The Norman Transcript

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June 27, 2013

Why are two Irish setters eating dirt?

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I have two Irish setters: a 7-year-old male and a 12-year-old female. For a few years, they would nose around the backyard grass as if looking for something. I couldn’t see anything.

Two weeks ago, my husband laid some sod in some bare sections of our yard. Overnight, the dogs started pulling it up, eating the dirt and leaving the grass wherever it fell.

I feed them dry Purina mixed with half a can of Pedigree each. What are they lacking — iron?

— B.A., Alexandria, Va.

Dear B.A.: You are right that dogs, humans and other animals will eat dirt when they are suffering from anemia. But your dogs are more likely exercising their innate nutritional wisdom, seeking organic trace nutrients and digestive- and immune system-enhancing bacteria in the soil.

Since they are both getting on in life, one of my geriatric suggestions is to provide them with digestive enzymes and probiotics, available in health stores, better pet supply stores and from holistic veterinary practitioners.

The kinds of manufactured pet foods you are giving to your dogs could be improved upon. Try to reduce the grain/cereal content and increase the nutrient value of their food. You can feed them wholly or partially on my home-prepared diet, detailed on DrFoxVet.com. When they are outdoors, let them eat dirt ... in moderation.

Dear Dr. Fox: We fed a feral cat for the last six years. Once our elderly indoor cats died, we enticed the feral one indoors. He now sleeps in the house and loves to avoid the cold and bad weather by coming indoors.

The problem will be when we move sometime later this year. What kind of sedative will help a cat “chill out” for a 9 1/2 hour car trip? Also, he is used to going outside daily. How do we acclimate him to the new environment? He won’t wear a collar, so I am fearful he will disappear.

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