DEAR DR. FOX: My 6 1/2-pound Chihuahua had a urinary tract infection (UTI) three years ago, and we did not realize it until she was bleeding. The emergency room veterinarian said there was no way to keep her from getting another one. Her regular vet told me that the only water she gives her dogs and cats is purified water, and she does not have this problem. I bought bottled water and a special pitcher that purifies water. She has never had another UTI. -- L.W., Naples, Fla.
DEAR L.W.: Some dogs, and especially cats, have chronic or recurrent bouts of lower urinary tract inflammation, often coupled with bacterial infection, which may lead to the development of calculi, cystitis, painful inflammation of the bladder and the formation of mucus plugs in the lower urinary tract.
Feeding your pet high cereal content pet foods that have been artificially acidified by the manufacturers can also contribute to urinary tract problems.
I would like to know what brand of water purifier you discovered that helped your dog. The ZeroWater purification system seems to do a good job. For more details about water quality and treated municipal tap water, check my review on DrFoxVet.com.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have read several of your books, and I especially like "The Boundless Circle: Caring for Creatures and Creation" and "Healing Animals and the Vision of One Health."
Can you describe for us laypersons not well versed in science and philosophy what we can do to keep our pets healthy and help the animal kingdom? -- R.K., St. Louis
DEAR R.K.: In a nutshell, we must be OPEN. Some doctors can actually feel their patients' suffering, physically and psychologically.
Openness of heart and mind means being open to the beauty and mystery of life, as well as to suffering and injustice. There must be openness to new ideas, to examining the truths we live by and being accountable for the consequences of one's actions and beliefs.
As the French philosopher Blaise Pascal observed, "The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of." Through empathy we feel for others, we acquire emotional intelligence, and compassion, not objective reason, becomes our compass for appropriate action.
In my writings, I have coined the term "panempathy," which means having feelings for other animals, trees, living things and the natural world. The empathy-derived ethic of the golden rule -- treating all living beings as we would have them treat us -- provides the moral and legal framework for a sane, humane society and a more viable, sustainable global economy. As I emphasize in my book "Bringing Life to Ethics: Global Bioethics for a Humane Society," the golden rule is at the philosophical core of holistic, integrative veterinary and human medicine.
DEAR DR. FOX: I believe my cat, Kali, has remote sensing abilities. Her eyes twitch and perk up whenever my husband is coming home, even at different times and in different vehicles. She knows when I am ill, and she will not leave my side for a minute. She can negotiate from any part of our two-story home, her favorite being the screened-in porch, where she can sense birds nearby and will sit chittering away.
Kali is blind from an eye infection as a kitten. If you move the furniture or put something foreign on the floor, she will bump into it. But she knows where the clear paths are to run and play with toys that she finds thanks to the catnip smell. She will tap me on the face when she wants a treat and reminds us when her pill is due. She is showered with treats and attention. She was on phenobarbital for seizures for eight years and now is on thyroid medication. The people at the vet's office love her for her gentleness and trust. She truly has a unique personality.
We also had a cat named Weird Kitty who accidentally got into our car and went to work with my husband 10 miles away on busy roads. We were unable to find her on our own, but within two weeks she showed up at our door, hungry and happy to see us.
At one point, our mean landlord gathered all the cats in our complex and dumped them miles away in a wooded area. I searched desperately for weeks. I couldn't find any of the cats until one day, walking on the dirt road, my cat walked out of the woods and came to me. I never let a cat outside again. -- D.R.G., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
DEAR D.R.G.: Many readers will join me in expressing appreciation for your sharing of experiences with Kali.
Had I received your letter earlier, I would have mentioned Kali's remote sensing abilities during my interview on ABC's news program "20/20," which aired Oct. 26. I discussed cats and dogs being the first to know when a loved one has died in the hospital, and their ability to find a loved one, buried or alive, in locales where they have never been before. Watch the episode at abc.go.com.
I welcome receiving letters from readers wishing to share such experiences, in part because they demonstrate the power of love, and in part because they are a challenge for science and reason to explain.
Perhaps if we were as open to the universe as our animal kin, we would neither doubt nor deny the reality of this dimension of consciousness that I call the "empathosphere."
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 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 DrFoxVet.com.)