Happy Easter! Be sure to keep that candy and plastic grass away from your pets. Also, unless you want to risk seeing the veterinarian in a few days, keep those table scraps out of the pet bowls!

This Thursday, April 20, I will be presenting an evening seminar as part of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care’s “Third Thursday” series. The topic this month is “The Difference $100 Makes: Surgical Choices that Affect Your Pet.” The lecture will explore all the decisions that a veterinarian makes when setting up a surgical suite and developing protocols for a practice. Many pet owners would be surprised at all the choices that are made on their pet’s behalf and how they could impact their pets.

The Third Thursday series is open to the public and free of charge. Light refreshments are served. Presentations begin at 7 p.m. Visit Facebook.com/ClevengersCorner for more information or call 540/428-1000.

If you have a few spare moments this week, please take a few minutes to vote in the Star-Exponent’s Best of Your Hometown poll. I am honored to have my practice nominated for best veterinarian. I was also pleasantly surprised to be nominated for best community leader for the first time. Of course, there are many categories to consider and many people and businesses that have been nominated. You can find a link to the survey at www.starexponent.com.

Pet health alert: April is in full bloom and so are the fleas and ticks! This is the time to act if you do not want your pets to suffer later. Do not make the mistake of using inferior prevention products to try to save a dime now. I promise you will spend more money in the long run.

It is common for pet owners to bring me their dog or cat with a terrible rash that just won’t respond to home treatments. Each day the pet is suffering from allergic dermatitis that itches and burns all day and all night. Every day it gets worse while their owners fumble through shampoos and pet store remedies. When I finally get the chance to help these pets, their owners are shocked with the diagnosis: flea allergies!

Why are they so shocked? Because they really have tried. They have almost always used flea shampoos, spot-ons, and/or collars (often still on the pet) from some big box or grocery store. Some of these pets even have a chemical odor to them from all the products being tried! It is quite shocking how ineffective some of these treatments can be.

I really do feel sorry for these people and their pets. I know that each one will have to spend the weeks and months battling an established infestation. For every one single flea you see, there are 20 eggs, maggot-like larvae or pupae getting ready to hatch from beds, carpets and furniture. These pets suffer unnecessarily and these owners have certainly not saved money. The skin infections, itching, and extra flea products are much more costly than effective prevention could have been. It is all very sad and frustrating.

Recent years have brought significant advances in parasite prevention. Several products have been introduced that kill fleas and ticks within an hour! There are even oral flea and tick prevention medications that can’t be washed off and have been documented to dramatically reduce the risk of Lyme disease.

It seems like each year we have novel, safer and more effective techniques or combinations to battle these critters. If you are not already using a veterinary-quality flea control product, PLEASE talk with your veterinarian today. If you are using the same product you used ten years ago, you also may want to have a discussion with your veterinarian about whether or not it’s still the safest, most effective option for your pet.

(Frontline for instance has gone from Frontline Topspot to Frontline Plus to Certifect to Frontline Tritak to Frontline Gold… many people are using an older version.)

It’s April and your pet is already being exposed to these pests. In most cases, it’s not too late to prevent a horror story later this summer. Unfortunately, I know I will be spending the rest of the year helping pets whose owners haven’t heeded this warning. Please don’t be one of them.

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Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner and owner of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. He can be reached at 540/428-1000.

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