The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

A Happy New Year Wish For 2020

DEAR READERS: I wish you all the very best for this coming year. I also wish that the voting public, politicians who serve the public and corporate leaders have “2020 vision,” because this new year is a decisive one if we are going to make any progress for the greater good of all life on planet Earth.

2020 vision sees through the disinformation, rationalizations and denial of human activities, products and industries that are part-and-parcel of the climate crisis and associated extinction crisis. 2020 vision will enable us to restore our relationships, long regarded as sacred by many indigenous peoples, with nature -- all species, plant and animal, aquatic and terrestrial, all of which are increasingly endangered by anthropocentrism. Such vision is the only foundation for a sustainable economy, social justice, eco-justice, and public and environmental health.

There are many who fear their “freedoms” and vested interests are threatened by such radical 2020 vision. But they must accept that their own vision is impaired if they see no legitimate reasons for the validity of these threats, and do not accept what must be changed for the good of all. This is a challenge for us all as consumers, workers and investors in the commercial web of this dystopian age.

One antidote to helplessness, despair and depression is to join the Extinction Rebellion with 2020 vision for a viable future for all life on Earth! The climate and extinction crises will not be addressed so long as politicians, governments and corporations continue to wrestle internationally for power and control over fossil fuels and other finite resources and market monopolies.

Over 50 years ago, Jesuit priest and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: “The day is not far distant when humanity will realize that biologically it is faced with a choice between suicide and adoration.” That day has surely come!

DEAR DR. FOX: My dog Remi is a 1-year-old German shepherd, and she was recently diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).

She is on enzymes and Tylan, and I just switched her to a food called Sport Dog Food Elite, which I found through a recommendation from It is a grain-free food, which many of these dogs do well on. But I have read in your column that grain-free foods can cause other health problems, and my vet told me the same.

Now that I have found a food that works for her, which means her stools are formed and no longer mush, I want to stick with it. Do you have any dietary recommendations for dogs with EPI, or do you think once you find a diet that works, it’s best to stay with it? They say the dietary piece is often the hardest part to figure out. -- F.H., Tulsa, Oklahoma

DEAR F.H.: I appreciate your sharing information about the nonprofit organization dedicated to helping provide nutraceuticals to help dogs recover after suffering from pancreatic enzyme depletion.

This condition, common in some breeds like the German shepherd, can be brought on by diets too high in carbohydrates, as your veterinarian has pointed out. Some raw-food advocates, and others, say “no” to any carbohydrates, but I say “all things in moderation.” Some whole grains (complex carbohydrates) are good for most dogs.

But herbicide contamination, especially with Roundup, is problematic, and could contribute to inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut syndrome by causing imbalances in the gut microbiome. In humans, these herbicides in food may be a contributing factor in the epidemics of many ailments.

Some vegetable ingredients, such as soy, in dog foods, especially in dry kibble, are pro-inflammatory. Inflammation leads to a variety of health issues in humans and dogs alike. The grain-free pet food craze has caused another set of health problems in dogs -- dilated cardiomyopathy -- which, in my opinion, is attributable to high levels of legumes/pulses like pea flour and potatoes. These foods are high in lectins, which can block uptake of essential nutrients like cardio-protective taurine.

For good measure, I would be sure your dog has a daily intake of 500 to 1,000 mg of taurine, plus a good-quality probiotic, along with the special diet you have found so beneficial.

DEAR DR. FOX: I am greatly moved by your concerns and perceptions presented in your book “Dog Body, Dog Mind.” I was blessed to have 13 years with my Corgi-dox mix; our relationship grew until the time she went to Heaven, changing my life.

Her name is Ruthie Ann Marie Grace. I’m writing a book about our experiences. She got my socks, leash, hat, keys and shoes every day before leaving the house. We hiked, did agility, nose work and so much more. I tried to fulfill her breed potential, making her a happy and fulfilled dog.

I wasn’t prepared for her death. Vets can help more by instructing us better on how to say goodbye. -- G.N., San Dimas, California

DEAR G.N.: I am glad that you enjoyed my book about dogs.

You may also enjoy “Animals and Nature First,” which opens many doors for those seeking more information about animals’ well-being and what we can do to improve their welfare and protection. We owe them no less.

We usually outlive our dogs, and the final gift of their departure is the realization of how deeply that bond with another species was: a gift indeed, measured by the intensity of our grieving. Those who have never had such a heart-centered relationship with another species have difficulty understanding and empathizing. Most veterinarians are extremely understanding, and some will shed tears with the owners when they have to euthanize their animals or when they die naturally. This is one of the stresses of being a veterinarian, and can lead to compassion fatigue and burnout.

We all need support in dealing with the death of loved ones, human and nonhuman.

(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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