DEAR DR. FOX: My dog loves to help me in the garden, but he will sometimes eat a slug or two, and he also likes earthworms. I know foxes like them, too.
Should I worry? Are they safe for him to eat? -- D.K.L., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR D.K.L.: Your dog needs to curb this habit. Dogs get lungworm by eating larvae found in infected snails, slugs or frogs. They can also accidentally eat infected tiny slugs if they are on a toy or their fur.
The lungworm larvae then grow inside the dog, and adult lungworms move through their body to live in their heart and blood vessels. Earthworms may consume the eggs of roundworms in infected dogs’ feces, and then infect your dog when he eats them.
DEAR DR. FOX: This is my first time responding to any newspaper, but I have to say, the timing of your recent column was not happenstance.
We lost our beloved Maltese, Jazzie, just a little more than one month ago; she was 16 years old. This morning, I woke up missing her more than ever. There is not a day that goes by when she doesn’t come to mind. In my heart, I’m always smiling, yet tearful about the reality of her not being here. But this morning was a bit different; I had a real aching in my soul. And then I read your article about what our pets give us and teach us.
Jazzie was so much more than just a pet. She did indeed have emotions, and she could read ours as well. She had keen insight and knew when we were sick, tired, grumpy or happy, and ready for crazy, fun playtime. There was a time when I was quite ill and she never left my side, willing me to get well. She made us laugh and was always the best at turning our bad mood or stressed-out lives into joyful gratitude.
Yes, Jazzie was a part of our family, and will be forever missed. She gave far more to us than we returned to her, because she did indeed touch our souls. The Lord blessed us with this beautiful little one for 16 years and I’m praying there will be a time when we see her again.
At some point, I know we’ll find another little one to love. In the meantime, we savor our memories and the blessing of having had Jazzie in our lives. -- L.S., Naples, Florida
DEAR L.S.: Many readers will appreciate your heart-felt commentary about Jazzie. I just wish we humans could all show such love and devotion for creatures great and small.
DEAR DR. FOX: My 6-year-old Shih Tzu, Peaches, was diagnosed with struvite crystals in her urine more than a year ago. She was then put on Royal Canine Urinary SO prescription dog food (dry kibble only) for the rest of her life; I was told that she could no longer have any other kind of food, ever.
I just had her urine tested after a year of being on this dog food, and her crystals have returned. I have stuck to this regime since day one and am very concerned about the return of her crystals.
What can I do for my suffering little dog so that her crystals no longer return and turn into kidney stones? I thought I was doing what was necessary to keep her healthy.
Also, is there anything else I can do to vary her diet while keeping the crystals at bay? -- K.K., Sandy Hook, Connecticut
DEAR K.K.: Your veterinarian should go back to veterinary school -- to one that is not beholden to the pet food industry and does not brainwash students into accepting, without question, the claims and products of that industry, especially regarding so-called prescription diets.
Most dogs and cats generally find these costly diets highly unpalatable, and they’re prescribed for conditions often preventable with good nutrition to begin with!
To give any dog exclusively dry kibble -- especially one likely prone, for genetic reasons, to develop crystals in the urine that can damage the lining of the urinary bladder -- is absurd. The formula you have been giving her is high in salt, added to make dogs drink more water, which they need in order to keep their urinary tracts flushed out and the urine less concentrated (and less likely to form crystals). But in my opinion, this special diet is not the right solution, and could bring on other health problems.
Give your dog drinking water with some milk or some salt-free beef or chicken broth, which you can stew up yourself (adding 1 teaspoon of concentrate to 1 cup of water) and store in the refrigerator. This will encourage her to drink plenty of water.
Most importantly, give your dog a moist, whole-food diet, such as a quality canned dog food (like Cornucopia) or a freeze-dried food that you soak in water (like The Honest Kitchen’s). Or try my home-prepared recipe, posted on my website. Also, plenty of exercise, running off-leash at least twice daily, will help improve her overall condition. Far too many dogs, like their human companions, live unhealthful, sedentary lives.
(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.)