DEAR READERS: I recently received an email of complaint from an official of Monsanto Co., which also communicated with the newspapers that printed my report concerning the discovery of their herbicide, glyphosate, in some cat and dog foods. The complaint alleged that my concerns were not based on "sound science." This seems to be the latest defense when companies face accountability for their various products and activities. The World Health Organization's cancer agency, IARC, which relies solely on sound science and reason, concludes that glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen" in its report on this herbicide (see monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol112/mono112-02.pdf). So I repeat: Users beware; consumers, support organic farming practices that do not use such chemicals on their crops; and governments, cease and desist from pandering to corporate interests at home and abroad that put the public, the environment and animals at risk.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have been following with great interest the discussions regarding people who love pets but cannot afford them or become ill and can't care for them. I began a free service that addresses this exact issue. I founded Caregiver Canines in 2009 to provide free weekly in-home therapy dog visits to the elderly and those with dementia. It is part of a larger nonprofit agency, Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey. The joy and companionship that these in-home visits bring is tremendous and reduces the temptation to get a dog a person cannot care for. We get many calls thanking us for these visits, telling us of the psychological boost and impact they make. Recently, we partnered with the National Volunteer Caregiving Network to expand Caregiver Canines nationwide, so there are programs beginning in many states.
I encourage you and your readers who are interested in learning more or beginning this program in their own towns to check us out on Facebook (facebook.com/caregivercanines) or at caregivercanines.org. Hopefully, this will reduce the number of dogs being brought back to shelters! -- L.W., Toms River, New Jersey
DEAR L.W.: This is good news, indeed, for the elderly in the communities that your volunteers and good dogs serve. I trust that many of your volunteers are senior citizens, and that your organization does background checks on all your volunteers because so many elderly and homebound are at risk from those who would exploit and even abuse them, as is the case in many nursing homes.
DEAR DR. FOX: I agree, a program like ours is part of the larger picture of giving pet lovers the benefits of interactions with dogs without the onus of caring for one in their home, similar to seniors volunteering at shelters. The people we serve are homebound and often disabled, therefore, not able to get out to a shelter and volunteer.
Especially with the holidays coming up, many well-meaning family members purchase a dog for their elderly parents in the hopes they will ease their loneliness. After about three to four months, these dogs are returned to shelters because they could not be cared for properly.
Our agency is based on "neighbors helping neighbors," and you're absolutely right -- most of our volunteers are in their 70s and 80s! We do criminal background checks on all our volunteers to address the important issues you bring up.
I hope that more programs like ours spring up around the country, and I'd be happy to get folks started. -- L.W.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our active 13-year-old Lab mix has been diagnosed with vestibular disease. It has really taken the wind out of her sails.
She is progressing with cortisone, meclizine and gabapentin. Also tramadol as needed.
Any recommendations? Will she fully recover? Relapse?
She eats a varied and decent diet, but we would really like to help her. She loves fruit and vegetables and picks fresh tomatoes for herself from the garden! She also gets milk thistle and Glyco Flex 3. -- C.M.
DEAR C.M.: Sorry to hear about your dog's issue. Sounds like a great canine companion.
Many old dogs recover gradually. In some instances, you can try a short course of fresh chopped ginger root mixed in with food -- up to a teaspoon for a dog of her size, daily for 10 to 14 days to alleviate the nausea and inflammation. Add a few drops of fish oil to her diet forever.
Powdered turmeric is another miracle, like a safe herbal steroid. Give her a teaspoon daily in her food. Begin both ginger and turmeric supplements with a small daily dose so your dog gets used to it. Mix with moist canned dog food if you feed dry dog food only. These two herbs also help old dogs and people, too, with arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions.
BLUE BUFFALO KITTY YUMS CHICKEN RECIPE CAT TREATS RECALL DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF PROPYLENE GLYCOL
Blue Buffalo is voluntarily recalling a limited production of Blue Kitty Yums Chicken Recipe Cat Treats that may contain low levels of propylene glycol, which is not permitted by the Food and Drug Administration for use in cat food. One feline illness associated with the treats has been reported. Propylene glycol toxicity causes depression, muscle twitching, loss of coordination and excessive urination and thirst in cats.
(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.net.)