The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox


DEAR DR. FOX: My dog was diagnosed with gastritis. What dog food is easily digested? Our vet suggested Hill's Prescription i/d. Do you have a recommendation? -- T.D., Fort Myers, Florida

DEAR T.D.: "Gastritis" is a term describing a condition without an identifying cause -- part of the magic and obfuscation of medical terms derived principally from Latin nouns and adjectives. A costly endoscopic probe might confirm that there is inflammation and possibly erosion and ulceration of the lining of the stomach.

But what is the cause, and what are the signals or symptoms that lead to this diagnostic conclusion? Is the dog vomiting immediately after eating or some time after? Is there blood or yellowish bile in the vomit? Is your dog bloated and belching? It could be acid reflux, which treatment with an antacid should quickly resolve. It could be a gastric or intestinal bacterial or viral infection -- yes, dogs can show such symptoms with salmonella "food poisoning," or have a food allergy.

If there is bile being vomited, there could be a problem with the liver; other causes of vomiting can be associated with conditions such as pancreatic disease and kidney disease -- especially in older dogs.

Simply trying out a special and costly manufactured prescription diet like the one suggested by the veterinarian is one approach. If it works, then problem solved. But again, what is the cause? It could possibly be an ingredient in your dog's regular food or a contaminant or even jerky treats made in China. It is also quite possible that one or more ingredients in the prescription diet are also in your dog's regular food that is responsible for his gastric malady, such as soy, corn or wheat. For details, check out the book that I co-authored with two other veterinarians, "Not Fit for a Dog."

I would give him a regular human Tums antacid before meals and transition him to my home-prepared diet posted on my website If this dietary change does not improve his condition, then we can rule out diet as a possible factor and consider other possible causes.

Let me know the outcome.


"Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate" by Kim Stallwood.

This poignant book is a memoir filled with humor, humility and self-examination. It is the story of one man's journey as a participant and eventual leader and visionary in bringing social change in our attitudes toward other animals -- nonhumans -- and to how animals are exploited by the global animal industry complex.

This book stands out as an eloquent testimony to personal transformation and provides a scholarly and illuminating history of the animal rights movement in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. Stallwood sees compassionate action, honesty, nonviolence and justice as the keys to a successful revolution in our relationships with and treatment of other sentient beings. Conflicts between ideologies of regulation and prohibition of various forms of animal exploitation are best resolved by adopting the moral absolutes of compassion and ethical consistency. He states: "We may not be able to save the world. But we can save the world that is ours."

(Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 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.

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