Friday, November 27, 2015

Year Round Dosing for Big Veterinary Profits

The dog and I should take the poison to cure what we don't have?

Imagine a doctor telling you that "just to be safe," he was going to dose you every month with penicillin because "you never really know."

Also, since you do a lot of gardening and are around dirt and manure a lot, he was going to worm you every month as well.

Would you consider that outrageous health care?

Well, it's not outrageous in the world of dogs, where veterinarians routinely counsel every client that their dog should be on year-round poisons so they can avoid fleas, ticks, heart worms and roundworms, whether they have them or not.

Roundworms are uncommon in an adult dog, and dosing your dog on a monthly basis is not needed unless you are feeding your dog the raw flesh of wild animals.

Dose your dog once a year for worms (no vet visit is needed, no fecal test is needed, and no prescription medication is needed) and be done with it.

As for fleas and ticks, it really depends on how and where you live. If you have several dogs and are in field and forest several times a week, that is one thing. But if you only have one dog which rarely leaves the sidewalk (i.e. most dogs in America), your dog probably does not need to be on year-round flea and tick medication. Get a flea comb, and if you find fleas, bathe your dog in a cheap over-the-counter flea shampoo, and you should be fine.

As for heart worm, it can only be transmitted if the temperature stays above 57 degrees for at least 45 days straight, both day and night. If the temperature drops below 57 degrees even once during that 45-day period, the life cycle of the heart worm is broken. And if your dog is dosed with heart worm medication even once during any part of a heartworm's 90-day life cycle, all of the microfilaria larvae will be killed. In short, year-round monthly dosing for heart worm is never needed.

So why do vets routinely prescribe year-round medications toxins for dogs?

Simple: Money.

As Dr. Tai Federico, a Tennessee veterinarian recently confessed to the Veterinary Information Service: "Merial has paid for my house, basically, (through) the profit I’ve gotten on Frontline.”

Not only are there real profits to be made from the monthly application of flea, tick and heart worm medications, but simply getting clients to keep coming back for regular prescriptions means that more "well dog" visits can be scheduled during which unnecessary vaccine "booster" shots and dental cleanings can be sold. .

Ironically, while many dog owners have a misplaced obsession with the quality of food they are feeding their dog, these same pet owners often think nothing of dosing their canine companions with insecticides on a monthly basis.


Unknown said...

Thanks for this take on the matter. It makes sense.
I work in a retirement community. Many of the people I deal with are overmedicated. I think the same reasoning is behind it--money, money, money.

Jonathan Setter said...

the more I read and learn for myself, the less I like any of the vets I have been to as they have all tried something like this at some point. I read the previous post on dental care and the risks of general anaesthetics. My vet was reccomending this type of stuff to me a few months ago. As fo pesticides, for a toxicology study of fipronil, check this link


Calsidyrose said...

I read your blog regularly and enjoy it immensely (I love terrier-type dogs), but I beg to differ regarding the need for monthly heartworm treatment.

I live and do rescue work here in Southeast Houston, Texas, and dozens of heartworm-positive dogs arrive at our Shelter each month. Adoptable dogs qualify for the two-step injection treatment. I have a foster dog who just finished his treatment and now is ready for adoption. The difference in his overall attitude and energy level is amazing. He is an oversize min-pin--and now acts like one, jumping and hunting.

Perhaps all your readers are professional dog handlers who can maintain accurate weather records so that they can "save" that heartworm dose when the temps dip below 57 degrees that one night. We do get nights like that here in Southeast Texas, but I would not feel confident in telling my adopters (ordinary families with kids) to add weather recording to their calendars.

After seeing the wracking pain of an animal in the Shelter who has never had heartworm preventive and knowing that I get mosquito bites (and I'm highly allergic) all year round, I keep my dogs on heartworm preventive. I use Heartguard (I know there's cheaper alternatives) because I don't want to play at being a vet by using Ivermec.

We have enough problems educating our adopters about the reality of heartworm disease as it is--many people shrug it all off because the early stages of the disease are invisible to the dog-owner.

Perhaps it's overkill to do this monthly dose, but until there is significant climate change here in Houston, I am not going to subject my dogs or the dogs I adopt out to a "hit-and-miss" program.

I do agree with flea-tick meds--I use Dawn dishsoap, a flea comb and my fingers except for two or three times a year.

BTW, I'm not that obsessive about what I feed my dogs--we have lots of fancy foods in the wealthy subdivision where I live, but my dogs and the fosters have all thrived on the mid-point price level kibble I feed. I know better than to mention the brands because people have extremely strong opinions about foods.

My H.E.B. grocer has recently put in a refrigerated case of very pricey (and attractively packaged) gourmet/raw/natural/premium dog foods, but my dogs won't be dining on those products.

PBurns said...

Calsidy Rose, please see "The Billion Dollar Heartworm Scam" link at the above post above, or go here >>

Three quick points made at that post:

1) As the map shows, you should be dosing dogs in Houston year-round. Complete agreement there.

2. Year-round dosing does not require dosing every month. Once every 3 months will do it (actually one every 6 months will do it, but let's be conservative). If you want to dose every month, go right ahead, but it's NOT necessary.

3. If you are running a shelter, you need to know how to save money for treatment and "preventative" medicine. The post explains how to do that in detail. This post will save you a LOT of money over time.


Meagan said...

Just had this talk with my husbands aunt yesterday. "Our vet says everyone now should be using flea/tick Meds year round." We live south of buffalo, NY. She looked at me like I was neglectful because I dose spring through fall. She told me they found one tick on each of their dogs and they took them to the vet, had the ticks tested and the vet put both dogs on antibiotics "just in case." Whoa. That was probably $300+. Hard to believe your two dogs who never go out of the fence yard or off a leash away from a sidewalk are getting fleas or ticks in January with a foot of snow on the ground. And to treat for tick born disease a day after finding a tick, sounds stupid to me.

Richard Gilbert said...

I just quit my vet over the year round heartworm medication AND annual testing they require.

PipedreamFarm said...

I have an unanswered question about heartworm preventatives I thought you might like to ponder too.

Back when ivermectin was developed for use as a preventative the effective minimum dose was determined. To do this researchers dosed dogs with a fixed number of microfilaria (assumed to be max number expected to be obtained from mosquitos since previous treatment). The study was then to determine how much ivermectin was needed to kill those number of microfilaria. Has the number of microfilaria infected mosquitoes (not all mosquitos are infected) increased such that the effective minimum dose is no longer valid because the level of natural infection in dogs has increased? All other heartworm preventatives developed used the same microfilaria dose established during the development of ivermectin.

Low/under dosing has two bad outcomes; not all microfilaria are killed ("treated" dogs can develop heartworms) AND this is how resistant strains of organisms are selected.

PBurns said...

A good question, and one I have thought about.

I am using sheep drench these days and I do not use a minimum dosage, but I also do not dose year-round as that's pointless in this area where we both live.

One reason I suspect there is not a great deal of ivermectin-resistance developing with heartworm is that I do not think dogs are the primary or most common host in our area or in most areas. That role is filled by the red fox and the coyote, both of which are never treated, and so resistance is never triggered. I will bet that most vets in my area have never seen a heart-worm affected dog, but if you started to autopsy a 1,000 adult fox, you would find a steady number of carriers. See >>

PipedreamFarm said...

I believe the primary carrier/host would be correlated with human population density. The higher the density the more likely dogs would be primary host; the lower the density the more likely wild canines would be the primary host. Since the vector (mosquito) does not have a large range, the range of the primary host will control the geographic distribution of heartworm gene pools. I suspect that due to these factors, in urban areas resistance can develop (due to under-protected hosts) where in rural areas development of resistance is less likely (no selection of resistant strains can occur in unprotected hosts).