One of the world’s most horrendous forms of animal exploitation is China’s lucrative collection of bear bile for traditional medicine. Bears’ abdomens are opened to collect bile on a regular basis, which causes chronic infection and liver disease. The animals are kept in small iron crates that are so cramped they cannot even stand up their entire lives. The confinement causes skeletal and other deformities.

Many of these bears die young, while others suffer for decades. There are an estimated 100 large-scale farms, which are legal in China, with the largest holding more than a thousand bears.

Trade between countries continues to be condoned where there is human slavery and other violations of human rights, inhumane treatment of animals and destruction of wildlife habitat, and environmental pollution. Without broader harmonization of bioethical standards, “free” trade and the current tariff wars ignore the core issues of ethics and sustainability.

The consequences of such ethical blindness are increasingly evident on almost every continent today and are epitomized by the suffering of these bears. An abomination indeed and a shame on China.

To learn how you can help stop this practice, visit

Dear Dr. Fox: I adopted a 5-year-old rat terrier mix last September, and potty-training has been difficult. She had not had an accident for about a month until the other night, when she urinated on my lap. I apparently missed her signals.

Still, why would a dog urinate on her human? What steps should I take to make sure this doesn’t happen again? — C.B., Raleigh, North Carolina

Dear C.B.: Good for you for adopting a dog in need of a forever home. But what a surprise you must have had when she urinated on your lap! If this happens again — before you check in with the vet — do not punish her in any way. Quietly clean it up.

She could have cystitis, inflammation and possibly infection of the bladder or other urinary tract problems. Some dogs, especially after being spayed, have weaker sphincter control and will leak urine on occasion. Intermittent treatment for the latter condition with diethylstilbestrol, a replacement hormone, is generally most effective, but some veterinarians have reservations about this drug. In my experience with this hormone-replacement therapy, long-term use for this condition is not necessary, thus reducing possible harmful side effects.

But first, a full wellness examination is called for, and your veterinarian can help you find a solution. It is possible that she really needed to go out to urinate, and as soon as she relaxed on your lap, the pressure of her full bladder was too much for her. So she may have no evident medical issues after all.

Researchers measure levels of trace metals in dry dog foods: Researchers at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine found aluminum, chromium and molybdenum in commercial dry dog foods at higher concentrations than would typically be consumed by a person. Though researchers say the levels appear to be safe, the elements can cause health problems at high levels, and more research is needed. (From American Veterinarian, Dec. 24.)

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.

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