By Dr. Gary Borgman
We are now well into the heat and humidity of our Florida summertime and fleas really thrive when the temperature and humidity are above 70! After over 40 years of practice in central Florida, I recall when the best flea control for cats was sevin dust applied directly to the patient's fur and the best flea control for dogs was a weekly (somewhat toxic) chemical dip solution. Oh yes, we also treated the home and yard with a variety of powders and chemicals which were only moderately successful. Most pets suffered to some degree, but those allergic to flea saliva suffered the most. Fortunately, we now have a number of very effective products making it relatively simple to adequately control fleas in our homes and on our pets.
One shortcoming of external pest control products was that few adequately controlled both fleas and ticks. We now have several products which do both. Our pharmaceutical representative recently told us about Bravecto, an oral tablet for dogs which will control both fleas and ticks for three months. Bathing or swimming will not wash it off! Bravecto (for flea and tick control) and Heartgard Plus for heartworm and intestinal parasite control are a very effective strategy to control internal and external parasites for dogs. Bravecto is not available for cats at this time.
On another note, we are now well into hurricane season and it is prudent to have a personal family disaster plan that includes the household pets. Microchips and an ID tag on the collar are a good idea and a personal medical-food kit for each pet including vaccination records, food, medications and a carrier or leash are recommended in case we need to move to a shelter or evacuate the area.
Remember, dogs and cats do not perspire! Dogs pant to lower body temperature when exercising and this panting is often inadequate when exercising on hot humid days. Avoidance of exercise in the middle of the day is recommended. Always provide access to plenty of cool water. Fortunately, cats are more tolerant of the heat but even cats can become overheated when exercising. Recently a client told us about their Maine Coon Cat collapsing after just running around inside the air conditioned home. This breed is long haired and a large breed. Its temperature was nearly 106, but soon recovered with rest and cool wet towels applied to the abdomen. A panting cat with open mouth breathing is in trouble and should be treated as an emergency.
The veterinarians and staff of Kissimmee Animal Hospital (Tel 407-846-3912) and Poinciana Pet Clinic (Tel 407-518-0880) are available to answer any questions about flea and tick control, microchipping, and other health issues. We are here to help and to serve.