R.M., Washington, DC
Tags: cat dog Washington DC
Jul 30, 2012
We enjoy your syndicated column here at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and we appreciate your commitment to companion animal health and welfare. We want to alert you to a rally on Aug. 7 at 4:00 p.m. at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. We are marching to the South Korean embassy to protest publicly the production and sale of dog and cat meat in that country. I hope you can attend!
For those of you who can't attend, you can still organize a campaign, demonstration or leaflet distribution for South Korean dogs and cats at a local venue. AWI will provide the materials you need. To learn more about events happening nationally and internationally, please contact Rosalyn Morrison at AWI: Rosalyn@awionline.org or 202-446-2126.
R.M., Washington, DC Jul 31, 2012
Many readers share your concerns about the cruel treatment of dogs and cats in South Korea and other Asian countries, where cats are often skinned and boiled alive and dogs are tortured, beaten, hung and torched to tenderize their flesh before they are killed.
I will not be able to attend your rally, but here is my position statement: Why dogs and cats are killed for human consumption in countries such as South Korea is a question of culture, custom and commerce. But how they are handled and killed is a question of conscience, civility and compassion, which must be answered by all involved. Informed people from around the world are calling for full accountability since the measure of civilization is in how humanely animals are treated, regardless of their monetary value and utility. We should all ask ourselves if it is ethical to consume any animal species that has died in fear and pain.
V.E., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: dog Fort Myers FL
Jul 30, 2012
I have a shih tzu/bichon-mix who scratches his face a lot. There are no fleas, and his vet can find no apparent reason for the itching. Could you advise me of the best way to solve this problem?
V.E., Fort Myers, FL Jul 31, 2012
The itchy face condition in dogs can be linked with oral health problems like gingivitis, so a thorough oral examination is called for to rule out this possibility.
Another possibility is chronic conjunctivitis, which is often associated with one or more turned-in eyelashes. This is a common issue that I trust your veterinarian ruled out.
Some face-rubbing dogs show significant improvement when plastic food and water bowls are replaced with steel or ceramic ones. In other instances, the fur around their lips must be trimmed and their mouths wiped with a baby wipe containing soothing lavender and aloe extracts after every meal. Some dogs develop a hypersensitivity to certain food ingredients, and those treatments can provide immediate relief.
If all else fails, you may want to transition your dog onto a different diet -- one that contains a single protein as a food allergy elimination test. Providing filtered/purified drinking water rather than straight tap water may be advisable. For details, see my report on my website, www.DrFoxVet.com.
Finally, coming into contact with wool or synthetic fibers could set up some facial irritation, so have him sleep on clean cotton towels or sheets laundered with a scent- and fragrance-free detergent.
Jul 29, 2012
This summer, my two dogs are having a bad time with flies. They aren't out in the yard for long before a fly lands on their backs and bites. Horseflies, I guess. There are others that draw blood by biting the tips of my dogs' ears.
I've sprayed them with bug sprays from the drug store, but nothing seems to work. Your advice would be appreciated.
Jul 30, 2012
I know just what your poor dogs are going through. One of my dogs, Batman, a rescue from India who was no doubt terrorized by flies as a puppy, would pull me home or try to hide under the car when horseflies pestered him.
I have received letters from dog owners in different states telling me that this summer has been a tough one on dogs with the heat, humidity, biting flies and mosquitoes.
Most over-the-counter human bug repellants are not very effective. A drop of eucalyptus essential oil rubbed into the tips of the ears works to keep flies off dogs for two to three hours. Peppermint and lemon oils are also effective, but keep them clear from dogs' eyes.
Simmer a sliced lemon in 2 cups of water for five minutes, strain and store in the fridge in a glass jar. Rub some of the extract into your dog's fur before going out. This is an excellent and safe insect repellant for dogs, though it's not safe for cats who may groom it off themselves.
The organic product Orange TKO, an excellent, safe concentrated cleaner, can be diluted (1 teaspoon to a pint of water) and spritzed or sponged on the dog's coat to serve as a bug repellant. For details, call 800-995-2463 or visit www.tkoorange.com.
M.E.G., Fargo, ND
Tags: cat Fargo ND diet food
Jul 29, 2012
My son filled our freezer with fish he caught this summer, and I am wondering if it is OK for me to feed some to our six cats. They love fish, and I would put just a bit in with their regular food every day or so. I'll cook the fish, of course -- some boiled or broiled and some fried in a little canola oil. Do you have any problem with this?
M.E.G., Fargo, ND Jul 30, 2012
Yes, I have problems with this and with feeding cats canned tuna. Lager, older ocean fish like tuna, swordfish, halibut, tilefish, orange roughy and king mackerel are some of the more contaminated fish that children and pregnant women should avoid. Some state health authorities have printed advisories for consumers of fish bought in the market or a restaurant or freshwater fish like those your son caught. Of particular concern with these freshwater fish are contaminants like mercury, which can cause neurological problems and kidney damage in cats and humans; dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyl, which may cause cancer and developmental defects; and perfluorooctane sulfonate, which can alter thyroid hormone levels and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol.
Freshwater fish should have all fat removed, since that's where some of these toxins accumulate. Cooking will not destroy any of the toxins. The basic rule for feeding yourself and your cats is to eat smaller, younger fish no more than once per week. Be sure to eat panfish -- a fish that doesn't outgrow the size of a frying pan -- like sunfish, crappie or yellow perch, rather than predator fish like walleyes, northern pike, bass and lake trout. Avoid consuming farmed salmon, which is especially noted for high levels of chemical contamination.
Many cats are allergic to fish. They can develop miliary dermatitis or itchy eczema or will vomit immediately after eating.
Tragically, many of our natural waterways are contaminated by industrial chemicals. This leads to contamination of the food chain and concentration of chemicals in apex predators at the top of the chain -- from humans to our carnivorous cousins, wild and domesticated, terrestrial and aquatic.
N.A., Stroudsburg, Pa
Tags: dog PA Stroudsburg
Jul 23, 2012
Thank you for your column regarding the crating of dogs. I am a supporter of the wonderful organization Dogs Deserve Better (www.dogsdeservebetter.org). DDB is a voice for chained and penned dogs. It started in Pennsylvania and has moved to Virginia, and it now occupies the former home of dog abuser Michael Vick.
I am not a religious person; I even call myself an atheist. But you know what? Almost every day I say a quick prayer to "whomever" to please relieve, release and rescue tethered dogs. With the rare exception, it is my only deliberate prayer. I don't even own a dog!
I am also sending you a big thank you for your piece about the breeding of cats. My husband and I do a small bit of private cat rescue. Once we learned about the pitiful situation for homeless cats, we, too, made it known that we deplore purchased cats, much less cats of recognized breeds. Your paragraph about no longer going to cat shows because you become too upset resonated very much with us. We are now the owners of eight cats, all rescued.
Thank you for being the voice for animals that you are.
N.A., Stroudsburg, Pa Jul 24, 2012
I always appreciate words of thanks and encouragement from readers of my newspaper column. I know that I offend some readers because of my concerns over how animals are treated more like commodities in these ethically and empathically challenged times.
So many animals become throwaway pets that wind up in shelters. Be they animals bred for the highly commercialized pet trade, the billions of animals crowded in factory farms being raised for human consumption or those who are wild and are shot for trophies -- to voice opposition to such exploitation is to be ridiculed by vested interests. So long as money rules over our own humanity and over those qualities of compassion and respect for life that make us human, the spiritual decline of our species will continue.
I believe that this decline is largely responsible for the grave global economic, climatic and population crises we face today, as I documented in my book "Inhumane Society: the American Way of Exploiting Animals." This "American Way" has regrettably become the way of the world, and the more we harm animals and the environment, the more we harm ourselves.
W.Q., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: cat Winston-Salem NC
Jul 23, 2012
I want to express my appreciation for your work. Thank you for relaying the importance of giving filtered water to dogs and, especially, cats. My two cats, 8-year-old littermates, seemed to be declining. They had frequent bouts of vomiting, refused to eat and seemed depressed. After changing their diets and many costly veterinary tests, they did not improve. They ate plenty of dry food and drank plenty of water. When I stopped giving them water from the tap, they seemed better. Now I give them pure bottled water, and, thanks to your advice, they are full of life and are more playful and active.
W.Q., Winston-Salem, NC Jul 24, 2012
Water quality is a major health concern for humans and other animals. It is one component of health care that is easily overlooked. But according to the evidence that I have compiled, it is a major public health issue that cannot be ignored. Visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, for more information.
G.L., Norman, OK
Tags: dog Norman OK seizures
Jul 22, 2012
I want to thank you for helping me cure my dog's seizures. She was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy and was put on phenobarbital, which made her groggy but helped a bit. Then I checked the archives on your website -- bingo! I put her on a cereal-free diet, and within a few days she seemed more relaxed. She is now off the phenobarbital and doing great!
Why don't more vets know about this? Sure, there are many other causes of epilepsy/seizures in dogs, but this one is so easy to fix!
G.L., Norman, OK Jul 23, 2012
Your letter is very telling -- many veterinarians do not consider the role of dietary ingredients in canine epilepsy and a host of other health problems. Swedish veterinary researchers showed a connection between wheat in dogs' diets and epilepsy 20 years ago.
Corn can also be a problem, as Julie Messenger details in her article "No More Seizures" in Animal Wellness magazine. Her terrier-mix, Leo, started having seizures at six months old. He was prescribed phenobarbital and diazepam for almost six years. Then Leo developed diabetes mellitus and was put on a special diet to lower his blood sugar. The frequency of his seizures increased dramatically, so his medication was increased -- to no avail. Leo's seizures were so severe that Messenger considered euthanasia. Fortunately, she learned from the owner of a natural dog food company that the corn in her dog's prescription diet could be the cause of the seizures. Leo had corn in his diet before, but this prescribed diet contained considerably more. Messenger took appropriate action, transitioning Leo onto a diet of quality meat, brown rice and vegetables. Leo is now seizure free, off his meds and happy and enjoying life to the fullest.
Most corn and soy in pet foods is genetically engineered, and brands containing such ingredients should be avoided. The research literature on the effects of such food ingredients in laboratory animal tests, which I review on my website (DrFoxVet.com), show a host of serious health consequences.
Y.T., Fargo, ND
Tags: cat dog Fargo ND litter box
Jul 22, 2012
My husband and I are having an ongoing argument that I hope you can resolve.
He cleans out the cats' litter box, which I appreciate. But he says once a day is sufficient. I say it's not. We use a scent-free clumping litter, and our two cats drink plenty water so you can imagine there's lots of clumps by end of day, plus poop. They eat a lot, but they are young and active and not overweight.
I say he should clean it out twice a day. What do you think? I am concerned -- not so much about the smell as for the poor cats who have to step around the stuff already in the box.
Y.T., Fargo, ND Jul 23, 2012
I appreciate and share you concern for your two cats, and wish that more people did. Try not flushing your toilet for a day -- that will get your husband to empathize with the cats!
Cats hate to get their paws wet and dirty, and a common reaction to dirty litter boxes is to become unhousebroken. They develop an aversion to the dirty, stinky litter box and evacuate elsewhere. The problem often goes unnoticed for a while since the cat evacuates in some concealed spot.
For our two cats, we use unscented World's Best, corn-based clumping cat litter, and I clean the boxes out four times a day -- just before each small meal I feed them. Some days I am amazed at how much they can deposit!
Your husband may be lazy or have his own aversion to the litter box, but out of concern for the cats and respect for you, he should be cleaning it out at least three times a day.
B. and R.M., Alexandria, Va
Tags: cat Alexandria VA diet food
Jul 16, 2012
We have a pair of male Abyssinian cats. We got the littermates when they were 4 years old; they are turning 7. They are very healthy except for a problem with loose stools accompanied by mucus tinged with blood.
They both had ringworm coming from the breeder. Their previous owner's vet had them on a regimen of antibiotics (C-Tylosin) their entire lives for the loose stool, but it never helped the problem. We ended that when they came to us.
We feed them the best kinds of foods from Weruva and Prairie Foods. We give them natural supplements like Phytomucil, Gentle Digest and probiotics to help them heal, but they never seem to.
What are your thoughts?
B. and R.M., Alexandria, Va Jul 17, 2012
The long-term treatment with antibiotics is an absurd regimen and may be at the root of your cats' bowel disorder. Judicious, short-term use of drugs like Tylosin, metronidazole and prednisone can be extremely beneficial for some cats with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
There may be permanent damage to your cats' digestive systems. The condition dysbiosis could be significantly alleviated by the three supplements you are giving to your cats. Ask your veterinarian to consider preparing capsules of fecal bacteria from healthy cats with which to inoculate and help restore your cats' digestive tracts if probiotics do not help. Give them a teaspoon of dried catnip to eat every two to four days and one or two drops of peppermint extract hidden in their food every day for seven to 10 days.
Bacterial probiotics are very important. Anti-inflammatory fish oil may also be of benefit, beginning with one or two drops in their food and increasing gradually to 1/2 to 1 teaspoon daily.
If there is no significant improvement, discuss with your veterinarian setting up an elimination diet to test for another complication such as a food allergy or intolerance to beef, eggs, corn, dairy products, corn or soy.
G.N., St. Charles, Mo
Tags: cat MO diet food St Charles
Jul 16, 2012
I have two neutered male Maine coons. They are 6-year-old brothers. One weighs 9 1/2 pounds, and the other weighs 13 pounds. I have been feeding them Science Diet Adult Indoor dry food. But now they stick up their noses to that food until they are desperate. I feed them each 1/3 cup twice daily with 1 teaspoon of wet food in the evening.
What do you suggest I feed them? I would appreciate any suggestions.
G.N., St. Charles, Mo Jul 17, 2012
You should find helpful information on my website, DrFoxVet.com. Check the archives by posing a question in the question-and-answer box.
There are other brands and varieties of cat food listed on my website (including Wellness, Evo, Organix, Evanger, Wysong and Orijen -- canned and dry) and frozen cat foods are also available. For additional details, go to feline-nutrition.org.
Cats can be finicky eaters, and some can manipulate caregivers into giving them unhealthy tuna or hamburger. Others become addicted to certain dry foods, even formulations that are bad for their long-term health.
However, most cats possess nutritional wisdom that guides them to choose the kinds of foods best suited to their carnivorous physiology and metabolism. It's best to feed cats small portions four to six times a day. The ideal diet is raw or lightly cooked, minimally processed moist food. This food should be comprised of animal fat and protein, ideally from organic, humane and sustainable sources.