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Your Own Health is Ultimately Affected by What You Feed Your Pet

Story at-a-glance -

  • Dr. Michael W. Fox is interviewed by phone by Dr. Becker. They discuss his wonderful new book Healing Animals and a variety of topics centering on the health of animals, humans and the earth.
  • Dr. Fox created the concept of the One Health Movement to help demonstrate that the health of humans, the health of animals and the health of the earth are not separate entities, but are intimately interconnected. We cannot hope to improve the well-being of humans while decimating the environment and treating animals with callous disregard. The One Health Movement is philosophically based on the global application of bioethics, a subject discussed in depth in Dr. Fox’s earlier book Bringing Life to Ethics: Global Bioethics for a Humane Society (State University of new York Press, Albany NY 2001.)
  • Dr. Fox’s goal in writing Healing Animals is to inform and inspire people with good, sound, scientific information, so they can make informed choices for themselves and for their companion animals.

In part one of a three part interview, Dr. Karen Becker talks with Dr. Michael W. Fox. Dr. Fox is the author of a new book titled Healing Animals and the Vision of One Health. He's also an internationally recognized veterinarian and former vice-president of both the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International.

By Dr. Becker

Today it is my honor and privilege to interview Dr. Michael W. Fox. We're talking over the phone because Dr. Fox has an extremely busy schedule.

Many of you who may be new to Mercola Healthy Pets are probably not new to Dr. Fox's work. He's a former Vice-president of the Humane Society of the United States, and former Vice-president of the Humane Society International. He's written over 40 books for both adults and children on animal care, animal behavior, and bioethics.

Dr. Fox's Wonderful New Book

Dr. Fox's most recent book is one I have just fallen in love with. It's called Healing Animals and the Vision of One Health, and it's the subject of our conversation today.

I'm currently reading this book a second time. The first time I read it, I highlighted passages that just grabbed my heart. Now I'm re-reading it, not necessarily with less emotion, but with the intent to absorb all that Dr. Fox has put into it. Healing Animals is the best thing I've read this year. I've even ordered it for several friends and family members.

In this latest work, Dr. Fox has covered a wide variety of topics pertaining to the emotional and physical health of animals, general issues of health, and Earth health. I asked Dr. Fox about his inspiration for writing the book. I wanted to know whether it was the culmination of his thoughts over several years, or was the idea to write it conceived in one of those 'lightening bolt' moments.

The One Health Movement

Dr. Fox explained that several years ago he met an M.D. and oncologist, Dr. Van Rensselaer Potter, at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Potter was the first to coin the term bioethics. He said to Dr. Fox, "You know, you've got to focus on global bioethics. Go beyond animal rights, morality, and everything else. Look at global bioethics. That connects with the new medicine that we need to practice, and that entails having respect and concern for the health and well-being of the animal community – wild and domestic – the human community, and the natural environment."

Dr. Fox pondered that advice and eventually wrote a philosophically-oriented book called Bringing Life to Ethics: Global Bioethics for a Humane Society. Then he decided he needed to package the concept in a way that would catch the attention of the public. So he became an advocate of the One Health Movement, which is now recognized by the AVMA, the AMA and many other groups internationally.

Dr. Fox's most recent book includes a great deal of research he has conducted over the years on how our food is raised – how food animals are treated on factory farms – including the absolute horrors he has personally documented and has been working to try to change for decades. It also includes more recent issues such as the cloning of farmed animals (and also of dogs and cats), and the real risks – to the environment as well as to public and animal health -- associated with genetic engineering of various agricultural crops, especially corn and soybeans.

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Pet Owners are Becoming Empowered

What I find so valuable about Healing Animals is that Dr. Fox was able to put the information together in a way that is relatable for traditional veterinarians, integrative and holistic DVM's, pet lovers, and also environmentalists. Regardless of where you are on your journey, there is something for you in this book – something that applies to each of us and helps link it all together.

Throughout the book, Dr. Fox discusses the concept that human well-being is the sum of public health, plus environmental health, plus animal health. Another way of saying it is, "Earth care, animal care, and human care are all coins of the same ethical currency as are earth health, animal health and human health.

I expressed to Dr. Fox that I think he's done a wonderful job of demonstrating in every chapter the idea that we will ultimately reap the consequences of what we do to the Earth. And what we put into our pets' mouths will ultimately affect us as well.

I asked Dr. Fox if it's his experience that pet owners are becoming more capable of seeing how all these elements tie together. He said he does see progress, and pet owners are becoming increasingly empowered.

There is growing public recognition that the obesity epidemic -- and its spin-off diseases afflicting the heart and circulation, liver, pancreas (diabetes), brain (cognitive functions) and also arthritis and other inflammatory diseases -- is related to the modern diet and sedentary lifestyles. People are realizing it is no wonder companion animals partaking of products and byproducts of the same food-chain, and sharing the same chemically contaminated, toxic home environments, have similar diet and lifestyle-related diseases.

Dr. Fox asserts that our cats and dogs have become the new proverbial canaries down the mine shaft, alerting us to the hazards shared, including those associated with over-reliance on vaccinations to control infectious and contagious diseases.

Dr. Fox has been writing his syndicated newspaper column, "Animal Doctor," for about 40 years, and the message he receives in letters from both new and regular readers is, "Yes, we feel more empowered by this kind of information that you and a few others are sharing with us."

Helping People Make Informed Choices

Dr. Fox went on to explain that readers share with him their quest for certified organic ingredients in both their own food and pet food. And they thank him for alerting them to the fact that 80 percent of processed food for humans these days contains genetically engineered ingredients … yet the government continues to refuse to enforce accurate labeling.

The public also appreciates knowing laboratory animal tests show genetically modified ingredients as well as herbicide residues, especially Roundup, have the potential to harm every organ in the body. They also affect intestinal flora – gut bacteria that play a vital role in not only food digestion and absorption, but in the integrity of the immune system.

Through his syndicated newspaper column, Dr. Fox has been talking for years -- from his rather unique veterinary perspective – about the shifting health problems we're seeing in companion animals. Over time, he and other DVM's are seeing more inflammatory and irritable bowel syndromes, more skin problems, more allergies, along with a tie-in to the rise in autoimmune diseases. Dr. Fox says he began connecting the dots.

Dr. Fox says this is the core of his new book – to inform and inspire people with good, sound, scientific information, so they can make informed choices for themselves and for their companion animals. He offers updated reports and the Archives of his syndicated newspaper column on his website www.drfoxvet.net and a more personal touch on www.Facebook.com/drfoxvet.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my interview with Dr. Fox. We'll continue our discussion of his latest book, Healing Animals and the Vision of One Health, and we'll talk about the tremendous benefits to be derived from sustainable organic agriculture, and why he encourages people to become "kitchen anarchists."