D.D., Arlington, Va
Oct 31, 2009
In all the years my longhaired female miniature dachshund, Schnappes, was alive, she was only healthy for about two of them. She was recently put down at 16 years old. At age 2, I thought she was dying -- she had lost all of her fur, had no energy, and smelled like a monkey. I visited conventional vets, administered certain drugs, tried holistic vets, and I cooked for her -- all to no avail. No one figured out her problem all those 16 years.
I had put her on the healthiest (at that time) bagged food: Solid Gold. Then I put her on some of my herbs and vitamins, as I am a vegetarian, holistic and homeopathic in my own life. Her hair grew back, and she stopped itching and chewing for about a year; and then we were back at it again. Most of her life, she had a lizardlike tummy, constant chewing/itching abrasions and lots of ear infections. After Schnappes'' death, I searched the Internet, looking for another dachshund. I was in no hurry, just looking. I came across a breeder in Virginia and, upon telling her about Schnappes'' life, she said that my dog probably had demodectic mange (red mange or demodicosis). None of the vets ever came up with that scenario. I''m told that it''s not prevalent in dogs, but all kinds of animals can get this disease. It is something passed down from the mother to the puppy and stresses the immune system while toxins and parasites attack the animal and remain unless proper treatment is given.
D.D., Arlington, Va Nov 01, 2009
I''m in disbelief that no veterinarian ever took a skin sample to check for the presence of mange parasites or never put your dog on a low-dose long course of Ivermectin, given orally along with a host of nutraceuticals.
I know that some veterinarians associate mange with the junkyard-dog kind of owner, but this disease, often passed on by the mother (especially those kept by commercial puppy-mill breeders), can infest pedigree dogs from upscale homes. This parasite can be difficult to eradicate and thrives on impaired immune systems when dogs are fed poor-quality manufactured dog foods and flares up when the animal is stressed. As you discovered, Schnappes improved temporarily once her nutrition improved.
You have my condolences. The monkey smell and lizardlike skin are cardinal signs of this not uncommon canine affliction. All good veterinarians use their noses as one of their primary diagnostic tools.
L.B., Charlottesville, Va
Oct 31, 2009
My daughter rescued a dog from an abusive situation. He is protective and possessive of her. He is affectionate toward me until I approach her or her room, where he is often guarding the door. He''ll bark and growl at me and stage a sham attack. On such occasions, I speak harshly and authoritatively toward him, but I''m worried about him doing this to guests or friends. How can we break him of this fierce protectiveness?
L.B., Charlottesville, Va Nov 01, 2009
This kind of protective/defensive behavior is not uncommon in dogs. Our beloved 12-year-old dog Batman, rescued as a pup and imported from my wife''s animal shelter in India, growls at her when she enters my in-home office.
Speaking "harshly and authoritatively" to your daughter''s dog is a challenge that will only serve to intimidate and intensify his display of defensive aggression. He is being naturally protective of his territory and of your daughter, which you should honor. Temper your temper, and accept that this is how the dog is, rather than trying to control him because you feel rejected or afraid. Simply ignore him rather than reinforcing his adversarial reactions toward you. Pet him, groom him, and give him treats on neutral space in the living room and outdoors.
C.G., West Palm Beach, FL
Tags: cat West Palm Beach FL
Oct 31, 2009
I read the column in which you recommended that cats should only be given pure water and not tap water because of the chemicals it contains. Is rainwater considered pure? Or does it contain chemicals in the air as it falls to the ground? If it''s healthier for cats than tap water, could I catch it in a clean container and give it to cats?
C.G., West Palm Beach, FL Nov 01, 2009
Rainwater is far from pure, owing to human contamination with agricultural pesticides, industrial pollutants, especially mercury, lead, aluminum and dioxins, and even pharmaceutical products. Treated with chlorine to kill fecal bacteria contaminants, municipal tap water is a hazardous chemical and an endocrine-system disruptor. Other potentially harmful chemicals are used in the water-treatment process, including aluminum salts. Toxic fluorides are often added under the erroneous belief that they prevent dental cavities. Fluorides are associated with bone cancer and possibly thyroid disease. Sources of pure water on this despoiled planet Earth are few indeed. In-home, reverse-osmosis water-purification systems offer some hope for our animal companions (humans, too). Check companies and products such as Culligan, Pure & Clear Countertop Water Filtration System and Eco Systems International Multi-Pure Stainless-Steel Countertop Water Filter.
T.L.D., Alexandria, Va
Tags: dog Alexandria VA diet food
Oct 31, 2009
I have a 6-year-old female miniature schnauzer whose recent blood test showed elevated levels of amylase (1266) and lipase (835) -- I believe both are pancreas enzymes. She doesn''t present any symptoms and seems perfectly normal. Should I be concerned about these levels? And, if so, what steps should I take?
A broader question deals with blood tests for dogs in general and the significance of elevated results. I ask because my schnauzer had high levels of alkaline phosphatase (1010), a liver enzyme. After changing to Hill''s Prescription Diet w/d, taking medication (Denosyl) and eventually losing weight, the enzyme level is back to normal. My breeder says the excess weight caused the high-enzyme reading and, in fact, the enzyme level didn''t return to normal until I put my dog on a diet.
T.L.D., Alexandria, Va Nov 01, 2009
Liver and pancreatic enzyme levels can give useful indications of organ function and potential disease. Some breeds have higher-than-normal liver enzyme levels, and both pancreatic and liver enzyme levels can be abnormally high even though the dog appears otherwise to be quite healthy. Older animals and those recovering from illness (including dogs on medication, say, for arthritis) or who are overweight can have abnormal liver and pancreatic enzyme levels.
Supplements such as Denosyl and milk thistle are good for the liver. A low-fat diet, probiotics and digestive enzymes can help animals with pancreatic disease. I advise periodic use of these and other supplements for older dogs regardless of their enzyme levels, along with a wholesome whole-food diet (as distinct from highly processed manufactured pet foods).
M.R., Washington, DC
Tags: dog Washington DC diet food
Oct 24, 2009
I have been using your food formula for my two Labs for more than a year, and the one dog who had allergies at least four times a year has not been to the vet for allergies for a year! Thank you so much. If we have residual effects of another hurricane or have a power outage, what would be the best thing to give the dogs instead of chicken that would not have to be refrigerated? Also, are there any vegetables that dogs cannot or should not eat? I''ve heard cinnamon is good for dogs.
M.R., Washington, DC Oct 25, 2009
Thanks for confirming the benefits of whole foods for dogs.
When the power goes out, pack the homemade food in ice, or ice some eggs to use as a stopgap for chicken or turkey. You should also try lentils or pinto beans as a protein substitute. Cinnamon may help pets and people with diabetes, and it has many other health benefits. Dogs do well with a few vegetables in their diet, but avoid the cabbage family -- including broccoli and Brussels sprouts -- if the animal is suffering from hypothyroidism. Green beans, peas, zucchini and yams (sweet potatoes) in small portions (1 to 2 tablespoons per 30-pound weight per meal) are excellent high-fiber whole foods. Dogs with diabetes mellitus should probably not be fed yams or sweet potatoes, and no dog should be fed onions. Garlic in small amounts (one large clove per 30 pounds of body weight) is safe for most dogs and should be given with food to avoid stomach irritation; it may also help repel fleas. Some dogs love avocado, but the skin may be toxic to dogs (and it could kill parrots). Some dogs (cats more so) are allergic to corn products, and wheat can cause seizures in some dogs. For additional details, see my co-authored book "Not Fit for a Dog; The Truth About Manufactured Dog & Cat Foods" (Quill Driver Books, 2009).
B.E., Wellington, FL
Tags: dog Wellington FL diet food
Oct 24, 2009
My husband and I were wondering what we could do for our beautiful chocolate Lab who incessantly has dry skin. She always appears to have dandruff, particularly unsightly and highly visible on her dark fur. Is there anything we can put directly on her coat or add to her food (she eats dry Science Diet, Adult Light)?
B.E., Wellington, FL Oct 25, 2009
A soothing oatmeal shampoo will help the skin and remove some of the dandruff. But the real problem is internal. Skin and coat condition reflect the quality of nutrition and the dog''s ability to digest and thrive on what he or she is being fed. Many manufactured dog and cat foods need to be supplemented with nutraceuticals like fish oil, flaxseed oil or other good oils that provide essential fatty acids typically deficient in dry foods; up to a tablespoon daily should help your dog''s coat. Few, if any, supplements are needed when unprocessed whole-food ingredients are used in the pet-food formula, as per my recipe and list of prepared dog (and cat) foods at my Web site. Some skin conditions are associated with other health problems such as thyroid disease and Cushing''s disease, so a full veterinary checkup of your dog is called for if her energy level is low.
H.O., Rushford, MN
Oct 24, 2009
Regarding the two cats that avoided the floor and chose to walk on the couch and chairs: Is it possible that fleas inhabit the carpet?
We had a cat who did this in Florida until we discovered fleas and got rid of them. Also, one of our current cats (rescued in Florida) used to walk only on the sidewalk or driveway when we brought her home to Minnesota. It took her a long time to realize our grass was basically bug-free.
H.O., Rushford, MN Oct 25, 2009
Many thanks for this topical insight with regard to cats'' avoidance of carpets and grass. Pet-safe and environmentally harmless products to rid carpets and rooms of fleas include Fleabuster''s static-charged borate powder and high-grade (not pool-grade) diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle either of these products on carpets, floors, sofa creases, etc., and vacuum after 24 to 48 hours, repeating every two to three weeks. The diatomaceous earth can also be sprinkled around outdoor patios. Avoid inhaling this powder, and sprinkle slowly and gently rather than making clouds of dust. Both products kill fleas by essentially smothering and desiccating them. I advise all pet owners to avoid using topical anti-flea chemicals on your cats and dogs, the long-term use of which is not safe, and even short-term use can cause serious toxic reactions in some animals. An integrated approach to controlling fleas is essential, as per the detailed protocol in my book "Cat Body, Cat Mind" (Lyons Press, 2007). Cats are extremely sensitive to insecticidal chemicals, the safer varieties of which, such as Summit VetPharm''s Vectra, should only be used as a last resort when physical methods of flea control -- from using a flea comb daily to regular floor treatment and vacuuming -- fail to keep these pests at bay. One of the best preventions, of course, is not to allow cats to roam outdoors where they can pick up fleas and bring them indoors to infest the home.
F. & V.C., West Palm Beach, FL
Oct 24, 2009
We have a healthy male 3-year-old cat. We recently had his teeth cleaned under anesthesia and were informed that he would be due for another cleaning in one year. Has the protocol for teeth cleaning been changed to once a year? Or should the procedure be done as necessary?
F. & V.C., West Palm Beach, FL Oct 25, 2009
You raise an important issue. Periodontal and other dental/oral diseases are all too prevalent in dogs and cats today. Part of the reason is highly processed, high-cereal-content and gluten-loaded pet foods that are not conducive to oral health. It is regrettable that many veterinarians are still selling such junk foods in their clinics that can put cats'' health at risk and cause other health problems in addition to dental disease. Transition your cat onto a raw-food diet or my home-prepared recipe available at my Web site. Check my article on preventing periodontal disease. Giving your cat scalded chicken wingtips -- skin and all -- and then strips of raw beef shank meat or beef heart will naturally clean his teeth. Products such as PetzLife Oral Care can also help maintain healthy gums and teeth after professional cleaning. Because of anesthetic risks, this should never become a routine annual procedure. Prevention is the best medicine. A cavalier attitude toward regular anesthetization of dogs and cats with extensive dental disease should be questioned when there are high mortality rates in older animals following dental cleaning and surgery.
E.G.D., Boynton Beach, FL
Tags: cat Boynton Beach FL diet food
Oct 17, 2009
Whitney is a female gray (looks like a Russian Blue) cat who is almost 19 years old. She is an indoor cat and in good health. She had not seen a vet for nine years.
Several months ago, she urinated on my bed. I cleaned things up, and she did the same thing the next night. I took her to the vet, and $385 later, the diagnosis was hyperthyroidism and possible kidney failure. I was sent home with instructions and medications for arthritis. I was asked if there had been any recent change in her diet, and I noted that I had recently added Whiskas Temptations. I discontinued that treat, and now there is nothing wrong with her. I almost killed my baby! I think this bears looking into.
E.G.D., Boynton Beach, FL Oct 18, 2009
I presume your statement that she had "nothing wrong with her" means that she was retested for hyperthyroidism and turned out to be OK. After checking the ingredients of manufactured dog and cat treats, I am not surprised that many animals get sick and even test positive for certain diseases that clear up once they are taken off such "treats." My advice is for you to bake your own treats. Check my Web site for making your own cat and dog treats. Or purchase byproduct and cereal-free, freeze-dried salmon treats like Old Grizzly, PureBites from Manteca, Stella & Chewy''s freeze-dried poultry treats (that my dogs love) and Solid Gold beef treats. Some additive-free, freeze-dried cat and dog treats are organically certified. Consumers, beware! Read the label, and ignore the fancy packaging and highly advertised big-brand names that too often sell junk food not fit for a dog or cat. The ingredients and facilities used to produce these products are often far too unregulated.
T.L., Toms River, NJ
Tags: small pet
Oct 17, 2009
I read your columns regularly and have benefited from your advice many times concerning our 7-year-old wheaten terrier. I need your advice concerning our 5-year-old Holland Lop rabbit. She is strictly indoors, in-cage only at night, well trained and loved. She has been healthy all along, but our vet diagnosed an abscess under her chin related to a molar. The surgery seems invasive and not always successful -- it may recur. Do you know of an alternative treatment for this?
T.L., Toms River, NJ Oct 18, 2009
Your rabbit''s dental problem is serious because infection could spread into the jawbone and bloodstream, as if often the case with dogs and cats with periodontal disease. When the latter happens, micro-abscesses can develop in various organs like the liver and kidneys, and infection may develop in the heart or lungs.
Anesthesia is always a risk, and surgical removal of a deeply rooted tooth takes careful expertise. However, I do recommend the surgery. This should be preceded by a course of antibiotic treatment (oral) seven to 10 days prior to the extraction of the diseased tooth. A more conservative approach, following radiographic assessment of the extent of jaw infection, would be to simply treat with appropriate antibiotics and boost the rabbit''s immune system with nutraceutical supplements, especially super-antioxidants and anti-inflammatory herbs such as skullcap and rosemary, and various trace minerals such as zinc and selenium that are in a variety of organically grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. Small portions daily will be good rabbit medicine. Alternatively, experiment with very small amounts of top-quality human supplements such as New Chapter''s Zyflamend and Immunity Take Care herbal extract.