DEAR DR. FOX: Thank you sincerely for your column on the disappearance of frogs.
Having lived in South Florida all of my 56 years, I have noticed a developing deficit in the frog and lizard populations -- a fairly recent phenomenon and rapidly accelerating. Growing up in a relatively undeveloped area of West Palm Beach, we had bufos, tree frogs and tadpoles galore, to the degree that we came home from vacation one year to find our pool black with baby frogs.
I remember the mosquito trucks with their flashing yellow lights driving through the streets at dusk, fogging the neighborhood with pesticide, while we kids ran behind them and played in the mist with glee. Nobody stopped us.
The flies disappeared. Wonderful! The fireflies were gone. Who noticed but us kids?
Then the huge bufos who amused us by eating the dog food thinned out. Nobody was paying attention.
Ten years ago, I fashioned a small frog pond in my yard, and I would wake each morning to find two or three fairly large toads lounging in it, or a new crop of tadpoles. Haven’t seen one in almost five years now.
I check my pool for “swimmers” every morning. I used to find at least one every day. Not anymore.
We used to have resident tree frogs growing large around the outer walls and leaving tracks on our windows. (One actually jumped onto my face when I was watering a hanging plant one day. I miss that guy.)
The small lizards have been displaced by a larger species with curly tails that I do not recognize.
My point is that something has gone seriously wrong with our ecological management. I am not a scientist, just an observer of nature. What I am seeing is truly disturbing. -- D.K.C., Tequesta, Florida
DEAR D.K.C.: Yes, all of this is very disturbing and is a consequence of a combination of fear, ignorance and vested interests.
I hammer away as best I can to bring sound science and reason to bear on our relationships with and treatment of all our relations, human and nonhuman. Our disregard for the insect kingdom in particular is part of our undoing, our fall from grace. The domino effect means insectivorous birds, bats, reptiles and other creatures starve to death, and so may we soon, as we lose essential insect pollinators of our food crops while poisoning ourselves with pesticides in the process.
DEAR DR. FOX: My 7-year-old dog has to have her anal glands cleaned out quite often.
She had them done recently and is already sliding across the floor as though she is hurting. Could there be something wrong? -- M.K., St. Louis, Missouri
DEAR M.K.: This common condition in dogs can be aggravated by regular manual squeezing to empty the anal gland sacks. Possible infection, inflammation and even food allergies all need to be considered, as well as cancer developing in one of the glands.
Talk to the attending veterinarian or seek a second opinion, ideally with a holistic veterinary practitioner. To locate one in your area, go to ahvma.org.
U.K. KENNEL CLUB DISCOURAGES BREEDING FOR EXAGGERATED FEATURES
The Crufts Kennel Club warned judges not to award prizes to severely brachycephalic dogs at the club’s March show. Judges have been criticized in the past for awarding prizes to dogs with exaggerated features, including a German shepherd with an abnormally sloped hind end. Let’s hope other countries, including the United States, address this serious ethical and animal rights issue. (The Telegraph, March 7)
ACCEPTING SNUB-NOSED BREEDS FOR TRANSPORT PUT UNITED IN THE HOT SEAT
Eighteen of the 24 animal deaths that occurred on U.S. airlines last year happened on United Airlines flights. While the number seems disproportionate, United not only carried significantly more animals than any other airline, but also accepted flat-nosed, or brachycephalic, breeds that others refuse to transport due to the inherent risk. United has since changed its policies, implementing breed and size restrictions.
TRICLOSAN: A UBIQUITOUS ANTIBACTERIAL HEALTH THREAT
Triclosan (TCS) is a high-volume chemical used as an antimicrobial ingredient in more than 2,000 consumer products, such as toothpaste, cosmetics, kitchenware and children’s toys, as well as dogs’ toys, beds and shampoos. It is also incorporated into plastic pet food bag liners, and in plastic wrapping for meat and poultry, which can finish up in pet foods.
Scientists recently reported that brief exposure to TCS, at relatively low doses, causes low-grade colonic inflammation, increases colitis, and exacerbates colitis-associated colon cancer in mice. (H. Yang and associates, Science Translational Medicine, May 30, 2018) These research findings add yet another concern to what may cause dysbiosis and inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats.
This is an accountability call to pet food manufacturers to stipulate to their ingredient providers that all plastic wrappings on discarded meat and poultry parts be removed before processing, and plastic liners of dry pet foods and wrapping of frozen pet foods are TCS-free. Chronic exposure and ingestion of TCS may also contribute to skin and thyroid problems and food allergies.
For more information on this antibiotic, see Pat Thomas’ “The Dawn of the Domestic Superbug” at theecologist.org/2005/jul/01/dawn-domestic-superbug.
(Send all mail to email@example.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.)