Prevent animal suffering from selective breeding | Columns

DEAR READERS: According to the Veterinary Record, there is good news from Norway regarding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and English Bulldogs: The Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals has won its case against the breeding of these dogs. This is based on the stipulation of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act which states that animals cannot be bred if their offspring can inherit health problems. A judge recently banned the breeding of these dogs except for the purpose of expanding genetic diversity and making the breeds healthier.

Bulldogs, in particular, have been inbred to the point that they suffer from a myriad of health problems and can no longer give birth naturally, says veterinarian Erik Olstad, assistant professor at the University of California at the Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. UC-Davis veterinary geneticist Danika Bannasch says it may not be possible to selectively rule out some of the health issues while having a purebred dog. (Full story: National Public Radio, March 8)

This same principle applies to many breeds of dogs and cats as well as other species marketed as pets. The Australian Veterinary Association issued a policy statement in December 2021 calling for a ban on the breeding and showing of brachycephalic dogs (those with a muzzle length less than one-third the length of the skull). Ultimately, the desires and buying behavior of potential dog owners must change, so everyone is selecting dogs for their good health characteristics rather than their looks.

DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 4 year old Havanese who has skin tags. She has had them for a few years, but they are getting worse and more and more of them are appearing. Her vet seems to think there’s nothing to worry about, as long as she doesn’t mind, but lately I’ve noticed she’s been licking them.

The other concern is that she eats poo. It’s disgusting. Everyone says she must be lacking in vitamins or minerals. Someone suggested sprinkling their food with a meat tenderizer containing MSG, but I can’t find any.

Please can you help? I love my Lucy and I don’t like to see her suffer. — PR, West Palm Beach, Florida

DEAR PR: Not being able to see your dog and examine the skin issues in question, my best advice is limited to suggesting treatment with antibiotic topical ointments and local anesthetics. If that doesn’t help and the tags are still bothering the dog, I would suggest local anesthesia and laser cautery removal.

Many dogs eat poop, called coprophagia, often because they lack food enzymes and a healthy gut bacterial population. A teaspoon of canned pineapple chunks (no added sugar) twice a day will provide digestive enzymes. A good quality probiotic, which your veterinarian should prescribe, will help enrich the intestinal flora. Cultured plain kefir, 1 tablespoon per meal, or plain unpasteurized organic yogurt will also be beneficial, as well as a tablespoon twice a day of grated carrot. Most dogs love it and benefit from the added fiber and phytonutrients.

You can also try Dr. Bob Goldstein’s Wisdom dog food, which is a slow-drying blend of nutritious ingredients and comes in a variety of formulations. For more details, visit

Send all mail to [email protected] or Dr. Michael Fox c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal responses, but direct questions and comments. general interest will be discussed in the next columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at

Jeanetta J. Stewart