DEAR DR. FOX: Is there an epidemic of cancer in dogs and cats? My healthy 7-year-old German shepherd has a cancerous tumor in her mouth (lower jaw near the little front teeth). It was quite red and about the size of a nickel.
Our vet gave us several options, and we decided to have it removed with a laser treatment. After four weeks, it has returned. The vet said it might, but we thought it would be worth it to save her.
Since all this has been going on, I have found out that there are at least six other dogs in our
area with cancer problems. Over the 50-plus years that I have been married and have had German shepherd dogs, this was never a problem. We are absolutely devastated that we might lose her.
I have read some articles pertaining to immunotherapy for dogs and how that might help. What do you think? -- A.H., Wappinger Falls, New York
DEAR A.H.: Check the archives of my column, where I have written about this issue. In my opinion, cancer is one of the human-caused diseases where one or more environmental factors -- such as carcinogens in heat-processed meat -- damage cellular DNA, especially in those dogs who are genetically more susceptible to developing certain cancers. Anti-flea drugs may also be cancer-causing in some animals.
Immunotherapy is another big hope of the medical industry, but it can have harmful side effects on the immune system. Prevention and genetic screening are the way of the future, but it's not profitable! The politics of disease -- cancer in particular -- are a major issue, notably when government continues to "regulate" agricultural pesticides and food additives known to be carcinogenic.
DEAR DR. FOX: My veterinarian thinks that my 60-pound, 8-year-old pit bull-mix might have a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear in her right rear leg. She has had intermittent lameness in that leg for the past two years, but it seems that lately she is more lame than healthy. She can bear weight on the leg, but she does not use it when squatting to urinate. The vet prescribed a 10-day course of Rimadyl, which seemed to help.
Our vet discussed options that are currently available; the most expensive but best choice is tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy (TPLO) or tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) surgery, given her weight and size. I called around to six veterinary surgery centers and even to one group that travels from vet to vet performing surgeries, and the average cost for that surgery is $3,500. I am currently out of work with two college-aged children. Do you know of any other less expensive surgical options for our dog? I was told that suture-based techniques (extra-capsular or tightrope) would not be a good option. I am worried that she is putting too much strain on her “good” rear right leg. The vet indicated that the lameness will only get worse over time. -- K.R., Washington, D.C.
DEAR K.R.: Many dogs suffer from torn cruciate (knee) ligaments. This common affliction may be due to several factors, including abnormal conformation (hind legs too straight), being overweight, being very active after a long period of relative inactivity or adverse reaction to vaccination.
All dogs suspected of cruciate ligament rupture or tearing should be confined and not allowed to run or jump for at least four to six weeks, then have the veterinarian evaluate your dog. After that time -- and if your dog seems better -- slowly increase the duration and intensity of physical activity. Avoid going back to high-speed running, and no jumping.
Powdered ginger, turmeric and fish oil nutraceutical food supplements can be beneficial and certainly safer than Rimadyl. Give a half teaspoon of each twice per day during the rest and possible recovery period.
Surgery is costly, not always effective and complicated by the other knee ligament giving way. Smaller and lightweight dogs can often self-heal and not require surgery. If your dog is overweight, work on that with a grain-free diet, or use my home prepared recipe using one-quarter of the suggested grain portion.
Keep me posted.
SECOND PENTOBARBITAL RECALL
Against the Grain Pet Food voluntarily recalled one lot of pulled beef due to potential contamination with pentobarbital. The 12-ounce Against the Grain Pulled Beef With Gravy Dinner for Dogs has an expiration date of December 2019.
Note: Against the Grain Pet Food is owned by and manufactured by Evangers Pet Food.
Read more at truthaboutpetfood.com/second-pentobarbital-recall-against-the-grain-pet-food.
For detailed documentation, see my article Changing Diets for Health's and Earth's Sake, posted on my website -- especially the postscript, The Vegetarian Imperative.
Additionally, the FDA has provided pet food consumers with another update to the Evanger’s Pet Food investigation. Some very interesting information can be found at truthaboutpetfood.com/fda-provides-qa-update-to-evangers-pet-food-investigation.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 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.)