The Animal Doctor

From WJLA in Washington, D.C.:

“Retailers pulled at least 31 varieties of dog food off the shelves nationwide after a months-long investigation found the euthanasia drug, pentobarbital.

“After releasing the results of lab tests that identified the drug, the FDA launched an investigation. Days later, Smucker’s, the owner of almost all the brands in question, announced a voluntary withdrawal. It includes products in the Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Skippy and Ol’ Roy lines of canned food.” --, Feb. 14

While concentrations of pentobarbital high enough to kill a dog were not found, the question is: How did ANY amounts of this drug get into any major pet food manufacturer’s formulation? The most probable sources are euthanized cats, dogs and horses, meaning that the pentobarbital-contaminated body parts of these animals were rendered into an unsafe and undeclared ingredient of many pet foods.

DEAR DR. FOX: I’m responding to your “top pet peeves” with a few of my own.

-- Like you, the litter box non-scooping has to top my list. I know people like that. A sister who used to have four cats and one litter box would scoop it once a week, maybe. Two of the cats were put down for peeing in the house. Sickening.

-- Farm “cat factories.” A few of my cats were the only lucky survivors from a couple of bad ones. At one place, they drowned them all. I grabbed one kitten and I stayed up all night with her. It was a long road and she had to be quarantined for a while, but Sweet Pea is almost 15 years old now.

-- Leaving dogs in crates and making them hold their pee for 10 or more hours.

-- People who refuse or “can’t afford” to get their cats fixed. I could go on and on about that subject.

-- My state (North Dakota) has some of the weakest laws concerning animal abuse and neglect. It has also had its beautiful West devastated by oil companies. A large majority of North Dakota voters elected the current president, who is busy destroying all of our environmental progress.

On another note, I’ve finally found a vet I trust, after having issues with previous vets. My cat Stubbie was severely bitten by a coyote. The first clinic stitched him up while his wound was full of infection. The emergency Fargo clinic did the same ($2,500 so far). Then my current vet simply used raw honey and left the wound open. It healed in three months. My vet is the best! -- J.Z., Buffalo, North Dakota

DEAR J.Z.: I hope that many readers with cats will take careful note of your “pet peeves.”

Yes, coyotes will kill and eat small dogs and cats, and sometimes severely injure those able to escape. We humans have enabled coyotes to proliferate across much of the U.S., and attempts to cull them actually help increase their numbers. (See for more.) So we must learn to cohabit with them, and not provide them with food by allowing them to access garbage and freely roaming pets.

I have heard much about the environmental devastation in your state, and others subjected to virtually unregulated drilling and fracking. Those led by greed choose to deny any connection between long-term human health, security and world peace with planetary CPR: conservation, protection and restoration.

I am glad that you have found a local veterinarian who has adopted some holistic treatments and natural remedies. Honey is one gift from the animal kingdom, like aloe vera from the plant kingdom. The healing powers of such natural products should move us all to respect and cherish what Earth’s creation can offer us. Those who harm the Earth ultimately harm themselves and generations to come, and those who justify violating the rights and well-being of other animals, as history informs, will do no less to humans in the name of profit and necessity.

(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.

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