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Animal Doctor: Known toxic chemical still found in pet foods

Animal Doctor: Known toxic chemical still found in pet foods

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Dear Readers: Please read the following from veterinarian Karen Becker on an important issue:

“A lawsuit was recently filed against Nestle Purina for labeling cat food ‘natural’ that contained potentially toxic ingredients, including the synthetic preservative ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin is linked to cancer, liver damage and kidney damage, and is banned for use in human foods, but is still allowed in processed pet foods, particularly those containing fish meal.

“In addition to scientific studies of toxicity, there are countless anecdotal reports — including my own — of pets becoming severely ill as a result of eating diets containing ethoxyquin.

“Pet parents concerned about ethoxyquin in their dog’s or cat’s food may find it challenging to get a straight answer from pet food manufacturers. The lawsuit against Nestle Purina is for deceptive marketing and sale of cat foods labeled ‘natural’ and ‘with no artificial preservatives.’ The plaintiffs, GMO Free USA (doing business as Toxin Free USA) and Clean Label Project charge that lab tests reveal that certain Purina cat foods contain both glyphosate and ethoxyquin.

“For more details, and excellent advice on many companion animal health issues, visit”

Dear Dr. Fox: I just read in one of your recent columns that giving dogs some honey can stop their itching (if no fleas are present). Is this something that could be given to cats as well, and if so, how much? — D.S., Lake Worth Beach, Florida

Dear D.S.: While I have heard of positive results in many dogs being given a little local honey or bee pollen in their food for seasonal allergies, I have no documentation for cats — but it would be worth trying. Dogs have a sweet tooth and cats do not, so bee pollen may be more acceptable to them.

Because cats can be finicky about any change in their food, I would begin with a few grains of local bee pollen and increase gradually to about ½ teaspoon daily. Do let me know if this helps your cat.

Please note that it probably will not help if your cat is having an allergic reaction or intolerance to some ingredient in whatever she is being fed, or has thyroid gland hyperactivity or another health issue associated with excessive grooming and scratching. In some cases, the trigger is a wool blanket, new carpeting, an air freshener or floor cleaner. Cats are sensitive to such volatile chemicals, which we would all be better off avoiding.

There are instances of dogs becoming allergic to humans and scratching themselves more, and I sometimes wonder if some cats become allergic to the people with whom they live. So less stroking and petting by hand, and instead, grooming your cat with a brush may help.

If you find the cure, let me know.

Another remarkable dog journey to former home: After Cleo the 4-year-old Labrador went missing, her owners found her somewhere they didn’t expect: at home. Except that it was the family’s previous home in Lawson, Missouri — 57 miles from their current home in Olathe, Kansas.

The family hadn’t lived in their Missouri home for nearly two years, but Cleo made her way back to its porch, where the new homeowner found her, according to ABC affiliate KMBC. Neither family knows how she made the trip, considering the fact that she would have had to cross a river, using a bridge with heavy traffic, to get to the house.

See below for more on dogs’ navigational skills.

Dogs’ internal compass helps them find their way: Dogs appear to perceive Earth’s magnetic fields and use them to navigate unfamiliar terrain, according to a study published in eLife. Dogs fitted with GPS trackers found their way back to their owners along a route they had previously taken, presumably using scent; along a new route, taking short north-south jogs along the way; or with a combination of the two. The north-south jogs are thought to have allowed the dogs to reorient themselves to find their way back. Full story at

Send all mail to 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

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