DEAR READERS: I am concerned that meat from animals testing positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) will be recycled into pet food, which could put pets and humans alike at risk.
In Minnesota, the next deer harvest limit has been set by the state’s Department of Natural Resources at a “harvesting” figure of 200,000, and deer hunting is on the decline. So there soon could be a glut of venison on the market -- some of it disease-free, and some not. (No test is failsafe.) Where will all this venison go, and how many deer will avoid being shot, leading to an overpopulation problem?
We must redouble protection and conservation efforts for wolves and other predators because, as documented, wolves and cougars will selectively cull deer with early signs of CWD. Wolves also help manage the overpopulation of species such as white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk.
The coming deer and elk seasons will see rising populations with habitat degradation from overgrazing, because there will likely be fewer hunters and fewer people wanting to consume venison because of the fear that CWD infection could spread to humans.
CWD is caused by the same family of brain-damaging prions that caused mad cow disease in the U.K., which infected over 200 consumers of contaminated beef. Dogs and cats are not immune to these prions, and the high-heat manufacturing processes used in making pet food do little to destroy them. Pet owners could be at risk of feeding infected venison or veal (used in some popular frozen and freeze-dried pet foods) to their dogs and cats. All such pet foods and treats should indicate on the container: “Contains only venison tested negative for Chronic Wasting Disease.”
State and federal authorities need to put wolves and cougars under permanent Endangered Species Act protection, as advocated by several organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity (biologicaldiversity.org) and Howling for Wolves (howlingforwolves.org). Also, coyote-killing contests and open-season hunting and trapping should be prohibited for reasons well-articulated by Project Coyote (projectcoyote.org).
For more information on CWD, check my website: drfoxonehealth.com.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have adopted an 8-year-old Welsh terrier, Morgan, from a breeder. Morgan was returned to the breeder when her previous owner died.
Our vet gave her a clean bill of health, and we kept her on the kibble and wet food the breeder sent home with her. After about four weeks, she started dragging her butt every once in a while. Our vet recommended Apoquel (3.6 mg). The med worked to cut down on the butt-dragging, but made our Morgan lethargic. The vet then recommended we give her half of a pill. After a week, she still drags her butt occasionally, but seems to have some of her spunk back.
We live in an adult community, no fenced yards, and she gets walked five or six times a day. She is fed morning and evening. We try to keep to a regular routine, but her scooting on the carpet continues, making me think we might have her on the wrong medicine.
The vet says it is the best product for her problem. Any suggestions from you? We are too much in love with Morgan to even think of returning her. -- T.C., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR T.C.: I am surprised that the veterinarian prescribed Apoquel for your dog’s condition, as I have had several reports of adverse reactions to this medication.
A safer alternative for many skin conditions is vitamin D supplement and fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids. But in your dog’s case (and I had a wonderful Welsh terrier in my youth), most likely the anal glands are either inflamed, infected or the duct that empties out each anal sac is blocked.
The standard treatment is to gently and firmly squeeze these glands, the pressure usually releasing any duct blockage and giving immediate relief to the dog. If this does not work, then the ducts must be opened up and the sacs irrigated with the dog under light sedation. On occasion, a cancerous growth may be detected or an anal fistula may develop if the glands are not properly seen to.
You may wish to seek a second opinion. In some instances, as with chronic ear infections and skin problems, there is an underlying food allergy. Above all, getting plenty of exercise will help -- your dog must run, ideally with other friendly dogs in a safe area. Regular, firm bowel movements will also help. In the process of being voided, they squeeze the anal sacs, releasing the glandular secretions through the two ducts on each side of the rectum.
(Send all mail to email@example.com 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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)