B.M., Hays, NC
Tags: dog NC diet food Hays
Apr 13, 2013
I have two female mixed-breed dogs. Both have been spayed. Sadie is almost 13 years old, and Pudge is almost 11 years old.
I have washed them in flea shampoo and they both wear flea collars, but they scratch and lick their hindquarters incessantly. Sadie's back legs are now bare; Pudge's hair is thinning.
The licking and hair loss really alarm me. They will often lick until a small puddle forms on the floor. They have all their shots.
Any help for getting to a happier place for my girls would be truly appreciated.
B.M., Hays, NC Apr 14, 2013
Your poor dogs must be suffering. Please understand that many -- probably millions -- of people believe that when a dog scratches a lot, it must have fleas. So they treat the dog with costly and hazardous chemicals in collars, dips, drops and pills. If there is only one flea, some dogs will scratch like mad because they are allergic to fleabites; others are less bothered by having fleas. But there are also other reasons why dogs scratch.
You should have a veterinarian examine your dogs to rule out fleas and consider other likely causes. At the top of my list is an allergy or hypersensitivity to some ingredient in their food. You should also consider something they may contact frequently, such as a chemically treated deck or lawn, new or recently cleaned carpet or floor, or possible inhalation of air freshener.
You must become a detective -- and buy a flea comb!
E.R.P., Kernersville, NC
Tags: dog NC diet food Kernersville
Mar 04, 2013
We have a 10-year-old dachshund named Abigail. She had what appeared to be a rash with dried, scaly scabs for more than two years. She licked herself constantly.
We tried different foods, narrowing it down to individual proteins rather than food with several meat products. Our vet suggested we try making her homemade food and treats for dogs with allergies. We eliminated beef and chicken and replaced them with fish and veal. We started trying different high-quality pet foods, mixing dry with moist food. The vet ordered several tests, including thyroid activity. Nothing showed up in the test results.
She was put on multiple rounds of antibiotics, anti-fungal medications and prednisone. We shampooed her two or three times a week using prescription shampoo, and we also tried medicated oatmeal shampoo, Selsun Blue medicated shampoo and Head & Shoulders shampoo, all to no avail.
Finally, we decided to have her tested for the type of allergies she may have. The test cost about $300, but it was worth it. Abigail is allergic to several things. However, the test that shot through the roof was food mites. The vet explained that some stores keep dog food on the shelf until it sells, rather than until its expiration date. Abigail is also allergic to dust mites.
We moved all the old rugs and even had hardwood floors put down in the den and hallway (something we were planning anyway, but this result expedited the change). The few rooms with carpet, which she does not go into often, were shampooed and sprayed for allergens. We threw away her old bedding, and all bedding and blankets are now washed weekly with hot water.
Abigail was placed on another round of antibiotics, anti-fungal medication and prednisone. We switched her food to a Blue Health Holistic Fish and Sweet Potato (dry and wet). Abigail had no signs of rash or scaly scabs within three months. It has been more than year and a half without any signs of a breakout.
It has been a long and trying road to get her relieved of her condition, but we consider our pets as part of our family, and we would do anything to relieve her discomfort. I hope this information will help others.
E.R.P., Kernersville, NC Mar 05, 2013
I have noted several instances of food mite contamination of dry pet foods over the years. The bugs multiply inside the sealed, contaminated bags, so the older the bag, the greater the number of mites. Always check the expiration date on the bag, and think twice about buying discounted dog and cat foods past their expiration dates. Also, the older the food, the more nutrients are lost through oxidation.
Dust mites in the home are a significant allergen for dogs and cats. These mites eat the dead skin cells humans shed and the dander that dogs and cats shed.
Thorough vacuuming every five to seven days is a routine hygienic practice for all homes. You should also launder any animal bedding at the same intervals.
E.B., Archdale, NC
Tags: dog Archdale NC
Feb 10, 2013
I have an 11-year-old spayed female mix-breed dog. She has a musty odor that will not go away, even after a bath. I have changed her food to no avail.
Do you have any suggestions that might help?
E.B., Archdale, NC Feb 11, 2013
Older dogs often develop a distinct odor, which can be quite penetrating when one is close to them or sharing the same room. The smell is usually associated with the kidneys and liver not working as well as they should in ridding the body of waste products and toxins. A generic approach to this geriatric issue is a regimen of regular exercise, weight management and a weekly "dry bath" (rubbing in and brushing out baby powder to absorb and remove odors). You might try various natural herbal spray products like PetzLife Bath Eaze, a bathless shampoo and conditioner, and Odorz Off bedding odor remover.
Launder your dog's bedding weekly using detergent with natural fragrances. In many instances, a periodic shampoo with Selsun Blue and daily supplements of brewer's yeast and flaxseed oil (about 1 teaspoon of each) in the dog's food can be of great help.
My old dogs always seemed happier and livelier when they smelled better, and I am sure many dogs become depressed by their stink.
A change in body odor can also mean a change in activity and the content of the skin's oil. A full veterinary checkup would be worth the investment, if you trust your nose as a potential diagnostic tool. Some smelly old dogs, for example, have poor thyroid or adrenal gland function, and no amount of shampooing is going to address the cause.
B.D., Leland, NC
Tags: cat NC Leland
Feb 10, 2013
I have an energetic and bored 5-year-old (rescued) cat -- a part flame, part Siamese named Ziggy. He's very bright and can open doors and respond to commands. I'd like to teach him more tricks, but I haven't found anything of interest. Is there a website you might suggest?
B.D., Leland, NC Feb 11, 2013
I am glad to learn of your interest in making life more stimulating for Ziggy. My book "Supercat: How to Raise the Perfect Feline Companion" has a full section on providing environmental enrichment, games and challenging IQ tests for cats.
Don't forget the best provision for a single cat is a companion, since two cats living together are generally healthier and happier than those who live alone.
N.C.T., Mount Airy, NC
Tags: dog NC Mount Airy
Jan 27, 2013
I have a disgusting question about my 5-month-old female Lab-mix.
She was originally rescued from a barn as a tiny puppy. I had the privilege of adopting her at three months. I feed her and her 7-month-old male Lab-mix adoptive brother a broiled chicken breast for breakfast (split between the two of them), and a can each of puppy food for dinner. They get a rawhide each day and assorted puppy treats throughout the day, and I keep their bowl of dry food full.
She has access to a doggy door that opens to about a half acre of land. Although her adoptive brother is completely house-trained, she still, on occasion, goes in the house.
Now here is the disgusting part: I believe she might be eating feces. I have not seen her eat it, but I've noticed that occasionally her breath smells like poop. Fecal matter is missing from the lawn -- she has very solid feces that become like logs when dry, and when I return to pick them up, they are gone. I have joked that both dogs have pica because they are always eating things that are inedible (sticks, paper, feces).
Are they missing something from their diet? Is this typical puppy behavior?
N.C.T., Mount Airy, NC Jan 28, 2013
This is the most unsavory of all dogs' behavior that is, to a degree, normal. Check the archives section on my website, DrFoxVet.com, for a host of letters addressing this issue.
"Cures" range from muzzling your dog when outdoors and feeding her digestive enzymes, probiotics and brewer's yeast to not letting the dogs see the poop being picked up. Cleaning up the den area and acquiring essential digestive bacteria and trace nutrients are some of the possible reasons for canine coprophagia. Unfortunately, there is no simple remedy.
As for the halitosis, PetzLife Oral Care for dogs will sweeten the breath and help keep teeth and gums clean and healthy.
J.W., Lexington, NC
Tags: dog Lexington NC
Sep 09, 2012
I have a German schnauzer, Doogan, who is 13 years old. He is larger than most miniatures in height, but he is not overweight at 20 to 21 pounds. He has always been in good health -- until May 2011.
He ate very little, was sick when he did eat and was lethargic for two days. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis and hospitalized for three days for dehydration. He was put on Hills Prescription Diet w/d and is back to his old self.
My concern is that before he was ill, his eyesight was failing. He has since developed cataracts. He still tracks fairly well, but not consistently. His favorite treats are carrot and celery bites -- he can usually catch the carrots, or if he misses, he can find them easily, but he misses the celery bites and it takes a long time to locate them.
He has no problems in the house or outside during daylight, and is OK in the house at night with lights on. But at night outside, even with the yard light on, he has difficulty. Many times when I call him to come inside, he will stand to the side of the door, and I have to go out and lead him in so he won't hurt himself.
I know there is surgery for cataracts, but I don't know how successful it's been, the recovery time or precautions that need to be taken. Is it a once-in-a-lifetime procedure? I've been told that it's very expensive, and I wonder if it's still feasible considering his age.
J.W., Lexington, NC Sep 10, 2012
Having your old dog's opaque lenses surgically removed would be expensive, but since Doogan might enjoy some years with improved vision, I think it is worth consideration.
Consult with a veterinary ophthalmologist who will see if your dog's loss of vision can be corrected by simply removing the lenses or if there are other issues for which there is no surgical corrective.
With the history of acute pancreatitis, now resolved, the eye specialist will be mindful of the potential risks of general anesthesia -- risks associated with poor kidney, liver, pancreas and heart functions, which tests may reveal.
If Doogan is not a good candidate for eye surgery, you may be surprised how well he adjusts to loss of vision. Dogs with good hearing and sense of smell adapt remarkably well, provided they are handled with understanding and are not fearful or panicked.
S.D., Weaverville, NC
Tags: cat NC Weaverville
Aug 26, 2012
We have a 7-year-old male domestic cat who has overgroomed himself from the belly to his behind. He is now starting on the inside of his back legs.
We keep his litter box clean and give him as much attention as we can with a newborn in the house. How can we change his behavior and make him happy again?
S.D., Weaverville, NC Aug 27, 2012
A crying baby in the home and the associated change in daily routines can be extremely stressful for some cats. Obsessive-compulsive grooming can be one self-comforting response. The stress may have contributed to your cat's thyroid gland becoming overactive, one common sign being excessive grooming. So I advise a veterinary appointment. Other possible causes are allergens in the cat's food or home environment, which the attending veterinarian will also consider.
M.S., Archdale, NC
Tags: dog Archdale NC
Aug 26, 2012
I have a 7 1/2-year-old Yorkshire terrier. Ever since I've had him, he has had very dry skin. A few years ago, his hair became very oily, but his skin remained dry. Three days after giving him a bath, his hair is very oily.
I have tried aloe, oatmeal and lanolin, plus numerous other shampoos and different kinds of food. I have been giving him a bath about every three days because if I wait any longer, he looks like he has been dipped in oil.
The vet hasn't seemed very concerned about this. Two years ago in the spring, my dog's hair started falling out on his back, and he was itching. The vet said he had a flea allergy. I comb him once or twice every day with a flea comb -- he had a few, but never many, fleas. In the winter, his hair grew back.
This spring, the hair started falling out again. I took him to the vet, and the vet gave him Temaril-P tablets. He seemed to be a lot better while taking the tablets, but when he was through with them, the hair started coming out again with the itching.
I have put him on brewer's yeast tablets, and I spray him with a pennyroyal and water mix for fleas. I gave him Comfortis for a while and he was better, but I did not like giving him those types of things.
What do you suggest doing for the oily hair and dry skin?
M.S., Archdale, NC Aug 27, 2012
Your Yorkie is at the age when the thyroid, and sometimes the adrenal gland, become dysfunctional, leading to hyperthyroidism and Cushing's disease.
The veterinarian should rule out these underlying possibilities; you should also discuss your dog's nutrition. He may be lacking omega-3 fatty acids, a common problem in dogs fed poor-quality dry dog foods. His digestive system may need enhancement with probiotics, which will also help his immune system. For more details, visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, and check the archives, which contain several letters from people with dogs sharing symptoms similar to your little Yorkie. I would not use the pennyroyal since it may cause liver damage.
V.N.E., Saluda, NC
Tags: dog NC Saluda
Aug 05, 2012
With all the extremely hot weather we are having across the country, my thoughts go to the animals. I wish you would address cats' and dogs' paws as they relate to hot asphalt and concrete.
I have suggested to several people that they remove their shoes and feel what their pets are experiencing. I've seen poor dogs who seem to be trying to walk on their toenails. Even my four rescue cats do all they can to avoid walking on our hot wooden deck.
Animals' pads may be tough, but I don't think they're immune to hot asphalt
V.N.E., Saluda, NC Aug 06, 2012
With climate change intensifying and droughts across the heartland, this summer and beyond are likely to be hotter than ever. I trust that readers will remember your note of concern. Thanks for the words of warning.
Many pet stores sell dog booties, which most dogs eventually learn to walk in -- provided they stay on. Some designs are better than others. These offer some protection on hot surfaces, and Army dogs serving in the Middle East are equipped with them.
Hot weather wraps and coats are also available. They are worn wet, and they cool the dog's body through evaporation. The darker the dog's coat, the faster it heats up.
I would also add to this hot summer pavement warning that no dog should be left in a parked car.
W.Q., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: cat Winston-Salem NC
Jul 23, 2012
I want to express my appreciation for your work. Thank you for relaying the importance of giving filtered water to dogs and, especially, cats. My two cats, 8-year-old littermates, seemed to be declining. They had frequent bouts of vomiting, refused to eat and seemed depressed. After changing their diets and many costly veterinary tests, they did not improve. They ate plenty of dry food and drank plenty of water. When I stopped giving them water from the tap, they seemed better. Now I give them pure bottled water, and, thanks to your advice, they are full of life and are more playful and active.
W.Q., Winston-Salem, NC Jul 24, 2012
Water quality is a major health concern for humans and other animals. It is one component of health care that is easily overlooked. But according to the evidence that I have compiled, it is a major public health issue that cannot be ignored. Visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, for more information.