DEAR DR. FOX: I recently decided to try your food recipe for our 15-year-old female beagle mix, and I have seen positive results.
Back in June, she had her annual shots and checkup on a Monday, and on Friday night she tried to stand up and lost her balance. It seemed like her back legs were giving out on her. When she tried to walk, she went in circles. We took her to the vet the next morning, who diagnosed her with vestibular syndrome and prescribed prednisone for five days. She seemed to be somewhat better the next day, but far from 100 percent. She was able to get around OK, even venturing up and down two flights of stairs several times a day. But her head was constantly tilted to the left.
One day, I had this light bulb go off in my head about your homemade dog food recipe and decided to try it. I used ground deer meat from my freezer for the first few batches, along with whole-grain rice and shredded carrot. She has been eating this recipe for just over a month, and not only does she absolutely love this food, I have noticed an overall improvement in her well-being. She is able to hold her head up straight, and she's got her spunk back. I looked outside and saw her trotting along in the grass in the yard. She seems so much more alert and doesn't sleep as much as she used to. She always knows when it's mealtime and is the first to remind me when it's time to eat. -- K.J., O'Fallon, Missouri
DEAR K.J., Thanks for your information about the diet-related transformation in your dog.
The revolution in what dogs and cats are being fed is now well underway for more nutrition-conscious caregivers and veterinarians. Good nutrition is the best preventive medicine.
DEAR DR. FOX: I just read your column asking readers to let you know when pets have shown improvement through diet changes.
I have a 5-year-old great Pyrenees-Catahoula leopard mix. He is by far the best family dog I have ever had, but he has suffered with terrible, constant ear infections his whole life. Every day on his walk, he would start by lying down in the grass and rolling and rubbing his ears on the ground. We started him on Hill's Science Diet when we got him as a puppy and switched him to Ideal Balance chicken and brown rice formula as an adult dog. I had read that a grain-free diet might help with skin and ear issues. Our dog had no skin issues, but did shed tremendously, which we chalked up to him being part Pyrenees. I switched him to Hill's Ideal Balance grain-free chicken and potato, and by the time I had his feed down to a 75 percent old food and 25 percent new food, his ears were 100 percent better!
He has not had a recurrence, and it has been about a month. His ears are clean and healthy looking, and I haven't had to do anything to them. This is a first. Before, even when he didn't have an active infection, they never looked clean and healthy. Another big bonus is he is not shedding as much. I know he is currently building his winter coat, but compared to other years at the same time, I do notice less hair.
It is awesome to see his increased energy and playfulness. I'm confident this is due to him feeling so much more comfortable! I wish I had switched him long ago! -- J.K., Chesterfield, Missouri
DEAR J.K.: In my opinion, most of the common chronic illnesses in dogs and cats being treated by veterinarians could have been prevented by feeding a biologically appropriate diet with selected supplements and alternative proteins tailored to the individual's condition, response and breed.
This means that part of the diagnostic and treatment protocols followed by veterinarians should include consideration of food ingredients and their "nutrigenomics" -- how they can influence gene activity and trigger inflammations. But regrettably, according to many of the letters that I receive from readers, this is not done with any degree of consistency or thoroughness beyond prescribing a special and costly manufactured prescription diet, the limitations of which have been discussed in my book "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Dog & Cat Food."
DEAR DR. FOX: My 9-year-old cat, Mitzi, began to have recurring urinary tract infections. She is an outdoor cat who comes in to visit in the mornings. In winter, she sleeps crated indoors at night.
Mitzi would urinate in a particular place in my kitchen to let me know of her infection -- very bloody urine. The routine was meds for two weeks with improvement but continued infection followed by 30 more days of meds. Mitzi is not a drinker and was on dry food, a bad combination.
Since cooking for her with your recipe, she has not has a UTI in a year. Between the broth from cooking the chicken and water I add for warmth and consistency, she is well hydrated and even looks healthier. Mitzi loves her food. My sister started cooking for her UTI-prone cat with the same results. -- T.H., Carrsville, Virginia
DEAR T.H.: Many thanks for your affirmation of the benefits of good and biologically appropriate nutrition for cats.
Millions of cats have suffered over the years from the wrong diets sold by pet food companies and veterinarians who believed the manufacturers' claims of their products being "scientifically formulated, complete and balanced." But the pet health revolution is now in full swing, and I feel vindicated for my advocacy, which caused me problems in the past both financially and professionally.
(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.)