Peppermint And Your Puppy June 14 2015, 0 Comments

I am madly in love with my dogs.   All four of them.  We never intended to have that many dogs, of course.  I started out with just one dog.  And two cats.  I thought that was a perfect number.  And then I fell in love with a man who had a dog and a cat, and I found myself in a two dog, three cat household.

That was almost 13 years ago.  Being a military wife, I tend to focus my memories around my husband's deployments.  I lost my Sunny, a beautiful sable sheltie, while my husband was doing a short tour of duty in Italy.  Charlie (of Charlie's Organic CoCo Paws fame) joined our family soon after.  Just before my husband left for Kyrgyzstan (or as we called it, the place next to where Borat is from) he surprised me with a little sheltie puppy we named Barney, a combination of our names - Barb and Tony (and for whom our Barney's Baby Dog Shampoo is named).  Sadly, my husband's 16 year old corgi died just a few weeks after Barney became part of our family.

We went along for quite a few years with just two dogs until one rainy November night my husband spotted a shaggy white dog near an interstate exit ramp.   We tried to find an owner, but as time passed, we realized no one was looking for the little guy.   As hard as it was to believe he had been abandoned, we were already madly in love with him.  We named him Sheldon after the Big Bang Theory character. (and we named our Sheldon's Stinkerbutt Spritz after him)  I am convinced that Sheldon is half shih'tzu and half bulldog.  And that makes him a .... you get the idea.    

A little over a year ago, we adopted a 12 year old sheltie named Lucy.  Lucy had spent her life in a loving home, but lost her owner to cancer.   We call her LuLu, and she loves to boss the boys :)

Like all concerned pet parents, I want to be sure my babies are protected from fleas and ticks and heart worm.  For years, I gave them preventatives recommended by my vet.  I had been using the kind that is applied topically, between the shoulder blades and at the base of the tail.  I never wanted to overdo it, so I only used them in the summer.  

I noticed that Charlie would run when I applied the treatment, but Charlie also runs when he sees a brush, so I didn't think much of it.  When my little Barney, who is always a good dog, starting running, I realized something was wrong - the treatment was clearly burning or irritating their skin in some way.

So I asked my vet if there was a pill I could give them.  There was, and I used it for an entire summer.   Little did I know that pill had been killing dogs.

Some of you know that I am also an attorney.  My practice focuses on consumer rights issues.  I was alerted to a problem with a particular brand of flea and heart worm preventative - the same one I had used on my puppies the summer before.   During the course of investigating these claims, I spoke with vets, and with literally hundreds of pet parents whose dogs had suffered strokes, poisoning and death shortly after ingesting this product.  It was heartbreaking to listen to their stories.  So many blamed themselves, when in fact the fault lied with the company that put this in the marketplace.

After listening to all of these stories, I could not continue to use these products on my dogs.  I knew that insects have a known aversion to many fragrances, but most especially peppermint.  We use peppermint around our lab to keep the bugs away, and I hang peppermint-scented beads around my doors at home.  

I mixed a batch of Peppermint scented Sheldon's Stinkerbutt Spritz for my puppies, and used it on them once a week last summer.  We had no issues with fleas or other pests, and the dogs don't seem to mind smelling like peppermints.

I have been hesitant to make it available in our store because I don't want anyone to believe that peppermint is 100% effective in preventing fleas, ticks, and heart worm.  Certainly, different areas of the country are likely to have a higher incidence of these conditions then others.   There are many articles online that take the position that heart worm in dogs is extremely rare, but I know people in rescue who can tell you that it is a very real problem.

Ultimately, I decided to make Sheldon's Stinkerbutt Spritz available in peppermint for others who are concerned about commercial repellants, and those who just want a little extra protection for their pups.

To me, the risks associated with commercial flea products greatly exceeds the risk of not using them.  Northern Ohio is probably in the middle range for these kinds of threats, and my dogs do not spend much time outside.  

The decision of whether or not to use commercial pest repellents is one each pet parent has to make.   Talk to a vet you trust about the risks and benefits.  And give your puppies a hug for me!