Morning Meal


I awoke to a feast.

Something hungry – was engorging along my lower back. It served me right – as I’d been battling biting insects all summer.

I was due.

Scratching myself to consciousness, I reflected on my pet parents who find themselves in a battle over what ‘product’ to use, how often to use it – or surprisingly, whether they should use it at all.

Let’s back up. Fleas, mosquitoes and ticks can cause irritation to all of us – mammals. As I learned (relearned?), what product is best, once bitten – doesn’t matter. What matters is – stop the irritation.

I have pet parents who only want to use: ‘organic’ products, ‘won’t ‘harm’ the environment products, won’t leave an ‘oily’ trace products. I’ve born witness to those who only want products sold in a ‘sustainable’ corporate environment, or a big box store where they can pick up everything they need: food, clothes, kitty litter, and pharmaceuticals.

In a classroom debate, I’d agree. Buying products which supports how we view the world – is human nature. However, when the new iPhone arrives, later this year, I’ll be there – standing in line – justifying my decision to ‘upgrade’ to a newer shiny way to answer: ‘hello?’

Yes, there are newer flea preventatives, some which your pet’s can take by mouth. Many won’t kill all biting insects. It may contribute to ongoing concerns, like allergies, stomach irritation or simply be spit out – as soon as you turn your back. However, they are convenient – which trumps most things – nowadays.

Sadly, some of the older familiar products no longer work, as subsequent flea generations have developed a resistance, hence the corporate quest for ‘stronger, better, faster.”

When I self-consciously slapped my lower back, I didn’t ponder whether it was a flea, mosquito, chigger or mite – I simply wanted the pain to cease.

Your pet’s do as well.

Does your behavior change when you’ve been bitten by a bee?

Of course.

You curse your luck. Run to a mirror, look for that ‘tube of something’ to slather on. You stop caring about what you were watching on the television. You close the windows, latch the screen, vow not to go outside. You ratchet up the stakes …. ponder what you’d do if that bee bit you whilst behind the wheel. The result? You decide to no longer drive with the windows down. These are all rational choices – you want to protect yourself from the scary out-of-doors.

However, we don’t rationalize in the same way for our hairiest family members. We continue to use the same product, or if running low on funds, we grab something cheap from someplace like: WalMart.

We’re told to give it monthly, instead of every 30 days.

Subconsciously, when told to treat monthly, giving the medication sometime in August is fine, whether it’s the 1st or 21st. What happens, in reality, is the time between doses or applications varies, causing breakthrough infestations and increases the possibility of disease transmissions.

Regardless of the breed, today’s pets aren’t prepared for the out-of-doors. They don’t develop a thick coat – they’re house pets. They are more like us than wolf.

In the mid-Atlantic region where I live – I’m hard pressed to convince parents to religiously use flea preventative every three weeks, in addition to a tick collar. I’m rebuffed that it’s overkill. And: my (other) veterinarian, Dr. Google, Dr. Oz, my neighbor’s son in animal sciences – doesn’t agree.

Subsequently, some pet’s which won’t go outside – until absolutely necessary – begin to show signs of urinary tract infection and behavioral changes (think about that bee sting).

As soon as I’m told:”Doctor, my pet hesitates the leave the house,” I smile wanly. All dogs love to sniff, catch the wind … explore. When something alters that natural instinct … investigate. Your pet has learned to become housebound – fearful, humanlike.

Upgrade your flea prevention, check for openings in the screen door, especially along the bottom, ankle-high. If living in a home surrounded by a grassy landscape, treat the environment for pests, which can come indoors as you enter and leave.

Since your pets can’t talk, and even if they could, they can’t explain that the bug, the cat, that something foreign is preventing them from urinating or voiding completely leading to a chronic medical or behavioral concern. This can cost you money and heartache down the road. Think of your pet as if they’re your infant that won’t cry – you have to be more diligent in maintaining optimal health.

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Why do we have pets?

Decision-making questionnaire to help pet parents decide when it’s time to euthanize your dog or cat