Dear Dr. Fox:
Even though I know you advocate feeding pets — especially diabetic ones — homemade food, I wonder whether you’d consider this question.
My geriatric cat has been insulin-dependent for more than five years. I started him on Fancy Feast Classics, but I got shamed into changing him to Hill’s m/d. In the summer, I ventured back to Fancy Feast because he likes it so much better. Suddenly, his blood sugar dropped like a rock. On a schedule of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. insulin glargine injections, his glucose would be 70 to 100 at 1 or 2 a.m. Unusual behavior caused me to get up and test him.
Could m/d have been keeping his blood glucose elevated? If I were to cook food for him, what should I give him?
M.J., Cheyenne, Wyo.
DF: As I repeatedly stress in this column, avoid feeding cats high-carbohydrate treats, as well as regular cat foods. I invited veterinarian Greg Martinez (visit dogdishdiet.com) to offer his opinion because I am impressed with his nutrition-first approach to animal health issues, which I have long advocated, and now I feel less alone professionally!
“Diabetes in cats is thought to be caused by too many calories in the diet and too little activity. Overweight, sedentary cats develop Type 2 diabetes, which is the insulin-resistant type also seen in people. A diet with fewer calories per ounce, less fat and fewer carbohydrates will obviously have more protein, just the mix of ingredients that cats evolved to eat (rodents or other prey). That same mix of ingredients will also help cats lose weight and regulate their blood sugar.
“Hill’s m/d diet is formulated to have fewer carbohydrates and less fat than other cat foods, but it still may have too many simple carbohydrates for some cats. The reason Fancy Feast Classics worked so well is that the ingredients are also high-protein, low-fat, high-moisture and lower-calorie ones.
“It could be that your cat does not tolerate the cornstarch in the m/d, which may elevate his blood glucose more than the type of carbohydrate in Fancy Feast Classics — the only one listed is guar gum, which is a soluble fiber known to help with regulating the blood sugar.
“Individual cats may just do well with different ingredients, and it sounds like Fancy Feast agrees with your cat, where Hill’s m/d doesn’t. You may try asking your local pet store for a grain-free quality canned cat food with a similar high-protein, low-carbohydrate, medium-fat mixture.
“If you are going to make your own cat food, veterinarian Lisa Pierson has lots of good info on cooking for your cat: ‘Making Cat Food, by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM’ at catinfo.org?link=makingcatfood. The basic recipe calls for 90 percent low-fat meat and keeps the carbohydrate level at less than 10 percent. This high-protein diet is not appropriate for cats with kidney issues.’’
I would urge against feeding animals carrageenan, which can be found in the Hill’s prescription cat food. Read more at my website, drfoxvet.net.
Dear Dr. Fox:
I read your column regarding German shepherds and waiting to spay until after a year because of an issue with their bone health. I gave the article to my daughter, who has a 5-month-old rescue German shepherd.
Now I’m reading about how important it is to spay dogs before the first heat cycle to help prevent mammary gland cancer.
What is the best way to go in this case? My daughter was going to wait until her dog was a year old but has changed her mind to have it done at 6 months old, which is in a month.
K.K., Fargo, N.D.
DF: It is a long-held view that spaying dogs before their first heat will help prevent mammary gland cancer. Although this is generally true, several other health issues can arise after early removal of the ovaries and which, in the final analysis, negate the benefits of early neutering.
My advice is to wait until the dog is closer to maturity — at about 2 years — before having the operation.
Some veterinarians now leave the ovaries intact to prevent the hormonal deficiencies and imbalances associated with the adverse consequences of a complete ovariohysterectomy. This topic is controversial, and more clinical studies and long-term evaluations of various breeds and the risk-to-benefit ratios of complete or partial removal of the reproductive organs are called for.
This may contradict animal shelter policy of neutering all animals before adoption, especially in areas where there are too many animals multiplying in the community, and adopters cannot be trusted to prevent their animals from reproducing by keeping intact females restrained when in heat.
Dear Dr. Fox:
Although I love the outdoors and I am sympathetic to wildlife and the environment, I disagree with your recent statements regarding “re-wilding’’ public lands.
My objection is not made to support trappers, hunters or mining concerns, but to maintain some of these areas so that my grandkids and I can hike or camp without fear of attack or death from one of a few deadly predators that are being reintroduced. My thoughts on a couple of the issues usually mentioned:
1. Putting things back as they were: This can be completed with or without adding deadly predators in the mix. The environment must be fixed in a variety of ways, regardless of whether predators are there.
2. No need to worry because bears, wolves and cougars are afraid of people, and if we don’t bother them, we’ll be safe. This is blatantly false. Cougars and bears already kill a few people each year, and any fear they have will rapidly vanish, as bears in state parks keep proving.
J.P., St. Charles, Mo.
DF: Many people share your fear and concerns over human safety in those parts of our National Park System of public lands designated as national parks and wildlife refuges.
Remember that state and federal agencies have waged war on natural predators for decades, their extermination causing great harm to these ecosystems. Their natural recovery or carefully conducted reintroduction is much needed.
Already, our national parks are suffering from the impact of too many tourists. More people are injured and killed by falling trees, snakes, lightning and climbing accidents, as well as by their own dogs, cattle and horses on home base, than by wolves, lions and bears.
Despite the general impressions that human deaths are regular and imminent, this is not true. I recently corresponded with Will Stolzenburg, author of “Heart of a Lion,” who said, “The last person killed by a mountain lion was in 2008. And in fact, a recent study showed that people’s lives are actually being saved by mountain lions, by preventing fatal vehicle collisions with deer (which now kill about 200 people each year). The study further estimates that if mountain lions were allowed to return to the eastern forests, they could save upwards of 155 people over the next 30 years.
“Another point: Many of the aggressive encounters between people and bears or lions stem from our hunting of the animals, by wounding and incapacitating otherwise healthy, well-behaved animals, and by orphaning cubs and kittens who grow desperate. Or, in the particular case of bears, our ill-advised feeding of them primes the possibility for bad encounters. Again, our fault.’’
So hikers and campers, beware. Take along a can of pepper spray, keep dogs on a leash, and children, too. And let’s give equal consideration to the endangered children of other species that have no less a right to be than we, as I emphasize in my book “Animals and Nature First.’’
Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Send letters to email@example.com or write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.