DEAR DR. FOX: My vet did an extensive blood test on my 13-year-old Lhasa apso mix at our annual checkup. She said his liver count was 1,500, and he needed to take the supplement SAM-e. I don’t like giving him over-the-counter supplements, as they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. What else could be done for him instead of giving him this supplement? I expressed these concerns to my vet, and she could offer no other solution. -- L.H., Richmond Heights, Missouri
DEAR L.H.: I urge you to follow your veterinarian's advice and give your dog this supplement. Do not worry about the lack of FDA regulations with this and other non-prescription supplements sold over the counter.
Indeed, there are some drugs approved for animal use and regulated by the FDA that are banned in other countries. Several approved and regulated human drugs are prescribed by veterinarians for companion animals without actual FDA approval, such use being termed "off-label." To add to this confusion, we have periodic lobbying efforts by drug companies to get all vitamins and other OTC supplements off the shelves and available only with a prescription. This is clearly not to protect consumers. Just look at the criminal price hikes for many prescribed medications today, and the reported payments to other drug companies to keep generic drugs off the market to protect branded drug sales and monopolies.
For your dog, I would also discuss two other supplements with your veterinarian, namely milk thistle and vitamin B complex; also, a low-fat diet along with digestive enzymes and probiotics would be helpful.
DEAR DR. FOX: I wish to add my experience dealing with a pet loss and a fur-buddy's loss. I worked with someone whose brother took both his dogs to the veterinarian when it was time to say goodbye to one of them. Because of his experience, I took both my cats, Max and Jackson, together when the time had come to say goodbye to Max. They had been together from 3 months old to 11 years old.
Jackson was very quiet and started to groom Max after he was brought in after getting a sedative, so he, too, was quiet. Then the final injection. Once there wasn’t a heartbeat, Jackson laid down beside Max, as they always did. After a while, I took a very quiet Jackson home. He searched the house often for about two weeks and cried quietly for Max. Jackson was never a “talker.” He settled in with less searching, but would sometimes just sit and sort of cry for four years. I think he dealt with the loss just as any of us would. Luckily, he did not slip into dementia as one cat I had after he lost his dog.
I recommend taking your remaining pet(s) when it’s time to say goodbye to a furry friend. They deserve to be able to say their goodbye, too. For 30-plus years, I have had to deal with this situation, and this was the first time having a best buddy with us, and it certainly seemed to be a little easier for the remainder. -- B.C., Jupiter, Florida
DEAR B.C.: I appreciate your detailed observations and empathy. My book "Cat Body, Cat Mind" documents how some cats will grieve -- even to the point of dementia and self-mutilation. It is disturbing that so many people do not have their eyes open (or is it their hearts?) when observing how animals behave and considering their emotions and capacity to grieve.
I would urge all who can make the appropriate arrangements with a home-visiting veterinarian to have their beloved animal companions euthanized in the home. This can be the least stressful and least disturbing method for all involved.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)