Letters to the Editor
Beware: THIS IS ONE "PROGRAM" BREEDERS MAY NOT WANT TO JOIN!!!!
How is your dog like a Sears Bug Spray can? Both could be a delivery system for poisoning fleas. Into the Sears Bug Spray can you could put flea poison containing an insect growth hormone inhibitor and spray your yard, kennel, and premises. Thanks to Ciby-Geigy, you can put similar poison into your dog's blood system once a month via a pill and wait for fleas to bite your dog, fall off your dog, and lay eggs that do not grow. Optimistically, after several weeks the flea population in your yard and house will be less. Please be aware that the pill is not a repellant. Dogs with flea allergy dermatitis will still have to suffer with flea bites so that the fleas can ingest the poison in their blood. If you spray or flea dip or even shampoo your dog while on this "Program" you are defeating yourself in your biological warfare efforts.
Although the safety summary on Program pill containing lufenutron does not say the product has killed animals and therefore is deemed "safe," there are some concerns for breeders when deciding to use this poison.
In the product insert it is reported Program was given to nine beagles at 90X the recommended dose. Only six of the nine conceived for a conception rate of 67%. Eight beagles not on Program were bred and 100% conceived. One of the studies contracted by Ciba-Geigy but NOT INCLUDED in the handout shows beagles on the recommended dose had an 83% conception rate while 100% of the non-treated beagles conceived. These bitches were only put on the drug at first sign of estrus.
Puppies born to dams on the drug in the 90X study had nasal discharge, respiratory congestion, dehydration/diarrhea, and lethargy -- conditions which improved after the pups were weaned. And why did the pups improve after weaning? Perhaps it is because the drug lufenutron concentrates in the dam's milk SIXTY TIMES more than in the dam's blood.
This should be a concern to breeders trying to have healthy problem-free pups. Conscientious breeders having pups with those symptoms would immediately take the pups to veterinarians, suffer through sleepless nights until the parvovirus tests came back and incur unnecessary veterinary costs.
Since April 1st, I have had three breeders call and say their veterinarian put their estrus bitches on the drug telling them it was perfectly "safe." I find it hard to believe a veterinarian would dose a bitch with this drug knowing the bitch had failed to become pregnant on her last season. And yet, that is exactly what happened in the Los Angeles area last week. If the owner had known the conception rate may drop 20% on this drug, I know he would not have put the bitch on the medication. This bitch lives unrestricted on FIVE ACRES. The chance of this poison helping control fleas on such a large environment is very optimistic.
Also, I had a Rottweiler bitch in Orange County (California) given lufenutron when she went in for a progesterone test. Again, the veterinarian assured the owner the drug was "safe," but never informed the owner of the reported reproductive data. Would you, as an owner of a six year old International titled Rottweiler bitch trying to have her last litter, put her on this drug if the veterinarian had let you know the conception rate may drop?
The third case is a Great Dane that missed last season. Again, a veterinarian urged putting the dog on the Program: "perfectly safe."
So please, please, spread the word fast and furiously to breeders everywhere. DO NOT USE THIS DRUG ON BREEDING ANIMALS WITHOUT ASKING FOR LONG TERM REPRODUCTIVE STUDY RESULTS. Ciba-Geigy provided some reproductive studies upon request and I urge every breeder to ask Ciba-Geigy for these reports. I am sure breeders will find them fascinating. There are acceptable semen evaluations on adult beagles but only for two months post pill. Yet, this drug is offered to six week old pups. What's the sperm count on adult dogs that have been on the poison since they were six weeks old?
Two commercial kennels in Kansas that breed several small breeds were included in the safety reproduction studies, but because several bitches are housed with one male, the fertility rate could not be calculated because actual observation of the matings was not possible. The report's actual language says this study was "to evaluate the reproductive safety of lufenutron in small dog breeds under typical breeding kennel conditions." I respectively suggest and fervently hope that the majority of breeders being sold this product do not have "typical kennel conditions" as described in these studies. And, aren't we all anxious to buy a product that provided money to two commercial dog kennels in Kansas for breeding more pups to be sold in the nation's pet stores!!!
Call Ciba-Geigy (800) 637-0281; fax (910) 632-7489 and your veterinarian and let them know that consumer awareness and concern of conscientious dog breeders and owners is growing and perhaps this year's $250 million veterinary revenues Ciba-Geigy has projected for veterinarians selling this product may need to be readjusted.
Carole Scott Bardwick Canine Cryobank, Inc. 340 State Place Escondido, CA 92029