The Animal Doctor

Selecting Good Dog and Cat Food

DEAR READERS: Pet food safety advocate Susan Thixton has been battling with pet food regulatory agencies for the past 10 years to try to improve pet food quality and safety through her websites and

Each year, she puts out a list of pet foods that she trusts to feed her own pets as a fundraiser for her advocacy work. She just released her 2017 list. If you’d like to learn more about it, visit

She writes: “Selecting a pet food should be just like selecting your own food. Pet owners should be able to depend (on the fact) that the image of roasted chicken or grilled steak on the label is used in the pet food. And pet owners should be able to read the ingredients and nutrient information on pet food, just like they do with their own food. Unfortunately, selecting your pet’s dinner is nothing like selecting your own dinner.

"Unlike with human food, the (Food and Drug Administration) allows pet food to violate law. The agency allows pet food to ‘recycle’ some highly inferior ingredients, everything from diseased animal material to rotting, molding foods -- with no warning to the pet owner.

" and are dedicated to improving pet food quality and safety for the good of all, including those better manufacturers in the 2017 list.”

DEAR DR. FOX: I have a terminally ill 10-year-old female bouvier. She has inoperable osteochondrosarcoma on her skull.

I opted to do a course of palliative radiation treatment, which just ended. I am not confident that she is not experiencing pain, even though she is not exhibiting the classic signs (panting, pacing and not eating). She sleeps all day, but eats enthusiastically.

I have received very little information or guidance from our oncologist, and I do not know what to expect or whether she will be or is in pain. Any insight you can offer me to help make the end of her life as comfortable as possible would be very much appreciated. How do I know when the end should come? I do not want things to be dire for her. -- B.B., Madison, Virginia

DEAR B.B.: I am sorry that you and your poor dog have gone through this ordeal of bone cancer treatment. With your vet, discuss providing cannabis medication for your dog. For more information, and to purchase, visit

I am sending you a short article with a quality of life assessment, which I will be posting on my website in the near future, and which you may wish to share with your veterinary oncologist, who should be providing you with some palliative or hospice care guidelines.

You can also go online and find a set of guidelines by Dr. Alice Villalobos at Quality of life determinations are an essential part of caring for terminally ill animals and for others with various conditions. The veterinary profession is beginning to address quality of life in a systematic way, animal pain and suffering being difficult to objectively determine in many instances.


A number of 9Lives, EverPet and Special Kitty canned cat foods have been recalled because they may contain inadequate levels of thiamine. Over time, thiamine deficiency can develop in cats that do not consume enough of the vitamin, causing serious neurological issues.

Follow @AVMARecallWatch on Twitter to stay up to date on pet food recalls and alerts and, learn more on AVMA's website,

(Send all mail to 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

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