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The Pet Doctor, Your Pet Health Matters on PetLifeRadio.comBernadine D. Cruz, DVM, host of The Pet Doctor

Bernadine D. Cruz, DVM
Veterinary Media Consultant

Want More Time to Love Your Pet?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe

Dr. Stephen Jaffe

What if your pet died at 7 years of age and it could have lived late into its teen. How would you feel? Thanks to preventative medical care, American pets are now living longer and healthier lives.

October is National Pet Wellness Month. Dr. Stephen Jaffe of Fort Dodge Animal Health will discuss ways in which you can help your pet age successfully, plus a new one of its kind, safe and effective flea and tick control product for your dogs and cats.



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Is your pet stressed out?  Does your pet need annual vaccines?  Which pet is best for a child?  Would you know if your dog was in pain?  Pet Life Radio presents ‘The Pet Doctor’ where you learn everything about keeping your pet healthy and happy, from petcare, pet med and grooming to pet food, pet insurance and dental care. 

This is the place to find out everything there is to know about pet wellness whether you have a dog, cat, reptile or rabbit, you’ll find answers for your pets straight from the pets because your pet health matters.

Please welcome your pet doctor host, veterinary media consultant and veterinarian Dr. Bernadine Cruz.

What if your pet died at 7 years of age and it could have lived late to its teens, how would you feel?  Thanks to preventive medical care, American pets are now living longer and healthier lives.  My name is Dr. Bernadine Cruz and you’re listening to and ‘The Pet Doctor’ show.

October is National Pet Wellness month.  My guest today is Dr. Stephen Jaffe of Fort Dodge Animal Health.  Fort Dodge, along with American Veterinary Medical Association, are the sponsors of this campaign.

In the next half hour we’ll discuss ways in which you can help keep your pet healthy and make sure that it ages successfully, plus we will be talking about a new one of a kind, safe and effective flea anti-control product.  This is going to be used for your dog and cat.  We’ll be right back after the short break.


Please have a seat in the waiting room.  The doctor will be with you shortly right after these messages.

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Welcome back to ‘The Pet Doctor’ on Pet Life Radio with Dr. Bernadine Cruz.  The doctor is in and will see you now.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Welcome back.  I am speaking to Dr. Stephen Jaffe from Fort Dodge Animal Health.  Thank you for being with us today.  I understand doctor, you tell us around by some weather today.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  We are Dr. Cruz, it’s always interesting in Georgia with weather.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Well, life in general is interesting and I think that this campaign that you have, now the National Pet Wellness Month, how many years this has been going on?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Yeah, the National Pet Wellness campaign is into its third year and it is a joint initiative between Fort Dodge Animal Health and the American Veterinary Medical Association.  Since its inception, we’ve enrolled about 15,000 veterinary clinics nationwide and that represents about half of all small animal clinics in this country.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  That’s just a marvelous number.  Now health is a year around kind of a concern for us.  So why are we having October being National Pet Wellness month?  What does it signify?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Dr. Cruz that’s a great point.  Taking care of pets is a year around initiative, not a one month out of the year.  But I’d probably like in it to [unintelligible] months where there is a specific month that’s earmarked to celebrate that occasion.  In this particular case, National Pet Wellness month, as you said, is October but it really is a year around initiative.

The reason we picked October is because it really signals the end of the year in many parts of the country.  The weather is changing and pet owners are often involved into a false sense of security that their pets are no longer risked for disease.

So it was really I guess a convenient landmark on the calendar but truth be told, pet wellness is a year around initiative for pet owners.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  What are some of the particular risks that are seasonal?  For instance, we just finished with the summer season, what are some of the real risks out there for the summer for pets?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Yeah, I guess the summer as I think of as a veterinarian is peak season for Parvo virus and probably that needs little or no explanation to our listeners, it’s a very serious life-threatening disease.  Not only young dogs but in some cases, middle aged dogs…

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  And we’ve had just a recent crises here in the Southern California area.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Yeah, so you’re well familiar with it, no doubt.  Pets that frequent parks, travel with their owners, they really go outside anywhere can come in contact with Parvo although traditionally Parvo has been associated with warmer weather, when dogs do spend more time outdoors.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  And now that we’re coming into this season end, pet owners had been involved into thinking up there’s nothing to worry about.  What are some of the colder weather season problems that are out there for our pets?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Yeah, the things I think of or those that are associated with the holidays, because very often when the cooler seasons hit, people are on a plane traveling to spend time with family for thanksgiving and Christmas and in conjunction with that, I am always thinking about boarding.

So I think some of the diseases that pet owners should be most concerned about include respiratory disease in cats and that would be rhinotracheitis and calicivirus and probably more familiar to dog owners would be channeled cough which can be very easily transmitted when dogs are boarded at a facility and they’re commingled with dogs with different vaccination histories, rather risk doctors and they put them at risk for the disease.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Risks such as boarding means definitely a concern.  I know often times people say well I have totally an indoor pet or I have that little couch potato pup that really just goes in the backyard and that’s about it.  How are you assessing the risk for these pets?  Do they still need to see the veterinarian?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Well, it’s a valid point and maybe we can touch a bit on the notion of risk assessment but to answer your question more directly, indoor animals maybe have different risk or diseases but the reality is they’re still at risk.  A couple of examples of diseases that can be brought into the household include one I’ve already mentioned that being current Parvo virus, cat disease would be calici virus which is a respiratory pathogen, it can be carried on clothing or hair shafts attached to people that can be brought into the home.

So indeed, indoor animals are at different risks but I think the important message is they’re still at risk for disease.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  When are their real problems or sometimes have trying to convince a client that gee, you have a pet that outwardly seems healthy but still needs to come in for examinations and I know a lot of veterinarians throughout the United States are now vaccinating less frequently, not all vaccines, depending on the pet’s lifestyle need to be repeated on a yearly basis.

So when you have that campaign going on right now saying a twice yearly examinations, how can you tell a client that gee, it looks like a healthy pet but still should come in twice a year for the examination?  Why is it important for the pet owner to bring that pet in for twice yearly wellness exams?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  You know, to answer that question, I think the best thing to think about is physical.  You know cats and dogs age at a very accelerated rate and Dr. Cruz, I don’t know about you but in veterinary school, the equation I was always taught was one cat or dog year was roughly equivalent to 7 human years.  Does that sound familiar to you?

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Yes, very much so.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Yeah, but the point is, regardless of what that equation is, cats and dogs do age at a very accelerated rate, at least six or seven times faster than human beings.  So put that into motion, that means a one year old cat is well into it’s early 20s and even a one year old dog is at least into its mid 20s.

Because pets age very rapidly, that really emphasizes the need for veterinarians to maintain consistent contact with pets and then let me bring in the analogy that I mentioned earlier on, the physical.  I try to see my physician every year.  I think it’s important to have a yearly physical with my position.

I think regular interaction with veterinarians is important as well.  If cats and dogs only saw their caretaker once a year and you apply the math we just talked about, that would really be like cats and dogs seeing their caretakers only once every 7 years and clearly…

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  And Dr. Jaffe, I totally agree with you and so many times these pets, they will hide their signs of illness way to well to their own determent.  When you’ll see a pet during physical examination and often times you find that heart murmur, people are flabbergasted, “Gee, didn’t hear it last year”, you know, “What does this mean to us?”  So yes, things do change so quickly.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  And probably most notorious, you might agree with me, are cats.  Cats are great at hiding disease.  Cats are very subtle the way they exuded signs of illness.  It maybe something like the cat just not eating as much as it used to or not jumping up and down furniture, maybe changes in urination or defecation that is very very subtle but even subtle changes could mark very serious illness.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  I totally agree with you that this has to be a team effort.  A veterinarian can help but you as a pet owner, I really like a pet owner to keep almost a health diary.  When they start noticing subtle changes, subtle changes can be significant, they really do need to bring that diary to the veterinarians when he has the exam.

It may not mean a lot to you but often times when a client says, “Gee, you know my cat just feels so marvelous, it’s running around, it’s lot more active, it used to be really fat, now it’s losing weight despite the fact it has a really good appetite.  Oops, bells and warning, lights go off my brain that I think there could be a problem here.  Maybe the cat has found that, the fountain of youth or the great cat nip but specially with that older cat, I am going to be concerned about things like overactive thyroid gland or chidney disease, diabetes, things that externally, maybe the cat’s not really exhibiting.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  That’s right and we touched on it a little bit earlier but let me expand on this notion of risk assessment because you talked about owners keeping a diary and that’s important.  When pet owners bring cats or dogs to the veterinarian, veterinarians conduct something known as risk assessment where they develop and individualize plan based on the information such as that you talked about with pet owners keeping a diary.

Veterinarians will ask targeted questions to determine what needs to be done to best care for that pet including what vaccinations they need and how often they need to administer those vaccines.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  That’s important and also what other pets are in the house because you may have a talk this cat to taking to the veterinarian maybe totally be endorsed but then obviously when you start asking questions, oh yes, but I have my other cat echoes indoors and outdoors, so that risk then is totally changed for that particular pet.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Yeah that’s right.  Dr. Cruz, may I tell our listeners about some websites that are available to further explain some of these initiatives we’ve talked about today?

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Please do, I think that’s a great idea.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Ok, awesome and these are some fantastic websites.  First, the National Pet Wellness month website, very easy, and that’s simply refers to initials in National Pet Wellness Month, no space.

The second is the healthy cats for life website which is, just as I said, healthycatsforlife, spelled out with no space and both of those websites are chalked full of good information for pet owners regarding wellness in general, semi annual wellness exams, risk assessment and in the case of the latter website, specific tips that pet owners can use to pick up on subtle signs of illness in cats.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Well, I think this is just fantastic, you’ve given us some great information.  If our listeners could just hang in there a little bit longer, we’re going to be taking a break right now, and one of the things I like is pet reviews.  So Dr. Jaffe, here’s a question for you, see if you can answer it, a flea can jump how far in an hour?  We’ll be right back with the answer after this short break.


Please have a seat in the waiting room.  The doctor will be with you shortly right after these messages.

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Welcome back to the Pet Doctor on with Dr. Bernadine Cruz.  The doctor is in and will see you now.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Welcome back.  We’ve been speaking with Dr. Stephen Jaffe of Fort Dodge Animal Health.  We’ve been talking about animals and risky business of being pet and risk assessment on how to keep your pet healthy.  Dr. Jaffe, do you have an answer of how far can a flea jump in an hour’s time?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Dr. Cruz, I am sorry I do not.  What is the answer?

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  It’s actually about a mile.  So often times people say we’re trying to treat their house for fleas, oh I don’t need to treat the entire house because you know, the pet only stays in one room.  So we can see those little creatures can really get all over the house.

Dr. Jaffe, I have to think you probably agree with me that a real risk for pets is going to be parasites, internal as well as external parasites.  Now I understand that Fort Dodge has recently come up with a one of a kind new flea and tick product.  Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  I sure can Dr. Cruz and I’ll tell you what’s most important about it is the fact that it is new.  Fleas have been around a long time and they’re going to continue to remain pretty formidable parasites, they adopt well to parasiticides, treatments we used to kill them.  So having something new in the arsenal is very important.  It’s called Promeris.

Promeris contains the active ingredient metaflumazone which as I said, to date has never been used before in animal health to neutralize flea problems.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Why is it important that it’s a new product?  To meet those resistance?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Fleas have been around a long time and we’re hearing from practitioners around the country.  It’s some very good products that have been around for a long time, just don’t seem to be as effective as they used to be.  So having something new in the arsenal is indeed important.

Fleas will be around as long as we will and we’ll be combating them.  Having that new tool is a great thing to veterinarians.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Are they products and that you have one for dogs and one for cats.  Are they the same products, just a little bit different in their size for a big cat or a little dog?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  It’s a very good question.  We actually have two different products.  They’re both called Promeris, one Promeris is for cats which contains the active ingredient metaflumazone I just described, the other is Promeris for dogs in addition to metaflumazone, that product also contains amatrass which is a fabulous product to kill ticks and you and I are well familiar with amatrass, probably in a form of chick collars, chick control collars were the old gifts that we used to use, our chemist at Fort Dodge animal health did a marvelous job in reformulating amatrass to make it effective and safe for topical application.

So now we’ve got the amatrass product available as a spot on treatment in conjunction with the metaflumazone for flea control in dogs.  So they, yes, the answer to question, two different products.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  I know a lot of my own clients, especially those that have children, they pick up some of these topical products, they look at the packaging, they read the FDA precautions and they, oh my goodness, I am not going to use this.  I don’t want this around my children.  I am afraid, if its that dangerous as it spears on the labeling then how is it going to affect my children, how is it going to affect my pets.  What would you say about Promeris and its safety around children?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Well, it’s a great question and as a parent of a three and half year old, I would share that pet owner concern.  I would tell the pet owners that are listening to us today two things, the environmental protection agency, which has domain over these products we’re talking about, these flea and fix spot on products as among other primary concerns, the health of the owner.

They go to great pains to insure these products are safe not only for the pets in this case, dogs and cats but also the pet owners themselves and their children I might add, and on the latter subject, the safety of children, the applicators have to be child proof and our engineers again at Fort Dodge took great pains to make that applicator primarily for seniors so seniors can get into it but also safe so that children that may inadvertently get a hold of the package can easily gain entrance.

So there’s a lot of engineering that’s gone into this product both from a chemistry standpoint as well as the actual packaging to ensure it is safe for both human adults and children.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Now many people will think, oh fleas, they’re probably more of a nuisance than really causing a medical problem.  Could you tell the listeners a little bit about some of the problems associated with fleas in particular and then maybe you can touch on ticks with dogs.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Sure, and I can understand Dr. Cruz, where they may come up with that conclusion with fleas because one of the most notorious epidemics that fleas caused happened hundreds of years ago but it was pretty notorious, it was plague.  So…

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  I think people have heard of that one very definitely yes.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Ok, so definitely fleas are on, at least the historical radar screen, perhaps fast forward to present day fleas because they do take frequent blood meals can cause anemia or in other words blood loss.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  And anemia just being a lot…yes blood loss.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  And blood loss can be significant not just in small pups but also in moderate sized or small breed adults.  So two things that quickly come to mind with fleas to be concerned about, chicks on the other hand, probably most of our listeners are well familiar with the diseases of [unintelligible] fix, scary among other diseases, line disease, rocky managed spotted fever and the leukeosis, all of which can be life-threatening but that’s you can track them.

Chicks also are in gorges of blood so like their flea counterparts, there can be blood meals that are taken and quite frankly, chicks are gross.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Yeah, definitely gross.  Now ticks can be part of zonotic problem, correct, where zonosis being diseases that are transmitted from animals to people.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Correct.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  So using these products Promeris for dogs and for cats really is not just protecting your pet, it’s actually protecting your entire family.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Well, you bring up a good point particularly I used this flea example of how it’s going to help your household, very often fleas get into the household and a majority of the flea’s life cycle is actually spent off the guard.  We always think of fleas as being problematic on the dog or cats for that matter and that’s true, it’s not fun for cats or dogs to be infested with fleas but once fleas make their way indoors, they spend a majority of their lifecycle off the cat or dog.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Could you explain a little bit about the lifecycle because I know people many times will come in, they’re looking at their pet and they’ll say, “You know, if there was a flea in this house, I would know because I am so sensitive.  I get that in and I just get really itchy”, you look at the pet and maybe see a flea or two.  How is it that just that one flea or two can be the tip of the iceberg?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  There’s a number of life stages that fleas go through to become adults including egg, larvae and pupae and those life stages, to a great extent are completed off of the dog or cat.  So very often people are completely naïve to the fact that these young immature stages are going in their house, again kind of a gross dot.

Very often, those stages are looking up, if you will, by people doing nothing more than walking around the house and also by emitting carbon dioxide, just the gases that are expelled when people agree, those are walking around and expelling carbon dioxide are wake up signals for these immature stages of fleas and very often that can erupt into a full fledged infestation and as you pointed out, sometimes the target of the infestation is not always the dog or cat, it’s a human being.

Let me add one other thing while we are talking about that, when you bring up the scenario that you just mentioned, people are frustrated that they can’t get their arms around their flea problem.  That’s one of the first things they do.  Take the cat or dog and put it outside, it’s the worse thing they can do because those fleas are still hungry.  What are they going to do?  Do exactly what you mentioned…

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  …they’re chewing on the people.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  They’re going to jump on people and bite and obtain blood meal.  So I am not suggesting that people do nothing but what I am suggesting is they use an effective flea or chick product like Promeris, that will tackle the problem very nicely.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  I know, I am being in Southern California, often times people say, “Oh, it’s getting a little bit cooler, I don’t have to do year around flea control”, but it seems at least to me that who knows, global warming has made a difference that fleas are now more year around, maybe because fleas in their pets are staying in their house more that we’re making them more a house pet versus the outdoor pet, that that lifecycle really seems to be continuing now 24/7, 365 days a year.

Dr. Jaffe, with you being there at Fort Dodge, have you noticed that type of a pattern that it’s a more of a year around problem now where before it was more seasonal in temperate climates?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  You bring up a great point and I certainly don’t want to get into the discussion of global climate changes, lots of our talk show, radio hosts I think are plenty engaged in that but that is potentially one thing that’s causing headache with flea and chick lifecycles year around but another, it’s a potential explanation.  It’s transportation of guarding material.

For instance with chicks, it’s guarded many chicks are spread with more, some of the more temperate regions of the U.S. like we’re all at here in Georgia or in Florida, the other parts of the country because of transportation of dog materials and as you know, chicks love to live in some of those materials, it’s moist, it’s warm, it’s dark and it’s a great breeding ground for chicks and those materials can be transported to places as you mentioned as far away as Southern California.

So absolutely we’ve noticed a change in the flea and chick season.  In fact, really there is no season.  It’s a year round problem now almost everywhere.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  So Promeris needs to be applied to the pet every 30 days, is that correct?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  That’s right.  The people that read the labels are going to notice they had the dog label will say for control of chick infestations and protection against re-infestation for up to six weeks and the cat label will stay for up to 7 weeks for flea infestations.

Why the 30-day recommendation?  Well, as I mentioned earlier, fleas are pretty good at developing tolerance to products.  We don’t want that to happen with Promeris.  So by narrowing that window to a monthly interval, we hope we give them less of an opportunity to get by the chemistry, this new chemistry called metaflumazone, I think it’s maybe a more practical reason.

It’s easy to remember to get something every month.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Pay the mortgage once a month, apply your Promeris once a month.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Exactly, I would have a hard time remembering to do anything every 7 weeks.  So I think a 4-week cycle is something people can easily remember.  As you said, like paying the mortgage.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Now is it possible to bathe a dog or bathe the cat once you’ve applied the Promeris, or do you wash it off?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Yeah, good question.  The EPA does require emergent studies to show what effect emergent and non-detergent water, just plain water would have on our products and in fact Promeris is subjected to that particular study and did fine.  Emergent and water doesn’t have an impact.

Shampoo is perhaps a little more of a complex question.  The EPHS did take use of a non-detergent shampoo, just a cleansing shampoo like an allergroom shampoo and that probably has little effect and in fact our label does reflect that but common sense dictates perhaps that it’s not a great idea to use particularly a heavily detergent based shampoo in conjunction with use of frankly any of these products.

If an owner is particularly concerned, they really should contact their veterinarian to discuss when they should apply it and/or when they should take to bath.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Well Dr. Jaffe, you have been giving us some great information.  Number one that being a pet is risky business and that fleas are out there causing problems for our cats and dogs as well as chicks, that new product Promeris sounds marvelous.  If people wanted some more information about the pet wellness month, where should they go again?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  National Pet Wellness Month website is

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  And if they needed some information about Promeris, where can they go to get information on that?

Dr. Stephen Jaffe: and I’ll spell it out for our listeners P R O M [as in man] E R I S,

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  Well Dr. Jaffe, I really appreciate you being with us today on this inaugural Pet Doctor radio show.  I think there’s some great information that people really do need to realize that your pet needs to go in at least twice a year for good wellness exam, even though it looks great on the outside that fur can be hiding problems underneath and as for the same problems caught early have a much greater chance of having a good prognosis and a better outcome.

Dr. Stephen Jaffe:  Yeah, that’s right.  It’s been fun Dr. Cruz, I hope we get a chance to do it again some time.

Dr. Bernadine Cruz:  I hope we should do.  Now if you have any questions concerning your pet’s health, the best person to ask is your primary care veterinarian.  You can also email me at  I promise to answer all of your questions either during a future telecast or on personal email.

My name is Dr. Bernadine Cruz and you’ve been listening to and the Pet Doctor.  The goal of this program is to entertain, educate and increase the pleasure you and your pet sharing life and why is this important to me, because it’s your pet health matters.  Thanks for listening.

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