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Tuesday, December 7, 2004; Page C14

Dear Dr. Fox:

I put my English setter, who is 12 years old, on three tablets of glucosamine a day in May. Within three weeks he had symptoms of his hind legs giving out and drinking excessive amounts of water. He developed diabetes.

My sister read on the Internet that glucosamine can cause diabetes in some humans as well as dogs. I had to put my beloved friend to sleep in July. His sugar was tested on May 18 (his regular checkup) at 113. By July 8 it was 499.

Have you ever heard of glucosamine causing diabetes?

F.S., Bedford, Mich.

Thank you for your important warning about the potential risks of glucosamine in either causing or worsening diabetes in dogs. This drug is widely prescribed and bought over-the-counter for treating arthritic conditions in dogs (and humans). Chondroitin, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), turmeric, acupuncture and massage therapy are safer alternative treatments.

I am aware of reports indicating that glucosamine should not be given to diabetic animals. Your dog could have been borderline diabetic and should have been checked before he was given glucosamine and monitored by a veterinarian.

Dear Dr. Fox:

I have a wonderful neutered cat who is about 14 years old. Since I got him (he was a 2-year-old stray) he has always been content to be an indoor cat and never showed an inclination to be outdoors. However, during the last month or so, he's been trying to get out each time I open the door. He will not tolerate a collar and/or leash, nor will he tolerate another cat.

Normally, he rules the roost, but this latest demand worries me. How do I handle this?

H.C., Whiting, N.J.

I would have your cat examined by a veterinarian, and if there is nothing wrong physically, have a harness fitted so that you can take your cat out safely on a leash (collars often terrify cats and can slip off when the cat pulls). In the final analysis, he may be feeling "the call of the wild," and his old, tired spirit may want to be close to nature. Perhaps we are not the only animals on Earth to have a sense of connectedness to the totality of being.

Dear Dr. Fox:

Recently I had to put my 17-year-old cat to sleep. He had gotten thin and lost his muscle mass. It took the doctor three tries to get a needle in the vein. Finally he put the needle in the back leg. My cat felt pain. My other two cats, when their time came, never felt pain.

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