The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Improving Animal Transportation to Slaughter

DEAR DR. FOX: I’m working with a former USDA veterinarian, who oversaw USDA inspection operations at one of the biggest hog slaughterhouses in the country, to document the fact that hogs are arriving at the slaughterhouse frozen solid. These animals are being transported in trucks moving at 70 mph at minus 40-degree temperatures.

I obtained a lot of documents from the USDA on numbers of antemortem-condemned hogs at numerous Midwestern plants -- but, not surprisingly, the agency doesn’t keep a record of those that were condemned because they froze to death. If you have any ideas, please let me know. We have to stop this. -- Gail Eisnitz, Humane Farming Association, San Rafael, California

DEAR G.E.: How terrible for the poor pigs. This is a chronic issue, as is the heat-stress/hyperthermia issue of our ever-hotter summers.

Decentralization of pig processing facilities was urged decades ago when there was vertical, corporate integration in the industry, so that the animals would be subjected to less travel (and associated stress) to the slaughterhouses. But that initiative went nowhere. Pigs dying en route are now written off -- recycled into pet foods and farm animal feed, as the industry’s economy of scale allows for such abuse and loss of life. Beef cattle, spent dairy cows and poultry fare little better in how they are handled and the distances and weather conditions they are often transported in.

It is surely up to the government to initiate retrofitting of livestock and poultry trucks to provide supplemental heat or cooling, as needed seasonally, and to ensure the animals -- already stressed by being packed tight and sometimes crushed and suffocated -- do not have the added stressors of cold exposure or high heat and humidity.

I applaud all the work you have done in this area, and urge all to read your well-documented book, “Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry.”

DEAR DR. FOX: My 11-month-old female Rottweiler puppy was diagnosed as being incontinent. She has no infection, and has been peeing in her sleep on and off. She was put on Proin, but it is upsetting her stomach, so I don’t want to continue.

I feed her your dog food recipe, and was wondering if there was anything I could add to her food to help control the incontinence. I really do not want her to be on meds her entire life. Looking for a holistic approach if possible! -- L.B., Tulsa, Oklahoma

DEAR L.B.: The problem of incontinence in young dogs like yours is all too common, and is most likely due to the hormonal deficiency caused by having her ovaries removed, which weakens the urinary bladder sphincter control.

Many dogs do not do well on the usual prescription of Proin offered by most veterinarians. All too often, it is of no benefit. There is no food additive that may help, to my knowledge.

One of our dogs, Tanza, developed this post-spay incontinence. The obvious solution was hormone-replacement medication, and a local compounding pharmacist provided what we needed (DES, short for diethylstilbestrol). Some veterinarians may throw up their hands and say this will cause cancer, but the dose is very low. We dosed her once weekly for four weeks, then once monthly for four months before tapering off to zero. Her incontinence never returned.

Check ahvma.org, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, for a list of practitioners in your area who may be able to help you and your dog.

LOOK OUT FOR PET-SALE SCAMMERS

Scammers are using photos and testimonials from legitimate websites to create phony sites “selling” fictitious pets. The number of pet scams reported to the Better Business Bureau has risen from 884 in 2017 to an estimated 4,300 last year. Many of the scam sites collect payments using Western Union or money transfer apps. Unfortunately, says Jack Whittaker, co-administrator of Petscams.com, authorities don’t have much motivation to track down the scammers. (Full story: WCBD-TV, Charleston, South Carolina, Feb. 5)

(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.)