Dr. Michael W. Fox

Dogs In Shelters
Vegetarianism: A Bioethical Imperative
Dr. Fox on the Tonight Show
In Memoriam_Feral Cat Mark Twain
DVD Links
Releasing Cats To Live Outdoors
Outdoor Cats, Wildlife And Human Health
Cat and Dog Nutrition--the Thiamine Issue
Cat Food Recipe
Cat Tail Deemed To Be Good Vaccination Spot
Cat Behavior
Cat Vaccination Protocols
Declawing Cats
Feline Stomatitis Complex
Cat Litter Box Issues
Introducing A New Cat
Introducing A Dog Into Cat's Home
Choosing To Live With A Dog
Dog Vaccination Protocols
Dog Mutilations
Dog Food Recipe
Dental Problems In Companion Animals
Dog Food and Feeding Issues
Dr. Fox's Good Medicine Juice
The Truth About Manfactured Dog and Cat Food
Companion Animals Harmed By Pesticides
Dominance-based Dog Training
Dr. Fox and the Super Dog Project
Guide to Congenital & Heritable Disorders in Dogs
Dogwise E-Books
Concerning Outdoor Chaining/Tethering Of Dogs
Dogs In Shelters
Dr. Fox's Good Dog Cookie Recipe
Don't Clone Your Dog Or Cat!
The Pros and Cons of Neutering Your Dog
Recovering Canine Health And The Natural Dog
Animal Vaccination Concerns
Care For Dogs and Cats With Renal Failure
Urinary Tract Stones
Green Pet Care
Puppy and Kitten Breeding Mills
Pure Water for Cats and Dogs--and All
Dental Problems In Companion Animals
Chemical-related Human Diseases In Companion Animals
From Mineral Oil & Multiple Sclerosis to Plastics, Nanoparticles
Companion Animal Care
Companion Animals and Flea and Tick Treatments
Behavioral Problems and Drug Solutions: A Last Resort
Preventing Fleas
Domestication and Diet
Lyme Disease and Wildlife Management
Disease and Animal Rights
GMOs and Pet Food
Journal of AVMA and GMOs
Indoor and Outdoor Poison Hazards for Pets
Carrageenan In Pet Foods
Cats, Dogs and Cadmium
Fluoride In Pet Food - A Serious Health Risk?
Best Manufactured Pet Foods
Pet Food Letters
Nutrigenomics and the Pet Food Revolution
The Ethics of Krill Oil and Protein Supplements
Animal-Insensitivity Syndrome
Wolves and Human Well-being
Wolf-Dog Hybrids
Crying Wolf Too Much
Betrayal of Wolves and Public Trust
The 'One Medicine'
Pet Health Insurance
The Veterinary Profession
  Pharmaceutical Cruelty In Animal Farms: Consumer Beware
Pig Parts For People
Conflicts Of Interest In The Veterinary Profession
Bioethics: Its Scope And Purpose
The Bioethics And Politics Of Manufactured Pet Foods
Animal Rights, Human Rights And Wrongs
The Future of the Veterinary Profession
Holistic Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary Ethics and Economics
Veterinary Bioethics and Animal Welfare
Principles Of Veterinary Bioethics
What Price Our Animal Relationships?
Changing Diets for Health's and Earth's Sake
Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife Reseach Needs Ethical Boundaries
Wildlife Management Practices
How Animals Suffer Around the World
Feeling for Animals and Animal Liberation
Animal Altruism and Abilty To Empathize
What Makes Animals Happy?
The Empathosphere: Animal Prescience, And Remote Sensing
Mental Effects on Physical Health: The Mind-Body Connection
Animal Spirits
Light Of Compassion
Religion, Science and Animal Rights
Animal Suffering And The God Question
Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health
Islam And Animals
Panentheism: The Spirituality Of Compassion
One Earth, One Health
Why We All Must Care For Animals and the Environment
Quality Of Life In Animals
Healing Agriculture's Broken Connections
Mammon Vs. Civil Society
Justice For All Beings And The End Of Terrorism
Universal Bill Of Rights For Animals And Nature
Science Writers' and Reporters' Political Agendas
Cambridge Declaration On Consciousness
Michael W. Fox Resume'
Dr. Fox Biographical Interview
Interview: History of Animal Welfare Science
Curriculum Vitae
Books By Dr. Fox
Dr. Fox Lectures, Seminars and Workshops
My Life For The Animals
To Kiss Salamanders and Stones


                                                        By Dr. Michael W. Fox

I and others have been long railing against what has become a standard practice in many animal shelters of intimidating a newly arrived dog when he/she is eating by pushing a stuffed glove that looks like a hand on the end of a stick at the poor animal trying to eat.  This was done to elicit “food guarding aggression” and dogs who growled and snarled were likely to be killed.  Other temperament tests were also of questionable value considering the situation and state of most dogs in unfamiliar and stressful conditions.

            The article by veterinarian Gary J. Patronek and Janice Bradley published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2016)   entitled “No better than flipping a coin: Reconsidering canine behavior evaluations in animal shelters” has catalyzed animal shelters to stop such tests.  They write:

            “Shelters already screen from adoption obviously dangerous dogs during the intake process. Subsequent provocative testing of the general population of shelter dogs is predicated on an assumption of risk that is far in excess of existing data and relies on assumptions about dog behavior that may not be supportable.  We suggest that instead of striving to bring out the worst in dogs in the stressful and transitional environment of a shelter and devoting scarce resources to inherently flawed formal evaluations that do not increase public safety, it may be far better for dogs, shelters, and communities if effort spent on frequently misleading testing was instead spent in maximizing opportunities to interact with dogs in normal and enjoyable ways that mirror what they are expected to do once adopted (e.g., walking, socializing with people, playgroups with other dogs, games, training). In conjunction with a thorough and objective intake history when available, these more natural types of assessment activities will help identify any additional dogs whose behavior may be of concern.  Engaging in the normal repertoire of activities familiar to pet dogs has the additional benefit of enriching dogs' lives and minimizing the adverse effect of being relinquished and confined to a shelter, will be more indicative of the typical personality and behavior of dogs, and may help make dogs better candidates for adoption”.

            I would urge shelters to also practice group housing where ever possible, keeping adoptable dogs in compatible groups and avoid single caging. Group housing provides physical and social/emotional stimulation which may improve stressed shelter dogs’ impaired immune and digestive system functions. Group housing also enhances adoptability, enabling people to see how one of the dogs they might chose interacts with other dogs and what kind of characteristic qualities of temperament/personality she/he may possess.


Some animal shelters and animal holding facilities still provide insufficient or no exercise for incarcerated dogs. Veterinary clinical researchers have recently documented the benefits to dogs living a sedentary life and suffering from chronic diarrhea of putting them on an exercise regimen*. Turn these findings around and they mean that dogs who do receive regular exercise are more likely to enjoy better health than those who are confined, as in an in-home dog crate, commercial kennels, animal shelter or research laboratory cage.

From behavioral observations of my own dogs they will pass a few stools when let outdoors in the morning to urinate but only when they are aroused and setting off for a long, fast walk do they fully empty their bowels. Living a sedentary life, rarely aroused and often being trained to evacuate inside especially when living in high-rise apartments or confined in a cage or pen could well lead to longer retention times of fecal material prior to evacuation with resultant inflammation of the bowels. Physical activity may also help improve circulation and help alleviate and prevent lymphangectasia, the accumulation of lymph in the bowels seen in some forms of canine inflammatory bowel disease.

 Mental arousal with physical activity may increase peristaltic tonus that may be relatively flaccid with parasympathetic dominance as with a placid temperament and an unstimulating indoor environment.  Sympathetic/parasysmpathetic balance and adaptive flexibility of the autonomic nervous system are aspects of well-being that are considerable and clinically relevant.  (For references see Fox, 1978). Holistic veterinary medicine incorporates consideration of animals’ fright-flight-fight- responsivity in determining their’ well-being, quality of life and possible cause of suffering. Megacolon and fecal impaction, commonly seen in under-stimulated and underactive indoor cats, and weak urinary bladder tonus with urine retention and consequential cystitis, may be other conditions related to parasympathetic dominance/imbalance caused by the deficient environments they are regrettably given.

Considering the multiple stressors to which dogs taken in to animal shelter/rescue facilities are exposed, this veterinary report* on the health benefit of exercise for dogs  supports what should be a standard policy of providing all dogs with regular brisk walks, ideally twice daily for 15-20 minutes. Those under quarantine should be taken out to enclosed areas for walks unless medically contraindicated. Safety harnesses are preferable for dogs not used to wearing a collar and those who are fearful or likely to pull and injure their necks and throats. Walking on the leash also socializes dogs to their handlers and is the time to train them to comply with basic commands which will enhance their adoptability. Walking with a sociable “buddy dog” used to being leashed can help shy dogs accept and eventually enjoy walks while leashed.

Dogs out of quarantine also benefit from being placed in small, compatible play groups in recognition of the benefits of physical activity and social and emotional stimulation. Running stimulates the release of “feel good” and anti-inflammatory neurochemicals. Many shelters are also adopting group housing for dogs, which, along with regular walks and one-on-one and group human interaction, enhance their adaptability and adoptability.

In the U.S. Federal Animal Welfare Act (I. Exercise for dogs (Sect. 3.8) ) it is clearly stated that dogs must be provided the opportunity to engage in regular exercise, stating:  “Dealers, exhibitors, and research facilities must develop, document, and follow an appropriate plan to provide dogs with the opportunity for exercise. The plan must be approved by the attending veterinarian and must include written standard procedures to be followed in providing the opportunity for exercise”. (https://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/animal-welfare-act-quick-reference-guides#Q10)

In conclusion, private and municipal animal shelters that do not make such provisions and are not open to public assessment of standard animal care procedures may be in violation of state and federal anti-cruelty laws. They are also violating the conditional responsibility of properly caring for animals that the public has entrusted to them.

*See Huang, H-P. & Lien, Y-H. Effects of a structured exercise programme in sedentary dogs with chronic diarrhea. Veterinary Record, 180: 224. 2017 and the Editorial my Dunning, M. Improving IBD in dogs through exercise. Veterinary Record, 180: 222-223, 2017.

 Fox, M.W. The Dog: Its Domestication and Behavior, 1978, reprinted edition with Dogwise Publishing, OR


The author is an Honor Roll member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, writes the internationally syndicated newspaper column Animal Doctor and holds doctoral degrees in animal behavior and medicine. Website:www.drfoxvet.net. E-mail animaldocfox@gmail.com






Check the link below for a Dr. Fox C-Span feature concerning "Animal Testing"

Dr. Michael W. Fox on C-Span

--Video Link--

Dr. Michael W. Fox

What right do we humans have to exploit other animals?  Where does that right come from and what are the limits if any?  What duties or obligations do we have in our relationships with our dogs, cats and other animals domesticated and wild?

          Follow and support Caroline Kraus and her Moments of Truth Project documentary film as she travels across the U.S. asking people, who variously live, work with and care for animals, these and other relevant questions.

Is there an overriding consensus and what are the reasons why people respond very differently to these questions, which in part examine our character, culture and future?

The viewing and discussion of this kind of documentary should be part of every school curriculum and will be of interest to all who work with, profit from and care for animals. Project Home Page: http://momentsoftruthproject.com/  To see the interview with Dr. Fox go to http://momentsoftruthproject.com/dr-michael-fox/