Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Prevention

October 4, 2010

In the past month, The Animal Medical Center has received several inquiries about the use of diatomaceous earth (DE) as a flea preventative. I knew DE was used in swimming pool and fish tank filters, in cat litter and in laboratory studies but I hadn’t heard of using it against fleas. I found some interesting information to share with you.

Diatomaceous earth is composed of the fossilized silica skeletons of a unicellular organism known as a diatom. Diatomaceous earth crumbles easily and has the texture of pumice. Many websites recommending natural and organic medications suggest a host of medical uses for DE. Although DE is GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA and some forms of DE are considered food grade, there are no FDA approved DE compounds for the treatment of diseases or for parasite control.  

Food and Drug Administration approval of a medication assures the consumer and the prescribing veterinarian that the product meets certain safety and efficacy standards.  In the case of flea and tick preventative medications, FDA approval means the medications are tested for safety in both dogs and cats if the medication is approved for use in both species. The manufacturer also has to prove to the FDA that the medication works against the parasite(s) the label says it kills or prevents. Without FDA approval, I don’t have enough information on the dosage, efficacy or safety of a medication to know how much to give, if the product works, or if it will hurt my patient.

Pet owners wishing to avoid chemical flea control don’t have very effective options. Keeping the pet inside and away from other animals will decrease exposure, but in apartment buildings the little critters can travel between apartments in the hallway carpet. Daily vacuuming of your apartment and disposing of the bag will help to decrease the numbers of fleas and eggs in the environment. Finally, using a flea comb daily will decrease fleas and eggs on your pet.
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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Labor Day is No Picnic for Your Pet

August 31, 2010

To celebrate or, more accurately, say a fond farewell to the end of summer, there will be millions of backyard barbecues over Labor Day weekend. Since our pets are members of the family, we want them to participate in this end of summer ritual, but picnics pose some dangers for the family pet.

If you are the host family for the backyard barbecue, make sure your pets are safely corralled inside the house. Some cats will want to hide under the bed when the guests begin to arrive, but curious cats may try to join the party and could slip outside unnoticed. Make sure all pets have collars with ID tags and microchips before the party starts.

Dogs are more likely than cats to join the party, but party food should be off the menu for dogs. The picnic table laden with summer treats is a buffet of hazards for Fido. Barbecued chicken, ribs and steaks all contain bones which can be splintered and lodged somewhere in the esophagus or intestine. Stuck bones can be a holiday-wrecking emergency requiring endoscopy or surgery for removal. Trash can-raiding dogs will eat corncobs and peach pits — two other commonly stuck food items.

The dessert and drink tables are no safer. Chocolate, whether in cake or brownies, should not be on your dog’s menu as chocolate is toxic to dogs. Even the fruit tray can be a problem. Grapes and raisins both cause kidney failure in dogs. Why dogs are so sensitive and humans are resistant to the effects of these fruits is unknown. The sweet taste of fruity summer drinks left unattended on the lawn is attractive to dogs, but alcoholic beverages are a no-no. A few sips of an alcoholic beverage by a small pup can easily result in intoxication.

If you are picnicking at the beach or pool, be sure your dog can swim or have her wear a lifejacket. Watch out for cuts from sharp rocks and broken glass, or strong tides which could pull your dog out into the surf. Be sure to provide fresh water and a bowl — too much pond or salt water can cause stomach upset.

Whether you spend this weekend in your backyard, the beach or the woods, fleas and ticks will be there too. These pesky creatures are still active this time of year spreading disease causing organisms to both people and pets by their bites. Many dogs are allergic to flea bites and will have their weekend ruined by itching if bitten by a flea, so don’t forget this month’s dose of flea and tick preventative.

Have a fun and relaxing holiday weekend by keeping the pets and humans in your family safe and well.

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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


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