DEAR DR. FOX: If we addressed the issue of puppy-breeding kennels, would that not reduce the number of dogs in animal shelters?
My children bought a dog online from a breeder in the Midwest. The dog had health issues, so they contacted the breeder and vet who checked the dog. The breeder did not return calls, and in trying to locate the "vet," we found that the region had 38 breeders listed.
We are happy to have this great little dog, even with all her problems. We are sure had we not purchased her she would have been destroyed. -- P.P., Winston-Salem, North Carolina
DEAR P.P.: The only way to reduce the number of cats, dogs, puppies and kittens awaiting adoption in shelters across the country is to close down commercial breeding facilities and for people to go to shelters and adopt animals rather than impulsively purchasing them online.
Puppy mills are notorious for marketing pups whose health is compromised and genetic background rife with potential lifelong health problems. Many such animals end up being euthanized or put up for adoption in shelters because they are too much trouble or expense for the breeder.
The only time to go online to possibly find a companion animal is to go to a reputable animal shelter website or specific cat or dog breed adoption network. Purchasing a purpose-bred purebred or "designer" breed cat or dog online is the height of idiocy when common sense calls for seeing what the parents are like, temperament-wise, and how well the animals are being cared for. Your children just gave more support to an industry that should be abolished.
DEAR DR. FOX: My English setter is close to 10 years old. As a puppy and for the first five years, it was difficult to make the time to give him all the exercise he needed, but he has slowed down in recent years.
Every day, my husband takes him down to a park near our house where several other dogs and owners meet to let the dogs play and run. He loves this time and plays with two dogs who are much younger than he. When he gets home, he is wiped out and limps for the rest of the day.
I am concerned that he does not make the connection between running with the dogs and the pain he has later, but my husband is convinced he would not run and play if it bothered him.
Should we be limiting the time he spends running or trust that he knows when to say "no more"? He truly seems to enjoy his time with the other dogs. -- N.M., Waretown, New Jersey
DEAR N.M.: Many dogs who are high-spirited really enjoy running and playing with other dogs, regardless of their physical infirmities and subsequent pain and exhaustion after a good long romp.
When dogs run, the thing that makes them run more (and even become running addicts) is the release of natural "feel-good" opiates and endorphins into the blood stream. So you should put limits on how much time your old dog should be out there playing and check my website for information about dog lameness/arthritis and supplements for joint problems. Also consider my book "The Healing Touch for Dogs" -- a good massage after playing is a great gift for all old dogs! Giving your dog a few canned sardines every day could make a world of difference because of the joint and heart-benefiting omega-3 essential oils.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have always had cats, but Bella is the first to have a constantly wet mouth. Every so often she will give her head a quick, hard shake, which sprays excess saliva everywhere. This is very annoying, both to cat and human. What can I do to help her and save my clothing? -- L.W., Winston-Salem, North Carolina
DEAR L.W.: Some cats do drool more -- it's just their physiology and temperament. They get very "drool-y" when they are relaxing and being petted.
But don't take that as the single cause of excessive drooling. It is most commonly associated with gingivitis/stomatitis, and at your cat's next wellness examination, you should have this checked out.
To check for yourself, open your cat's mouth, and if the gums look bright red and the teeth have brown scales or tartar (compare the cat's mouth with your other cats'), make an appointment as soon as possible. This is a common malady that can cause multiple health problems.
DOG TREAT RECALL
Barkworthies issued a nationwide recall of chicken vittles dog chews because they have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.
The recalled product was distributed nationwide beginning on May 6, 2014. More information on the recall can be found at barkworthies.com/recall, or call toll free 877-993-4257.
(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.)