Saturday, September 20, 2014

What I know - Seresto for fleas and ticks, is it worth it?

I have been seeing a lot of advertisements on blogs lately for Serestro, mostly because they have been sponsoring posts on blogs I read.  I am always pretty leery of new products for cats, especially when they are made for both dogs and cats, and I wanted to hold reserve judgement for this product until it had been 'out in the wild' for some time.

Having seen yet another 'blogvertisement' for it recently, I thought it was time to look into it and see what kind of reactions it is getting.  A quick trip over to and a click on the reviews is eye opening.

Before we get into that though, what is Seresto?  Seresto is a collar you put on your cat designed to kill fleas and ticks for eight months and costs anywhere from $50-$80 (there is also a $20 rebate on it if you go to their website). It is made and distributed by Bayer, and according to their website includes two insecticides Imidacloprid (to kill fleas) and Flumethrin (to kill ticks).

Imidacloprid has many brands and formulations for a wide range of uses, from delousing or defleaing animals to protecting trees. It is currently used in Advantage - also made by Bayer. In doing this research I've come to find out that Imidacloprid is one of those most toxic insecticides when it comes to honey bees.

Flumethrin, according to Wikipedia, is used for both fleas and ticks, and is actually used to help control mites in honey bee colonies..

You are supposed to put this collar on your cat and it is supposed to safely and effectively kill fleas and ticks for eight months.  This means the collar slowly releases these insecticides over an eight month period.  Sounds good doesn't it?

Well back to those reviews.  I went to the Bayer website and read the reviews posted there and according to the reviews there, it has a 4.2 out of 5 rating.  I have always maintained I learn far more about a product from the 1 and 2 star ratings than I ever would from the raving reviews, so I asked the site to filter me the 1 star reviews.  There were 152 of them, and most of them were from dog owners claiming the product did not work. Fleas and ticks abounded in these dogs. One cat owner said the collar came off after a few short days. Another cat owner said the collar did not come off when the cat got it's jaw stuck in the collar and had harmed itself trying to get it off.

However, Amazon reviews are vastly different. Granted these reviews are on the cat collars only, but most of the reviews there talk about hair loss, sores around where the collar is, lethargy, neurological issues and in a few instances death.  Talk about scary!  Now granted, even Frontline and Advantage have some cats and dogs who have very bad reactions to them, but one reviewer said two of her cats that were not related had issues.  How many people have issues who do not report them?
If your pet EVER has bad reaction to a medication or insecticide, PLEASE report it to your vet, and ask them to report it to the FDA This is the only way we can protect our pets. A lot of people consider a mild reaction not worth reporting, but it is.
So Seresto has a 4.0 out of 5 rating, with 210 five star ratings and 50 one star rating, but the 1 star ones scare me. If it were just a matter of continuing to find fleas and ticks on the pet, I would be much more open to giving this a try if I had an issue with fleas and ticks, but neurological issues and death? I would be hard pressed to say those risks were worth it.

Might these side effects be from the fact that counterfeit products have made it into the supply chain? Sure. This would not be the first time that counterfeit flea products have made it to mass market. Reading the reviews it seems that many people wrote that they purchased the collar from their vet, which makes this a bit less likely.

So.. Is Seresto worth it? I'm going to say for my cats, who are indoors and never get fleas and ticks, absolutely not. We have gotten fleas in the past and Frontline Plus works well for us when it happens. Fortunately I haven't seen a flea in several years. When I went to the clinic, the vet found it odd that I don't regularly apply it to my cats, and even did a flea check when I said no. I do not believe in using product unless there is a direct need for it. Would I consider it if I had a flea infestation and Frontline or Advantage (purchased from my vet because of those counterfeit products) weren't working? I am glad I do not have to go there.  At a 20% (66 negative reviews out of 316) risk of a problem, to me, that is just not worth it. To you it might be, but now you know to keep an eye out for any lethargy or any negative symptoms.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sponsored Post - Petnostics

A while back I ran across a company called Petnostics. I was floored by the idea and really wanted to a) try out the product and b) share it with all of you, so I contacted the company and asked if they would be interested in sending me a sample to test out.  They agreed.  The delay in my post is because I had a few complications while using the product which I will share with you below, but all in all I still love the idea of the product, and they seem to think my situation was a fluke.  Maybe it was, maybe it was my phone being older, I don't know, but I still support the company.

So Petnostics is a home diagnostic test kit. You collect a urine sample and use their test kit along with an app on your phone to take a photo of the results and do the diagnostics.

Can you understand why I love this? I am a HUGE fan of anything that puts more information in the hands of the pet owner to help them understand their pet and get a handle on what is going on with them. It started out for me when I learned years after the initial diagnosis that I could test my diabetic cat with a human glucometer to find out what her blood sugar levels were instead of having to trapse her down to the vet every time I wanted to know.

I originally contacted them back in May and Stephen was very receptive to my inquiry and sent three samples out to me via FedEx. In each box is a collection cup, a pair of plastic gloves and the diagnostic cover. The cover comes with a multi pad strip on it that once the urine touches it will give you a diagnostic result - much like a PH strip (and urine PH is one of the things measured on here). The app allows your phone to use a photo you take of the cover - you need to line up the squares on the cover with the squares in the app - and it interprets the findings.

The box with everything in side
the diagnostic cover, sealed tight to keep it from being contaminated.
My phone and the app
I was so lucky that Jack just gave me a sample.
waiting the 60 seconds after exposing the strip to the urine.
The app even does the counting for you

I had a bit of an issue getting the squares on the cover (see the ones with the black outline and black square in the middle?) to align where they needed to go in the app, but it probably only took me 10 seconds. Once I got it right, it took the photo automatically for me, and then gave me the results.

Each results is three images long, so I'm keeping the images small so you can see them all together.

This initial result freaked me right out. I was testing Jack because he is my boy with the urinary issues and was peeing inappropriately. I had recently given him a supplement to lower his urine, so I was concerned but not overly so about the very low PH. Ideally it should be somewhere in the 6 range. When Jack starts peeing around the house his PH is usually up near 8. (7.0 is neutral)

What I didn't know was why his bilirubin was 'large'.. and not only large but with three +++'s.. arrgh! So I had to put on my big girl pants and find myself a vet. I know 'too much' and really have severe issues with several vets I have been to in the past, and trusting someone was hard, but I picked one finally and got Jack in. We did a urinalysis on him and his bilirubin was fine. I asked the vet if there was any way he got the above reading (after explaining to her what it was and what was going on) and she did not think it was likely.  Jack was still having issues though, he was still peeing on the bathroom floor so I had the vet do a full work up on him and it turned out my boy is hyperthyroid!

So who knew that being hyperthyroid could cause a cat to pee inappropriately? (doesn't raise hand) well I do now.. cause except for a few incidents that are all mostly or partially explainable, my boy has been pee free since I started him on medication.

But, this is about Petnostics.  So I wondered why the result was off. I wrote to Stephen and told him what was going on, and he asked me which version of the app I was using because they did have some issues with an earlier version of the app. I checked and I was using the current version. See one of the technical aspects of this product is that it can accurately read the results no matter what the lighting situation is. So wondering if that was a one time thing, I set about getting another sample from my boy who will not pee in a box if he is locked in a room with it, but who will apparently pee in a box he doesn't think he is allowed to use, so using the same trick the first time I got a second sample.

This time I got this first result, and I thought it odd. So to see if it was the test, the app, or the urine, I immediately set about getting another photo of the diagnostics on a different surface - the black of the stove - and then I went and took one in direct sunlight on a white painted windowsill.   As you can see I got three pretty different results.

I wrote to Stephen and explained what happened, and at first he thought I waited several minutes between diagnostics, but once I explained it was mere seconds, he was at a bit of a loss. Maybe it is that I have an iPhone 4s and the colors were a bit off because it is older, I do not know. There have been a lot of people who were very happy with the results and who then went to their vet and got similar results from the professional tests.

I still recommend this product. Anything that can get more information into the hand of the pet owner and help them make informed decisions about their pet is a good thing.  I do not know why my results were so far off from the norm, but I am glad they occurred because this test does not test for hyperthyroid and I might have gone on for who knows how long lamenting about what was going on with my boy and freaked that I could not fix it. I still have two more test kits, and I can't wait to try them out once I upgrade my phone.

Would you like to learn more about Petnostics?  Check out their website, their Facebook page, their twitter feed, or their blog. They even have an Instagram account! :)