DEAR DR. FOX: I read with great interest your response to L.I. in St. Louis regarding her dog Louie and his allergies. I was glad that you pointed out the fact that this is terrible suffering for the dog, and that Benadryl and Apoquel are short-term solutions.
I really wish you would have mentioned the side effects for long-term use of Apoquel. I had a Yorkie-poo that suffered for years with itching, chewing his paws and constant ear infections. After going through all of the medicine and treatments recommended by several veterinarians, I discovered that there is an animal dermatologist located right here in the St. Louis area. I only wish that I had found her sooner.
My poor boy suffered for years and, by the time she saw him, he was diabetic; she was concerned that the medicine that she would’ve normally given him would do more harm than good, and the only solution for him was ear canal surgery. If any of the veterinarians I had taken Buddy to for the previous seven years had even mentioned food allergy testing, or referred me to an allergist, he would’ve been saved all of this misery.
While you touch on the fact that there could be several allergens adding to their discomfort, you don’t mention the absolute basic fact that most dogs are allergic to poultry. Although you say that you would do a weekly protein rotation, I believe you should find one and stay with it for a while. After Buddy’s dermatologist said he was allergic to poultry, I was amazed when I started to read the food labels. Even if they market the food as a select protein, the label will probably mention the fact that chicken by-products or broth were used. I should also mention at this point that eliminating allergens is not an overnight miracle, but takes time.
Thank you for all that you do for the animals and the people who love them! -- T.M., Godfrey, Illinois
DEAR T.M.: Your letter will be appreciated by many readers. I do regret that you and your poor dog went through such a long period of suffering and expense, which might have been avoided at the onset by considering your dog’s diet as the first possible cause.
Until relatively recently, veterinarians have been essentially brainwashed by the pet food industry into believing that cat and dog foods are safe, and certainly not the first thing to consider when presented with patients suffering from ear, skin, anal gland, bowel and other health problems. It has even reached the point of absurdity where special costly (and highly profitable) prescription diets are given to such patients, often leading to a round of other “nutrigenic” health problems. For documentation, see the book “Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food,” which I co-authored with two other veterinarians.
Food intolerance and allergies in dogs can involve dairy products, beef, eggs and soy; in cats, it can be fish and even rice. With discoveries about nutrition in relation to genetics, what the mother ate during pregnancy and the influence of the gut “microbiome” of good bacteria on health and behavior, the science of nutrition is advancing significantly from a decade or two ago. This is against the background of food and beverage industry byproducts and ingredients not considered fit for human consumption that have been recycled into “scientifically formulated and fortified” pet foods.
I was one of the first to advocate human-grade quality ingredients, and even making home-prepared, biologically appropriate diets for cats and dogs. I began this advocacy decades ago, in spite of opposition from the pet food industry and many veterinarians -- who are now fewer in number, since they have come to realize that good nutrition is the best and first medicine.
CLEANING UP: FOR PETS’ SAKES AND YOURS
We are the only animal, to my knowledge, that fouls its own nest, wittingly and unwittingly. While we may not be able to clean up the Earth significantly over the next few generations, we can at least start in our own homes and kitchens. Household dust contains allergenic, carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, especially from fire-retardant and stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, along with various household cleaners and other manufactured chemicals. So vacuum well weekly, and avoid using cleaning and disinfecting agents that are not organic/natural/herbal products. Vinegar, lemon juice and other citrus extracts and baking soda are safe and effective.
If you are using chlorinated and fluoridated municipal tap water, use a good-quality water filter (see zerowater.com) such as reverse ionization or other systems. And check out the report “Pure Water for Cats, Dogs and All” on my website (drfoxvet.net). Much public and well water sources, and even the rain, are contaminated with agrichemical and other industrial pollutants, and even hormones and other drugs discharged from our own bodies and from livestock, many of which can damage cellular DNA that may lead to cancer and other diseases.
(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.)