latest options for pain relief for dogs.

Canine Health and Hip Dysplasia

As the head of the Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine Department she oversees a host of therapy options, from acupuncture to laser treatments. Around 100 dogs are seen at the hospital each year for dysplasia symptoms.

Canine dysplasia is a debilitating disease that is found most frequently in the hips and elbows of large canines, such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. Left untreated, the condition can lead to joint arthritis and have a devastating affect on the dog’s quality of life. Surgery is often indicated, but can be expensive. Dr. Robinson’s department handles many non invasive and alternative treatment measures for dogs with this diagnosis.

Laser Therapy and Acupuncture for Dogs

“We do a range of services,” Dr. Robinson said, who noted that there are many different forms of treatment available these days. “We are starting to look at the value of laser therapy. What we don’t have is research on how (canines) respond.” The technique has shown promise in management of pain in humans.

Dr. Robinson founded and oversees the Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians Program. She is skilled in administering acupuncture to her four-legged patients.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Other Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplementation is often used to treat arthritis-related conditions in canines. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, helps to reduce inflammation around the joint and lessen associated pain. Dr. Robinson cautioned that it is important to make sure the supplement is fresh.

“It has to be included in the diet. It can’t be rancid; therefore, the packaging is important.” She advised examining and smelling pre-packaged dog food that contains the supplement before using it. Exposure to heat can destroy the omega-3 fatty acids.

“(The liquid) supplement may be a better way for some dogs. You can squirt it over the food, or give it in a capsule.” Supplements, like other treatment options, are often accepted differently by each dog. She stressed the importance therefore, of an individualized treatment plan.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two supplements that have been around for some years, and are good examples of treatments that are received differently by each patient. Not all dogs show positive results to these supplements, and not every researcher is sold on them.

“You can find studies that support the use of glucosamine and chondroitin, and some that don’t,” said Dr. Robinson. “It can depend on genetic differences as well as the nature of the disease. It is an easy thing to give and good point to start. But there are other options.”

One area of research that she feels may show promise is the use of herbs in pain management.

“We are doing a study on a mixture of herbs, with a randomized-blind placebo to see whether the dog’s ability to use (its) limbs improves with the therapy.” The four-week trial investigates whether herbs can aid mobility in dogs affected by osteoarthritis.

Individualized Lifestyle Change and Canine Dysplasia

But the most important component in pain management, said Dr. Robinson, is individualized lifestyle change.

In a nutshell: “Not over-doing it. The goal is regular moderate exercise.”

And that is where individualized care comes in.

“People need to have an awareness to detect when the dog is in pain.” She said an important aid to this goal is palpation. She uses gentle, full-body palpation to relax the patient and to interpret the dog’s symptoms.

“Head to toes, so you know which muscles are atrophied … and all the places the dog is in pain.”

She stressed that palpation is not only an important diagnostic tool for veterinarians, it’s useful to dog owners as well. She added that not all dogs react to pain the same way or show signs of discomfort.

The hospital also uses massage to treat pain and loosen muscles. Medical massage has shown positive results in the treatment of arthritis, but is another therapy option that is highly individualized.

Dr. Robinson said keeping three questions in mind will yield the best success with the patient: “What are the dog’s challenges, what is the disease, and how can we help the dog without aggravating the disease?”

The key to treating canine dysplasia symptoms therefore, is understanding the individual dog and what will ultimately provide the best quality of life

There are different types of fungi that cause ringworm, some of which people are more prone to and others which more commonly affect animals. Feline ringworm is more common than canine ringworm and dogs are more likely to catch the infection from cats. A strong healthy dog is not likely to be infected by ringworm and, if it is, the condition is not likely to spread. Young dogs or ones that are not healthy are more vulnerable. Not all animals show symptoms of ringworm so extra care is needed around the home.

Symptoms of Ringworm in Dogs

The most obvious and common symptom of ringworm in dogs is bald patches. The fungus that causes the condition lives in hair follicles and this is what causes the hair to become brittle and break off. There is usually a red rash on the dog’s skin, much like that seen on people’s skin but this may not always be in the shape of a circle. This will be scaly, dry and may itch. Scratching will spread the infection so it is important that treatment be given as soon as ringworm is identified.

Sometimes an animal can have ringworm but not have any symptoms. If there are people in the household who are diagnosed with ringworm, then they may have picked it up from their pet. Even if the animal shows no symptoms, it is still important to have it tested.

Diagnosis of Ringworm in Canines

Diagnosis of ringworm needs to be made by a vet as there are other skin conditions that exhibit similar symptoms. This can be done by use of an ultraviolet lamp which will cause the fungus to become fluorescent. If this doesn’t work, then a laboratory test will need to be done on skin and hair samples. The disadvantage is that this may take several weeks as it involves growing the fungus under laboratory conditions.

Over the Counter Ringworm Treatment for Dogs

Once ringworm has been diagnosed, treatment is easy but needs patience and perseverance. The gestation period between exposure to the fungus and the appearance of symptoms is ten days. This means that while treatment is being carried out on one part of the body, infection may have already spread to another.

The three types of treatment are topical shampoo, creams or medication. Antifungal Shampoo is the most common option and usually the most effective as it removes the fungal spores from the hair all over the body and so re-infection is less likely.

How to Prevent Ringworm in Humans

In order to prevent the infection spreading to humans and other animals in the house, the house must be thoroughly cleaned with hot water and bleach where possible. The dog’s bedding must be washed every day. Carpets can harbor the fungal spores for up to two years, so vacuuming and washing all carpets in the house is a must. Also, then, throw out the vacuum bag.

Pets should all be washed with the same antifungal shampoo used on the dog just in case the infection has spread. Finally, have the dog tested again by the vet after following the treatment to make sure the fungus has gone.