The Animal Doctor

DEAR READERS: Earlier this year, the newly formed International Partnership for Dogs announced the launch of a new database providing guidance on genetic testing of dogs as part of the much-needed Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs Initiative. For details, including basic guides for dog owners on types of tests and information to aid veterinarians in advising clients, go to

DEAR DR. FOX: Thought you might like some good news.

Chuckie (our little fella with the slipped cervical disks) has not had another painful episode or a minute of discomfort since his canine chiropractor has been treating him. He needs only minimal adjustments, mostly to his lower spine, every six weeks. He gets physical therapy twice a week, and is swimming 13 laps in the therapy pool: one lap being 80 feet walking on the pool step and 80 feet swimming back to the start. His chiropractor says he has a neck like Arnold Schwarzenegger!

He is happy, funny and playful. We’re looking for brace support for independent walking, but in the meantime, he uses his wheelie with ease and grace. -- P.H.P., Milford, Connecticut

DEAR P.H.P.: Thanks for affirming the benefits of veterinary chiropractic manipulation, to which I would sugest you add a daily full-body massage, as per my book “The Healing Touch for Dogs.”

Certainly physical therapy, swimming in particular, can help develop stabilizing muscle tone and strength. Your devotion -- cost and time notwithstanding -- is an essential part of your dog’s well-being, and a lesson to all not to give up too soon and opt for euthanasia in similar cases. Much can be done beyond expensive surgery to help dogs enjoy some quality of life with less or no pain!


When given a choice, cats and dogs eat nutrients that meet their changing needs, results of a study at Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine suggest, and food manufacturers could use insights from the study to improve their products.

In the study, younger cats preferred protein, but as they age, cats’ ability to process protein wanes. Older cats in the study avoided high-protein foods. (The Oregonian, July 29)

DEAR DR. FOX: I was very surprised to read the endorsement by a vet of a letter from Teresa Chagrin of PETA in Norfolk, Virginia.

I cannot believe you agree with her statements about TNR (trap-neuter-release protocol for feral cats). Feral cats, for the most part, are not adoptable, so they would have to remain in a shelter for the rest of their lives. Then they are put to death by shelters to make room for other cats that are adoptable. TNR is the best possible result for these cats.

Ms. Chagrin’s view is a utopian one. TNR works better than the status quo. At least feral groups do not grow, and the cats are vaccinated. I am wasting my words here, as I am sure you have heard variations on my points many times.

Bottom line, I have lost respect for your column. -- R.H., Boynton Beach, Florida

DEAR R.H.: I don’t believe that Ms. Chagrin’s views about TNR, and what society should do with unadoptable feral cats, are utopian. I see these views as humane and reasonable.

We are dealing with a veritable dystopia: a cat plague. In poor countries and communities, TNR does mean there will be fewer kittens being born and suffering. But in many other places where there are TNR /”Community Cat” programs, there are serious problems, including public health, wildlife and cat health and welfare.

For more details, visit my website ( In most places, such “feral” cat colonies should be contained. Group housing facilities for such cats are well established in several European communities, along with cat cafes!

(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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