DEAR DR. FOX: Please assist me in informing folks about a horrible danger to animals in most backyards that few have probably ever considered.
One morning, with seemingly no explanation, our beautiful Belgian Malinois began losing chunks of fur and skin from her back, just behind her shoulders. I thoroughly examined and cleaned the area, but could not determine what caused the nasty wound.
In spite of my best efforts, two days later, she developed an awful infection. Our vet was also at a loss as to the cause of the wound, but identified it as a burn from an unknown source. Determined to find and eliminate the cause, I meticulously searched our home and yard.
It turns out our barbecue grill was the culprit! Hanging underneath the grill is a suspended container, similar in shape and size to a tuna can, to collect fat and juices from the food cooking above. I suspect our dog was lured by the wonderful scent, and while sniffing under the grill, spilled the can of hot juices onto her back.
I felt horrible. I’d never before considered that as a potential hazard. My husband immediately installed a wire mesh guard around the base of the grill to avoid future injuries.
Recovery was slow and painful, but with excellent veterinary care, our dog healed very well. Surprisingly, her fur grew back thick and soft.
Please warn your readers of this serious potential danger. -- L.C., Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
DEAR L.C.: Your warning to all barbecue owners and operators may help prevent such an accident. Both dogs and cats are also at risk from jumping up on a hot grill, lured by the smell of cooking meat.
The backyard barbecue, in my vegetarian-veterinarian opinion, should become a thing of the past. The cooking process creates carcinogens in the burning flesh, and cancers of the colon and prostate have been linked with high beef consumption. Undercooked and/or contaminated meat can also present a risk of Toxoplasmosis (which can cause birth defects, including blindness), Trichinosis, respiratory paralysis, salmonella, food poisoning, E. coli and other harmful bacteria, as well as inflammation-promoting fat.
Barbecues pollute the evening air with carbon micro-particles that can make asthmatics suffer and cause lung disease. They are at the end-point of consumer- and culture-driven appetites responsible for climate change.
Pass me the roasted organic corn, anti-cancer mushrooms and colored vegetables from a clean hibachi grill! With my late father’s elderberry flower wine or rough cider on a hot summer evening, that would be a feast!
While I harp on, let’s also get rid of the LED lights that attract insects, unplug the UV electric bug-zappers and use citronella candles if you have any biting, flying insects, and turn our “perfect” lawns into more natural, chemical-free habitats.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our dog Trixie shakes her head so hard when we are ready to go out for a walk that she makes a clapping sound. Why does she do this? It always makes us laugh, like she’s clapping her hands in delight. -- G.F., Toledo, Ohio
DEAR G.F.: In my opinion, this is indeed the canine equivalent of hand-clapping with excited anticipation. Some dogs laugh, most smile, and some pant with playful expectation or share other signals we understand and express ourselves. Dogs’ reactions to human hiccups and sneezing are often bizarre. Readers may have other aspects of canine communication they may wish to share that they have learned from their dogs.
FDA SAYS COMPANY’S FLEA, WORM PRODUCTS VIOLATE THE LAW
In November, the FDA warned North Carolina-based No More Fleas Please that the company’s Queen City Animals parasiticides had not been approved and were being sold in direct violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The products, now pulled from the market, included oral de-wormers and flea treatments. (American Veterinarian, Nov. 6)
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