Dear Dr. Fox: I saw your column in the paper about how Bravecto can give dogs aggressive behavior, seizures, etc. What do you suggest, besides that medication, to prevent fleas and ticks? — K.R., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Dear K.R.: The best flea preventive measures that avoid the use of toxic insecticides are listed on my website under the title "Preventing Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes." There is nothing better than a regular flea comb and visual examination of dogs who have been outdoors. (Cats should not be allowed out except in an enclosed "catio.")
Nutritional supplements can keep animals' skin healthy and possibly make them less attractive to disease-carrying insects. These include brewer's yeast and fish oil. Some include garlic in this list, but not for cats. Spritzing with extract of lemon, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, will repel most biting insects, including horseflies.
Dear Dr. Fox: I want to piggyback on your recent response to M.D. in Springfield, Missouri. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of adopting a senior pet, most especially by senior persons. Some years ago, we started a Senior Cats for Senior Laps program at the Monmouth County, New Jersey, SPCA. For any senior adopting a cat at least 8 years old, the adoption fee was halved, and the adopter was promised the shelter would take the cat back if it outlived its human parent. In addition, as with all adoptees, the cat was fully vaccinated, microchipped and given a full dental exam. (The program funds testing to determine any conditions needing special treatment.). Pre-COVID, this adoption also included a free in-home vet visit!
All of this was inspired by my taking on Mickey, a 14-year-old orange sweetie, when my neighbor went into assisted living. Mickey was my first cat as an adult, and I will never forget the love.
Although the fortunate senior who takes in a senior cat may not increase his exercise, he is assured of increasing his love quotient! — L.Z., Tinton Falls, New Jersey
Dear L.Z.: Thanks for adding to the exchange about senior citizens adopting older animals. Some cats do like to go on a walk wearing a secure harness, but for the home-bound elderly, they provide much emotional support. They can be an antidote to loneliness and a source of devotion — and with two cats, they provide playful entertainment.
I applaud your efforts to rehome older cats. I would love to see such programs in more communities and extended to assisted living facilities, which should encourage animal companionship and ensure proper veterinary care.
Antibodies found in Washington state dogs
SARS-CoV-2 antibodies have been found in samples from 23 dogs in Washington state through the University of Washington's COVID-19 and Pets Study, which has been going on since early 2020. The results are not surprising, says Washington State Veterinarian Brian Joseph, and pet owners who have tested positive for COVID-19 should take measures to protect their pets from the virus. (Full story: KING-TV, Seattle, April 22)
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