DEAR READERS: If we do not feel for animals, how can we accept that they, like us, have feelings? In many species, these range from terror to joy. Many mourn the loss of a mate or offspring.
Naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch conjectured that “perhaps certain of the animals can be both more joyful and more utterly desolate than any man ever was.” He also opined that “whoever listens to a bird’s song and says, ‘I do not believe there is any joy in it,’ has not proved anything about birds. But he has revealed a good deal about himself.”
For documentation of animals’ emotionality, including their ability to empathize, see Frans de Waal’s book “The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society,” Carl Safina’s “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel,” and Marc Bekoff’s “The Smile of a Dolphin: Remarkable Accounts of Animal Emotions.” The time has surely come when we must reassess how we treat other sentient beings. For the sake of our own humanity, we should strive to end all forms of cruel exploitation through education and rule of law.
DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing to you about our dog Buddy, who has ear infection issues. He is an 11-year-old Shih Tzu.
We have had him since he was 7 months old. We have spent many trips to the vet and many dollars (probably in the thousands) that we can’t afford. We cannot pay the prices for his treatments anymore.
We have tried everything that everyone tells us, and nothing works. We fear he might lose his hearing. Even the vet we take him to doesn’t seem to know what else to do, and we can’t continue spending up to $200 for each visit to have his ears treated.
We love him so much. My husband has cancer, and Buddy is a real comfort to him. We hate to see him in pain because of his ears. We are seniors (72 years old) and we don’t get much Social Security. I hope you can tell us how to treat Buddy at home. -- D.S., Walnut Cove, North Carolina
DEAR D.S.: Many people are in your kind of predicament, and those who can afford to do so are buying into various pet health insurance policies, some set up by local veterinary clinics. Pet health insurance is in its infancy in this country, and with rising pet health care costs, it is worth considering -- ideally in discussion with your veterinarian.
Another option with your dog needing constant treatment for a chronic ear condition is to ask the veterinarian to show you how to clean the ears and apply the medication prescribed. You will probably need a second person to help you hold your dog when you do this. With some breeds, there is often fur in the external ear canals, which must be plucked out regularly to keep the canals aerated and prevent fungal and bacterial infection.
Many dogs with ear problems show significant improvement when, instead of just dry dog kibble, they are fed good-quality canned and freeze-dried dog food with a few drops of fish oil added. Some dogs with ear problems have an underlying food allergy or intolerance, which calls for some detective work to find out which diet works best for them.
For routine, as-needed ear cleaning, use a mixture of equal parts of apple cider vinegar and warm water. Flush the mixture with a syringe into one ear canal and then the other. Dry the ears well, and after an hour or so, put a few drops of organic, cold-pressed olive oil into each external ear canal. Ideally, do this in a place where the dog will not make a mess with his head-shaking, getting the oil all over the place!
RAW CHICKEN MIGHT CAUSE DEBILITATING CONDITION IN DOGS
Research suggests Campylobacter bacteria in raw or undercooked chicken can cause a debilitating condition in dogs called acute polyradiculoneuritis. It starts as weakness in the hind legs that progresses through the body, resulting in paralysis and death, in some cases.
“We recommend owners choose regular dog food rather than chicken necks until we know more about this debilitating condition,” researchers wrote. The researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
(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.)