There are numerous mistaken beliefs concerning animal health. Many of these misconceptions can lead to improper decisions concerning your pet’s wellbeing. People often ask me about these, so I thought I might address some of them here.
Confusion on flea medications may be the most common misconception I am faced with. All flea medications are not created equal. I often see animals infested with fleas and the owner insists that they have “just applied Advantage® or Frontline®”. After further questioning I ascertain that it is an over the counter product that doesn’t contain medication even closely related to Frontline® or Advantage®. In addition to being much less effective than the before mention products, we have seen toxicities related to use of over the counter formulations, which usually occur in cats. Cats can receive a toxic dose if the canine preparation is applied to cats or even from close contact with a dog which has received the compound. Frontline and Advantage are not the only option for flea control. There are many effective mediations available, and your veterinarian can advise you on which product is best for your pet. In my opinion, you should only purchase flea medications through your veterinarian.
Another common misconception is that cats don’t need to be vaccinated for Rabies. Most municipalities don’t require rabies vaccination for cats, which may lead some to believe that they don’t need vaccination. Cats are as susceptible to rabies as dogs. They may even be exposed to rabies more often because cats are by nature more predatory. One common carrier of rabies are bats and a sick bat flopping around on the ground is a tempting target for a cat. There is, therefore, even a concern for cats that are totally indoors, since sick bats are also sometimes found inside.
Neutering is an important procedure that should be performed for most cats and dogs. Unfortunately, many people feel that neutering results in obesity. This is simply not the case. Weight gain in pets is usually due to eating too many calories and not getting enough exercise. Some cases of obesity are however, are due to medical problems such as hypothyroidism. If you are concerned that your pet may be hypothyroid you should consult your veterinarian for appropriate testing.
I am frequently asked if animals can transmit human head lice to people. The answer is no. Lice are species specific, which means that they infest only one type of animal. You can only become infested with human head lice, from contact with other people.
Another human parasite that is commonly blamed on animals is pinworms. There are a number of species of pinworms in animals, none of which are transmissible to humans.
I hope that I have been able to clear up some of these common areas of confusion. Keeping our pets healthy is our responsibility as owners. Your veterinarian is a valuable source of information, and can answer any questions you might have.