The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

An Appeal to Climate Concerned Activists

DEAR READERS: I wish Jane Fonda, and others who demonstrate and voice concerns about the existential threat of climate change, would link the climate crisis with the extinction crisis.

Rarely is concern for animals expressed. Yet the imminent extinction of indigenous peoples, other species and their ecosystems, by many of the same forces that are driving climate change, will be irreversible. In other words, by the time the climate crisis is ameliorated, especially by reducing carbon emissions from burning various fossil fuels, the extinction crisis will leave future generations with an impoverished and dysfunctional planet.

Planetary CPR (Conservation, Protection and Restoration) of animal and plant biodiversity is of no less, if not greater, importance, than slowing down and reducing climate change/global warming. It is good news that the extinction rebellion is spreading worldwide.

DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing in regard to one of your recent articles, in which you spoke about animals at petting zoos and state fairs. I wish these practices were completely abolished.

I once witnessed a cow giving birth at a fair, and was so upset that I walked away; when I could, I spoke to the vet I use for my dogs. He said the cow was not disturbed by being observed. I think he was wrong -- I believe it puts undue stress on any animal giving birth.

Many years ago, I attended a mini-concert by a fairly popular music group. This concert was at a flea market. I had no idea there would be an animal show there, but there were bears that were doing tricks. I was mortified at the condition of the bears. It was hot, and they were made to sit in the extreme heat. It looked as if they were drugged or suffering from the heat: They were drooling and very lethargic. I spoke to a manager, but was told some nonsense about how well the bears were treated. I did not file a formal complaint right away, but someone else did, and that horrible show was shut down.

As a society, we have to speak up about atrocities against animals. Thank you for your helpful information to all animal lovers. We need to know how to treat our animals, because it tells us who we are as a society. -- L.H., Lantana, Florida

DEAR L.H.: Some people do not feel it appropriate that I should use this Animal Doctor column as a “soapbox for animal rights.” But, save for the occasional letter to the editor in local newspapers or coverage of animal cruelty cases, there is little in the general media germane to protecting the animals in our communities and improving their well-being.

The testimony of one, as per your letter, can wake us all up to what others, desensitized, may not see. This is especially true when the traditional uses of animals in fairs, circuses and other forms of entertainment and exploitation -- from rodeo calf-roping, greyhound and horse racing domestically, to bullfights abroad -- are unexamined, culturally accepted norms.

I have always seen addressing such issues as part of my professional duty and responsibility as a veterinarian since, ultimately, the well-being of animals wild and domesticated is largely determined by our attitudes toward them. They are not commodities, but ensouled beings like us, whose inherent value and interests call for our respect and compassion.

DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 13-pound, 8-year-old Morkie who suffered an injury to her right leg. Our vet diagnosed a tear in her ACL.

The first week, she was given pain medication; after that, the vet wrapped the entire leg for two weeks. But after only five days, I requested to have the wrap removed because of her extreme discomfort. She had a severe yeast infection that responded well to medication, but our vet recommended surgery. I would like your opinion as to the positive or negative results of this type of surgery.

I would also appreciate any suggestion regarding her constant chewing and licking of her paws. Our vet diagnosed allergies, and our dog has been taking Apoquel for years, and this still continues. -- J.A., Boca Raton, Florida

DEAR J.A.: I have followed the veterinary literature here and in Europe with regard to the success rate of cruciate ligament repair in dogs and was involved, as a student, in some of the first surgical interventions to remedy this common condition in dogs.

In my opinion, surgery is of little benefit for older dogs under 25 pounds, provided they are kept in good physical condition and are not allowed to become overweight. Swimming is excellent physical therapy and, as per my book “The Healing Touch for Dogs,” regular in-home massage therapy can also be of benefit. Most important is to provide anti-inflammatory and joint-supporting supplements every day in the dog’s food. Provide a few drops of fish oil, 250 to 500 mg of turmeric, 250 mg of ginger and a good formulation of glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM. Consider the proprietary brands Cosequin or Dasuquin.

Florida is a challenging environment for dogs when it comes to allergies. Regular bathing and giving anti-flea medication can just worsen the problem. One must rule out food allergy/intolerance, and for a start, I would try your dog on my home-prepared dog food (available on my website, And give the dog clean cotton sheets to lie on.

(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