DEAR READERS: The owners of 47 dogs in 14 states say their pets died during or soon after being groomed at a PetSmart, and 32 of those deaths have occurred since the company was purchased by a private equity firm. PetSmart says its employees have done nothing wrong, and did not disclose the number of deaths it has recorded. (N.J. Advance Media, Sept. 20)
English bulldogs and similar breeds -- known as brachycephalic dogs, those with short noses and smushed faces -- accounted for 20 of the 47 documented deaths. Those dogs can have trouble breathing, especially in stressful environments or areas that get hot.
I also wonder about the possible effects of ractopamine contamination in some dog foods. This drug is given to farm animals to make them grow more lean muscle mass, but pharmaceutically, it puts them in a state of semi-panic with high heart rates and elevated stress hormones. Most significantly, it results in greater susceptibility to heat stress. This drug, widely used by meat producers in the U.S., is banned in many other countries for consumer health reasons.
For details, see my report “Pharmaceutical Cruelty Down On The Animal Farm,” posted on my website.
POSSIBLE HERBAL TREATMENT FOR THYROID DISEASE IN CATS
DEAR DR. FOX: I have an older cat diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Research has shown several possible treatments: methimazole gel, surgery, radiation therapy or chemo.
Surgery seems very risky; radiation would be cost-prohibitive, even if I could find a vet in my area familiar with this; and chemo would be for the rest of his life.
I would very much appreciate your thoughts on these treatments. Also, I’ve found some natural remedies that have gotten good reviews, including an organic herbal remedy by the name of Primalix. It’s BBB accredited. Any thoughts on this? It contains:
-- bugleweed to lower thyroid hormone activity and increase iodine absorption;
-- motherwort to calm rapid heartbeat and help overactive thyroid without altering normal function;
-- lemon balm as an antidote to stress and to help symptoms of anxiety and sleep disorders;
-- rehmannia root to fortify against effects of stress; used for treating hormonal disorders, including thyroid imbalance.
It contains no drugs, alcohol or artificial ingredients, and the label mentions no side effects or dietary restrictions. -- R.V., Cape Coral, Florida
DEAR R.V.: Radiation seems to be the most effective conventional remedy. I have checked the herbal reference resources you have provided, and yes, the herbs you list do have the properties claimed on the label.
The lemon balm may also lower thyroid activity. I would add a teaspoon of oral aloe vera gel to your cat’s food daily, which is reported to lower thyroid activity. And give a few pinches of catnip herb early in the evening for your cat to nibble, smell and roll in -- although not all cats are attracted to this feline equivalent of Valium.
It would be ideal if you could get your cat’s T3 & T4 thyroid hormone levels determined before this alternative treatment, and again in four and eight weeks.
Keep me posted. Your cat should calm down, stop excessive grooming and begin to gain weight, which you should also monitor.
I would advise caution because cats have a specific detoxifying liver enzyme deficiency, which can make some herbs and drugs more potent and potentially harmful for them. So I would treat your cat every other week to play it safe, considering this would probably be a lifelong treatment. Have a holistic veterinarian work with you if possible.
STUDY: FELINE THYROID PROBLEMS MAY BE LINKED TO HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS
Levels of chemicals commonly found in carpets and upholstery until 2000 were higher in cats with hyperthyroid issues, according to a study by the California Environmental Protection Agency reported in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Only 43 cats were used in the study, and researchers said more work needs to be done to confirm the link between the chemicals and feline thyroid problems. (HealthDay, Sept. 28)
FDA ADMITS: PENTOBARBITAL IN PET FOOD BIGGER PROBLEM THAN ORIGINALLY THOUGHT
Pet food safety advocate Susan Thixton has posted this alert, adding that the FDA admits pet foods are a “waste disposal system” for other industries.
Association for Truth in Pet Food is a stakeholder organization representing the voices of pet food consumers. Consider becoming a member of this pet food consumer association. Your membership helps representatives attend meetings and voice consumer concerns with regulatory authorities, such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials and with the FDA.
(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.)