Tagged with " intestinal parasites"

Flowers and Fleas

Jul 27, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

As I was reading a story in the life style magazine of the paper, I came across an ad proclaiming the virtues of “natural” flea repellents. Having just been inundated by a ton of cats with fleas the week before, I was inspired to write about fleas, flea products and to help dispel a myth or two. I’d had some clients who had been using an herbal flea collar that did nothing and made the cat smell like a volatile oils factory.  Poor kitty was still crawling with fleas.

Now I’ve gone through acupuncture training and some herb courses, and know that there are some things in that arena that can be very helpful and work well for a variety of medical conditions. But I also know that just because something says “natural” doesn’t mean that it’s safe or effective. Most herbal flea products contain things like cedar oil, peppermint oil, clove oil, and other things that say “natural pyrethrin”. They can have a very strong smell that can last for days. That can be tough for an animal that is as sensitive to smells as cats are. Volatile oils can aggravate breathing problems; this is especially true of cedar oil. Stay away from these products if your cat has a history of breathing problems. Clove oil is toxic to cats. Skin reactions are common with all these products, especially if they are not pure. Oils are sometimes absorbed through the skin and peppermint oil can go deep. People who ingest peppermint oil on a regular basis might get changes in their liver enzymes.

When it comes to parasite control, we live in a wonderful age. The products that come from the vet for flea control have a very high margin of safety. They can contain not only safe flea products but also a heartworm preventative that helps with intestinal parasite control. Our pet cats have the dubious honor of surpassing dogs in the incidence of intestinal parasites and positive heartworm tests. All this because dog owners are so good at using  their heartworm preventative and cat owners aren’t. And yes, those products can be smelly too, but usually just for a few hours. And yes, again, there will be the rare skin reaction. But the important thing is that they work great and have a well documented safety margin. They keep your family safe too. Those black specks of flea dirt have been shown to carry the bacteria that gives people, especially children, cat scratch disease. Control the fleas and you control the risk. Same for roundworms. They can get into people too.

Treating fleas requires a multi-modal approach. You need to treat the adult fleas on the animal, but also any eggs that they lay. If the problem is bad enough, you may need to treat for eggs that are in the house. Adult fleas aren’t the problem in your house, the eggs are. You treat them differently. Control the egg production and you control the problem.  It can take 6 – 8 weeks before you can be sure that you’ve got the problem licked. That’s because you have to wait long enough to be sure no new fleas are hatching out. Talk to your vet about what’s going to work the best for you. And if you can use one product that can help with fleas, heartworm and intestinal parasites, do it.

Keep in mind that Mother Nature has some very potent plants and just because they’re hers, doesn’t mean that they are the safest things. So be careful what you put on your cat and whose advice you listen to.

Dr Eliza Sundahl

Dr. Eliza Sundahl completed her veterinary studies at Kansas State University in 1978 after graduating from Boston University. She has spent a great deal of her professional life promoting feline medicine and continues to do so. She has held many positions in The American Association of Feline Practitioners, including 2 years as president. She was involved in establishing board certification in feline medicine through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and worked with that organization for many years to help veterinarians through the certification process.

Dr. Sundahl started at the KC Cat Clinic in 1978 and became owner in 1979. She has been happily working with the wonderful clients and patients at the clinic ever since. She feels like she has the best job in the world. She shares the clinic with Boo and Simon and her home with Babycat, Ferrous, Boo (another one), and Angelo.

Kansas City Cat Clinic
7107 Main St.
Kansas City, MO 64114

Phone: 816-361-4888
Email: kccatclinic@gmail.com

Website: http://www.kccatclinic.com/
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