DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 6-pound Yorkie who recently needed a cystostomy for removal of stones. They turned out to be calcium oxalate stones. The vet who performed the surgery suggested Royal Canin Urinary 50 for his diet, but I am totally against kibble, and am very conflicted.
I feed my dog Trudog Freeze (a dried, raw “superfood”) and he loves it; I just dilute it with a bit of water. But now I feel this might not be so good for his stones. I feel both of these manufacturers have too much of an interest in their product to give me the truthful answer.
I have no holistic vet in my area, and would appreciate your advice. I am a registered nurse, and I’m totally disgusted with medicine in general and the treatment of symptoms rather than root causes. -- L.S., Naples, Florida
DEAR L.S.: I would strongly advise against feeding this dry kibble to your dog.
First, because dry food is the last thing to give a dog or cat suffering from urinary calculi/stones: They must have plenty of moisture in their diets and drink plenty of water to dilute their urine and flush out the urinary tract well.
Second, the main ingredients in your vet’s recommended food are: brewer’s rice, corn, chicken fat, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, natural flavors, salt, egg product and wheat gluten. This diet will not provide your dog with good-quality animal protein, it may contain oxalates in the cereal components, and the glutens can cause bowel inflammation and possible seizures in some dogs.
Poultry by-product meal (PBM) is a high-protein commodity used as a major component in some pet foods. It is made from grinding rendered parts of poultry carcasses and can contain bones, offal, undeveloped eggs and even feathers that are unavoidable in the processing of the poultry parts.
The “chicken” in many pet foods is of dubious quality. Consider the following from Karen Davis, Ph.D., president of United Poultry Concerns: “Hundreds of millions of male chicks, surplus and slow-hatching female chicks and unwanted baby turkeys are ground up alive (shredded, macerated by machinery) in the United States each year. Machines separate the female chicks bound for commercial egg production from the male chicks and unhatched embryos. The male chicks and embryos go to a waste removal system for transport to a rendering facility. ... Other byproducts trucked to rendering facilities include slaughterhouse blood, feathers, heads, feet, viscera, preen glands and dead birds too diseased to disguise even as sausages. All this, plus the ‘hatchery waste’ ... gets turned into farmed animal feed and pet food.”
Brewer’s rice is made up of the culled, broken grains resulting from the rice milling process. It adds the starch necessary to form the extruded pellet.
Corn gluten meal is a byproduct obtained when corn is processed into corn syrup or into ethanol for your car. Gluten has allegedly been associated with increased urinary tract stones in dogs.
“Egg product” is the processed remains of eggs unfit for human consumption and egg remains from the food industry. Repeated heat-processing destroys many nutrients in the product.
While there is a genetic aspect in dogs that develop oxalate stones, especially schnauzers, one may consider applying the basic steps to prevent such stones in humans. The Cleveland Clinic recommends:
-- Calcium citrate supplement to bind oxalates in the gut so they are not absorbed;
-- Lower dietary salt intake;
-- Increase daily fluid intake;
-- Limit vitamin C content of your diet.
The high salt content in the dry food prescribed for your dog is intended to make your dog want to drink more, and I consider that ill-advised. Boil up some chicken wings in lots of water, store the water in the fridge and add a little to your dog’s water to encourage drinking. Or try a little milk. I would mix one crushed 1,000-mg tablet of calcium citrate into one of his meals daily, and feed him a high-quality canned, meaty, grain-free dog food such as Cornucopia or Organix, or my home-prepared diet.
I do not know the ingredients of what you are currently feeding him, but with him being a small dog, I am concerned about how well he can process raw foods --especially non-meat ingredients, which may also be high in oxalates.
DEAR DR. FOX: I know about the seriousness of cat bites firsthand. I spent three days in the hospital when one of my own cats sank his teeth and claws into my arm. It wasn’t his fault; he was being tormented by a neighbor’s cat. This cat came around our house at night and teased my cats through the windows. We were trying to deal with the issue by chasing the cat away, as his owners wouldn’t keep him inside. Our Kaiser was looking out a window, and I thought the rumpus was over and brushed against him, not realizing he was still in that “protect my territory” zone.
I know Kaiser thought I must have been the other cat attacking from behind! -- M.P.V., Alexandria, Virginia
DEAR M.P.V.: I appreciate you sharing this traumatic experience, which underscores one of the reasons people with cats should be responsible and never allow them to roam off their property. As you experienced, outdoor cats can seriously stress indoor cats.
I would like to hear from other readers with similar experiences. When outdoor cats appear, often the indoor cats will attack each other, start spraying and house-soiling, or even develop cystitis and other stress-related diseases. Most municipalities have ordinances prohibiting dog owners from allowing their dogs to roam free, and the same should be applied and enforced with cats. Cats should be microchipped for identification, and helped to adapt to living indoors -- ideally with access to a secure outdoor enclosure in good weather.
(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.)