DEAR READERS: As I see it, the mainstream pet food industry -- a multinational oligopoly tied in with organized veterinary medicine, veterinary education and conventional pet hospitals -- is an essential component of industrial, petrochemical-based agriculture. (This is distinct from organic, sustainable agriculture.)
The industry profits from recycling what is considered inedible for humans into animal feed. This feed includes so-called “4-D animal parts” (from those that are dead, dying, diseased or debilitated), and substances from the seafood industry, which itself is creating ecological and climate havoc, as well as much animal suffering.
This is a call for enlightened consumers, pet owners and veterinarians to support organic, humane, sustainable and alternative animal protein production. Cats may thrive on some insects and grubs in their diets, and dogs from grubs and earthworms (which red foxes relish). Algae cultures can provide omega-3 and other essential fatty acids; mushrooms and fermented foods make miracles of microbiome enhancement. There are solutions, and we must do better for our animal companions, our planet and ourselves.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 4-year-old longhair Pomeranian-Chihuahua that I rescued seven months ago.
She has swollen neck glands, and she is choking a little bit, like she has a hairball. She is still eating and running around, but I’m worried this could be serious.
I was going to take her to the emergency animal hospital last night, but I really don’t have the $109 visit fee, plus whatever other costs come up. But she needs to be seen. What should I do? Is this really serious? Can you help me save my Lulu? -- K.K., Fargo, North Dakota
DEAR K.K.: It is good that you rescued this dog and gave her a forever home. But it is not good that you do not have sufficient funds to care for the dog’s medical needs.
This is a problem for many people, who do not realize that taking in an animal is a responsibility, and that money should be put aside to save for such needs. Set up a “doggy bank” with a goal of around $4,000. This can be difficult for young people with ghastly student loans, and for the retired on fixed incomes. But do we not owe our animal companions the best affordable care in return for all they give us? The alternative is to purchase pet health insurance, or to buy into something similar that many veterinary hospitals offer under the general umbrella of a “wellness program.”
My guess is that your little dog probably has some rotting teeth and a serious throat infection, maybe even tonsillitis and related pharyngitis. The swollen glands in the neck could mean infection, which the lymphatic system is trying to block and fight. But this immune-system defense may not be sufficient, and bacterial infection from the oral cavity could spread via the bloodstream and infect internal organs such as the heart and kidneys, which would probably be fatal. A worst-case possibility is that your dog has lymphoma, which the veterinarian can test for.
Emergency care can be costly, so try a regular vet appointment. In the interim, give your dog an easy-to-swallow liquid diet, adding water to canned dog food and offering cottage cheese and scrambled eggs. Discuss your financial concerns with the veterinarian. One way or another, get your dog seen to without further delay. Do let me know the outcome.
(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.)