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The Adventures of Bitey Dog!

On Flea Protection

July 27th 2012 2:58 pm
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Like many people, I used Sentinel to keep my dog safe from heartworms, fleas and other pests. After the temporary closing of the Novartis plant, I had to make a choice about which alternate product(s) I wanted my dog to use.

Ever since the commercial campaign started for Trifexis, I felt uncomfortable about the product. I got their pamphlet from the vet and read it cover to cover, including adverse effect that were reported in the back. Then, just for fun, I looked at reviews from ordinary people whose dogs weren't part of the test group. There was a significantly higher number of reported side effects with warnings from people that said things like, "If you love your dog, don't give him/her this pill!" A particularly nasty problem with the pills was painful sores on the dogs' backs. In general, I don't like to take new medications. I prefer to wait until more is known about them, so I decided to have the vet switch Geordie to Heartgard instead of Trifexis, which my vet was pushing.

Pushing is the word for it, too. I felt as if I had asked her to give up her firstborn instead of a simple prescription for a well-known and safe heartworm medication! (Long story short, I am now on my vet's Poopy List for bucking the trend.)

One reason I chose Sentinel for Geordie was that I didn't like the idea of the topical insecticides that you put on a dog's fur. I have a lot of chemical sensitivities, and I was afraid that I might have a reaction to it. At that point, it would be difficult to get it out of the carpet and off of any furniture where it may have touched. (Even though Geordie is not allowed on the furniture, I could transfer it there by touching him, then touching it.)

I read the Dogster article about using neem as an alternative to topical pesticides, and I looked at other sources as well. In the end, I chose a topical treatment that included neem, lemon grass, cedar and other aromatic oils. (For safe measure, I have diatomaceous earth, and I comb a little of that on his fur in case a bug gets on him.)

What I wanted to share was the happy side effect I have found from stopping using an internal flea protection for my little guy. For years, Geordie has had increasingly bad skin allergies. He would actually cry for me to use topical sprays on him to alleviate his misery. Since stopping Sentinel, his allergies have improved about 95%. Occasionally he will lick a paw, but that is normal. This isn't a scientific study, but if you like anecdotal stories, I will say that I have observed a marked improvement in my dog's allergies after stopping those pills. And how do the oils and DE work? So far, great! I was a little nervous when I first made the switch, but I am happy with the results. "What about the scent?" you may wonder. I have found that it dissipates in just a few minutes. It is strong enough to keep the bugs away, but I don't smell it on him.

In case you are considering making a change in your pet's prevention routine, let me encourage you to give it a try. If you are uncomfortable about the risk with ticks, there is a Lyme's Disease vaccine you can get for your dog. It is a once a year shot, and it is effective 99% of the time. I do this for my dog. He is good about telling me when there is a tick on his fur (he absolutely hates them), but in case one sneaks past us, he shouldn't get the disease.


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