C.M., Orono, MN
Tags: dog Orono MN
Sep 26, 2009
Our happy, sweet female Samoyed is the picture of health and, at almost 14 years old, looks and acts like a much younger dog, except when it comes to her mouth and teeth. We adopted her when she was 5 years old and noticed right away that her teeth were a mess. I began brushing them, and it quickly became a nightly ritual that she adores.
Even with daily brushing, she still has bleeding gums, bad breath, broken teeth and cavities/abscesses. She has undergone several professional cleanings and tooth extractions. Most recently, five teeth were removed, including two of the large molars. The vet said many of her roots are reabsorbing into the jawbone, including teeth that are otherwise healthy. The vet does not know what is causing the ongoing problems and suggested it might be a hereditary condition. For the past year, she has been on "pulse therapy" and is taking clindamycin one week a month with the hope of keeping bacteria at bay. We also apply OraVet to her teeth weekly.
She has become a dirt lover, digging small holes so she can eat soil. Her diet consists of Solid Gold Holistic Blend with Solid Gold Seameal and a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. She has a healthy appetite and no digestive issues. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
C.M., Orono, MN Sep 27, 2009
Serious dental problems in some dogs are often associated with kidney disease, which your veterinarian needs to address if such is the case. An autoimmune disorder may also be at the root of the problem.
Oral gel and spray formulations, such as PetzLife Oral Care, along with rubbing the teeth and gums with aloe vera extract at least twice daily may help. The herbal medicine Sangre de Drago may also help fight infection and promote healing.
The bacterial population in your dog''s entire digestive system should be enriched with beneficial organisms called probiotics. Also, discuss giving your dog additional immune-system support with antioxidant supplements like zinc, selenium, magnesium, quercetin and vitamins A, C, D and E.
N.H., Alexandria, Va
Tags: dog Alexandria VA
Sep 26, 2009
We have just purchased a used boat and would like to take our two small dogs (16 and 12 pounds) out on it. They are not strong swimmers. Do you have any information on dog life vests? We don''t have access to computers.
N.H., Alexandria, Va Sep 27, 2009
Falling off a boat and getting too much sun while on the boat -- these are concerns for all sailors, two- and four-legged. Call (888) 783-3932 to connect to Ruff Wear. They''re located in Bend, Ore., and have an excellent collection of products, all made in the United States and manufactured from organic and recycled materials.
M.O., Neptune, NJ
Tags: dog Neptune NJ diet food
Sep 26, 2009
I have an adorable 1-year-old white Shih Tzu with unsightly red-tear stains. We use a wheat-free diet and have tried distilled water. We have also tried Angels'' Eyes for the past four months. Do you have a safe remedy for red-tear stains?
M.O., Neptune, NJ Sep 27, 2009
Reddish tear stains can be due to two sources of pigment: food coloring, like the hazardous azo dyes in far too many manufactured dog foods and treats; and porphyrins, natural body secretions that occur in some individual dogs and particular species (like gerbils).
Check out what you are feeding your dog and have her eyes checked for conjunctivitis or other eye problems that could cause excessive tearing. Wipe her tear-stained areas with hydrogen peroxide diluted in equal parts of warm water about once per week. Dogs also get red/brown stains around their mouths and front paws when these substances are secreted in their saliva.
D.W.S., Chesapeake, Va
Tags: small pet Chesapeake VA diet food
Sep 26, 2009
I have a 2-year-old male Eclectus parrot. He picks at his breast and behind his neck feathers. I''ve taken him to a bird vet on several occasions, had blood work done, and had his crop flushed. The tests were negative. The vet says it''s his diet. She wants him on a pelletized diet, but he won''t eat those dry pellets. He likes people food -- he eats what we eat and loves it.
I read that smoking around birds will irritate their skin and cause them to pick; but I haven''t smoked in the house in three years, so that''s not it. What do you suggest?
D.W.S., Chesapeake, Va Sep 27, 2009
Many parrots suffer from obsessive feather picking, often to the point of severe self-mutilation. After feather mites have been checked for, diet is the next consideration. Check out quality parrot foods that are complete, balanced and organically certified. Your bird may benefit from having a full-spectrum light (such as Vita-Lite) close to his living quarters. Environmental and social factors also need to be considered. Is the bird exposed to a noisy household, lights and TV on late, which might throw off its sleep cycles? Covering his cage or moving it to a quiet room for the night may help.
Conversely, he may not be getting enough stimulation and is getting bored and frustrated. Lack of stimulation for these active and intelligent birds can lead to feather picking. Time out of his cage and off his perch, toys and safe objects to play with, and a pinch of valerian herb in his food or a drop of essential oil of valerian in his drinking water may be the answer.
Since parrots are highly social creatures, it is clearly inhumane to keep them socially isolated from their own kind for their entire lives. It may be too late, but you may want to try introducing another bird, keeping them in separate cages and perches initially. Don''t buy the bird in a pet store, though; go online and you will find scores of parrots for adoption at parrot sanctuaries and rescue operations close to where you live.
M.H., Washington, DC
Sep 26, 2009
My 6-year-old cat has an infection in the toenails -- black. For the past three years, we tried antibiotics, soaking with MalAcetic solution, cod-liver oil and Evo (chicken), broccoli and yogurt. The infection goes away and then comes back. What would you do?
M.H., Washington, DC Sep 27, 2009
Recurrent nail-bed infections are difficult to eradicate. The retractile nature of cats'' claws and their resistance to having their paws squeezed makes the job even harder.
I would first try an old remedy for many ills: equal parts of organic cider vinegar in warm water. Soak and massage each infected paw twice daily for two weeks. Repeat again two weeks later for another seven to 10 days. If this fails, paint the base of each claw with tea-tree oil (Melaleuca oil), but only if your cat is otherwise healthy (especially in terms of liver function). Give two treatments, three days apart, and do not allow your cat to lick her paws. After the oil has been on for about an hour, soak and massage the paws in the diluted cider vinegar, and dry thoroughly. Outdoor-indoor cats may pick up such infections from contaminated soil and from scratching "marking posts" where infected cats have clawed. In some instances, a contact-allergy may play a role in your cat''s condition, so if you are using a corn-based cat litter, to which some cats are highly allergic, you may wish to try a different kind of litter. I would opt for shredded or pelletized paper. The fine particles in clay litter could irritate your cat''s paws if there are open sores.
H.W., Azle, TX
Tags: cat Azle TX
Sep 19, 2009
Please get the word out to cat owners not to give their cats Valium, even if prescribed by a vet -- like in our case, without informing us of the dangers. Our 12-year-old healthy and happy Hobie suffered only from carsickness, and a new vet we saw prescribed Valium. It took only one 2 mg pill to make Hobie progressively listless and sluggish, until he finally refused food and water, even treats. Not knowing what was wrong with him, we set an appointment 10 days after the first pill and gave him another pill to keep calm. The vet called in the results of the blood test late-morning on Saturday. Hobie''s liver values were 1700, but the vet suggested he would be OK until Monday. He then closed his office, like everyone else in animal care. Hobie got worse and worse, with obvious pain and spasms throughout the weekend. He was comatose by Monday morning, when we were finally able to have him put to sleep forever. The vet thought "the timeline indicated Valium" so he knew exactly what he was doing. We educated ourselves through the Internet, albeit too late. Hobie had a blood test before a routine teeth cleaning in the beginning of March and his kidneys and liver showed up healthy.
H.W., Azle, TX Sep 20, 2009
You have my condolences. Such an unexpected loss is devastating and cause for disbelief and anger. But let me assure you that Valium, at the dose given, is normally safe for cats. If I were the vet, I would have taken an autopsy. There is a strong likelihood that the anesthetic used during the "routine teeth cleaning" caused liver damage. So, what would be a normal dose of Valium (and other medications) would be toxic to a liver-compromised animal. There could be other health reasons, but the bottom line is to avoid "routine teeth cleaning" because of the long-term and short-term anesthetic risks. I have received several letters from people whose dogs and cats have died soon after having dental work done. Preventive oral/dental health care is every pet owner''s responsibility (check my Web site for details).
M.G., Boynton Beach, FL
Tags: cat Boynton Beach FL diet food
Sep 19, 2009
I just read your column entitled "Kitten bites should ease as the animal matures." My daughter has two cats that she got from the local shelter. One is about 6 months old and the other about 1 year. She adopted them a short while back and they are compatible, but for the last two months they were pretty much alone except for daily visits from my husband and myself. My daughter''s husband was stricken with a heart attack and spent the last two months in a critical care unit a few hours from home. My daughter spent every day with him away from home. He lost his legs and part of his hands. He is back home now.
One of the cats is a constant licker. It appears his one way of showing affection is tied in with the grooming process and he does it continually. My daughter is worried about her husband''s wounds -- the cat''s tongue is rough and he is very intense about his licking. Do you think this licking will stop now that the parents are home? How can they help him to stop? They are wonderful cats.
M.G., Boynton Beach, FL Sep 20, 2009
I sympathize with your son-in-law''s condition and hope that he has been advised about diet and various supplements to help facilitate his healing. Cats are often attracted to various skin lotions and will try to lick them off when applied to human companions. Aloe vera gel has excellent healing qualities and is less attractive to cats than other products. Cat licking is a social-grooming behavior that is a display of affection that may also help the cat feel more secure and relaxed. Punishing the cat for licking is no solution. Try re-motivation, including brushing the cat and giving him a toy like a cat wand or fish pole to play with. Simply pushing the cat away and then throwing a fluffy toy may also help. Ideally, both cats should be on your son-in-law''s lap or chest, just purring and being petted -- both have beneficial healing effects.
C.W., Naples, FL
Tags: cat Naples FL diet food
Sep 19, 2009
What can I do about a cat with pancreatitis? I have been reading your column about pet teeth cleaning and what to use to prevent the need to have it done again. You mentioned changing a pet's diet. My pet female Siamese is 4 years old. I rescued her about six months ago fro the Humane Society. I was not told that she had pancreatitis. This was finally discovered after a couple of visits to our vet where extensive tests were done. She is now on prescription food and doing well. Your book, "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Foods" talks about the perils of manufactured pet foods. What am I to do? I want to give her what is best for the pancreatitis, so she has to have low-fat foods. But how can I keep her teeth clean with the items you mentioned: raw chicken-wing tips/feet, sliced strips of turkey gizzards and raw beef hearts? I cannot give my cat these items, as they may cause her pancreatitis to flare up. And what to do about constipation? Can I give her 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw organic yogurt daily in the food or 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut oil? I only want to do what's best for my cat.
C.W., Naples, FL Sep 20, 2009
As long as your cat is doing well on the prescription diet that is low in fat and protein, I would not change her diet. Later on, you may be able to transition her onto a more natural diet. Your veterinarian must rule out all possible causes, notably bad teeth. One abscessed tooth in cats (and dogs) can cause havoc to internal organs. So can some manufactured cat foods that are linked to another disease of the pancreas (namely diabetes) as well as fatty liver disease and arthritis. Try a product like Petzlife Oral Care spray or gel on her teeth once they have been thoroughly checked. Also, discuss with your veterinarian giving her supportive pancreatic digestive enzymes and probiotics.
The constipation may be alleviated with psyllium husks, provided she has a good fluid intake. A tablespoon daily of low-fat yogurt may also help.
B.L.B., Middleburg, Va
Tags: dog Middleburg VA
Sep 19, 2009
In regard to your column on arthritis, I wanted to let you know about the wonderful success we have had with shockwave therapy. My 12-year-old female miniature schnauzer has arthritis in her hips. She saw our long-time veterinarian and was on many medications, which didn''t seem to help much. She wanted to go out on walks, but it was very difficult to watch her fall and barely be able to get up again. She walked with her hind legs crossing over as though intoxicated. At night, she was in so much pain that I called my vet several times to ask if he thought I needed to put her to sleep.
Before taking that drastic step, I decided on a second opinion from another vet who had figured out what was wrong with my horse when no one else could. She said she''d like to try shockwave on her hips. We had three treatments, two weeks apart from each other. A year later and she walks and runs like a 2-year-old with no sign of pain and stiffness. She has been off all medications since her treatments. I am so delighted that I didn''t lose her and hope to have her for several more years. She acts like a youngster now and it is so wonderful to see her trotting and chasing after. I have not found anything about these treatments that caused harm and I tell everyone with an arthritic dog about our success.
B.L.B., Middleburg, Va Sep 20, 2009
Many readers will appreciate your affirmation of the effectiveness of soundwave therapy for arthritis. When properly applied, the only side effect is transient swelling and occasional bruising.
Sound is a form of energy that can help relieve pain and stimulate healing in patients suffering from degenerative joint disease in the hips and elbows as well as cervical and lumbosacral pain. The electrical shockwave device that delivers sonic pulses is noisy, so animals are sedated during treatment.
B.P., St. Louis, Mo
Tags: small pet MO diet food
Sep 12, 2009
A friend of mine says he''s going to take a box turtle from the woods and let it live in his basement, feeding on bugs there, and he will take care of everything (including water, logs, etc.). I think he''s crazy. Please advise.
B.P., St. Louis, Mo Sep 13, 2009
All box turtles found in their natural habitats should be left there unless threatened by developers. It may be tempting to take these harmless vegetarians home to be kept as pets, especially for the enjoyment of children. But this gives children the wrong message -- a human-centered worldview that is destroying the natural world.
Your friend is crazy. Box turtles are not bug exterminators and belong outdoors, not in some idiot''s basement. Pet turtles are often malnourished, their shells become deformed, and fungal skin and mouth infections develop. They need sunlight, access to soil and a variety of plant foods to which their nutritional wisdom naturally leads them.