The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Flat-Faced Dogs Are Suffering

DEAR READERS: I am disturbed by the frequent appearance on various TV advertisements of flat-faced breeds like the bulldog, French bulldog and pug. They suffer from a human-wrought deformity called brachycephaly, which can mean a lifetime of great difficulty breathing, coupled with eye and respiratory tract infections, digestive and dental problems and great susceptibility to heat stroke (most airlines will not fly them). Many require corrective surgery to relieve partial asphyxiation. Because of their relatively large, domed skulls, pups cannot be birthed normally and must be delivered by C-section.

They may seem adorable with their appealing, big-grin faces, but they are actually panting in effort-demanding breathing. Many snore, some sleeping with a ball or toy in their mouths so they can get some oxygen. Having no muzzle and a soft palate that is pushed back over their windpipe, normal breathing is impossible.

I was shocked the other day to see a young woman in jogging attire pulling on a leash, forcing her gasping pug to run with her. At least the dog wore a harness and not a neck collar, which can lead to collapse of the trachea or windpipe.

So please do not be taken in by whatever you find appealing about these poor dogs, which were created by generations of selective breeding for this abnormality. They are also expensive to purchase and to care for. Consumer beware!

A MAJOR OMISSION IN PANDEMIC PREVENTION

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and posted a public guide, “How to Protect Yourself & Others,” at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.

It is evident from this CDC publication that this infection is believed to be only a respiratory virus, spread mainly from droplets in the exhaled air of infected individuals. But this coronavirus can also infect other organs and result in the virus being shed in people’s feces.

Cases in which the COVID-19 disease involved the intestines rather than the lungs were being discussed in the Journal of the American Medical Association and other medical publications expressing concerns over fecal-oral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in March. Several diseases often regarded as “food-borne,” notably norovirus, come from human fecal contamination.

From my perspective as a veterinarian with some familiarity with other coronavirus infections (notably feline coronavirus, which has not been known to infect people), it is well known that these viruses can be passed through the feces, or from saliva and respiratory tract secretions, and infect other animals. So I find this serious omission in the CDC’s advice to the public inexcusable, and I trust that this egregious error will be quickly rectified.

Part of preventing the spread of COVID-19 must include extra precautions in food-handling, slaughterhouses, nursing and any situations involving exposure to human fecal material, such as public toilets, showers and swimming pools. This is another reason for meticulous hand-sanitizing, keeping fingernails short and wearing protective gloves.

DEAR DR. FOX: In a recent column about a dog with itching problems, but no fleas, you did not mention what you’d advised another reader a few years ago. I read that column, which was about the same thing my German shepherd had, and you recommended local honey in the dog’s diet. It totally took care of the problem -- no more itching. So I wanted to mention that again, as it really works. -- S.B. Trenton, New Jersey

DEAR S.B.: Thanks for this timely reminder. Local bee pollen or honey -- one teaspoon per 40 pounds of body weight daily -- in the food can help many dogs with seasonal allergies.

SOME INSPIRING READING IN THESE CHALLENGING TIMES

My book of prose and poetry, “The New Eden: For People, Animals and Nature,” with illustrations by Susan Seddon Boulet, may give readers some spiritual insight and comfort during these challenging and tragic times, as well as direction and purpose to make this ravaged planet a better place for all creatures. The health and well-being of future generations of humans and non-humans alike depend upon how we choose to live and find the way of compassion and ahimsa: avoiding harming others.

ACID-REFLUX MEDICATION OFF THE MARKET

If you have any medication like Zantac to treat acid-reflux in you or your dog, stop using it immediately. This medication has been taken off the market by the FDA because the longer it is kept, the more a “probable” cancer-causing chemical (N-Nitrosodimethylamine) forms. Consult with your physician or veterinarian to find a safer alternative.

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com 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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)