DEAR READERS: Experts say the warming climate and abundance of hosts mean tick numbers are up in many areas, putting mammals at risk of illness. Blacklegged ticks in the West have infection levels similar to those in New England; the Lone Star tick has been spreading north; and the Asian longhorned tick -- first seen in the U.S. in 2017 -- continues its spread, though it's not clear if it is carrying diseases in this country. (Full story: ABC News, June 19)
DEAR DR. FOX: As a trainer, I've noticed for years now that dogs getting flea and tick medications can suddenly show major changes in temperament. Are there studies or good articles to share with customers on this subject? I believe it's not coincidental. -- A.K., Grantham, New Hampshire
DEAR A.K.: I have received several letters from dog owners who have given their dogs various anti-flea and tick products, either orally or topically, who have noted sudden changes in behavior. Reactions include fearfulness/anxiety and occasionally aggression. Like you, I do not believe this is mere coincidence. Confirmation comes from those instances when the insecticide use was discontinued and the dogs returned to normal behavior.
REPORTING ADVERSE REACTIONS TO AUTHORITIES
If your pet has an adverse reaction to a flea and tick product, it should be reported to government authorities. The problem has been: Who is the proper authority to contact?
The FDA has recently updated this information for pet owners. The agency states:
"Flea and tick products for pets are regulated by either the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency. Generally speaking, the FDA is responsible for approving animal drugs and regulates flea and tick products that are given orally, including pills, chews and swallowable liquids, or by injection. EPA, with some exceptions, regulates those products that are applied to pets topically -- to pets' skin or fur. This includes shampoos, collars, dust/powders, sprays and spot-on flea and tick products. ...
"You can tell which agency regulates the product by looking at the packaging. For FDA-regulated products, look for the letters "NADA" or "ANADA," followed by a six-digit number in this format: NADA-xxx-xxx or ANADA xxx-xxx. Products regulated by EPA will carry an EPA registration number: EPA Reg. No. xxxxx-xxxxx. These numbers help identify the exact product better than the name of the product alone.
"To report problems with FDA-approved flea or tick drug products, contact the drug manufacturer directly (see contact information on product labeling) or report to FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine on a Form FDA 1932a. For more information, please visit www.fda.gov/reportanimalae.
"To report problems with EPA-regulated products, contact the manufacturer directly (see contact information on product labeling), EPA, or the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378."
USDA TO REINSTATE VITAL ANIMAL WELFARE PROTECTIONS
In a victory for organic farmers and animal welfare, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on June 17 that it will be reinstating animal welfare standards on farms producing organic meat that were withdrawn during the Trump administration. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA will "reconsider the prior administration's interpretation that the Organic Foods Production Act does not authorize USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject of the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule," including meaningful outdoor access for organic chickens and other animal welfare improvements.
Vilsack "directed the National Organic Program to begin a rulemaking to address this statutory interpretation and to include a proposal to disallow the use of porches as outdoor space in organic production," and make other improvements to the original rule. (Full story: usda.gov, June 17)
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