Pooch With A Pest Problem

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - October 12, 2011
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Hawaii’s weather is not only perfect for people and their pets, but unfortunately it provides an ideal environment for parasites. There are effective products on the market designed to eradicate these pests, but the battle is definitely hard-fought. Fleas and ticks are familiar to most people and top the list of concerns, but on occasion I am challenged by a parasite that is not so common.

Allow me to share one such occasion.

Milo, a 6-year-old male Maltese, entered our hospital with his owner Sheryl in tow. It was time for his annual exam, and if he was worried or nervous, you couldn’t tell.

Upon entering the room he immediately sat in front of me, ears perked and eyes focused on my coat pockets. He awaited the ceremonious dog biscuit that I offer at each exam.

Yes, I admit to bribing my patients, but mind you I only offer healthy hypoallergenic treats.

After gathering a detailed history of Milo’s health concerns, I did a physical exam and acquired a blood sample to test for heartworm disease.

Considering Milo’s age and lifestyle, I recommended only one vaccine to minimize any ill effects to his immune system. Sheryl appreciated the fact that we did not over-vaccinate her little Milo.

As our appointment came to a close, I asked if there were any questions or concerns. Sheryl’s response took me by surprise.

“Well, Doc, everything is just fine except for a parasite problem,” announced Sheryl.

I prepared to go into my flea dissertation or tick life-cycle monologue when Sheryl revealed the troublesome critter.

“For some reason, Milo picks up slugs when we go on walks. Do you have any suggestions?”

I stood speechless for a few seconds not sure of what I just heard. “Did you say ... slugs?”

Sheryl chuckled. “Yeah, I thought it was a bit odd, but I’m serious when I say slugs cling to Milo’s fur on a regular basis.”

Wow, I admit I’ve never had a patient with a slug problem. Milo’s got to be walking pretty slowly for slugs to latch on to his fur.

Nevertheless, I mentally ran through a couple of scenarios as Sheryl waited patiently. I couldn’t recommend slug bait because it’s very toxic to dogs, and I wasn’t aware of any anti-slug medication available for pets. Would a special shampoo help?

Admittedly I was stumped. The best I could do was say, “My recommendation would be to inspect Milo after each walk and remove any slugs that you find.”

Sheryl smiled a smile that said, “Duh, tell me something I didn’t know.” A few minutes later, Sheryl and Milo headed out of our hospital with the wonderful advice I had given.

“Remove slugs when you find them.” It was definitely not one of my brighter moments.

Why would slugs find Milo so appealing? Did he give off a scent that attracted the slippery suckers?

Was there a new strain of meateating slugs running loose in Manoa trying to make a meal out of little Milo? The whole situation was just weird.

Oh, well, I guess we can add another mystery to the annals of The Wild Side.

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