DEAR DR. FOX: I gave the medication Trifexis to my Belgian Malinois and he got ataxia. It's been more than 10 days and he is still recovering, slowly. Is there a safe alternative to these meds? Vets in this city seem clueless on this question. -- B.D., Titusville, Florida
DEAR B.D.: Trifexis (spinosad plus milbemycin oxime) is a monthly, beef-flavored tablet that kills fleas, prevents flea infestations, prevents heartworm disease, and treats and controls adult hookworm, roundworm and whipworm infections. The attending veterinarians should not be "clueless," since they can read the manufacturer's published details about the product. These details list the following possible adverse reactions: vomiting, depression, lethargy, pruritus, anorexia, diarrhea, trembling/shaking, ataxia, seizures, hypersalivation and skin reddening.
To report suspected adverse reactions, contact Elanco at 1-888-545-5973 and the FDA at 1-888-FDA-VETS.
Some breeds and individual dogs are more likely to develop adverse reactions, and it is a toss-up when balancing the risks against the benefits of eliminating heartworm and some worm species in the intestines. Updated results from the U.S. and the European Union indicate a notable increase in the number of particularly serious adverse events reported for flea and tick preventives, including seizures, aggression and death.
For more details and alternatives for repelling fleas, ticks and mosquitos, check my website entries: drfoxonehealth.com/post/companion-animal-risks-of-flea-and-tick-insecticides and drfoxonehealth.com/post/preventing-fleas-ticks-and-mosquitoes.
Rather than routinely giving drugs to kill intestinal worms, a prudent step would be having a fecal sample tested to see if medication is needed. A flea comb should also be regularly used. Perform regular visual inspections for ticks, especially between the toes and around the ears. Spritz your dog with a botanical mosquito and biting fly repellant before going outdoors when the bugs are out.
BOOK REVIEW: "Wolfish: Wolf, Self and the Stories We Tell About Fear" by Erica Berry
I was captivated by the twisting journey this young author took me on in her quest -- as a female member of a species that is both predator and prey -- to address her fears and longings through the prism of our relationships, past and present, with wolves. Erica Berry opens our eyes and hearts in her bridging of the great divide between lupophobia and lupophilia. She writes about what it means to cherish the wild, and in the process, recover our sense of self and humanity in a world we have despoiled. Our future and the fate of the Earth depend on how well we attend to the two wolves in all of us: the one driven by the love of power and the other by the power of love.
'GREEN SPACES' CAN HELP REDUCE RISK OF SOME DEMENTIAS
High levels of green space in and around residential communities are associated with reduced risk of various neurodegenerative diseases in adult humans, according to a landmark study confirming a significant benefit of environmental restoration and protection. (For details, read: "Associations of Greenness, Parks and Blue Space With Neurodegenerative Disease Hospitalizations Among Older U.S. Adults," JAMA Network Open, December 2022.) Spending time in nature has also been linked to improved blood pressure, cognition, mental health and sleep.
HOWLING DOGS REFLECT WOLF ANCESTRY
Wolves howl to guard territory and communicate with other members of their pack, and researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary found that most young dogs howl in response when they hear a recording of a wolf howling. However, among dogs older than 5 years, breeds that are more genetically distant from wolves respond with barking, while breeds that are genetically closest to wolves respond with howling. Those that howled back showed greater signs of stress, researchers wrote in Communications Biology. (Full story: ScienceAlert, Feb. 13)
(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.)