DEAR DR. FOX: I recently contacted you about my four dogs eating dirt after every meal. They had been eating Purina One for seniors.
After buying your book "Not Fit for a Dog," I made your dog food recipe. The very first day they starting eating it, they stopped eating dirt! They love it! Thank you. -- S.Y., Cottleville, Missouri
DEAR S.Y.: I always appreciate feedback from my recommendations for companion animals, especially when it comes to what they are being fed and my belief that better nutrition is the cornerstone of good health.
I would like to hear from other readers on this issue -- what health problems and often obsessive behaviors, such as eating dirt, went away after your pet was put on a good diet, and what were they being fed prior to the change?
DEAR DR. FOX: I want to thank you for your dog food recipe! I know that it saved my dog, Ranger.
He is a 3-year-old husky who we adopted from a shelter when he was 4 months old. He had some digestive issues until our vet had us do a protein elimination diet. We finally realized that chicken was the problem.
He was put on a diet of Natural Balance venison dog food. Things were better until he wouldn't eat it anymore, and he started losing weight. We were really getting nervous when we started to see his ribs and backbone! I have always read your column in the paper, and I remembered your recommendation of homemade dog food.
Well, thank you! I have been making it for three months now, for both of our dogs, and I am happy to say that Ranger has put the weight back on. He just seems to be a happier dog. His coat looks better, too.
Thank you for your commitment to animals. Ranger thanks you, too. -- J.N., Manahawkin, New Jersey
DEAR J.N.: I really appreciate you letting me know that you found my home-prepared dog food recipe such a step forward. As Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, advised, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." I wish more human and animal doctors incorporated this principle in their practice.
Look out for the next wave of special diets for dogs that some of the big pet food manufacturers like Purina are coming out with -- including a "brain-protection blend." Some are specially fortified with supplements that can help prevent age-related mental decline and joint problems. It is ironic that nutritional deficiencies in various manufactured pet foods are being "fixed" by these "fortified" special diets.
DEAR DR. FOX: How long do you recommend giving Heartgard to a dog?
With colder weather approaching, do I still have to give it? I live in Michigan in a condo; my dog is mostly an inside dog. -- S.H., Flint, Michigan
DEAR S.H.: I often get this question, and veterinarians are somewhat divided over the issue.
Some advocate year-round preventive medicine regardless of where they live. But climate change is here to stay, so caution is called for, especially when people travel with their dogs to warmer states in the winter. I join those veterinarians who stop the medication in appropriate states when the mosquito season is over and advise a blood test the next spring before the mosquitoes hatch. If the blood is clear of filarial heartworm larvae, then the preventive medication is safe to start giving once every month until the next fall and mosquitoes are dormant again.
MORE INCORRECT PET FOOD INGREDIENT LABEL CONCERNS
Ever-vigilant Susan Thixton of truthaboutpetfood.com reveals that Chapman University in Southern California has released the results of a study finding, "Of the 52 products tested, 31 were labeled correctly, 20 were potentially mislabeled and one contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified." The study did DNA testing for beef, goat, lamb, chicken, goose, turkey, pork and horse.
This report comes two years after a similar study found that eight of 21 pet foods tested contained an animal protein ingredient not listed in the pet food label.
"Although regulations exist for pet foods, increases in international trade and globalization of the food supply have amplified the potential for food fraud to occur," said Dr. Rosalee Hellberg, co-author of this latest study.
The frequent discovery of unlisted pork, possibly derived from the millions of pigs that have recently died in the U.S. from a virus (porcine epidemic diarrhea) found in pig feed imported from China, is one concern. Another is in determining which pet food ingredients may be causing allergies or other health problems when the ingredient label is incorrect and cannot be trusted.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)