Why we need to rethink our approach to fleas, ticks and worms.
How to be an eco-friendly pet owner.
Given the option, wouldn’t we all make healthier choices for ourselves as well as our pets? Especially when these choices support the environment and benefit the planet.
So, before applying ever more toxic chemicals to our pets and animals in the form of pesticides and wormers, it’s important to think about the side effects for them, ourselves and the environment.
It’s a real concern when last year a report by Buglife found significantly high levels of the chemical imidacloprid in rivers and streams in the remote Scottish Cairngorms, the Ouse in Bedfordshire and Lincolnshire’s River Ancholme. A chemical that has been banned from industrial use, due to its links with collapsing bee populations, but can be found in chemical flea treatments for dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets.
As well as killing insects that live or feed near water, such as mayflies, the chemical also damages the health of fish and birds, threatening the life of our streams and river
Matt Shardlow, the chief executive of Buglife, said:
"We are devastated to discover that many British Rivers have been heavily damaged by neonicotinoid insecticides....people think they put flea treatment on and it just goes away, but it doesn't. It goes through their pet and comes out when they go to the toilet or jump in a pond."
Taking a natural approach to animal health
Thankfully, there are safer, more environmentally friendly ways to take care of your pet's health. Holistic vet Nick Thompson MRCVS recommends a more natural approach: "I dislike using pesticides and will always advise owners, where possible, to change diet and to add supplements to the diet to make the dog and cat less attractive to fleas in the first place."
An alternative to wormers
"Worms are a different matter. You can't see them, even when they're there. The drugs companies would prefer you routinely dose, every quarter, with a wormer or some sort, whether your animal has worms or not. This seems illogical to me; a bit like taking aspirin every morning just in case you have a headache later in the day.
Rather than dose with a chemical every quarter, I recommend owners do a worm egg count to see if they need treatment. This involves sending off a stool sample to a laboratory (Wormcount or Westgate Laboratories for example) who then email them to tell them whether their animal has worms or not.
Most adult cats and dogs just don't get worms because their gut immunity takes care of them. Natural formulations like Verm-X contain herbs that enhance the body's innate defences and can be used long-term to further ensure rigorous gut hygiene. It's a 'prevention is better than cure' approach, surely the wisest and simplest way to manage the health of our animals".
Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum)
Lungworm is slightly different, as most animals have no innate immunity to it, as it's a relatively new problem in most areas. There are several 'hot spot areas' for lungworm, in the UK: Surrey, South Wales and Cornwall. In these areas, particular vigilant is warranted.
"With common sense and vigilance we can play an active role in keeping animals free of fleas, ticks and worms without having to resort to ecologically harmful pesticides or using wormers on animals that are already worm free."
Interested to learn more?
The growing problem of resistance - read the article.
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