DEAR READERS: French researchers have reported high susceptibility in some species of mice to mutated forms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus first reported in Brazil and South Africa. These scientists have not yet determined if the virus can be transmitted from mouse to mouse or from mouse to humans, but there are grounds for concern and heightened vigilance among people who work with mice in laboratories or who may come in close contact with them in poor communities and countries.
The fact that this coronavirus has spread rapidly from mink to mink on fur farms -- and that infected mink have infected workers, and vice versa -- is an alarm bell. Some cats on these mink farms were also infected with the virus, and now we have the possibility of coronavirus variants going from mice to cats and back. It may be only a matter of time until reservoirs of SARS-CoV-2 in local animal populations spill over into the human population.
The Oregon Senate is considering a bill to phase out mink farming over the next year because the animals' high susceptibility to this virus poses a threat to public and animal health. Oregon is one of nearly two dozen U.S. states with mink farms. While mink farmers may adopt greater biosecurity measures and use the vaccine being developed for sale to this industry, the devastation of the mink industry by this virus in several other countries is a warning. Like the wildlife farms and live "wet" markets in China and some other Asian countries, we should not put animals -- and ourselves -- in situations where opportunistic pathogens can take hold and spread.
In my opinion and that of other animal protectionists and ethologists, mink farms should be closed down on the grounds of animal cruelty. Keeping these active predators in small cages their entire lives is inhumane and unjustifiable. The sale and wearing of fur from wild-caught and captive-raised "furbearers" should be anathema in any civilized, humane society.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have an 11-year-old terrier who seems to be having some problems with constipation. Is applesauce a safe food to give him, and would it help? -- R.C., Tulsa, Oklahoma
DEAR R.C.: Applesauce has a high sugar content, which could cause problems in older, prediabetic dogs (and people). So all things in moderation.
Put some fresh fruits and vegetables -- blueberries, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, etc. -- in a food processor, and give your dog 1 tablespoon (per 40 pounds body weight) twice daily. This will offer many health benefits, especially as compared to highly processed, manufactured dog foods. Also, add a tablespoon of canned pumpkin or shredded, unsweetened coconut every other meal.
Some dogs with constipation have either too much or too little fiber in their diets and get insufficient exercise. A brisk walk (or a run, if possible) is good before meals. Take a longer walk, with time for your dog to sniff everything in his path, between morning and evening feedings.
ANOTHER PET FOOD RECALL
From massvet.org: "Sunshine Mills voluntarily recalled Sportsman's Pride and several other brands of dog food after routine surveillance by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture revealed the presence of salmonella bacteria in a sample. The recall involves specific lots of Sportsman's Pride, Sprout, Intimidator and FRM Gold Select products sold in retail stores and online."
(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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)