The Animal Doctor

DEAR READERS: Several readers have commented about the demise of insects in their communities. As a veterinarian and a former Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society in the U.K., I have always considered the health and welfare of all species paramount, whether warm-blooded or cold. The loss of insect life is due in part to electromagnetic fields from power lines, cellphone towers and wireless services. These fields impact birds, bees, wildlife and our overall environment.

Combined with habitat loss and pesticides, the demise of insects and insectivores is the new norm of the Anthropocene epoch (our current era of significant human impact on the natural world). The consequences are becoming highly detrimental to agricultural productivity, the economy and public health, with the emergence of resistant species and strains of insect pests and carriers of disease, and the extinction of insect predators that previously controlled their numbers and helped maintain biodiversity.

The U.S. Department of the Interior addressed the impact of cell towers on migratory birds in a 2014 letter, saying: “The electromagnetic radiation standards used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out of date and inapplicable today.”

For more information and documentation, visit ehtrust.org and search for “Bees, Butterflies and Wildlife.”

DEAR DR. FOX: I’m getting a little dog soon and am concerned about vaccinations. The puppy is only going to be about 10 pounds when fully grown, and can’t handle the same shots as a dog that will get to 80 pounds.

Are the dosages of shots figured per the size/weight of the puppy? Do all vets factor in size and weight, or do I need to ask when I shop for a vet? What else should I consider when looking for a veterinarian? -- A.G., Tulsa, Oklahoma

DEAR A.G.: Many people, veterinarians included, are concerned about the high volume of injectable standard vaccinations for dogs, which manufacturers provide with no consideration for dogs’ sizes or body weights.

To inject a toy-breed puppy with the same volume of vaccine as given to a Great Dane is absurd. Also, giving vaccines by injection is not the ideal way of delivering immune protection. That’s because most infective agents (in other words, those not transmitted by biting insects, by a rabid animal or by a cat with feline immunodeficiency virus) do not penetrate the skin. Rather, they enter via the nasal or oral mucous membranes, or are ingested or inhaled.

Hopefully, safer and more effective vaccines will be developed by the pet industry -- an industry some see as being driven more by profits than by compassion, especially when it comes to addressing adverse reactions to vaccines and preventing their occurrence.

While ever-more vaccines are being marketed for humans and other species, I fear over-reliance on vaccinations has become a substitute for basic preventive health care measures and public education. My website (drfoxvet.net) provides a synopsis of basic vaccination protocols for dogs beginning in puppy-hood, and a review of the risks and benefits of vaccines.

GLYPHOSATE HERBICIDE IN PET FOODS

Eighteen major brands of cat and dog foods were randomly selected for a recent study, all of them being mixtures of vegetable and meat ingredients, with one being certified GMO-free. Analyses found that all of the products contained glyphosate, the main ingredient of Roundup, at concentrations ranging from approximately 80 to 2,000 micrograms of glyphosate per kilogram. (Jiang Zhao and associates, “Detection of glyphosate residues in companion animal feeds,” Environmental Pollution, 2018)

These levels are not considered harmful, but my concern is the potential harm to beneficial gut bacteria, which are essential for maintaining overall long-term health. The adverse consequences of disrupting this microbiome community, called dysbiosis, are many, and include inflammatory bowel conditions and allergies.

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)

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