DEAR READERS: With climate change extending our warm seasons, and with the unrelenting chemical runoff from farming facilities, lawns and gardens, some dangerous strains of algae are "blooming" in our lakes and ponds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been monitoring this issue in several states for years. From 2016 to 2018, harmful algal blooms have sickened at least 389 people and 413 animals, says the CDC, including dogs, cats, cattle, horses and various birds. Of those animals, 369 have died, mainly waterfowl. (For details, visit cdc.gov/habs.)
This is very serious. Animals who have been in standing water covered in blue-green algae must be hosed down immediately, and must never be allowed to drink from such waters. It is but one of the issues that will worsen if climate change is not addressed, and if the agriculture industry and private landowners do not reduce their use of chemical fertilizers.
I have an added concern about people -- duck hunters in particular -- allowing their dogs into lakes and ponds while wearing flea and tick collars or after using similar topical applications. The chemicals in these products are highly toxic to the life in fresh waters. This concern is also being raised in veterinary circles in the U.K., now that these insecticides (fipronil and imidacloprid) have been found contaminating every English river tested.
No dog being treated with these insecticides should be allowed into any freshwater environment. And they should probably not be bathed indoors, where the insecticide-contaminated drain water will end up in our rivers, and not outdoors, either -- no matter what, the insecticides are going to enter the environment! It is best to never use these products. Safer alternatives are readily available, as described in the article "Preventing Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes" on my website (drfoxonehealth.com).
Better protection of the health of our aquatic ecosystems should be a One Health priority in every country.
THE ROOTS OF HUMAN NATURE
We generally look down on our now-extinct Neanderthal cousins as being more primitive than we are, but we may be more similar genetically than we realize. Modern tests allow scientists to determine what percentage of Neanderthal DNA is shared by the humans of today. In many individuals, that percentage is zero, but in others, it is 1% or 2%. This is still an emerging field of study.
My friend, Nobel laureate Dr. Konrad Lorenz, once famously quipped, "I have found the missing link between the higher ape and civilized man: It is we." Cultural and racial differences belie our common ancestry and kinship, which call for mutual respect and reverence for all life, human and nonhuman. We are all biologically related and ecologically interdependent.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)
DEAR DR. FOX: Our vet talked us into having two of our cats' teeth cleaned, and came to the house for the procedure. He also gave them each a cocktail of vaccines. Both of these cats were 9 years old.
The day after being sedated for the teeth cleaning, one cat was lethargic and crying out, as if in pain. I called the vet, but was told to just "see how she does tomorrow." That night, our cat died.
The vet said she'd had liver issues. He had to have known that previously, since he'd also been treating her for allergies. We are grieving over having lost an active, playful and affectionate cat so suddenly. The fee for all this was $1,100, which included vaccines for all three of our cats (I wouldn't let him do the teeth on our youngest cat, who is 3 years old).
Now the other two cats have become very needy. They miss Katy as much as we do. -- E.C., via email
DEAR E.C.: I am so sorry for your loss, as well as for that of your other cats. As you have observed, cats grieve, too.
I would advise not paying this veterinary bill, and reporting the situation to your state's board of veterinary examiners. Cats and dogs whose health is compromised should not be given vaccinations. And as I have detailed in my article on feline stomatitis (drfoxonehealth.com), cats with serious dental issues are essentially immunocompromised and at risk from anesthesia. They should be given presurgery antibiotics and carefully monitored.
I am not opposed to the judicious and appropriate use of vaccinations, but clearly this veterinarian has a cavalier attitude with regard to vaccinating an animal whose health was already compromised.