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Over the years we have interviewed thousands of pet owners throughout South Africa.

Many complained about the immediate sickness that befell upon their pets when they applied the flea and tick drops. Others complained that there pets skin swelled up after application of these drops and most claimed that there pets continued to suffer from some sort of adverse skin condition. 

After investigating the ingredients that are used to formulate  these flea and tick drops, we were appalled to learn  that ingredients fipronil and permethrin, used in animal flea products Advantix and Frontline, are also the active ingredient in common household insecticides, advertised nationally  as almost instantly killing cockroaches. Note also that these products have a hazard rating of 4, the highest value.    

I find it hard to believe that these products are not absorbed in to the tissues and organs of the animal, accumulating over time, with a consequent impact on the well-being of the pet. 

There are some wonderful natural alternatives that repel fleas and ticks without being dangerous to our pet’s health. Garlic has been used for centuries as a natural anti-biotic but also to repel parasites, mosquitoes and fleas. 

 Khakibos has always proven to be a great flea and tick repellent. Many older folk will tell you of stories how they would cover their carpets and curtains with Khakibos, in order to repel fleas and ticks. 

Aloe Bitter Crystals, hidden in a piece of meat and taken internally, is also very effective. 

Then there is the old fashion method of grooming and brushing. 

Either way, the natural alternative is a far better and a safer option. The adverse affects from flea poison are documented. They include skin disorders (itchiness, redness, hair discoloration, hair loss, bleeding sores), lethargy, difficulty walking, loss of appetite, changes in behavior, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death. 

Here some horrendous testimonials, both locally and abroad. I have many many more:

Louise van der Merwe, SA Representative: Compassion in World Farming and Editor of Animal Voice testimony is frightening but there are worse:

“My cat lost all the hair on her neck and back after I had applied one of those flea poison ampules you get from the vet. The baldness wasn’t just where the ampule had been applied. It spread over several square inches.  It took a long time for her hair to grow back. I felt dreadful.” 

“My 3 year old yorkie had a full blown seizure 30 minutes after an application of Advantage. She couldn’t walk and was drooling from the mouth. I grabbed her and washed her off with Dawn dish washing liquid. She was shaking afterwards for about  an hour, but appears to be ok now. I contacted my vet, who declines to admit that the flea medication would be the problem”

Lanelle  10/6/09 

“WE WON’T APPLY ANY MORE CHEMICALS TO OUR DOG! FRONTLINE PLUS APPLIED AS DIRECTED GAVE MY DOG A SEIZURE. WITHIN MINUTES OF THE APPLICATION HIS EYES GLAZED OVER, WERE VERY GLASSY AND HE SLOWLY LAID DOWN ON THE FLOOR.  HE LAID THERE AND STARED OFF INTO NOTHING AND APPEARED TO BE “STONED”.  HE HAS ALSO DEVELOPED THESE CYST LIKE BUMPS ALL OVER WITHIN HIS SKIN.  WE ARE HAVING ONE BIOPSIED TO GET THE OFFICIAL DIAGNOSIS OF THEM. ARE THESE CAUSED BY THE MEDICATION? AND IS THE “STONED” REACTION A SEIZURE, OR AN ALLERGIC REACTION TO THE FRONTLINE?

-NO MORE CHEMICALS!” 

“The other day my dog was given frontline, he has a habit of lying on my bed. After about 15 minutes of my  going to bed that night I felt like I was on fire from my head to my knees. I started splashing cold water on  myself and it was not helping, my face started to swell and there was purple blotches all over me. This  lasted about 20 minutes.”

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Summer of love.
Summer of love.

Summer and hot weather impacts on the well being and behavior of our pets. We, as humans, adapt to change in climate and amend our habits accordingly. For example, when the weather is hot we wear lighter clothing and we generally eat less bulky meals. We protect ourselves from the UV rays and we probably shower more often, especially after spending each day at Clifton beach or a trek through Newlands forest.

Our pets rely on us for their daily activities and feed as well as their general exposure to the environment. It is, therefore, essential that we understand our companion and make the necessary adaptations to the change in climate.

Offering your companion a variety of different foods or adding tasty tit bits may improve appetite. Identify whether your companion is a “hot” dog and then include cooling supplements into the meal. Remember, not to over do it with washing and shampooing, as their natural skin bacteria is very venerable. Rather rinse with fresh water or even a Natural Rooibos Soak.

Summer affects our companion in many ways but the biggest irritant is fleas and itchy skin. This is both traumatic for pet owner and pet. Allergens are rife and abundant and our pets seem to react to everything:

Long grass, dust mites and flea bites – allergies

It is important to boost your pet’s immunity during this season. Strong immunity is your pet’s sole protector against allergies. Supplementation is essential and should be administered religiously.

The use of probiotics and/or spirulina would be well advised. A good quality omega 3 fish oil (not flax) is essential. Include apple cider vinegar daily in your pet’s water or food. Diatomaceous Earth is a natural parasite cleanser and will help rid toxins and parasites.

A natural diet with vegetables and loads of cooling herbs like mints, sages, lemon balm would help to build immunity and calm and cool irritable skin.

Fleas and Ticks

In the last few years we have seen an epidemic of fleas. They just will not go away. Whilst it is always tempting to use strong chemicals and poisons to rid these pets, it will certainly impact on your pet’s well being and sensitive skin. Here is the dilemma. If you choose to use flea and tick drops, it may rid fleas, but it certainly will impact on your pet’s immunity and ability to deal with allergens and thus may worsen skin conditions.

The use of natural chemical free repellents is well advised and can be just as effective if applied regularly. Khakibos as a spray is fantastic to apply on your dogs. For cats we would recommend the khakibos powder. Knowing how rife fleas and ticks are at the moment, I would recommend daily use.

When we go to the beach and sunbath we apply sun protection is advance. We don’t wait to get burnt and then apply a sun cream after. The same is true with regards to applying khakibos onto our pets. Let’s keep them off our pets as a first priority!

Internally, i would recommend increasing the daily dose of fresh garlic. Another alternative would be the use of aloe ferox bitter crystals (they are extremely bitter and you would have to hide the crystal in some meat or snack). Only one small crystal taken every few days is necessary.

Summer in South Africa is truly special but it can be problematic for our pets. Fleas and allergies can be contained naturally by boosting our companion’s natural immune system. Extra care and time is required during these months but the results are worth it. After all, a happy pet means a happy owner.

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“My dog continuously licks its paws”

Paul’s Response:

This condition is very common in dogs and particularly with German Shepards, Bull Terriers and Staffies. This, I classify as a skin ailment and should be addressed accordingly.

Over the months of writing for Furkidz I have dealt with skin conditions and holistic and natural treatment. Readers would be well advised to peruse previous editorial to gain insight and solutions. Or alternatively look at our direct site, https://www.vondis.co.za/cat22.php?catID=23

However, specifically, the continuous licking of feet and paws is a clear sign that your dog lacks probiotics. You would be well advised to administer natural probiotics or spirulina. Even better, and certainly a must for the three breeds mention above, is to include Raw Dirty Tripe in their meal. German Shepards, Bull Terriers and Staffies metabolize the enzymes found in tripe better than other probiotics. It is essential for their diet.

In these breeds I would recommend including 250grams twice to three times per week. In other breeds, once a week would be adequate. This can be supplemented in conjunction with other probiotics. Raw tripe is available from your butcher or local supermarkets.

Externally and to discourage the habit of licking the paws, one could rub aloe bitter gel onto their feet.

“My Dog often eats its own Stool”

Paul’s Response:

This is a sure sign that your companion is lacking something nutritionally. It is not uncommon for your dog to eat its own stool, the wood from your skirting board, toilet paper or other disgusting objects. Also very common, but pleases me greatly, is when your dog eats your garden, the herbs within, the flowers, roots and grass.

He is merely fulfilling the nutritional void from his daily feed and finding relief in other nutritional ingredients.

In the wild, dogs and cats would graze a variety of mineral enriched grass, flowers and herbs, instinctively identifying the healing and cleansing agents that they contain. The medicinal and mineral wealth in herbs is well documented and is essential to the health of all animals.

It still amazes me that after thousands of years of being domesticated, our canine friend is still able to instinctively know what his body requires to make him nutritionally complete and to treat sickness and ailments.

Therefore, if your companion is exhibiting strange eating habits, then I would certainly include a variety of natural and wholesome ingredients into his meal. You will be surprised what fantastic results you will gain from just adding vegetables into your companion’s diet.

Most people have fresh herbs at home or can easily acquire some. Having a variety of herbs at home is the equivalent of having a walk-in pharmacy on your door step. Depending on the mood of your companion, health and ailment he will automatically know which herbs to choose. This is quite amazing.

I would also supplement diet with supplements that we know to support digestion:  pro-biotics, spirulina, diatomaceous earth, apple cider vinegar, a natural and vitamin supplement.

“My dog continuously scratches”

 Paul’s Response:

Almost every dog is struggling with itchy skin and allergies. Whether I am lecturing in Cape Town or Guateng, every pet owner complains about itchy skin. I don’t believe that even the veterinarian industry knows how grave this problem actually is, because people would certainly be reluctant to report such an “insignificant” matter to their vets and at a great expense.

I personally deal with about 20 emails each day relating to skin disorders alone.

What ever advice you may heed, you certainly do need to make a change in your habits. If not, this problem will not go away. Skin disorders are a sure sign that something is going wrong. I see it as your pet’s saving grace. Your change in attitude and habits may actually steer your companion towards a healthier life and improve longevity.

I have written much on skin disorders for Furkidz and offered some valuable advice. Some of the relevant editorial that I presented previously was “flea, ticks and skin allergies – natural remedies”. I also offered “a solutions to solving your pets itchy skin and allergies – internally and externally”. My article on “Rooibos Tea” and “Apple Cider vinegar” also showed how useful these supplements could be I treating skin disorders.

The success we have had in treating skin related ailments is advising our clients to stay away from feeding sugars, dairy or any preserved food. This includes dry kibble as they are all preserved. Rather experiment with natural diets that are wholesome and full of vegetables.

Refrain from using hard chemicals and poisons when grooming or dealing with fleas and ticks. There are many natural remedies available.

Skin disorders and allergies can be cured. All that is required is a holistic and natural approach.

“HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BE FEEDING MY DOG?”

Paul’s Response:

Some people prefer feeding once a day and others twice. Obviously, for young puppies they certainly should be feeding a few times a day. But for the rest, it’s really your own preference.

I personally have only ever fed my companions once a day, at night, and to be honest I can’t really remember why I chose this routine.

There are those who feel that their dogs are derivatives of wolves or jackals and if this is the case then these predators or scavengers would have only eaten a meal from time to time. Therefore, feeding once a day would be more appropriate.

Interestingly, when I was lecturing in Darling some time ago, the local vet advised that people feed their pets twice a day. This is because that area is known to infested with ticks and the dangers of biliary were rife. Should your pet be infected, then you could already pick up the danger signs when he missed his first meal. You would then be more observant and monitor his eating habits thereafter and take the necessary medical action.

Generally, in summer the eating habits of our pets change as they do for humans. When the weather is very hot we loose appetite. Perhaps during the hotter months one could feed once a day. Conversely, during winter our companions need to build body fat and would benefit from two meals a day.

In the end, I honestly believe that it makes absolutely no difference feeding once or twice a day. It is your own preference

 

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A healthy dog is a happy dog!

Over the last weeks I have presented editorial on the benefits of vegetables in your pet’s diet and offering guidance in formulating natural and wholesome food for your beloved companion animals. But what about diet supplementation?

Natural supplementation is important for your pet, especially when treating an ailment or condition. Herewith is a list of my preferred supplements to include in your companions diet.

OMEGA 3 FISH OIL – for skin conditions and allergies.

A quality omega 3 is essential in restoring cell damage and should be your first choice supplement. Almost every Vet will recommend an Omega 3 when treating skin disorders and inflammation.

Sally-Anne Creed is one of South Africa’s leading nutritionists and her stance on whether to use fish oil or flax oil is very clear. She firmly warns clients to avoid flax.

Although flaxseed oil is often touted, even by some doctors, as a substitute for fish oil, new studies show it’s not a reliable alternative.

A new Emory University study found that taking high daily doses of flaxseed oil  caused no increase at all of omega-3 DHA in the blood of subjects.

Similarly, feeding animals alpha-linolenic acid, as found in flaxseed oil, did not increase DHA in their brain cells, according to research at the National Institutes of Health.

New British research says high doses of flaxseed oil may even cause a decrease in omega-3 DHA and that flaxseed oil does not adequately nourish fetal brains.

According to the study published in ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ flaxseed oil is found very less effective against inflammatory conditions. Generally, flaxseed oil has been considered to be anti-inflammatory agent. But few more studies reveal the shocking truth that
it actually increases inflammation in most of the cases.

My preference, especially when treating skin ailments, is high quality fish oil, preferably salmon oil.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR – for itchy skin & arthritis

Apple cider vinegar is a remedy with multiple uses for dogs: alleviating allergies, arthritis, establishing correct pH balance.

If your dog has itchy skin, the beginnings of a hot spot, incessantly licks its feet, has smelly ears, or is picky about his food, the application of Apple Cider Vinegar may change things around. For poor appetite, use it in the food – 1 tablespoon, two times a day for a 20 kilo. dog.

Taken internally, Apple Cider Vinegar is credited with maintaining the acid/alkaline balance of the digestive tract.

If you have a dog that has clear, watery discharge from the eyes, a runny nose, or coughs with a liquid sound, uses Apple Cider Vinegar in his or her food. One teaspoon twice a day for a 20 kilo dog will do the job

After your weekly grooming sessions, use a few drops in his or her ears after cleaning them to avoid ear infections and to clean out mites. Two parts Apple Cider Vinegar to eight parts warm water would be the desired dosage

For itchy skin or the beginning of hot spots, dilute Apple Cider Vinegar, three parts water and one part the vinegar, and add into a spray bottle or dab onto the dog’s skin.

Fleas, flies, ticks and bacteria, external parasites, ring worm, fungus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, mange, etc., are unlikely to inhabit a dog whose system is acidic inside and out.

Your dog will also smell so nice that you may mistake your companion animal for your garden salad

SPIRULINA – for immunity and digestion

Vondi’s Spirulina Supplement

 

One of my preferred supplements is Spirulina.

Spirulina contains a remarkable combination of vegetable protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and powerful antioxidants. These vital substances work in synergy to assist in immune enhancement, disease prevention, the promotion of healthy bowel flora and general well-being.

All vitamins and minerals in Spirulina are present as natural, organically-bound complexes. Unlike synthetic combinations of isolated vitamins and minerals, these complexes are easily recognised by the body and are therefore highly bioavailable. Spirulina provides superior nutrition, especially at a time when many commercial foods are becoming increasingly more nutrient depleted.

Spirulina has the highest protein content of any natural food.  Spirulina contains between 65 and 70% protein. This is 270% more protein than fish, 334% more than beef and 556% more than tofu.

Spirulina also excels with regards to protein quality. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Unlike non-essential amino acids, essential amino acids can not be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet. Spirulina provides all the essential amino acids and is therefore considered a complete protein.  With regards to usable protein (as a percentage of the food’s composition), Spirulina is second only to whole, dried eggs. Furthermore, protein from

Spirulina contains various trace minerals and provides 475% more calcium than

whole milk and 5756% more iron than spinach. Iron from Spirulina is more than twice as absorbable as the form of iron found in most meats and vegetables. Spirulina is the best natural iron supplement available and has been shown to correct anemia, increase blood haemoglobin content and increase iron reserves.

In general, Spirulina enhances overall immunity, promotes a healthy gut and overall well- being.  Spirulina is an excellent supplement for a healthy skin and lustrous coat.  It enhances appetite even for finicky cats.  Spirulina fed pets have a fresher breath odor.

In short Spirulina has been shown to:

* Boost Immune System

* Improve Digestion

* Produce healthy skin and lustrous coat

* Improve Appetite (so eat more of your food)

* Improve overall well-being and freshen breath

In my next editorial I will continue with this important subject of supplementation and I look at the health benefits of Rooibos Tea, Diatomaceous Earth and Rosehip and Devils Claw for our pets.

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