With summer just around the corner, I thought it would be good to let everyone know about a few new items available at your veterinarian, and review a few warm-weather hazards.
Good news for those dogs who suffer from allergies. There is a new medication out called Apoqeul. This medication is an oral anti-inflammatory which works similar to steroids, but without the side effects. It can be used for occasional itchy flare-ups or for the dog with long-term allergic skin disease.
The medication is very safe with the uncommon side effect being vomiting and diarrhea. The downside of this medication may be the cost. It is about three times as expensive as steroids are, and for the short-term, its popularity has caused it to be on manufacturer back order, so your veterinarian may not have any in stock.
It has not been tested in cats so should be used in cats with caution and only when steroids are not an option.
Fleas and ticks are here. With the unusual winter we have had we can expect to have more problems with these parasites. Some of the older topical flea and tick control medications aren't working as well as they once did due to resistance developed by flea populations.
There are several new oral medications available from your veterinarian. These medications kill fleas and ticks for a month and can be taken by both dogs and cats. Of course, that assumes that you can get a pill into your cat!
If your dog has access to open space, including a backyard which backs up to open space, be aware of rattlesnakes. Clinical signs of a snakebite include severe pain and swelling at the bite site.
Almost all of the dogs that we see with snakebites are hospitalized, but rarely are the bites fatal. Complications can include blood-clotting abnormalities, tissue necrosis or death surrounding the puncture site, and rarely, muscular weakness which can progress to temporary paralysis.
There is a vaccine which helps protect dogs against the effects of rattlesnake bites. Administered in spring, before the rattlesnakes become active, the vaccine stimulates the dog's immune system to make antibodies against the venom.
We still recommend hospitalization and treatment with antivenin for all of our rattlesnake victims, but the complications and pain may be less in dogs who have been vaccinated.
Foxtails are awns from a common weed we have here in California. They look like a little arrow with a point on one end. This point can penetrate skin, and foxtails can be found in or on almost every part of a pet's body. They get stuck in eyes, ears, noses, tonsils, lungs, bladders, feet, etc.
Foxtails are found everywhere in the environment. They are more common in open space areas but are also found growing between cracks in the sidewalk. Foxtails carry bacteria with them so they cause irritation and infections.
Avoiding foxtails can be difficult, but there are some things you can do. Have the groomer shave the feet and belly of your dog which makes finding and removing foxtails easier before they penetrate the skin. There are foxtail hoods that dogs can wear, like the one found at www.outfoxfieldguard.com.
Go out and enjoy the summer with your dog, and hopefully you can avoid these hazards at the same time.
Ask Dr. Jill Veterinary Advice is a column written by Jill Christofferson, DVM. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.