DEAR DR. FOX: While visiting Houston, I adopted a Chihuahua mix, Paco, from a shelter. He was found wandering the streets, was close to starvation and had a severe case of heartworm.
When I brought him home to Massachusetts, he was a frightened, nervous dog. I worked with him diligently for a long time, but he suffered from colitis from the start. He was under the veterinarian's care from the beginning, and we could not get the colitis completely under control. I purchased a special Science Diet food from the doctor, along with pills and liquid medicine. Nothing worked well. He gained some weight, but seemed uncomfortable all the time.
One day, I came upon your column in our paper and read a letter from someone who had changed their dog's diet to your homemade food with good results. Immediately, I printed out your diet, went shopping and fed Paco the diet. It has been nine months now, and he has not had a single colitis episode.
My only problem is keeping the amount of food under control because he loves it so much. He hated the Science Diet, both dry and canned. He is now 16 pounds and looks great. He runs every day for over an hour (his energy is wonderful), he's happy and cheerful -- and I owe it all to you. Paco and I have made you famous among my dog-walking friends.
Everyone calls him "Paco the Wonder Dog" because he is so friendly and listens to every command cheerfully; I can tell it is because he feels so well. -- D.C., Northampton, Massachusetts
DEAR D.C.: I appreciate your letter confirming the benefits of home-prepared foods. I would like to hear from other readers whose dogs' and cats' health problems have been cured with my basic recipes. For more details, see my books "Dog Body, Dog Mind" and "Cat Body, Cat Mind."
More veterinarians are discovering that many chronic health problems are attributable to manufactured pet foods, and cannot be reliably rectified by special "prescription" and "premium" diets.
DEAR DR. FOX: We adopted a 5-year-old wire fox terrier six months ago. We don't have a lot of history on him except that he had at least two previous homes, was housed at the Humane Society at least once in between homes and was also foster-homed before coming to us. He is a real delight -- sweet, smart, playful and loads of fun. As long as he can see us or be with us, he is calm and under control. But when anyone (family, visitors or strangers) goes to leave the house or yard, he becomes extremely agitated -- barking, running wildly, snapping at the fence and grass and sometimes snapping at the person who is leaving. The same thing occurs when a motor vehicle comes in or leaves the driveway. The lawnmower, vacuum cleaner and other motor-related noises also seem to agitate him. Patient reassurance or humane corrections don't seem to help get him straightened away.
We would appreciate any advice, suggestions or tips that you can provide for this problem. -- M.W., Waldorf, Maryland
DEAR M.W.: Your dog has two conditions that call for different treatments.
His separation anxiety may wane over time and be, in part, attributable to his emotionally disruptive prior experiences. Leaving him briefly and repeatedly coming and going, gradually increasing time away (two, five, 10 minutes, etc.) is one behavior-modifying desensitization procedure that works for many dogs.
Becoming excited over loud noises like vacuum cleaners tends to go with the breed. You have to live with both.
Treatment with a low dose of Valium or Prozac for 10 to 14 days may help him learn to cope better with anxiety-triggering situations. You vet can also check out milder preparations include Tryptocalm LT from Meridian Animal Health and @-Eaze from PetzLife.
RACHAEL RAY NUTRISH WET CAT FOOD RECALL
Ainsworth Pet Nutrition of Meadville, Pennsylvania, is voluntarily recalling five varieties of Rachael Ray Nutrish wet cat food, including Ocean Fish-a-licious, Lip Smackin' Sardine & Mackerel, Ocean Fish & Chicken Catch-iatore, Tuna Purrfection and certain lot codes of Paw Lickin' Chicken & Liver, due to potentially elevated levels of vitamin D. Symptoms of excessive vitamin D consumption usually develop within 12 to 36 hours after ingestion and may include vomiting or diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, and muscle tremors or seizures. Any cat experiencing these symptoms should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.
The recalled products were distributed nationwide. No other Rachael Ray Nutrish products are affected by this recall.
To date, there have been 11 reports of illness associated with these products.
After conducting a number of product tests, Ainsworth confirmed that the affected products have elevated levels of vitamin D. The high levels result from the natural levels of vitamin D that are found in some of the fish ingredients that were used in these specific formulas.
Ainsworth is working to ensure the removal of all affected products from store shelves. Retailers with affected products are asked to contact 888-943-4218 for additional information.
Consumers with questions about the recall are encouraged to contact Ainsworth's Consumer Care Team at 877-650-3486, or visit nutrishforpets.com/news.
(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.)