DEAR DR. FOX: After reading your article about the importance of giving animals the purest possible water to drink, I purchased a water purifying system for my cats and myself. In a few days they were drinking more water and had fewer, if any, episodes of vomiting and loose stools.
Thanks for pointing out this important aspect of health care. We take water for granted, but what comes out of our taps, as my cats confirmed, may not be fit to drink. -- G.C., Duluth, Minnesota
DEAR G.C.: I am not the only veterinarian advocating pure drinking water, especially for cats, many of whom do not drink sufficient water on a regular basis. Some enjoy a bubbling water dispenser, but the water must not come straight from the tap. Surprisingly, "spring water" sold in stores may not be the best, and distilled water lacks essential trace minerals. I use a ZeroWater filter; the reverse ionization method is a good investment for every family.
We are facing a global water quality crisis that is reaching critical mass as governments around the world do little to protect this vital resource. I live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 (many now seriously polluted) lakes. This state's recent abolition of the Pollution Control Agency's Citizens' Board -- for dubious political reasons -- casts a shadow across the state's image of responsible wilderness management and protection and is a potential national disaster in the making. The business-friendly initiative of abolishing the Citizens' Board underscores the influence of various industries that marginalize long-term environmental risks and costs. Public health consequences are virtually ignored and trumped by the promise of jobs and taxable products and services.
Surely, without containment and immediate environmental remediation of the multiple existing and well-documented harms of Minnesota's major industries (agriculture, mining, energy and forestry), further industrial expansion is imprudent. But this continues virtually unabated, as fracking, sod-busting biomass fuel and livestock feed production, expansion of concentrated animal feeding operations and yet more mining take finite water resources at a non-sustainable rate. And what of the downstream public health costs and irreversible loss of biodiversity?
The worldwide problem of ever-expanding, biodiversity-diminishing and polluting carbon footprint of industrial exploitation gives short-term benefits to a diminishing few. Will it deprive our children's children of their right to purer water, cleaner air and more wholesome food? Climate change, loss of biodiversity and the obesity and cancer epidemics are all interconnected. Land, water and air are part of the global public commons. Minnesota, with fresh water as one of its greatest natural resources, should steward this hydrological ecosystem/watershed as a national treasure. If every governor, aligned chamber of commerce and legislature were to make the waters flowing out of their states purer, we might yet get on the right track for the recovery of democracy, public health and a more viable future.
To tout water quality remediation/purification as the ultimate solution is to continue the tradition of bad, albeit profitable, conventional medicine. It treats the symptom, but does not address the problem. The more we harm the Earth, the more we harm ourselves, and the quality of our drinking water mirrors the quality of our relationship with the natural environment.
DEAR DR. FOX: My 6-year-old dachshund-greyhound mix was recently diagnosed with granulomatous meningoencephalitis (GME). She is under the care of a neurologist and is being treated with steroids and antibiotics. When I did research on her condition, medical literature states it is a common neurological disease in dogs. However, no dog owner I know has ever heard of it. We were told the prognosis is poor, even though she is responding well to the medication.
Is there any information you can give me about this disease? Is there anything I can do to extend this period of remission? I was told that the treatments can give her a good quality of life for a certain period of time, but the disease is ultimately fatal. -- J.B., Newark, New Jersey
DEAR J.B.: This is certainly a devastating condition for your poor dog. It is a fairly common condition of unknown origin, affecting smaller female dogs in particular at around 5 years of age.
There is increasing evidence that this is an autoimmune disorder that could be triggered by certain components in vaccines. Treatment with oral procarbazine and prednisone can help subdue the inflammation. I would also explore potentially beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant supplements such as Resveratrol, fish oil, quercetin and melatonin, especially before bedtime.
(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.net.)