June 27, 2008

The Two Sides of Natural Wormer for Cats

With more and more pet owners becoming mindful and cautious about the ingredients in the products they buy for their cats, natural remedies are becoming "in." These days, it’s no longer uncommon to see natural treatments for every pet health problem imaginable. From stress anxiety to flea infestation, many people are now seeking alternative methods to treat the different problems that plague their feline friends.

The Pros

The same goes for getting rid of parasitic worms. Rather than buying prescription wormers, some pet owners choose to go with herbal remedies because of their perceived advantages. One of these is that unlike commercialized and conventional wormers, natural wormers don’t use synthetic ingredients that may have harmful effects on cats. For this reason, natural wormers are often considered safe. Another reason some pet owners prefer natural wormers is because they are cheaper than conventional ones.

But there are always two sides to every story, which means that natural wormers are not all that they are claimed to be.

The Cons

alternativetreatment.jpgThe demand for natural wormers hinges on the perception that alternative treatments are safer than conventional ones. But the truth is that natural wormers are not always safe. This is because some of them may contain substances or chemicals that are poisonous to animals. One example would be wormwood, which contains tannins and volatile oils like thujone that are toxic to cats.

Apart from this, most natural wormers that are sold in the market are not regulated. This means that they did not pass tests for potency and purity. As a result, natural wormers may be either unsafe or ineffective because they have not been thoroughly tested and studied. Some of these natural wormers may even bring about side effects especially when used in combination with other drugs. For this reason, it is recommended that pet owners consult a vet first before giving any natural wormer to their cats.

Going with the advice of a professional is and will always be the smartest thing to do. If your cat is suffering from worm infestation, don’t be quick to rely on natural wormers that are not even guaranteed to be safe and effective. Entrusting your pet’s health to a natural remedy is just like entrusting his life to a quack doctor. And that’s something you wouldn’t do if you really love your pet, would you?

What You Need to Know About Heartworms and Cortisones

No parasite is perhaps as menacing to pets as a heartworm. This is because unlike other pests that plague dogs and cats, getting rid of heartworms is no walk in the park. What’s even more alarming is the fact that heartworms can kill. If they are not detected early, these parasites can cause pets to suffer from heart failure and other life-threatening symptoms that may eventually result in death.

Another example of a life-threatening symptom caused by heartworms is pulmonary embolism, which happens when there is a blood clot in the lungs. The blood clot is a result of fully-grown heartworms blocking the arteries of the heart. The clot blocks the supply of blood to the lungs, which consequently, prevents oxygen from being delivered to other parts of the body. Pulmonary embolism is dangerous because it can cause your pet to have difficulty in breathing and to experience pain in the lungs. In severe cases, pulmonary embolism can also cause death.

Cortisones

To prevent pulmonary embolism and further inflammation of the irritated blood vessels where the worms are located, cortisones are sometimes used. Cortisones or corticosteroids are a type of steroid hormone. They are also often referred to simply as "steroids", but they should not be confused with the ones used by bodybuilders to buff up, which are anabolic steroids. Cortisones are commonly given by veterinarians to control inflammation and other disease processes in pets. Pets that suffer from allergies and asthma are usually given cortisones.

How are heartworms and cortisones related?

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about cortisones is that they are used to treat heartworms in pets. This isn’t the case because the truth is that cortisones only help treat the symptoms of heartworm disease, namely the formation of blood clots in the lungs. It does not get rid of the parasites inside pets.

Do cortisones have side effects?

Cortisone has always been a controversial drug. While effective, cortisones have a number of side effects that make them not advisable for long-term use. As a matter of fact, the recommended treatment for heartworm disease tends to veer away from the use of cortisones, and favor just using the injections of the medication which does kill heartworms. This is not only because of the long-term side effects of the drug but also because of the possibility that they might interfere with the effectiveness of anti-heartworm injections.

sadpuppy.jpgOne example of the adverse effects of using cortisones is the suppression of the immune system, which affects pets as it does humans. The immune system is what fights off infections in the body, and when it is compromised the body becomes more susceptible to diseases.

Cortisones can also cause Cushing’s syndrome, which happens when there is an overproduction or excessive amount of cortisones in the body. A pet that suffers from Cushing’s syndrome experiences increased appetite and thirst, decreased hair growth and excessive urination. If not treated, Cushing’s syndrome may also result in other health problems such as kidney failure and liver failure.

The Final Word on Cortisones

Cortisones are like double-edged swords: they can both help and harm those who take them. With that said, pet owners should be aware of the risks involved in giving this drug to their pets. So, up until veterinarians find a way to reduce the symptoms of heartworms without the use of cortisones, the best way to avoid having to use this drug is to prevent heartworms beforehand. As they say, prevention is always better than cure. After all, there would be no need to use cortisones to reduce these symptoms if heartworms do not infect your pet, would there?

June 25, 2008

Are Herbal Cures for Heartworms Effective?

Herbs are plants that contain active therapeutic properties for particular illnesses. For centuries, they have been used to prevent and treat some human diseases but later on they have also been used to cure animal diseases such as skin disorders and parasitic infections including the potentially fatal heartworm disease.

Picture this situation: your pet gets sick with heartworm disease, what will you do? Will you give medications right away or will you rely on herbal cures first?

In treating heartworm disease, the conventional way is to consult a veterinarian, who will determine the most appropriate treatment for your pet. Depending on the clinical signs and the severity of the infection shown by the dog, the veterinarian can administer injections of melarsomine, which will kill the worms. But prior to injecting melarsomine, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommends to start the dog on a heartworm preventive at the time of diagnosis. According to the AHS, a heartworm preventive (e.g. tablet or spot-on) should be given for one to three months before the first melarsomine injection. The reason behind this is that melarsomine has not been shown to kill heartworms that are less than 4 months old. A heartworm preventive, on the other hand, can initially kill the one and two-month-old worms and stop any new worms from infecting the dog. The AHS also recommends that during the entire treatment process, the preventive should be given continuously.

However, some people are wary of traditional heartworm preventive and treatment medications because they believe that they contain potentially harmful substances that can cause side effects. As a result, they become fearful of advancements in veterinary medicine and would rather stick to natural methods. They use herbal remedies with the belief that these are better alternatives to conventional medications. Some examples of these herbs are black walnut, pumpkin seed, wormwood, rosemary, cranberry fruit, and the like. These are very affordable, which adds to their appeal. But still, the question is on whether or not these herbal cures are effective.

Unfortunately, there is not enough information to answer this question. This is because there is currently no scientifically proven herbal remedy for heartworms. Herbal cures are, more often than not, borne out of mistaken notions on heartworm disease rather than on facts. Pumpkin seeds, for instance, are thought to get rid of canine heartworms in the digestive tract; this is not true, though, as heartworms do not enter this part of the body.

Most veterinarians will also agree that using heartworm preventives and treatment medications is still the way to go instead of using herbal remedies. As to the side effects, pet owners should know that all heartworm medications, like medicines for people, have side effects, but they are very effective in helping treat the disease nonetheless.

This is in contrast to herbal cures that do not ensure successful treatment for heartworm disease and may sometimes put the animals’ health at greater risk. Perhaps, they may work better only as support to using traditional treatment, which requires proper diagnosis and support from a vet with sufficient training on herbal medicines.

When your dog or cat contracts heartworm disease, you should think twice about giving them herbal cures. You may want to take a trip to your vet and ask for efficient and safe medication, after all, you don’t want to endanger your pet’s health, do you?

The Aftermath: What Are the Side Effects of Dog Wormers?

Dog wormers get rid of worms found in a dog’s intestines. They are chemical-based medications, which contain certain active ingredients that kill different types of worms - roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms and hookworms. Dog wormers come in tablets, spot-ons and liquid suspensions. It is a known fact that wormers are proven effective in getting rid of the parasites, but have you ever wondered if they have side effects?

A common fear among dog owners is whether or not their dogs will experience harmful side effects such as diarrhea, skin reactions and the like when they give wormers to their dogs. But here is the good news: there are generally no significant side effects from dog wormers. Even if a few people claim that some dog wormers that contain nitroscanate may cause vomiting, this shouldn’t be a major concern because vomiting is a normal sign of worm infestation. But in general, dog wormers including those that contain pyrantel, oxantel, febantel or praziquantel such as Drontal and Canex do not cause vomiting in pets.

Veterinarians say that worming medications are the best solution to treat a worm-infested dog. This is because dog wormers undergo effectiveness and safety tests before they are sold in the market. Pet owners, therefore, can be assured that they are helping their dogs get rid of worms through the use of these medications.

Nevertheless, if you still have worries about dog wormers and the side effects they may bring, the best thing to do is to consult a veterinarian regarding which products are safe and effective for your pet. After all, it is better to guarantee your pet’s ultimate protection against worms rather than to be sorry, isn’t it?

The Best Time to Give Your Dog Heartworm Pills

Let us assume you are a dog owner with no background in veterinary medicine whatsoever. You may know some things about heartworms-those parasitic worms that can threaten the life of your pet-but do you think a little knowledge is enough? Perhaps not. Heartworm disease is a formidable threat and it is important that you know how to prevent it from infecting your dog. One way to do this is to give your dog heartworm preventive pills.

To help you gain some insight, I took some time to research on heartworms and the appropriate time on when to give preventive medicines. Let me share with you what I have gathered.

The Best Time Doesn’t Depend Only on Geography

In the past, heartworms had been found to be prevalent only in certain parts of the US. However, recent studies suggest that heartworms are now a potential threat in every part of the country. An article published in a book called the US Companion Animal Health confirms this, saying that it is necessary to give dogs preventive heartworm pills or medication wherever they are located because mosquitoes spread quickly and people and their pets have become very mobile.

The Best Time Is During Any Temperature

According to Dogaware.com, heartworm larvae develop faster during warmer temperatures. Specifically, they infect dogs when temperatures are constantly above 14C (57 F) for at least two weeks. This means that heartworm infection can be controlled if temperatures drop any time during that period.

Given the unpredictability of the weather, simply relying on temperature ranges is not very practical. This means that if you want to protect your pet, you need to give them heartworm pills on a regular basis especially during summer and spring.

The Best Time Is Now

earlyprev.jpg

Nothing beats early prevention. The sooner you start your dog on heartworm pills/medication, the sooner you will be able to prevent infection. The good news is that help is readily available. You can consult your veterinarian, so he or she can perform a diagnostic blood test and recommend the right heartworm pill based on the age, breed, and lifestyle of your dog.

Some heartworm pills available are Interceptor, Sentinel, and Heartgard. Generic heartworm preventives such as NuHeart are also for sale at very affordable prices. When giving these medications, it is important to consider if the dog is old enough to start taking them. Doing so is very important in ensuring your pet’s safety. The manufacturers recommend that medicines like Heartgard, Heartgard Plus and NuHeart be given to dogs that are at least 6 weeks old and that Sentinel and Interceptor be given to dogs that are at least 4 weeks old and weigh at least 2 pounds.

Depending on the heartworm pill prescribed, you may need to give it on a monthly or daily basis. Remember that there is no need to give further medication than what is prescribed.

Thus, the Best Time Is Year-Round

It seems that the only way to prevent heartworm infection is to give heartworm preventives to dogs the entire year. As long as you are aware of the best time to give them and you have the appropriate heartworm pill, you can help protect your pet from heartworm disease. Now, there is no time to waste. Why don’t you check with your vet and have your dog start on a preventive heartworm pill today?

 

June 24, 2008

Are Natural Cat Wormers Advisable to Use on Cats?

Worms - roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms - are tiny intestinal parasites that can cause other serious health problems, like pneumonia, for cats. So, it is not only necessary to get rid of them when they infest your cat, but it is also important to prevent them from getting into the cat’s body in the first place. There are numerous products available for these purposes and pet owners can choose between two types of medication: conventional or natural cat wormers.

Conventional or traditional cat wormers are those that use a combination of chemicals to fight the disease. The two most common active ingredients are pyrantel and praziquantel. Examples of products with these ingredients are Drontal for Cats and Valucat All Wormer Paste.

Natural or alternative cat wormers are those that make use of herbs and plants to treat and protect against the disease. The most common herbs or plants used are betel nut, garlic, pumpkin seed, and mint leaf. Most of these are considered home remedies, while others have been combined with other herbs to produce over the counter medications.

Both of these types of medication has their own advocates. Some even go to the extreme of claiming that their type of cure is the only way to go. There are also some who propose to combine both in treating worms. Who is right? Which will you choose?

For me, I believe that using natural cat wormers has a few advantages. It’s cheaper, easier to get, and has no chemicals which may cause side effects. However, they usually cannot guarantee that our pets will be completely free of worms because herbal medicine is not an exact science. So, I may still use them but only as a supplement for my cat. In the case of worm infestation, I would still prefer to give my pet the conventional medications because in the long run, they are safer and more effective.

Between these two type of medications, it is up to each pet owner to find which is effective for their pets. To make sure that you are choosing wisely, consult a vet. As for me, traditional medications are effective for my cats and that’s reason enough for me to keep using them. Why change when these wormers are serving my cats well?

Tips to Determine the Best Cat Wormer for Your Pet

To make sure that your cats can enjoy an active life, they must be healthy. Unfortunately, there are many factors in the environment that can make your pet sick. One of these are intestinal worms - roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.

These worms can cause a variety of symptoms - like diarrhea, dehydration and vomiting - which can weaken your cat. But the good news is that there are many products that can rid your pets of these parasites, you just have to make the right choice. But, how do you determine which is the best cat wormer for your pet? For me, I just follow these simple tips:

1. Ask these questions when consulting a vet:

a. Which worms are a problem in your area?

b. Which worm/s should your cat be treated for?

c. What time of the year should you use treatment for a specific worm?

2. Get information about the types of medication to use on your cat. Currently, cat dewormers come in these forms: tablets, and pastes or topical liquids. Each one is administered differently and knowing this can help you decide which is easier to give your pet.

3. Study the indications and directions of each product so that you’ll know if it has any side effects and counter-indications. Doing so will also tell you if the product can treat all intestinal worms or only a specific worm. There are also some products that combine intestinal worm treatment with heartworm prevention and flea treatment.

4. Select a wormer that is most suited to your cat’s age and size.

5. Use only products that are recommended by a vet and are approved by the appropriate regulatory authorities, such as the FDA and the APVMA.

Choosing a wormer that will work best for your cat can guarantee your pet’s safety from the diseases that these parasites can cause. And when your pet is free from diseases they can lead a fuller and longer life. Isn’t this what you want for your cat?

What are the Best Wormers for Dogs?

It’s amazing how many dog wormers there are in the market today. While this is good because it gives us a lot of options, this can also cause confusion for some pet owners. With so many products to choose from they might find it hard to pick the best medication for their dogs against intestinal parasites - such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms - especially since these dewormers come in varied types like tablets, spot-ons, and liquid suspensions.

I was also confused before on which product to use for my pets. But after numerous consultations with vets, and after using their recommended dewormers on my dogs, I now know which dewormers work best for my pets. Below are, for me, the most effective in removing and controlling worms:

Canex - This medication comes in 4 preparations: Canex Puppy Suspension, Canex Cube All Wormer for Dog, Canex All Wormer for Medium Dogs, and Canex All Wormer for Large Dogs. Its active ingredients - Praziquantel, Pyrantel & Oxantel - can effectively control all gastrointestinal worms including hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms.

Generic Wormer Tablets for Dogs - This medication comes in tablet form and is equivalent to Canex. It protects against 11 intestinal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. The active ingredients of this dewormer are Praziquantel, Pyrantel, and Oxantel.

Super Saver Generic Wormer for Dogs and Cats - This budget-friendly tablet is a broad spectrum wormer. that can control roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms in cats and dogs. It contains Levamisole and Niclosamide.

Panacur - Treats and controls canine roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. This comes in 3 preparations so owners can choose which is best suited for their dogs’ sizes and ages.

Puppy & Kitten Worm Syrup - This contains Piperazine citrate which effectively removes roundworms and is safe to use for both kittens and puppies.

Droncit Canine - This tablet wormer protects against tapeworms which comes from fleas and parasites of wild rodents. The active ingredient of this medication is praziquantel. This wormer should not be used on puppies less than 4 weeks old.

Generic Droncit alternative - A tablet medication that eliminates common tapeworms. This comes in 3 preparations to suit specific groups: wormers for cats and kittens, for dog and puppies, for both dogs and cats.

Advantage Multi for Dogs - This is a spot-on medication that not only gets rid of roundworms, hookworms and whipworms but it also prevents heartworm disease and flea infestations. The solution, which contains imidacloprid and moxidectin, is applied on one area of the skin on the back of the dog between the shoulder blades.

Owners need not be confused on which product to give their pets. A visit to the vet and asking the right questions can help you make the right choice. You can ask your vet about the products I mentioned. Who knows, they may also be the best wormers for your dog, right?

Are Natural Dog Wormers Your Best Bet Against Worms?

Dogs, no matter what their age, can get infested by any or all of these worms - roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. And pet owners are wary of these intestinal parasites because these worms can do a lot of harm; even at the start of the infestation, your dog may show symptoms that can make his life miserable, but it does not end there. Worms can also cause other diseases.

So, it is easy to understand why some pet owners become so meticulous in their search for the most effective wormer for their dogs. Some will even try new ways to rid their pets of these parasites. And there are also some who do not use traditional medications but instead give their pets natural dog wormers and home remedies.

Some herbs and plants that are used for home remedies are: garlic, black walnut, pumpkin seeds, oregon grape, oat bran, and wheat-germ oil. These can be given to your dog by mixing them in their food. Other plants and herbs like wormwood, neem, herb of grace and clove (a dried flower bud of Eugenia caryophyllata, an evergreen tree) are active ingredients in herbal wormers.

These natural dog wormers could probably provide certain benefits to your pet but they should not be regarded as the cure-all for worms. These herbs also have side effects on dogs so they are not always safe. Besides, herbal remedies are not guaranteed to work all the time. So, it means that the worm infestation might grow worse while the pet owners keep trying different herbs to find the one that can work for their dogs.

To treat worms effectively, it is wise to consult a vet. A good reason for this is that before any treatment can be given, your dog’s feces must be analyzed by a vet to know which worms are affecting your pet and the severity of the infestation. After the results of the test is known, the vet will be able to recommend the best medication for your dog. These traditional medications do work because they are formulated to target a specific disease and to fit your dog’s age and size. So, given a choice between traditional medications and natural dog wormers, which one would you choose?

June 23, 2008

Natural Heartworm Treatments and Preventives: Are These Safe?

One fine morning, I saw my sister in the kitchen mixing vinegar with water. "What are you cooking, Abby?" I asked.

"Heartworms!" she shouted.

"What? That’s not food!" I asked, disturbed by her new-found culinary taste.

"Andre might get heartworms! The neighbor’s dog already got it. I gotta keep those mosquitoes away from poor Andre," my sister replied as she poured the mixture in the dog’s bowl.

Why get rid of mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are the main culprits why dogs are infected with heartworms. When a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae bites a dog, the larvae are passed to the dog where it goes through the bloodstream. Since the bloodstream goes everywhere in the body, so do the larvae. When the larvae mature, the adult heartworms eventually end up in the heart and sometimes in other vital organs like the lung.

Common Natural Treatments or Preventives

Just like Abby, there are pet owners who, instead of relying on the advice of a veterinarian, choose to try alternative and natural treatments or preventives. Just a reminder. While these show promise in some tests, the results however, are not conclusive.

Natural Oils

Certain oils are effective in repelling not only mosquitoes, but also ticks, fleas and other parasites. A few of the commonly used oils are geranium, neem, tea tree, and lavender oils.

To make a geranium spray, mix four drops of geranium oil with half a cup of water. Using a sprayer, spritz all over your dog’s fur.

For the neem oil, you can add it to your pet’s regular shampoo to keep mosquitoes and other insects away. It will also soothe the itchiness caused by these parasites.

Some breeders also use a mixture of four drops of tea tree oil and lavender oil in one cup of water and spray it on their pets.

Vinegar

You can also make an insect repellent spray using apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Putting a few drops of vinegar on your dog’s drinking water will also do the trick.

How is it supposed to work? Well, the vinegar will make the skin acidic and release a strong smell, both of which are terribly hated by mosquitoes.

Healthy heart and body

Some breeders claim that a dog with a healthy heart has better chances of fighting parasites like heartworms. They suggest to give your dog a diet of raw meat, fresh foods, and lots of clean drinking water, all of which they claim are essential natural ingredients for a perfectly functioning heart.

They also say that together with a healthy heart, it is also important to have a healthy body. These breeders argue that mosquitoes seldom bite healthy dogs, preferring to bite those that are either sick or just weak. Therefore, they say it is best to improve your pet’s health most importantly his immune system if you want to keep mosquitoes away. They say that this is best achieved through adequate exercise and a healthy diet.

Is Natural the Right Way to Go?

Natural treatments or preventives are not the right choice simply because these are unreliable and unproven. There is yet to be a definitive study that can attest to their effectiveness. Therefore, taking such risks is dangerous. When it comes to your pet’s health, you should only trust your vet.

"Go to the vet, Abby. The vet still knows what’s best for Andre," I told my sister.

She picks up the bowl with vinegar and water, unsure if she’ll leave it or take it away from the dog.

"But they say this works…" Abby insisted, her words and voice trailing off.

"They, who are ‘they’? Abby, ‘they’ only matters if you’re talking about vets. Consult a professional, someone who studied for years to take care of your dog," I said as I took away the bowl from her.

My sister gave up and whispered, "Yes. I think you’re right. Will you come with me and Andre to the vet?"

We took the dog to the veterinarian who then prescribed the right preventives. Andre didn’t get any heartworms and until now, he’s still the healthiest dog in the neighborhood.

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