Keep Your Pet Healthy This Season

From the pet food recall to a new antidepressant for dogs, pets and their care are making national headlines.

On "Good Morning America," veterinarian Marty Becker ran down the latest news pet owners should know to ensure the health of their pets.

Becker urged people to stay on top of the pet food recall news to prevent more cats and dogs from dying or getting sick. "Go through your shelves and make sure you don't have any of the recalled foods tucked away," he said.

Becker advised pet owners to get advice from a veterinarian before concocting their own pet food. "I still recommend commercial foods, but veterinarians are also willing to direct people to trusted resources to help them get started the right way with home cooking."

He added, "Check with your vet any time you change your pet's diet. There could be complications depending on what you serve your pet, so it's best to be safe and get advice."

A new report that Xylitol, a natural sweetener found in gum, candy and cookies, is poisonous to dogs and is also causing pet owners anxiety. "It not only causes hypoglycemia in dogs, but a recent study shows that it also causes acute hepatic necrosis," Becker confirmed. "This is just another reason not to feed your dog from your plate and to discuss any changes in your pet's diet with your vet."

For more information, click here.

Products for Pet Health

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a dog antidepressant. Becker explained that the drug is designed to keep dogs from barking relentlessly or tearing up the house when no one's at home.

"The new drug is called Reconcile, and it's to help dogs with separation anxiety, caused when their owners leave them alone at home," said Becker. "The drug is to be used in combination with behavior modification training."

You can find more information about Reconcile at www.reconcile.com.

While pet owners may be divided on the antidepressant, Becker said everyone should embrace products that help protect pets from parasites, especially with summer around the corner.

"Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes -- literally and figuratively -- they suck. A single one of these bugs on an unprotected pet can cause a litany of dangerous and debilitating diseases, from flea allergy dermatitis and rocky mountain spotted fever to Lyme and heartworm disease," he said. "Not only are the diseases serious, but bites from these external parasites are extremely painful for pets. So prevention is all important."

To prevent heartworm, Becker recommended Advantage Multi for Dog and Advantage Multi for Cats. The once-a-month topical FDA-approved treatment, available by prescription, kills fleas and prevents heartworm along with other internal parasites.

"You just place drops between your pet's shoulder blades, where they can't lick it or get at it," Becker said.

A new vet-administered test called Snap 4DX can help pet owners check their dog for ticks. It tests for three tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease and heartworm.

"The research says that this 8-minute test is 98 percent effective in determining whether your dog has the disease," Becker said.

For more information about this test, click here.

For information about year-round parasite control for all pets, visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council's Web site at www.petsandparasites.org. Find out more about heart worms at www.knowheartworms.org.

As with many of their owners, pets come down with allergies during the spring and summer. Becker advised people with pets who suffer from allergies should consult their veterinarian to find out about medical advancements that can help.

"Pets itch and react with foot licking, face rubbing and scratching," he said. "Pets are allergic to pollens, molds and mites."

Atopica, a non-steroidal drug, may be an option. Visit http://www.us.atopica.com/ for more information.

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