DEAR OLD TRAINER: You said in your column not to use liquid flea products applied to the skin, but if you don’t how do you get rid of fleas? I don’t want to put chemicals on my dog, but I want to get rid of fleas.
Angela, Livingston, Calif.
A: The column you mention dealt with the cancer-causing chemicals all liquid flea products contain. These products are the main cause of the huge increase of skin problems suffered by dogs, including skin cancer, are now the number one problem vets see in their practices.
My dogs developed skin problems when I used those products. That’s how I discovered the toxic chemicals they contain. I switched to Comfortis, a pill given once a month that contains no toxic chemicals (I buy all my products and accept no free samples so I can give an honest opinion).
It works even better than advertised. It lasts longer than the month they advertise and kills ticks as well as fleas, even though they make no claims about ticks.
I advise getting rid of any product you use containing toxic chemicals, including weed killers if your dog spends time in the yard. It may save your dog’s life.
DEAR OLD TRAINER: You say give dogs a summer cut, but I always heard a thick coat insulates them from the heat. Have you heard that, and if so, is it correct?
Derrick, Sacramento, Calif.
A: I have heard it and it is not only incorrect, it flies in the face of logic.
If a thick coat protected canines from heat nature would take that into account and dogs would not shed every spring. They do shed though, and so does every other animal on the planet.
For those who don’t trust nature, there is a foolproof way to find out if a thick coat insulates against summer heat—put on a fur coat and take a noontime stroll down the main street of Sacramento. The truth will be magically revealed in about thirty seconds.
DEAR OLD TRAINER: We are flying cross country this fall and want to take Dixie, our 5-year old Golden mix. Several of our friends cautioned against it and said it is dangerous for dogs. Have you ever flown one of your dogs and do you think it is safe?
Anne, Carmel, Calif.
A: I did a couple of times, but I never will again and I advise against it. I investigated and found it is not safe. In an average year, 100 dogs are killed and another 150 injured or lost by the airlines.
Dogs are treated as cargo, not living things. Dogs sit in the summer heat with the suitcases while the plane is loaded, the compartment where they are stored is dark, noisy to the extreme, and temperatures and air pressure fluctuate wildly. Heat is so dangerous many airlines refuse to ship dogs during the hottest months.
Airlines refuse to spend the money to ensure dog safety, so I don’t spend money with the airlines. I always take my dogs when I travel. If I can’t take my dogs I don’t go, so I now drive when I travel. I enjoy it more, my dogs enjoy it more, and I know they are safe.
A trainer for more than 30 years, Jack Haskins has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,500 dogs. Send questions to email@example.com.