DEAR DR. FOX: One of my mini dachshunds (who just turned 4) has had two seizures eight weeks apart.
Our vet is thinking it was the Comfortis flea medicine, or maybe Heartgard, as the second seizure took place one hour after giving him these two meds.
Is there anything out there that is natural and less harmful for heartworm and fleas, or is there anything you would suggest for the heartworm prevention? My vet is saying Revolution all-in-one treatment. Ours are indoor dogs who get one morning walk on no grass and who are never in kennels. -- D.D., Naples, Florida
DEAR D.D.: This is some of what the manufacturers state on their Comfortis website:
"For dogs: The most common adverse reaction reported is vomiting. Other adverse reactions reported in decreasing order of frequency are: depression/lethargy, decreased appetite, incoordination, diarrhea, itching, trembling, excessive salivation and seizures. ... Following concomitant extra-label use of Ivermectin with Comfortis, some dogs have experienced the following clinical signs: trembling/twitching, salivation/ drooling, seizures, incoordination, excessive dilation of pupils, blindness and disorientation. ... Use with caution in breeding females and dogs with pre-existing epilepsy".
Clearly, your dog had an adverse reaction to these drugs. Check my website for my review of safe methods of dealing with fleas. Low-dose Heartgard (ivermectin) to prevent heartworms should be given only after a blood test has determined that the dog is not already infected. In states where there are winters too cold for mosquitoes that transmit heartworm, the preventive drug need not be given year-round.
I know of no other safe preventive. This drug is not safe for some breeds, such as collies, when given at a high dose, as for treatment for mange.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read your column today about dog owners letting their pets urinate in public. How does this apply to service dogs? This is a rare occurrence with my husband's dog, but it recently happened after he was leaving the hospital after five or six hours of being there. The dog was allowed no water after his dinnertime, and he did his business at home before they left. Is a blind person expected to clean up after the dog?
My second question involves the same dog. He is 4 years old and is a great service dog. We recently got a mini pig, and the German shepherd is scared to death of it! We have had the pig four months. Any advice you can give would be appreciated. -- R.S., Asheville, North Carolina
DEAR R.S.: I am very much aware of the stress often imposed on guide dogs, especially when they are older and develop kidney problems and need more water, because my wife and I took in Quincy, her brother's guide dog, when he was retired from devoted service. They are indeed trained not to evacuate until given vocal command, and the situation that you describe calls for an understanding public. Of course your husband cannot be expected to clean up after his dog.
Some dogs are spooked by pigs, not being used to their behavior, scent and ways they communicate. Give the dog time, and get a harness for the pig and take them both for walks together. Let the dog see the pig play with toys and then try to engage the dog.
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