The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Climate Crisis Affects Us All

DEAR READERS: It is evident that climate change has become a global climate crisis. This has come much faster than many experts predicted, and is certainly challenging the economic status quo of the fossil fuel industry and their political supporters, who still deny this crisis is upon us all. Deforestation and the rising demand for meat around the world are also contributing factors. A meat-based diet is unsustainable, as is the current industrial economy.

Collectively, we have brought on wetter and hotter summers across North America, Europe and other regions; in the U.S., this has created ideal conditions for the proliferation of mosquitoes and ticks. This is why insect-borne diseases are on the rise in humans and animals alike. Aquatic-borne illnesses have closed popular lakes for swimmers in Minnesota and other states because of E. coli, some strains of which are spread by geese and seagulls. Dogs have died this summer after playing in lakes where toxic blue-green algae have proliferated under these climatic conditions.

I advise dog owners to be extremely vigilant, checking their animals for ticks after being outdoors in tick-infested vegetation, and hosing them down if they get into a pond or lake -- from which they should never be allowed to drink. Cats should not be allowed outdoors to roam free because they could bring home fleas, which can carry the plague, transmissible to humans.

Mosquitoes are also flourishing, so we must all exercise vigilance when outdoors: Humans and wild birds can both succumb to West Nile and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Dysbiosis and dystopia go hand in hand. I am not being an alarmist, but a realist. According to a major release on land use from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released Aug. 8, the climate crisis will soon cause food to become scarcer, grocery prices to spike and crops to lose their nutritional value. The climate crisis will also change what kinds of crops farmers can grow, due to some environments becoming too hot to sustain current crops, and other locations seeing more flooding, snow and humidity.

As responsible citizens, we must make the climate crisis the top priority for responsible governments and industries to address. We must also call for the establishment of a United Environmental Nations to help critically compromised human communities and wildlife habitats, both aquatic and terrestrial.

DEAR DR. FOX: We recently adopted a shelter dog, a few months after losing our loving Maltese. We looked at several places online, telling them we were looking for another Maltese, and one of the shelters sent an email saying they had one. We drove over 100 miles to find out there was not a Maltese in the place.

A young girl started bringing out dogs on leashes, and the first was a beige terrier female. I picked her up and she kissed every inch of my face. We ended up buying her for a lot of money. She is about 3 or 4, our vet says. (The shelter said she was 2 years old.) She will not go outside to pee or poop, so she is still paper-trained.

Ever since we got her, she eats her poop when I am not looking. I have her on Natural Balance dry and canned foods. I bought pills at a pet store that were supposed to make her stop eating poop, but they did nothing. Last night, I gave her a little treat of a small piece of chicken and some fresh-cooked carrots. She went into the bathroom and brought me back a piece of her poop.

Do you have any ideas how I can stop this awful habit? -- E.H.., Port St. Lucie, Florida

DEAR E.H.: You certainly had a run-around adopting this poor little dog.

My guess is that she was confined in a cage or crate for some time, which can lead dogs to eat their own feces. Another of several reasons why dogs engage in this behavior (called coprophagia) is related to chronic deficiencies in nutrition and/or gut bacteria (the microbiome). If this indeed is the root of the problem, transitioning your dog to a raw (or partially raw) diet, along with my home-prepared dog food recipe, may help. Also try digestive enzymes, found in a teaspoon of fresh papaya or pineapple, and daily probiotics.

Above all, get your dog trained to evacuate outdoors. Take any soiled newspaper outside, and encourage her before and after meals to go to the newspapers and evacuate -- after running around and sniffing, since activity does get the bowels working and improves digestion.

(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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