DEAR DR. FOX: Do you have any information on a new product called Pet Protector? It is a metallic disc worn on the collar that is supposed to provide chemical-free tick and flea protection. I have used brewer's yeast as well as PetzLife's Complete Coat, but my dog still gets a few ticks and contracted Lyme disease.
If this product works, it seems like it's a good solution. Any information would be much appreciated. -- E.R., Bowie, Maryland
DEAR E.R.: There is no 100 percent effective way of keeping fleas and ticks off our animals. I am leery of most oral treatments that can kill these insects only when they get the drug from feeding on the treated animal's blood. This is not, therefore, going to stop flea-bite-allergic reactions or stop some tickborne disease like Lyme disease and Powassan virus.
As for your query about the so-called electromagnetic field and energy wave insect repelling Pet Protector for cats and dogs: I did a quick Internet search, and there are several sites claiming the device is simply a money-making hoax. A study by M.W. Dryden published in the Veterinary Parasitology Journal concluded that the "Cat and Dog's Tag" (as this device was known at the time) failed to prevent flea infestation, inhibit flea reproduction or repel existing flea infestations on cats.
DEAR DR. FOX: My 5-year-old Lab mix, Will (aka "Won't"), has been a surprising companion as I recover from recent back surgery. He's a goofy, happy pup who is usually immersed in whatever he is doing, be it chewing a toy, watching the world outside or snoozing.
When I returned from the hospital, he seemed to know every time I was about to stand up, and he would suddenly appear and "brace" so that I could use him for support. This is in spite of the fact that he has only three legs! Now that I'm doing physical therapy, he appears every time and gets right up to me as if he's trying to help. It makes me laugh and takes my mind off the exercises, so I find I'm doing more repetitions and also more often just to see what he will do.
Will is a certified "touch therapy" dog from Support Dogs Inc. in St. Louis, and I know he's brought much happiness and healing to others, but he's never been trained for any of the things he's done for me. Animals bring us such joy! -- S.B., Town and Country, Missouri
DEAR S.B.: Your letter joins many affirming that the empathic nature of dogs enables them to know when we are suffering and need help -- this ennobles them in our eyes. This is not to ignore the fact that some dogs and other animals -- including humans -- simply become fearful and avoid coming close when a particular person is suffering.
It is notable that cats, in particular, will lie against a person's injured or painful body region; their warmth and purring may help the healing process, especially of broken bones.
CORPORATE CONSOLIDATION IN PET FOOD AND DRUG INDUSTRIES
Eli Lilly and Co. announced that its animal drug division, Elanco, will expand after the $5.4 billion purchase of Novartis Animal Health, making it the second-largest global animal drug company -- second only to Zoetis.
Mars Inc. pet food company announced that it will purchase the Iams, Eukanuba and Natura brands in major markets in the Americas and several other countries from Procter & Gamble for $2.9 billion. Mars already owns Pedigree, Royal Canin, Whiskas, Nutro, Sheba, Dreamies and Cesar brands of pet food as well as Banfield Pet Hospitals.
What these monopolistic trends will mean for investors, pet owners and veterinarians remains to be seen. The history of corporate oligopolies does not promise good tidings when it comes to market choices and prices for pet owners. The power and influence through advertising, promotional materials and financial incentives offered by these multinational corporations to veterinarians and veterinary schools are cause for concern.
(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.)