DEAR READERS: The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19 was a ritual of colorful, traditional pageantry -- but marred for me because of the use of bits in the horses’ mouths. Several were tossing their heads, mouthing and chomping and drooling in obvious oral discomfort. While traditions die hard, especially in equine circles, let’s hope that this couple will extend their compassion to break the circle of anthropocentrism and help ensure the humane treatment of all creatures great and small.
A British veterinary colleague has long established the inhumanity of the snaffle-bit, and has developed a widely used bitless bridle for horses. For details, see W.R. Cook’s “Pathophysiology of Bit Control in the Horse” in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science: bitlessbridle.com/pathophysiology.
Time for the royal horse brigade to get with the times and put animal welfare before blind tradition.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read your call for information from dog owners whose dogs have had coprophagia.
Our now 11-year-old female Yorkie, Amy, exhibited this behavior from day one, when we brought her home at 7 months old. She consistently ate her own and other dogs’ feces. The supplements we fed to help prevent it did not work.
It only stopped when I started feeding her a variation of your homemade dog food recipe, using only organic ingredients and mixing with organic, grain-free kibble. Until then, she was fed various combinations of Science Diet (cans and kibble) and canned organic food. The dietary change was implemented about 1 1/2 years ago, when she started to refuse all her previous foods and then became deathly ill (the vet could never pinpoint the cause of the illness).
As a side benefit, it seems the new diet has eliminated the need to dose Amy with estrogen to prevent urinary incontinence, a lifelong problem, as well. Another seeming benefit: She is ill less often, and, when she is off (usually diarrhea), we are able treat her at home. -- M.W., Naples, Florida
DEAR M.W.: Many readers will appreciate what you have written about your dog’s issue with coprophagia, which does fit into the category of possible nutritional deficiency or digestive issues with the manufactured foods you were providing to your dog.
I have had countless letters confirming the multiple health benefits (and veterinary-care savings) of providing dogs with wholesome nutrition, as per the recipe posted on my website and others in the book I co-authored with two other veterinarians, “Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat & Dog Food.”
What Hippocrates said about the benefits of good nutrition -- namely, “Let food be thy medicine” -- can be applied to dogs, cats and other animals as well, not just humans. Certainly this is our best preventive medicine. And with the rising cost of prescription drugs under the corrupted economy of America’s health care system, consumers are waking up to the dystopian reality of obesogenic diets and manufactured junk foods and sodas. Indeed, we are what we eat, and many of our diet-related health problems are being seen in our dogs and cats.
AVMA OFFERS GUIDANCE ON DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
Does your family’s emergency plan include your animals? Planning and preparation are critical when it comes to protecting the health of your family, pets and livestock. The “Saving the Whole Family” booklet from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) includes detailed information on assembling emergency kits and plans for a wide variety of animal species. The booklet can be ordered in packets of 25 or downloaded for free as a PDF from the AVMA’s website.
Being disaster-prepared is wise in these times of what many experts consider irreversible climate change.
WOLF-DOG HYBRIDS ARE NOT FOR YOU OR ANYONE
I have urged people for decades now to stop breeding and purchasing wolf-dog hybrids. Now the issue is in the news again.
Colorado Public Radio recently covered the Mission: Wolf sanctuary in Colorado, which has been taking in abandoned wolf-dog hybrids since 1986 and serves as a public education resource. Most wolf-dogs are euthanized before they turn 3 years old as they grow from playful puppies to adults with a wild side, says sanctuary co-founder Kent Weber, and animal shelters cannot take in and rehome half-wild animals. (Colorado Public Radio, May 1)
(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.)