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.
V.E., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: dog Fort Myers FL
Jul 30, 2012
I have a shih tzu/bichon-mix who scratches his face a lot. There are no fleas, and his vet can find no apparent reason for the itching. Could you advise me of the best way to solve this problem?
V.E., Fort Myers, FL Jul 31, 2012
The itchy face condition in dogs can be linked with oral health problems like gingivitis, so a thorough oral examination is called for to rule out this possibility.
Another possibility is chronic conjunctivitis, which is often associated with one or more turned-in eyelashes. This is a common issue that I trust your veterinarian ruled out.
Some face-rubbing dogs show significant improvement when plastic food and water bowls are replaced with steel or ceramic ones. In other instances, the fur around their lips must be trimmed and their mouths wiped with a baby wipe containing soothing lavender and aloe extracts after every meal. Some dogs develop a hypersensitivity to certain food ingredients, and those treatments can provide immediate relief.
If all else fails, you may want to transition your dog onto a different diet -- one that contains a single protein as a food allergy elimination test. Providing filtered/purified drinking water rather than straight tap water may be advisable. For details, see my report on my website, www.DrFoxVet.com.
Finally, coming into contact with wool or synthetic fibers could set up some facial irritation, so have him sleep on clean cotton towels or sheets laundered with a scent- and fragrance-free detergent.
W.M., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: small pet Fort Myers FL python
May 06, 2012
I have a small reticulated python. After the last time it shed its skin, it seemed like some is left on the eyes. Should I try to take it off myself, or is it best left alone?
W.M., Fort Myers, FL May 07, 2012
Any local pet store that sells snakes or the municipal zoo should be able to refer you to a veterinarian who has experience treating snakes. Even though most do not, all "exotic" animals should have professional advice when health issues arise. You could also contact any local veterinary hospital and ask for a referral.
Most likely, your snake has not gone through a normal skin-shedding cycle, which can be disrupted by the snake's environment being too dry or the animal not having suitable rough surfaces (like rocks and tree branches) to rub against. The modified skin over the eyes (called "spectacles") has been retained. Trying to pull them off could damage the corneas and result in ulceration, scarring and loss of vision.
Purchase over-the-counter human ocular lubricant and apply three to four times daily. Make sure the snake's enclosure is humid and suitable objects for the snake to rub against are included. If the spectacles have not been shed in 10 to 14 days, a veterinary specialist should examine your snake for possible eye infection causing the spectacles to continue to adhere to the surface of each eye.
M.F., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: cat dog Fort Myers FL
Oct 03, 2011
I have a question about fish oil supplements. I believe you have never mentioned krill oil as a source of beneficial omega fatty acids for cats. I see it advertised on TV (for humans) and wonder if it would be good for my dog and two cats.
M.F., Fort Myers, FL Oct 04, 2011
I abhor the "harvesting" of krill primarily for farmed animal food protein and for the oil byproduct that is marketed as a nutritional supplement. Krill oil may be a good source of omega fatty acids, but harvesting it is not ethical.
Krill is a staple food for whales and other sea life, and the vast tonnage being netted is one added starvation-stress factor for these creatures in an already overfished marine environment. Pollution and acidification of the oceans are wreaking havoc on a once sustainable natural resource.
Some fish oil providers, such as Nordic Naturals and New Chapter, are aware of these issues and select plentiful fish species and fishing-industry byproducts taken from managed and less polluted marine sources. Oils from farmed, rather than wild, salmon should also be avoided because of reported high levels of toxic contaminants such as dioxins and PCBs.
DOGS HELPING AUTISTIC CHILDREN:
The incidence of autism spectrum disorders now reaches about one in 100 children. Drugs and other therapies have mixed and inconsistent results, but according to Professor Daniel Mills of the UK's University of Lincoln, trained assistance dogs have proved to be highly beneficial. They help affected children control problem behaviors, communicate better and ease family stress.
Parents reported that dogs helped their autistic children develop a wide variety of skills, such as language, feeding behavior, social attention, interaction and reduction or elimination of tantrums. From my own earlier research in this field of animal assisted therapy, I would insist on very close supervision and concern for dogs being around severely autistic children who may initially react to the dogs as though they are inanimate objects and mistreat them accordingly.
A.W., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: cat Fort Myers FL
Jul 31, 2011
You may think me crazy, but I am sure my cats know when there's a full moon. They are indoor cats, so they don't actually see the moon, but it seems like every month around the time of the full moon the two of them go wild at night.
Is there an explanation for this, or is my imagination running wild?
A.W., Fort Myers, FL Jul 31, 2011
Some cats have wild imaginations that seem to get wilder around the time of the full moon. Just before he takes off for a mad race through our house, one of our cats, Mr. Pinto Bean, gets a feral glint in his eyes and his tail often fluffs out. He acts as though he is chasing or being chased by the most fearsome things!
A few studies have been reported on how a full moon can affect behavior -- kindergarten children being more unruly and more pet emergency hospital visits being recorded around the time of a full moon. "Lunacy" and "lunatic" are ancient terms reflecting long recognition of how the moon can affect human behavior. I would be interested in hearing from other readers about this intriguing phenomenon and how the lunar cycle affects their animals.
Changes in seasonal radiation in the Earth's geo- or electromagnetic field (EMF), in air ionization and in barometric pressure can all affect mood and behavior in humans and other animals. One of my theories is that animals' vibrissae (whiskers) may serve as dowsing rods, enabling them to sense changes in the EMF and essentially map where they are and navigate accordingly.
B.L.F., Fort Myers, FL
Nov 21, 2010
I am writing this letter to encourage persons who have lost a companion pet to adopt a younger animal for the remaining pet. So many of our friends have said they are hesitant to bring in a younger pet to accompany an older pet.
About eight years ago we adopted two shorthaired cats, who were litter mates and had been displaced as their owners were going to a senior residence. About a month ago Diz -- the less dominant one -- passed away. Taz, who has always been independent, began sleeping a lot and was not interested in going out on the lanai or participating in any play activities. He definitely missed his partner. So when the staff at our veterinarian's office suggested that the gorgeous, recently abandoned, all-black female cat (Pepper) was available, we began to consider adoption. Pepper's adoption has been great medicine for Taz. She is a lively 2-year-old, who's full of energy. Amazingly, she realizes that Taz is older and respects his age, though she playfully picks on him now and then. At first, she was tempted to hide behind the desk and hesitated going into the room with Taz. Now, only four weeks later, she sleeps near him on the bed for afternoon naps, encourages him to get up and chase her, and does not interfere with his eating patterns.
Taz may even live longer because he has this young gal to keep him lively!
B.L.F., Fort Myers, FL Nov 21, 2010
My advice is to take in the "replacement" cat only on the condition that he or she has a clean bill of health and after a trial basis to see if the two cats will get along. This process can be facilitated in many instances by using Feliway cat pheromone in a plug-in room diffuser and by letting the cats get used to each other through a cat-proof, see-through barrier.
J.L., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: dog Fort Myers FL
Feb 27, 2010
We have had a 3-year-old cairn terrier since she was a pup. She is a loving animal who seems happy, and is friendly to anyone she meets. However, her first trip to the vet, to have her nails trimmed, caused a lot of trauma. Since then, the professional groomers can groom her all over except for her backside and her nails or she snaps and snarls. I have always been able to trim around her eyes and ears and comb and brush her, but she has gotten more and more reluctant to allow me to do that. The last time, after working on this normally docile dog, she suddenly snapped and bit my hand. Lately, she seems to be snapping at small incidents, like stepping too close or touching her crate. She has free rein of the house and yard, but loves to sleep in her crate. I am becoming fearful of trying to either brush or trim her at all. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have.
J.L., Fort Myers, FL Feb 28, 2010
our dog has developed a conditioned aversion to physical contact that has generalized after the initial psychophysical trauma to her paws. Her age may also play a role in the genesis of this behavior, because she has reached full maturity and may be playing alpha bitch, especially if she has been overindulged and not learned any boundaries.
Many dogs have too much unnecessary nail trimming. Exercise on rough terrain is a natural, abrasive nail-growth regulator. Lay off all the usual grooming treatments, and get your dog to regain her trust and lose her fear by rewarding her intermittently for sitting still and allowing you to stroke her all over. Then begin gradual massage therapy. This will help her relax and become more trusting.
Use a muzzle next time she needs her nails trimmed. This will inhibit her defensive-aggressive behavior, just as I must do with one of my own dogs who is phobic when it comes to trimming his front-paw nails.
C.E., Fort Myers, FL
Dec 19, 2009
We have a female Japanese Chin that is 7 years old and weighs 12 pounds. She has a terrible time breathing, a runny nose at times and sometimes sneezes and gasps for breath, which is frightening to hear. She is up-to-date at the vet, and he has us giving her an allergy antihistamine (diphenhydramine hydrochloride; 12.5 mg., three times a day), which we think helps some, but not enough. Her breathing at night is heartbreaking to hear. Is there any other medication or way of correcting this allergy? We love our dog like a daughter. Once a day, we feed her a bowl of Hill''s Prescription Diet mixed with a little Purina Beneful Prepared Meals that also have veggies, plus kibble and water.
C.E., Fort Myers, FL Dec 20, 2009
Living in Florida can be hell for dogs, with all the bugs and allergenic pollens and molds. Your dog probably already has an impaired immune system, so I would stop any further vaccinations and anti-flea treatments. Instead, try my lemon tea: Simmer one whole lemon (sliced) in two cups of water for 10 minutes, mush, strain and store in a jar. Sponge on your dog to repel bugs.
I would transition your dog onto a healthier diet with organic and whole-food ingredients. Visit a local health store, and check the pet-food section that may carry good brands such as Natura, PetGuard, Wellness and Evanger''s, to name a few. These do not use inferior ingredients unfit for human consumption. Discuss giving your dog supplements to help boost her immune system and subdue inflammatory/allergic responses. These include fish, hemp and flaxseed oils; anti-inflammatory skullcap herb and super antioxidants such as rosemary; Vitamin C and bioflavinoids; zinc and selenium with vitamin E; and N-acetylcysteine with L-alpha lipoic acid. Discuss and explore these supplements with your veterinarian or consult with a holistic animal doctor practicing integrative medicine.
T. del C., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: dog Fort Myers FL diet food
Aug 15, 2009
We have a problem with our 7-month-old female Yorkie, Tootsie. She will bark continually, starting around 4:30 a.m. and wants out of her cage. She will go to the bathroom if I take her out. I feed her in the morning around 7 a.m., and an hour later, she will have another bowel movement. I have tried feeding her later, at 6:30 p.m., and giving her a small treat around 9 p.m., but nothing works. Our vet says she''s hungry, so that''s why I give her a small amount of treats later. She gets 1/4 cup of dry food at 7 a.m. and 1/4 cup dry food at 6 p.m. How can I change this pattern? It''s driving us crazy.
T. del C., Fort Myers, FL Aug 16, 2009
Why is your dog in a cage? I would bark, too. Cages can be used effectively for house-training younger pups, but your dog is old enough to never be caged. And why is she being fed only dry food? How would you like the same stuff every day? It''s high in carbs and fiber, which is probably why your dog has so many bowel movements. Feeding a small, young dog only two meals a day of such food is close to a starvation diet.
Feed your dog three to four small meals a day, and get to know her natural evacuation rhythm so you know when she needs to go out. Usually, this is first thing in the morning and then soon after eating. As insurance, take her out last thing at night before you go to bed, ideally with her on your bed or beside your bed in her own little sleeping area. Check my Web site for a list of suitable dog foods under my "Special Reports," "Companion Animals Care" section.
N.S., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: small pet Fort Myers FL
Jul 12, 2008
My husband and I moved from Arlington, Va., to Fort Myers, Fla., to retire and were so happy that your column appears in our local paper, since we enjoyed it for many years in the Washington Post. How do you keep on going, caring so much while seeing so much animal abuse and ignorance?.
N.S., Fort Myers, FL Jul 13, 2008
I appreciate your kind words about my syndicated column. What keeps me going is my abiding love and concern for all creatures great and small, my moral outrage over the inhumanity of my own species and the good research and clinical studies by veterinarians and others dedicated to improving the health and well-being of our non-human kin that I share in my writings.