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Sudden Aggression in Dog Who Took Simparica Trio – The Animal Doctor – UExpress

DEAR DR. FOX: I read an article online that mentioned you, and referred to an incident where a police department's Dutch shepherd had developed aggressive behaviors after taking Simparica Trio. The article was from two years ago, but I thought it would be worth a shot to reach out anyway.
I'm just curious if you know how this situation ended. Did the dog get better after being taken off the Simparica Trio for a while? Have there been other instances like this reported anywhere? I've found quite a few mentions online of aggressive behavior related to this medication, but when I call my vet (and another vet in town), they are very dismissive, which is frustrating.
Like Zeke in the article, Chet (my 2-year-old yellow Lab) got aggressive out of the blue. He is normally a very typical Lab: overly friendly, thinks he weighs 2 pounds, and wants to give and receive all the love he can. Not aggressive at all. After the first dose of Simparica Trio, he aggressively growled at a friend whom he normally runs to greet when she shows up. She had bent over to pet him and scratch his side, and off he went, growling and letting her know that she needed to back off. Then a couple of weeks later, he did the same thing to a family member.
Last weekend, my son and his girlfriend were over and for a while, Chet was lying on the couch with them, getting all the love and attention he wanted. Then all of a sudden, he aggressively growled at them. Now they are afraid to even touch him, which is sad, because they love him. When he lays his head on their laps, I'm sure he doesn't understand why they won't pet him.
I'm going to skip his next dose and see if things get any better. — S.W., Council Bluffs, Iowa
DEAR S.W.: Your dog's adverse reaction to the insecticide cocktail Simparica Trio, which contains three active pharmaceutical ingredients (sarolaner, moxidectin, and pyrantel pamoate), coupled with the veterinarians' evident lack of concern, are all too common on both counts. Sarolaner is an acaricide (toxic to mites and ticks) and insecticide belonging to the isoxazoline group.
I have repeatedly warned about the adverse health and behavioral consequences to many dogs following oral and topical treatments with these kinds of insecticidal chemicals, as well as expressing concerns about environmental contamination and risks to beneficial insects. (For details, see the following posts on my website: drfoxonehealth.com/post/preventing-fleas-ticks-and-mosquitoes and drfoxonehealth.com/post/companion-animals-harmed-by-pesticides.)
The police dog in question who was given Simparica Trio eventually recovered. It is important to help the animal detox, giving a twice-daily dose of 250-500 mg milk thistle for three to four weeks, plus a few drops of fish oil and a teaspoon of coconut oil daily. Give him one B-complex vitamin at every meal, plus 3 mg to 6 mg melatonin at bedtime.
DEAR DR. FOX: According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. is among the countries doing the least polluting on the planet. Read their article. And New York is one of the cleanest cities! — S.F.D., Naples, Florida
DEAR S.F.D.: I appreciate you raising the issue of air pollution, which affects us as well as other animals. Certainly, air quality has improved in the U.S. Several years ago, I was barely able to be interviewed at the zoo in Los Angeles because the air quality caused me to lose my voice and my eyes to water! And the only time I've come close to having a panic attack was in New Delhi, India: I was en route to speak at a conference and got stuck in city traffic during a thermal inversion, inhaling the fumes of vehicular traffic. That is one of the worst sources of burning fossil fuels today in many countries, as the WHO review indicates, along with the burning of coal-fired power plants.
As a veterinary student in London in the late 1950s, I could not get to classes for three days because all traffic was arrested by a pea-soup fog. Many people died, leading to a ban on homeowners burning coal!
The climate crisis of pollution calls for a rapid phasing out of fossil fuel use, which Vladimir Putin has essentially exacerbated with his energy restrictions to other countries, forcing them to resort to burning coal to generate electricity. The net result is particulate matter (along with microplastics) in the air we breathe, wherever we are, some places being worse than others. They travel in the winds from continent to continent.
When inhaled, they enter the bloodstream and can get to the heart, kidneys and brain. The harms have yet to be determined, but chronic inflammation is likely. The rains may clear the air temporarily but, in the process, precipitate pollutants on crops, soils, lakes and the oceans, along with agricultural pesticides from airborne dust killing the life therein with acidification and various toxic chemicals.
Urban centers also have electropollution, which is escalating, and documented periods of lower levels of oxygen, all of which must affect human health and behavior. Global pollution is an enormous problem, which is why I call for a United Environmental Nations.
(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)
DEAR READERS: The Biden administration is moving to complete what the Trump administration had set out to do: delist gray wolves from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
In 2011, Congress removed the wolves' Endangered Species Act protections in Montana, Alaska, Idaho and portions of Oregon, Utah and Washington based on the erroneous view that these in-state wolves were a "distinct population segment" — that is, a different subspecies from the Eastern gray wolf. It is open season for hunting wolves in Alaska, even when mothers are nursing cubs in their dens.
In anticipation of wolves being delisted nationwide, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) solicited public comment on opening a wolf hunting and trapping season. This is a shortened version of my response:
I have studied the behavior, development and communication of wolves — a highly intelligent, social and empathic species — and edited and published several books on wild canids. In my professional opinion as a veterinarian and ethologist, the gray wolf, once close to extinction in its North American range, should remain protected under the Endangered Species Act in all states.
The Minnesota DNR's proposed wolf management plan must be considered within a broader One Health framework of ecological restoration/rewilding. This science and bioethics-based ecocentrism is the antithesis of the anthropocentrism of natural resource "management," exploitation and purported sustainable "harvesting" of various plant and animal species.
After centuries of wild habitat destruction, fragmentation and degradation by the timber and mining industries; the criminal ecocide and mass slaughter of bison; the genocide of the Anishinaabe Native Americans; encroachment by livestock keepers and commodity crop farming (and associated agrichemical pollution) on former prairie grasslands and wetlands, primarily to raise feed for livestock and poultry; state and federal wildlife management agencies have a formidable agenda to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples.
An estimated 96% of the world's mammals, by weight, are humans and their livestock; just 4% are wild. One lesson from the ecology of the wolf is that there are too many of us to live as predators with meat as a dietary staple without causing irreparable damage to the environment.
Deforestation and other habitat changes have enabled the proliferation of white-tailed deer to an estimated 1 million in Minnesota, as well as the displacement and near-extinction of elk, moose and caribou. The deer numbers have generated a profitable industry with close to 428,000 deer hunters killing 184,698 deer in 2021. Hunters of small game deposited some 178 tons of lead shot in 2017, according to estimates by the Minnesota DNR. (There is no lead data available for deer hunters, who are "encouraged" not to use lead shot, but are not prohibited from doing so. Some 7% of donated venison is toxic with lead fragments.)
Too many deer hunters and lower deer numbers will mean more wolf predation on livestock, and more wolves being gut shot so they run off, die slowly and are not found on the illegal killers' properties. When deer numbers are low, deer hunters and outfitters call for more wolf kills — a management practice that is contradictory, since wolves are self-regulating in their numbers. As field research has demonstrated, wolves help maintain the health of deer herds and prevent them from overgrazing and overbrowsing, which facilitates reforestation.
Wolf numbers tend to be self-regulating since a wolf pack that has no prey in one area will move to another, possibly entering the territory of other packs, which increases the probability of conflicts, injuries and death. Most significantly, natural population control in wolves is density-related, and fewer females are born when the population is high. But hunting can disrupt pack stability and viability, and more females are born when people are killing wolves. Many wolves die from hunting injuries, starvation and various diseases, some of which, like distemper and parvovirus, are passed from infected, free-roaming dogs.
To help head off the climate and extinction crises, every state's department of natural resources should rebrand and call themselves departments of nature restoration and protection.
The sympathy and respect for wolves as fellow hunters in our ancestral past, and from whom the domesticated dog became our loyal companion and family member, were supplanted by antipathy, prejudice, persecution and lupophobia. It would demonstrate enlightenment and support for all life systems to restore that sympathy and respect through a more humane and science-based wolf management plan for the good of all species.
(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)
DEAR READERS: Polish biologist Wojciech Solarz recently classified the domestic cat as an invasive species responsible for the death of an estimated 140 million birds in his country every year. The disapproving public response (see the July 27 article by Vanessa Gera in the Associated Press and the Star Tribune) is a sentiment echoing here in the U.S. by cat owners who let their cats roam free.
In the U.S., free-ranging domestic cats annually kill an estimated 1.3 billion to 4 billion birds, and 6.3 billion to 22.3 billion mammals. Cats compete with indigenous wild carnivores, including raptors, for prey. They can spread diseases to these competitors, as well as bring home diseases from their prey.
As a veterinarian, I am concerned about the health and welfare of cats who are not kept exclusively in-home, about their impact on declining wildlife populations, and about the many diseases cats can transmit to humans. (For details, visit drfoxonehealth.com/post/cats-why-they-should-be-enclosed-and-not-roam-free.)
I am also concerned about the evident lack of civic responsibility and municipal legislation, which should apply the same principles of containment for cats as for dogs. Adding to this problem in many communities are TNVR organizations (trap, neuter, vaccinate and release), which release cats they consider "unadoptable" to fend for themselves. Releasing these animals under the pro-life banner of a “no-kill” animal rescue organization or humane society is no humane solution.
There are better alternatives to both TNVR and euthanasia. For details, see drfoxonehealth.com/post/outdoor-cats-wildlife-and-human-health.
DEAR DR. FOX: What is your opinion about feeding raw food to dogs? My brother suggests I do this for my dog, a 6-year-old collie mix. — J.G., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR J.G.: I am all for feeding some raw fruits and vegetables to dogs, such as crushed blueberries and grated carrots. But because most beef and poultry comes from factory farms and feedlots, where bacterial contamination is common, I advise lightly cooking all animal products before feeding them to your dog.
Antibiotic-resistant E. coli was found more frequently in the feces of dogs that were fed raw meat, regardless of how long they consumed a raw diet, than in that of dogs that did not eat raw meat, according to studies in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and One Health. People and pets can and do spread bacteria to one another, and avoiding raw diets should be considered a good hygiene practice, says veterinary epidemiology professor Kristen Reyher, co-author of the One Health study. (Full story: HealthDay News, July 21)
While nonprofit organizations like projectcoyote.org are helping communities live in greater harmony with coyotes who are moving into many previously coyote-free places across the U.S., many wish for their extermination, fearing rabies.
Rabies is transmitted by the bites and saliva of infected animals. Each year, this disease causes approximately 59,000 deaths worldwide. In the CDC’s 2020 rabies surveillance report, only 11 coyotes tested positive, compared with a total of 288 cats — a number that has increased from 245 in 2019. Only 57 dogs tested positive in 2020 — a drop from 66 in 2019.
Municipalities need to consider these findings and take every measure to improve public health standards by mandating rabies vaccinations for all owned cats, as is done with dogs, and not allowing cats to roam free. Many communities without these protections in place have skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats, which, as the CDC report documents, serve as reservoirs for rabies infection. Rabies could be quickly passed to outdoor cats, and then from the cats to people when they return home (or when they bite people who come into contact with them outdoors).
The virus affects animals’ brains; infected animals are hyper-aggressive and bite at whatever they can, as I have witnessed.
All engaged in TNVR and “community cat” programs should cease and desist because these cats can rarely be trapped again for needed revaccination if they survive such inhumane abandonment. While it is true that cases of cat-to-human rabies infection are rare in the U.S., the incidence of rabies in wildlife is on the upswing, increasing the risk of cats becoming infected. The CDC notes that “each year, hundreds of thousands of animals need to be placed under observation or be tested for rabies, and between 30,000 to 60,000 people need to receive rabies postexposure prophylaxis.”
(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)


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