DEAR DR. FOX: This letter is about detoxification. Years ago, when I lived in Collingswood, N.J., my 15-month-old Dachshund started throwing up and having diarrhea. Home remedies did not work. I took her to the vet, where she was admitted. Two or three days later, she was deemed fine and released. This happened twice. The third time, I dropped her off for the same problem, and as I was leaving, I noticed they were removing her flea collar. I stopped in my tracks and asked, "Have you removed the flea collar every time she was admitted?" They said yes, always. I took her home and trashed the flea collar, and she never had the problem again.
Truthfully, I was upset with the staff for not considering this, and I found another vet. She was allergic to the flea collar. It cost me several hundred dollars to figure that out! -- P.K., Naples, Fla.
Dear P.K: I wrote about problems with flea collars and spot-on anti-flea and tick drugs in an earlier column. I hope that all readers will take note of your costly -- and distressing -- experience and adopt the integrated flea control program detailed on my website, DrFoxVet.com. Readers can also try the new, safe spray from PetzLife, Complete Coat.
It is ridiculous to give potentially hazardous insecticides to cats and dogs in order to prevent flea infestation. That's like taking antibiotics to prevent infection. It's not real prevention, but it is really profitable for the drug companies!
MITES IN DRY PET FOODS
I have reveived letters from pet owners who have felt and seen mites crawling on them after handling their animals' dry food, subsequently discovering that the dry bags of cat or dog food are teeming with the pests.
According to a 1993 report by Drs. Linda J. Mason and John Obermeyer, department of entomology, Purdue University, grain mites are becoming increasingly bothersome in stored grain and processed feed. This is primarily due to the wet, hot, humid conditions that climate change is triggering.
They note: "Mites thrive at 14 percent moisture content and can become serious problems when grain moistures are in the range of 15 to 18 percent. This in turn can lead to insect and mold problems. Mites, mold and fungus-feeding insects (hairy fungus beetle and foreign grain beetle) often can be found together. The grain mite can feed on fungi associated with stored grain, Aspergillus flavus being a favorite. The most common mite is the grain mite Acarus siro. It feeds on the germ of damaged grains and, if grain is moldy, will attack the endosperm. It cannot penetrate undamaged grains. Heavily infested grain and feed become tainted and unpalatable as animal feed. When fed infested commodity, small companion animals (e.g., dogs) can show reduced feed intake, diarrhea, inflammation of the small intestine and impaired growth."
I advise animal caregivers to place a sample of dry food from a freshly opened bag in a white bowl and inspect it closely for signs of mites. Their presence could indicate that the food is contaminated with a poison-producing mold/fungus, most commonly aflatoxin. Some animals may develop allergic reactions to these mites in their food. Another common mite, the household dust mite, can trigger allergies in dogs and people.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 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.com.)