Dear Dr. Fox: We spend the winter in southern Texas and need something for fleas. Our dog had been taking Simparica, but the last time, he had an adverse reaction: He got kind of catatonic and it took several days for him to be back to normal.
What could I use instead? We are in an RV park, and although we don’t go to the dog park, he likes to go on walks. So coming in contact with fleas is unavoidable. — J.R., Mercedes, Texas
Dear J.R.: I am sorry to hear about this frightening adverse event and am glad your dog survived. Year after year, I hear accounts like yours and wish the veterinary profession — as well as dog and cat owners — would wake up and use safer alternatives for flea control. I wonder about the long-term consequences on animals who recover from adverse reactions or who do not develop immediate adverse reactions but could eventually become epileptic or more aggressive, or develop cancer or chronic spasmodic bowel conditions.
Safer flea-control suggestions are posted on my website (drfoxonehealth.com) under the titles “Companion Animal Risks of Flea and Tick Insecticides” and “Preventing Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes.”
Dear Dr. Fox: Regarding cat TNR (trap, neuter, release): After being trapped and neutered, these cats are returned to the only places they have ever known, where local caregivers supply them with food, water and care. Of course, if they can be adopted, they are. If they have kittens when trapped, the kittens are provided a better life.
These volunteers are helping the cats and their environment. What other alternatives are there? — M.C., Vero Beach, Florida
Dear M.C.: Volunteers could better help the environment and the cats by permanently removing them.
The alternative to TNR, for reasons spelled out in the article “Releasing Cats To Live Outdoors” on my website, is for our communities to provide cat sanctuaries: indoor-outdoor enclosures for lost, stray and feral cats and kittens. This is far preferable to releasing them to risk being killed or injured by traffic or to catch and spread various diseases — some transmissible to humans and wildlife. After all, these cats are domesticated animals, even though some can thrive independently as predators.
We are starting a movement in Minnesota of advocating for cat sanctuaries. When properly designed, these facilities can be places for people to commune with and adopt cats, many of whom do eventually recover from the mind- and spirit-changing experience of having to survive outdoors. Before being introduced to group housing, any new cats should be neutered, tested for feline viral leukemia and immunodeficiency virus, treated for any external and internal parasites, then quarantined for 10 to 14 days.
A GOOD DOG FOOD SUPPLEMENT
I advise adding shredded, unsweetened coconut to dogs’ food (1 teaspoon daily per 30-40 pounds of body weight). Coconut contains inulin fiber, a highly fermentable soluble fiber that helps sustain beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. Inulin fiber is one of the most well-studied functional fibers. Readers who already have my dog food recipe should add this ingredient!
Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.