Monday, May 26, 2008

Finding Flea Control That Won't Cause Cancer

I just recently returned from the vet (a major chain) and after Gohan was given a clean bill of health, the vet advised that I immediately put him on monthly heart worm and spot flea control. I have always had a problem with spot flea control - every month? It goes on the skin but doesn't effect any other organ? That's a bit unbelievable even for the most naive of us.

In Mookie, Nikki, and Squeekie's 17 years of life, we only had 3 major flea out breaks:

1) Early nineties, Never made it to my house - I took the dogs on a trip to New Jersey and walked them at a rest stop. Ugh! Their feet were covered in five minutes! We traveled on the turnpike until we found a pet store and sprayed the car down and them. When we reached our destination, everyone got a flea bath.

2) 1997 - when we housed a friend's dog that had a mild infestation. This was the worst because it is the time I accidently used puppy spot treatment on the cat. I nearly killed her: her fur fell out at the point of contact, she meowed incessantly and was extremely lethargic. The only advice I received from the pet poison control number on the box was to wait it out. It was the worse 24 hours of our lives up until then and Squeekie (8 years old at the time) never forgot it.

3) Last November - 2007 Nikki (then 17 years old) had been nosing around on a neighbor's lawn. I don't have fleas in my back or front yards since I use natural pest controls. She came home with the worst infestation on her face and head. I immediately bathed her and all of her bedding, vacuumed all of the rugs and furniture, sprayed down the house and we all left for the day. Gohan had no signs of infestation, but he got the same treatment. I gave them both a spot treatment later that week. Nikki died a month later of old age issues. I'll never know if it was exacerbated by the treatment.

Anyway, I'm not a real fan of monthly pesticide treatments for living things. Chemicals change the make up of cells and that's not always good. As you can see from above, I only used the treatments after infestations - usually for 3 to 6 months, and otherwise used IPM (Integrated Pest Management) systems and treatments the rest of the time. Here's a bit of ironic craziness: Spot Drop manufacturers admit that the products may cause pets 25% life span reduction.

So now that it's spring in Washington, DC I'm looking for an effective way to keep 'big head' dawgie flealess. Being a larger dog, he is more apt to get into trouble (slip out the fence and run the neighborhood, eating other dog's food - what a clown).

I found this cedar based treatment on the 'net today. Called CedarCide, it was supposedly developed for the U.S. Army to combat desert sand fleas. I might just give it a try (and Gohan will smell like a felled tree in the forest). BEST YET KIT

Whole Dog Journal
article: Spot-On Pesticides Are Not Safe

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nikki's last days

She made out that she hated that new big ol' pup, but when Mookie passed away in March 2007, try as she might not to do it - they got closer. He was still trying to get her to play with squeaky toys that were larger than her head. She would avoid him on the steps, but we would still find them sleeping together on the landing. One time I thought Gohan would squish her, but she never moved.

She took up the old Mookie pasttime of stealing Gohan's richer, non-senior food. However when Mookie left, there was a blankness in her eyes that never went away. Rarely could I get her to play the silly puppy games that until recently she still enjoyed - running around in circles, dancing on hind legs for treats. I assumed it was old age. Her hearing was still fine and she had a good appetite, although she had long since stopped walking her daily mile and would only walk just a few houses away from home. Yet she still would come running home at three sharp claps of my hands.

In early December 2007, we took a trip to accompany our daughter Stephanie to her first professional conference - the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in Atlanta. While away, the dogs stayed with Melanie of Spirit of Phoenix, and received the best of care. When we returned, Melanie informed us that Nikki was up to her old "stealing Gohan's food" tricks again. We laughed and took them home.

Two weeks later, she was listless and seemed to lose her way when I clapped for her to come home. Confused, she went to several homes doors. I had to pick her up and bring her home. I would find her staring at me when I would enter the house - I came to realize that she didn't always recognize me. Her hearing faded quickly. That week I began facing the inevitable - that at 16 and a half years old, my 'baby girl' Pommie was dying. It was an end of the best time of my life with those dogs and I was not looking forward to it. Gohan began moping around the house and Nikki avoided us all. Often hiding under a desk or bed.

On the Friday before Christmas I woke up extremely disturbed. I could see Nikki from my bed and she wasn't moving. I knew she wasn't dead, but I dreaded what I might have to do. She hadn't been exhibiting pain and my husband said there will come a time when we would know that there was nothing else to be done. When I finally pulled myself from the bed three hours later, Nikki woke up. I carried her outside and she carried on her ritual as if in a doggie mime act - nothing really happened. I carried her into the house and placed her by her food. She made like she was eating and drinking, but actually did neither. After her little act to satisfy me, she walked upstairs and plopped in her bed. She promptly began to whine.

I picked her up to comfort her, but that didn't last long. She wanted to get down and take her regular place under my desk as I worked. However, she didn't stop whining. Gohan looked helpless and that was the way I felt. I called my husband and told him "I think Nikki is dying." I tried to be matter of fact, but it was one of the absolute worse things I've been through in a while. I realized later that I had cried the entire day. She walked around for a while and Gohan kept his distance. At about 4 pm she bumped into the bookcase and stood there, probably realizing she was blind. She tried to make her way under the bed, but I wouldn't let her go. I placed her in her bed. She got up. Finally, she just laid down next to it.

I placed my hand on her head and told her it was okay to leave. It would be okay and she would be with Robin, Mommie, Winky Dinky Dawg, Squeeky Kitty, and her pal Mookie again. It was 4:57pm. Gohan sniffed her and followed me into the office. At 5 my husband walked in the door and said Nikki is gone. I think she waited for him to come home. As I said, it was a great era.