The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Dog With Cruciate Ligament Tear

DEAR DR. FOX: I have a high-spirited, 23-pound, 6-year-old terrier mix, Henry, who has had cabin fever this snowy winter.

We got out recently, and he had a wild run, playing with other dogs at an indoor facility. He hurt his right hind leg. Now he needs surgery, his vet said, for a cruciate ligament tear. It will cost close to $2,500.

I just can’t afford that, with my mother now in assisted living. What can I do for my poor Henry? -- K.L., Fargo, North Dakota

DEAR K.L.: I have addressed this problem many times in the past in this column, and it seems that many veterinarians are bent on offering surgery as the only option for dogs with this all-too-common (and profitable) orthopedic injury.

But for smaller dogs who are not overweight, there are nonsurgical treatments that are cheaper, generally effective and carry no general anesthesia risk.

I would seek a second opinion. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, of which I have been a member for decades, has a list of veterinarians on its website ( who practice alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, and I would urge you to take this path. If you have difficulties locating one, let me know and I will send some helpful treatment suggestions.

At this time, no running or jumping for Henry, and no gaining weight. And add a half-teaspoon each of fresh chopped ginger and turmeric to his food, twice daily for seven to 10 days.


More than 500 penguins have been reported dead from H5N8 avian influenza on Halifax Island, Namibia, the second-most important breeding site for African penguins. Scientists are spreading salts, isolating sick birds and collecting carcasses to stop the disease’s spread. (New Era, 3/11/19)

This is saddening news, and a stark reminder of how domestic animals can spread diseases and imperil wildlife. This is another reason why many people are adopting vegetarian and vegan diets. Humans and the domesticated animals they raise for consumption are estimated to now make up 60-70 percent of the warm-blooded animal population on Earth. Various influenza strains from pigs and poultry can also infect us and our animal companions, and put all at risk with antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to the continued feeding of such drugs.

Vaccinating dogs and cats, especially in regions where they can come into contact with wildlife, along with neutering, are critically important in wildlife conservation. Endangered African wild dogs and lions have been decimated by canine distemper; seals and the Florida panther have been hit hard by contagious viruses from domestic cats. The dumping of offal -- the remains of slaughtered livestock and poultry, especially whole animals after a mass killing (”depopulating”) to control diseases like avian influenza and African swine fever -- into ocean ecosystems should be prohibited worldwide.

(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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