DEAR READERS: The following 12 core duties of responsible animal care are essential veterinary bioethical stipulations, which can and should be adopted by all companion animal caregivers and veterinarians for the common good.
1. No "designer" dog or cat breeds that have hereditary anomalies that will impair their quality of life, or that are at predisposed risk for them, should be propagated, shown or sold.
2. No animals should be subjected to elective surgical mutilations such as declawing, ear-cropping and tail-docking.
3. Every purchased and adopted cat, dog, kitten and puppy should be immediately given a full wellness examination, preferably by a holistic veterinary practitioner.
4. Every companion animal should be microchipped or tattooed for identification.
5. All owners should be educated by veterinarians and adoption agencies to understand animals' behavioral communication, as well as how to provide proper care, exercise, play and socioenvironmental enrichment.
6. The health benefits of partial neutering for many breeds of dogs (preserving the ovaries and testicles) should be discussed with informed veterinarians.
7. The benefits of fully neutering cats, especially male cats, and not allowing them to roam free should be explained by informed veterinarians.
8. All dogs and cats, puppies and kittens should be provided with healthful diets, rather than those that contribute to a host of health problems like dysbiosis. These health issues then create a revenue stream for costly special prescription diets from manufacturers and prescribers.
9. All vaccinations should be based on an animal's risk exposure, which is limited for indoor cats and greater for dogs going to play groups and dog parks.
10. The use of parasiticides that can harm companion animals and cause environmental and in-home contamination should be limited in accord with seasonal risks and diagnosed presence of parasites.
11. All animals should be provided a humane death to end incurable suffering and where there are no resources to sustain their health and well-being.
12. All animals should be accorded legally binding rights aligned with the "Five Freedoms": freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort and pain; freedom from injury and disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress.
DEAR DR. FOX: I just read your article about a dog with Cushing's disease. I am a retired neurosurgeon, and back when I was working, I had a wonderful Australian blue heeler who had Cushing's disease.
I was also in the Navy, and I was activated for deployment around the same time my dog was diagnosed (mostly due to a ravenous appetite and weight gain). I was able to start her on mitotane before I left, but when I got back four months later, she had gained even more weight.
The vets had confirmed the diagnosis, so I took it upon myself to quadruple her dose. That worked almost immediately: She slimmed down within a couple of weeks, had much more energy and was a happy dog again. She was almost 13 when she died, having lived for about two years after the diagnosis.
I would not necessarily recommend quadrupling the dose for a dog unless the owners were pretty vigilant as to the dog's energy level. If the owners who wrote to you can be vigilant, I think mitotane would be a very good idea for their dog. -- T.C., via email
DEAR T.C.: I applaud your military service and your diligence with your beloved dog diagnosed with Cushing's disease. As a rule of thumb, most veterinarians insist on follow-up blood tests to determine the effectiveness of the dosage of mitotane, and I would not encourage dog owners without any medical or veterinary experience to increase the dosage of any medication on their own.
I am concerned about the prevalence of this endocrine disease, and there is increasing evidence that not neutering dogs can help prevent its occurrence. Many veterinarians are offering partial sterilization such as vasectomies and hysterectomies, leaving the ovaries and testicles intact. Another benefit for some dogs: Not entirely neutering large breeds such as Great Danes and wolfhounds has been shown to reduce their incidence of bone cancer.
A NOTE FOR CAT OWNERS
Veterinarian Julianne Miller speaks out about keeping cats safe: Outdoor-only and indoor-outdoor cats are more likely to suffer trauma, develop infectious diseases and fight with other cats than indoor-only cats, writes Miller in a newspaper Q&A. Bite wounds from these fights can become infected and progress into abscesses that must be lanced and drained. Cats can also transmit feline leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses when they bite other cats, Miller warns. (Full story: Arizona Daily Sun, April 10)
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Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)