DEAR DR. FOX: I have four dogs who are all seniors. On the advice of my vet, I started using Seresto flea collars about 1 1/2 months ago. My smallest dog, a 5-pound Chihuahua, started having strange seizures out of the blue. What I mean by strange is he'd come out of them immediately, not at all groggy, with a ready-to-play attitude.
After the second one, I rushed him to the emergency vet -- he had a physical and blood work done; all came out well. The vet said his blood work was better than most dogs his age (he's now 11). The only thing new is the flea collar. He had another seizure this morning. This time he peed, and he's appearing tired and not walking great. I looked into the side effects of this collar and was shocked to see that seizures have been reported.
My other dogs are well, with no problems at all. But Pancho is so small it may be a factor. I have taken that collar off him and will watch him closely the rest of the day. I washed his neck and head with mild dish soap, as I did for his brothers and sisters.
Have seizures been reported often with this flea collar? -- C.W., Houston
DEAR C.W.: I am glad your dog is recovering. Thank him for being a warning sentinel.
Check my website, DrFoxVet.com, for my documented concerns about the product that you used on your dogs. The drug companies selling these flea collars and others selling spot-on chemicals to kill fleas are an abomination. Many environmental health experts link these kinds of pesticidal products to cancer, and a host of other products from the big pharma multinationals cause more harm than the fleas themselves.
DEAR DR. FOX: About three months ago, as a favor to my daughter, I let her bring one of her cats to our house, but I didn't realize it was infested with fleas. I soon found out -- my cat, who didn't have fleas previously, started scratching constantly.
I finally got rid of that cat and then tried to get rid of the fleas; it was almost impossible. I tried every suggestion before finally resorting to two local pest exterminators. The first one didn't succeed and returned my money; the second one is still trying bombs and spraying. The upstairs is now flea-free, but the basement remains contaminated.
Before calling in the professionals, one of my friends said he had luck with eliminating fleas by sprinkling salt on the carpets. We tried that one day, and it didn't work, so we vacuumed it up the next day. Shortly after that, our cat refused to walk on the carpet anymore and got around by jumping from one piece of furniture to another. I had to bring its litter box, food, water, etc. into the living room where has stayed since. Just now, six weeks later, it will occasionally walk quickly across the carpet.
Did the salt on the carpet cause this behavior in our poor cat? -- C.V., Granite City, Ill.
DEAR C.V.: I am sorry to hear about your flea plague. My article on an integrative program of effective flea control, posted on my website under "Dr. Fox's Library," could have made life easier for you. Check it out to help rid your home of fleas forever.
The salt on the carpet, which is useless in flea control, would have gotten on your cat's paws even after you vacuumed. The taste of the salt on her paws and possible irritation if she has been declawed and has some chronic sores would quickly trigger aversive behavior.
SOME GOOD BOOKS AND GIFT IDEAS
With the holiday season upon us, there are some good animal books you may wish to check out that would make excellent gifts and you might enjoy yourself. Here's a list: "Beautiful Old Dogs," edited by David Tabatsky, St. Martin's Press; "Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty And Life With Dogs," edited by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, National Geographic press; "A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life," by James Bowen, St. Martin's Press. Some of my own books may also appeal to you. Another gift idea is a subscription to a good pet care journal, such as Animal Wellness. Finally, consider a donation to your local animal shelter or wildlife rehabilitation center.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)