L.B.S., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: dog Fort Myers FL
Apr 29, 2013
Please tell me something about staph infection in puppies. We have been fostering some pups, and a few got little pustules on their tummies the vet said was Staphylococcus.
L.B.S., Fort Myers, FL Apr 30, 2013
Staphylococcus bacteria, of which there are various strains, is arguably a normal "commensal" organism. Along with other kinds of bacteria, it helps keep the skin healthy and resistant to invasive bacterial and fungal infections. But in puppies with poorly developed immunity and animals with impaired immune systems, Staphylococcus intermedius can cause follicular dermatitis -- pustules with a hair shaft protruding from the center. Shampooing with benzoyl peroxide, chlorhexidine or human Selsun Blue medicated shampoo may resolve the problem. Applying essential oils with antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties -- such as frankincense, lavender and tea tree -- diluted in 10 parts almond oil to one part of these oils, applied twice daily may prove effective.
More resistant cases call for oral antibiotics such as erythromycin. Penicillins are not generally effective because of bacterial resistance. Be sure to get the dogs tested and treated for other concurrent disease.
D.D., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL allergies
Apr 28, 2013
What is your opinion on clumping litter and cat eye problems? Thank you.
D.D., Naples, FL Apr 29, 2013
I have received several letters questioning the safety of clumping litter for cats. The most common concern is about them swallowing small particles of the litter that may adhere to their paws or fur and the risk of intestinal blockage. I have found no clinical evidence to support this concern, and I regard its perpetuation as an unfounded fear.
I use World''s Best Cat Litter for my two cats, and I believe that it is one of the best. It has very little dust compared to the various clay-based cat litters. Your cat should have no problems with this brand, unless it is allergic to corn.
Any cat with eye issues may experience eye irritation and develop litter box aversion if his box has an odor-trapping cover. Covered cat boxes create an ammoniated and dusty interior space for cats, and I advise against using them.
G.J.D., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL
Mar 30, 2013
I have two Shetland sheepdogs. Both are 7 years old, but they are not related.
When we were in Florida last March, one of my dogs developed a rash under his nose. It was red and he was rubbing his face on furniture and licking his feet. It looked like he lost some hair on his face since you could see the pink skin beneath.
I took him to the vet, and he said that there are a lot of molds and spores on the ground in Florida. He put my dog on prednisone, as he said the rash was inflamed. This did calm down the redness. However, when we returned to Michigan, my vet there also put him on prednisone, but after repeated use, the area looks pretty much the same. I noticed that the dog was beginning to get a white patch on his face that hadn't been there before. It's gotten larger, and other patches are beginning to appear.
I have taken him to a vet who specializes in dermatology problems in dogs. She said that it was just his hair. I don't think that's the case due to the fact that he is getting more white patches. She did a blood test that indicated he was allergic to dust mites. She also suggested that a punch test would show more. However, we don't want to put our dog through that unless it's absolutely necessary.
I have done some research online and found that there is such a thing as vitiligo, a condition that causes depigmentation of skin in dogs. The pictures looked similar to what is happening on my dog's face.
What would you suggest at this point? If it is vitiligo, is there anything that can be done?
Years ago when I bought my first dog, I read your book "Understanding Your Dog." This was one of the most insightful books I've read on dog behavior.
G.J.D., Naples, FL Mar 31, 2013
I am impressed by the number of readers who are going online in search of diagnoses for their pets' conditions when prescribed treatments fail or when veterinarians fail to communicate clearly or offer opinions that don't seem to make sense.
I find it disturbing that a veterinary dermatology specialist -- and I would ask if she is board certified -- did not raise the possibility of your dog having discoid lupus erythematosus, a chronic skin condition with inflammation and scarring of the face, ears and scalp, which is common in your breed. This condition fits the symptoms you describe. Other autoimmune disorders to which Shetland sheepdogs are susceptible include pemphigus foliaceus and pemphigus erythematosus -- these should also be considered.
Carefully monitored, long-term treatment with prednisone can help, especially in combination with tetracycline, niacinamide or gold therapy (aurothioglucose), fish oil and topical vitamin E.
D.M.W., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL diet food
Mar 24, 2013
Recently, I adopted a stray dog from the Humane Society. He is 8 years old, and part Lhasa apso, part poodle. He''s a very sweet and bright animal.
He has the strange habit of licking the sofa cushion and barking constantly. I am sure this is not healthy, but according to the veterinarian, it''s just a habit. I don''t agree. Is there something that can be done to cure him?
D.M.W., Naples, FL Mar 25, 2013
This excessive licking is an obsessive-compulsive behavior, and it is quite common in toy and miniature breeds. As one of the founding fathers of applied animal ethology/veterinary behavioral therapy, I caution against immediately jumping to a psychological diagnosis before ruling out possible physical causes.
A thorough veterinary evaluation is called for to check for a possible source of chronic inflammation: conjunctivitis, gingivitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, contact dermatitis, possible food allergy/hypersensitivity and even impacted anal glands.
You should also consider boredom, lack of physical and mental activities and anxiety as a cause for this behavior. When physical and rectifiable psychological causes are ruled out, a trial with a psychotropic medication such as Prozac may prove beneficial. But the best cure may lie in adopting another dog of similar size and friendly temperament.
J.M., Naples, FL
Tags: bird Naples FL
Mar 18, 2013
You should retract your advice you gave to a reader regarding suggestions for taming a parakeet. All interactions with this bird should be positive in nature, not aversive, like using the glove. I'm horrified at this advice. Picture a glove from a little bird's perspective. It's terrifying.
Much good information is available for the new bird owner without cost. I was a volunteer with Cleveland's Parrot Education and Adoption Center before I moved to Florida. The organization has online behavior courses that the reader could take. Barbara Heidenreich of Good Bird Inc. has tons of good information.
I assure you, no one with real parrot behavior knowledge would ever suggest using a glove. In the meantime, a much better approach would be to sit quietly by the bird's cage and place its favorite treat in a cup. Don't force interaction. In time, the owner can offer the treat by hand. Take small steps to keep the bird comfortable. The idea is to positively reinforce it stepping onto the hand. A glove does not breed trust.
Please retract your advice before more harm is done.
J.M., Naples, FL Mar 19, 2013
I stand by using the glove to protect birds and small animals, such as hamsters, from the avoidance reflex of children and adults who are not experienced handlers and when the animal is not yet used to being in contact.
I recall one veterinarian who was examining a hamster who bit him and evoked the avoidance jerk response, which flipped the poor animal onto the floor with a fatal concussion.
A light protective glove -- not a huge leather gauntlet -- gives self-confidence to the wearer and can be left inside the bird's cage for short periods to facilitate habituation/desensitization.
M.L., Ft Myers, FL
Tags: cat FL Ft Myers
Mar 17, 2013
I have had a terrible problem with my 14-year-old male cat's eating habits. He will eat something for a while and then just stop. I try different foods with no luck. He also throws up just about every time he eats.
I've started giving him Gerber baby food -- turkey with turkey gravy. He gets a spoonful in the morning and another spoonful an hour or two later. After that, he gets cooked ground turkey, which I cook for him in salt-free chicken bouillon. I mix that with Science Diet kitten food (the minced liver and chicken entree). I add probiotics, psyllium and Be Well supplements to the mix. He seems to like it and does not throw up after eating. I've also tried Nature's Variety Instinct Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diet -- he ate that for about two days and now won't touch it, no matter what I mix it with.
Any suggestions on how to get him to eat and what he should be eating?
M.L., Ft Myers, FL Mar 18, 2013
You are feeding your old cat just what I would recommend, but I would add a few drops of fish oil and encourage him to drink plenty of water. He may accept this via a dropper.
Most likely he is suffering from chronic kidney failure and needs a full veterinary checkup. Hydration and quality protein nutrition is important. Medication to help correct the kidney malfunction and to lower blood pressure if that is also an issue may be called for. Check my website for more details to help cats with this condition -- provided that is the veterinarian's diagnosis. Various cancers in older cats can produce similar symptoms, and this I cannot diagnose without seeing your cat and running various tests.
J.P.V., Naples, FL
Jan 21, 2013
I have a 6 1/2-pound Yorkie. He's a sweetheart. About three years ago, I found out he has an enlarged heart and a closed trachea. He loves to play, but when he does, he gets out of breath and tries to suck in air with his tongue. When I see him do that, I get tears in my eyes.
He takes pills twice a day. I've asked our vet if there's anything else that can be done. He shrugs his shoulders and puts his hands in the air.
Is there anything I can do or should have done? I hope so.
J.P.V., Naples, FL Jan 22, 2013
These sorts of developmental disorders are all too common in toy breeds. Such health problems, and a host of others, have a genetic basis. This places the burden of responsibility on the breeders to help eliminate these problems by not breeding dogs whose puppies inherit such disorders. This is called progeny testing. I would think twice about advising anyone to purchase a purebred dog without some form of health guarantee.
I regret that there are no cures for your dog. Monitor his weight, and keep him trim. Take him for slow walks so he gets some mental stimulation. He should wear only a harness and never a collar. Toy breeds prone to tracheal collapse should never be walked on a collar. Engage in short play bouts, followed by grooming or a calming massage.
J.A., Naples, FL
Tags: cat Naples FL litter box
Dec 30, 2012
I have a great, healthy cat, Monty, who is more than 12 years old. I adopted him from the Humane Society 10 years ago. He was there for more than a year.
He has always used the litter box, but the problem is that he never covers his urine or feces. He turns around to leave the box and scratches as if he is covering, but nothing's covered. I have tried for years to teach him, with no success.
And there is, of course, the smell. Do you have any suggestions?
J.A., Naples, FL Dec 31, 2012
Since your cat is probably set in his toilet behavior, I would accept this as a blessing insofar as he does at least evacuate only in the box. Besides, from the odor you know when his litter box needs cleaning.
I do worry about cats having to evacuate in covered boxes, even the costly ones fitted with an automatic cleaning system, because of the odor of urine and feces being trapped inside. Ironically, in a recent edition of the Humane Society of the United States' All Animals magazine, there is an article advising cat owners to not use covered or hooded boxes because they may develop an aversion because of the odor; on the next page is an advertisement for a hooded, self-cleaning litter box.
For your Monty, the issue could be an aversion to scented litter or clay or other clumping litter that sticks to his paws. He may like one of Purina's better products, Yesterday's News, consisting of recycled newspaper as pelleted cat litter, which neither clumps nor sticks easily to cats' paws.
C.Z., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL heartworm flea tick
Dec 16, 2012
I have an 8-year-old Tibetan terrier, Jesse; a 4-year-old Maltese, Sophie; and a 2-year-old Maltese, Dylan.
My vet believes that monthly heartworm prevention is necessary. All dogs get Heartgard Plus every month. Even though I've never missed a month, when it gets close to a year, the vet requires blood work for a negative reading before she will approve more medication. The blood work is $45 per dog. The medication is also quite costly. She requires that I sign a waiver for the meds if I do not buy them from her and get them on the Internet.
According to Dr. David Knight and Dr. James Lok of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, addressing recommendations for year-round meds, "The practice of some veterinarians to continuously prescribe monthly chemoprophylaxis exaggerates the actual risk of heartworm transmission in most parts of the country and unnecessarily increases the cost of protection to their clients."
What do you think?
C.Z., Naples, FL Dec 17, 2012
In most states, there are flea/tick and mosquito seasons that justify intermittent use of preventive drugs. But in areas like Florida, it can be a year-round battle. Check my website, DrFoxVet.com, for safer methods of flea and tick control.
If you are confident that you can keep mosquitoes away indoors and out, your dogs may stop taking heartworm medication. But since the Heartgard Plus also keeps other parasites at bay and the low dose is safe for most breeds, it may be wise to continue with the monthly preventive medication.
Use botanical insect repellents such as Organic Orange TKO Natural Cleaner (diluted in water) or a water/eucalyptus oil or lemon oil spritz to keep mosquitoes and other biting insects away from you and your dogs.
We must adopt precautionary principles such as keeping dogs off chemically sprayed sidewalks and lawns and fight the use of such poisons in our communities.
Lymphoma and other cancers, even in young dogs, are the main causes of death in our canine companion animals. I attribute much of this to the toxic environments we have created in our homes and outdoors, where insecticides and herbicides are used routinely and by and large unnecessarily for cosmetic purposes. Also, agrichemical contaminants of human food and pet food play a significant, but impossible to quantify, role in the genesis of cancer, some types being especially prevalent in farmers and agricultural workers.
R.F.T., Bonita Springs, FL
Tags: cat Bonita Springs FL diet food
Dec 16, 2012
We have a 7-year-old male Russian blue cat, Boris, who weighs 6 1/2 pounds. His weight has remained constant, and, apart from what I am about to describe, he has had no significant health problems.
Boris was adopted when he was a year old, and we noticed soon after he arrived that he periodically choked or gagged and threw up food he had recently eaten or bile. We took him to our veterinarian, who advised that the behavior might be genetic but was no cause for concern.
We feed Boris moist food (Friskies) in the form of shreds or flakes. He's a finicky eater, and he will turn up his nose at one form of food or another, even though he relished it the day before. He also gets treats in the afternoon (Temptations), and he doesn't let me forget to give them to him. He rarely gets tuna, but yesterday we gave him a few bits and some liquid from the can. He ate and drank everything and did not regurgitate it. I tend to believe the treats may be responsible for his problem, but he throws up his regular food too.
Lately, he has been throwing up more often, and he always gags or chokes beforehand. We are wondering whether or not we should discontinue the treats, change his food, provide some sort of medication or simply ignore the problem.
R.F.T., Bonita Springs, FL Dec 17, 2012
I receive many letters from people whose cats share the same symptoms as yours and have posted many replies on my website.
I do not like the cavalier attitude of the veterinarian who saw your cat. The problem should not be dismissed as some kind of genetic behavioral quirk of no consequence. I would cut out the treats, consider fur balls in his stomach and urge you to transition him onto a raw food diet or one that is grain- and soy-free.
Your cat most likely has a food allergy or hypersensitivity. There are many other reasons why cats regurgitate their food, from eating too quickly and not being fed four to six small meals a day to having chronic renal failure or fatty liver disease. I would not ignore this problem.