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Dr. Michael Fox , Published October 10 2013

Fox: The cost of feeding animals

Dear Dr. Fox: While reading one of your recent articles in which you stressed the importance of feeding our pets higher-quality animal protein, I thought of the Law of Unintended Circumstances.

Consider if 10 million American dogs (only 14 percent of the global total) were switched to the diet you recommended. The increase in demand and consumption of quality meat would necessitate the slaughter of another million cattle or 500 million chickens every year. There is a price to pay for keeping carnivorous animals as companions.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this. – L.B., Florissant, Mo.

Dear L.B.: Your letter hits the nail on the head when it comes to addressing one of the many dilemmas of modern life, an aspect of what the Hopi Indians call koyaanisqatsi – life out of balance.

While I advocate vegan and vegetarian diets for our own species for economic, environmental and health reasons, one fact remains: In optimal numbers, farmed animals play a vital role in organic, sustainable agriculture. This means that if we consume fewer of them, there will be adequate animal protein for our animal companions. Cats require more animal protein in their diets than most dogs, who can adapt to and thrive on properly formulated vegetarian diets.

As for seafood, wild stocks of fish are diminishing, and many aquaculture products – shrimp, in particular, are red-flagged because of drug residues – contain chemical pollutants and cause environmental harm.

Dear Dr. Fox: I am currently serving six months in jail. At home, I have a 4-year-old boxer mix. We got along really great, and he is my best friend.

My question is: Will he still remember me after being away for six months? – J.W., Augusta, W.Va.

Dear J.W.: Your boxer should remember you with no problem after six months of separation.

Can he not come visit you at the prison during family visits? Mail home a T-shirt you have slept in for a few nights every month if possible. This way he will remember your scent when he is allowed to sniff it. I’m glad you care.

More and more prisons are setting up dog socialization and training programs, employing selected inmates whose rehabilitation can be enhanced by the therapeutic value of such programs. Regrettably, a predominantly punitive approach in more than one such institution for male inmates prevails, and dog socialization and training programs are currently allowed only in women’s prisons. After suitable training, inmates take great pride in rehabilitating shelter dogs from the community for adoption. Some programs include advanced training for dogs selected for search and rescue work.

Contaminated dog treats infect people

Joey’s Jerky brand chicken jerky is being voluntarily recalled due to a possible salmonella risk. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, 21 people in the state have been identified with the same strain of the illness, but no deaths have occurred. Joey’s Jerky is produced in New Hampshire, and the manufacturer, Kritter’s Kitchen Kreations, has voluntarily recalled all of the product and is asking people to discard the treats.

For the safest dog treats on the planet, prepare your own, such as my buckwheat Good Dog Treats posted on my website, DrFoxVet.com. While you’re there, check out some of the brands of dog food that I endorse for reasons of better quality and safety.

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.