S. and G.F., Collinsville, IL
Tags: dog IL diet food Collinsville
May 20, 2013
We adopted our white standard poodle from a rescue shelter in 2003. We think she was about 2 years old at the time, so that would make her 12 years old now. She has been a very healthy dog all these years. However, in the past year, she has had a discharge from her eyes. The vet said that it was not uncommon in older dogs and even if he were to open the eye glands, the discharge would soon return. He suggested that we just use a warm washcloth with clear water to wipe off the eyes. We have been doing this and it does help to get rid of the crusty eye gunk, but I am wondering if there are any over-the-counter products that would help. We have to do this every day to keep up with it, and even then she looks like she has two black eyes all the time. We had a black standard poodle years ago, and he didn''t seem to have this problem. Does it cause any infections or loss of eyesight? Do you have any other suggestions?
S. and G.F., Collinsville, IL May 21, 2013
Provided there are no in-curling eyelashes, blocked tear ducts or chronic conjunctivitis, which need special attention, simply clipping the long fur under the eyes and wiping daily with diluted boric acid or liquid vitamin C should suffice.
In many cases of staining tears and saliva, the culprit is a pigmented chemical called porphyrin, which animals secrete normally -- in gerbils it can look like dried blood in the corners of their eyes. Short-term antibiotic eye ointment may be needed if a bacterial infection is causing reddening of the conjunctiva, which may also produce staining porphyrins, possibly in conjunction with a fungal infection called malassezia. This is all too prevalent in dogs'' ears. (Zymox Otic can provide effective relief for the ear.)
Oral treatment with a supplement such as Tearlax can help clear up dogs'' eyes. Another oral supplement, Angel Eyes, contains the antibiotic tylosin, and I agree with other veterinarians who contend that this should not be given without strict veterinary oversight and should not be sold over the counter.
I have proposed that pet food dyes can also cause staining -- and more serious health problems -- and so one should seek pet foods without these artificial coloring agents.
Tags: dog diet food
May 19, 2013
I need some advice for my nearly 5-year-old cat. He is constantly scratching himself. He seems to be especially sensitive from about his mid-back to the base of his tail. He does not have fleas.
He is a somewhat large cat, so it is difficult for him to reach his lower back area. When he tries to do this, he loses his balance and tumbles over. He is also very insistent on someone petting him in this area. He will purr, mew, turn his head all around, and then he will start trying to bite at something on his leg. I''ve noticed that he''s now managed to scratch a bald patch on his back.
We took him to the vet a couple of weeks ago, and he was diagnosed with dry skin. The vet had an oil product that could be placed on his food. My cat will not eat anything that is put into his food. How would you get a cat to consume something like this? The vet also recommended trying a humidifier.
He was given a steroid shot, which seemed to help for about a week. The vet did not think this problem was food-related. He eats Pro Plan Indoor Care Salmon and Rice. He is free fed and has five-eighths of a cup a day and never eats the entire bowl. I am not sure why he is so large.
May 20, 2013
One of my cats had the same problem, and after considering hyperesthesia syndrome (hyperthyroidism and food allergy/intolerance), he greatly improved after I removed salmon from his diet. For other cats it could be corn, beef, dairy products, eggs or even rice -- you have to do some detective work.
Check the archives of my column on my website, DrFoxVet.com for more insights. Let me know the outcome.
J.C., Florissant, Mo
Tags: dog Florissant MO diet food
May 19, 2013
Our dog, Ellie, is an 11-year-old English setter rescue who we have had for about three years. About six months ago, she began to have fecal incontinence.
We have a doggy door and she goes in and out many times a day, but she seems to have no awareness that she is defecating. We took her to the vet and she was diagnosed as having arthritis of the spine.
Our vet said there isn''t much that can be done for the incontinence, but said we could try giving her Proin (used for urinary incontinence) to see if it would help at all. This seemed to offer no relief, so we discontinued it. We have been giving her Pepto Bismol to make the stools firmer and easier to pick up, but that seems to not work any more. Do you have any other suggestions? Other than this problem, she is an active, happy girl. She survived a double mastectomy two years ago.
J.C., Florissant, Mo May 20, 2013
Old dogs do have this condition quite frequently, and it takes some patience and forbearance to be on the alert to get the dog outdoors in anticipation of the next evacuation.
Keeping the stools firm for easier indoor pick-up is best accomplished with 1 teaspoon of soaked psyllium husks (not the seeds) per 40 pounds of body weight every day, mixed in with the dog''s regular food. Regular massage along the back and around the abdomen may also be helpful.
There are disposable doggy diapers that may make life easier for you and be quite comfortable for your old dog to wear.
May 19, 2013
Thank you so much for your answer to the reader who asked how animals feel about being euthanized. I read it the day before my 17-year-old cat Oliver died, and your vision of animals in an afterlife helped me through the next days.
I adopted Oliver from the Humane Society as an 8-month-old kitten as my husband was dealing with alcoholism. Oliver and my three other cats slept with me, keeping me warm and comforted through a very long winter. Oliver stoically accepted my new husband and his two brother cats with only a few disagreements. Oliver was the king of the household, and even in such a lively environment, the house seems strangely empty without him.
I knew he was dying when I read your column. The next day, he hid in the basement and I couldn''t find him, though he called out a few times. When my husband and sons came home, they did a more careful search and found him. We brought him upstairs, put him on a soft blanket on a warm radiator. We all had a chance to pet him and talk to him before he died 15 minutes later. When my husband petted him, Oliver''s back legs pumped a little and we told the boys he was already in another world chasing mice.
Thank you for letting me write about my cat. The day after he died, I talked to my pastor, who had recently lost his beloved dog, and we agreed that God certainly brings our animals into that "life after life" that you mentioned in your column.
May 20, 2013
Thanks for sharing your story about your beloved Oliver. Animals often go off to hide when they are close to dying. That is why it is important to keep an eye on dogs and cats who are terminally ill and might slip outdoors, since I have received a few letters from people whose aged animals have "disappeared," leaving the family to wonder about their fate and to have no real closure. It is a comfort to pets, I believe, to spend their last breath surrounded by their loved ones.
Q.C.C., Central Point, OR
Tags: dog OR Central Point
May 13, 2013
I have been wondering if it''s bad for dogs to sleep under a blanket and comforter at night? It seems to me that the oxygen supply would get pretty low after a couple of hours.
What is your outlook on this?
Q.C.C., Central Point, OR May 14, 2013
Many dogs, and cats too, enjoy having their own blanket to snuggle under. While an animal who begins to experience oxygen deprivation will eventually get out from under the covers, I consider it unhealthy for an animal to keep breathing the same air in a limited space for any length of time. Dogs with pushed-in (or brachycephalic) muzzles, windpipe/tracheal weakness and those with incipient respiratory and heart conditions are particularly at risk.
Encourage your dog to sleep on the top cover of your bed under his own light cotton blanket or bath towel.
P.B., Stephens City, Va
Tags: dog VA Stephens City
Apr 29, 2013
We have a 2-year-old Lhasa apso who will not walk on a leash. She's a nice little dog, but all suggestions have failed.
We let her drag the leash around the house when we are home -- it doesn't work. We've tried offering treats -- no, she doesn't like any kind of treats.
She came from a wonderful shelter, but we think she had been kept in a cage before her arrival there. She was bred before she was a year old. During our six months with her, she has learned to play, enjoys a huge yard and seems happy. But we'd like to be able to enjoy walking her.
P.B., Stephens City, Va Apr 30, 2013
It is good to know that you adopted this sweet little victim of a puppy mill.
She may have a phobia about going into open spaces and strange places, not of being led on the leash. Patience is called for -- a virtue that you are clearly not lacking after helping her recover from life in a cage.
Be sure she is not wearing a collar attached to the leash. Instead, keep the collar, but fit her with a comfortable, snug harness and attach that to the leash. The pressure on her neck when you try to walk her with the leash attached to her collar could trigger fear and, if she struggles, cause serious damage to her windpipe.
Just yesterday I was driving my car and saw a young woman walking what looked like a longhaired Chihuahua. She suddenly jerked the dog backwards, and all four of the dog's feet left the ground. The pressure of the collar on the dog's trachea could cause permanent damage, especially when repeated as a "no pull" training method.
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.
J.D.F., Springfield, MA
Tags: dog Springfield MA
Apr 29, 2013
My daughter has a 2-year-old bull terrier who has developed car sickness over the past year. He was always happy to ride in the car on trips that generally did not exceed 1 1/2 hours. However, he now vomits several times after each ride, and it can take up to two days before he recovers.
He is in good health otherwise. Is there a remedy available that you may recommend?
J.D.F., Springfield, MA Apr 30, 2013
That your daughter's dog enjoyed car rides rules out any anxiety issues. Hanging a cloth strip soaked in essential oil of lavender or placing a few drops on a bandanna around the dog's neck can produce a small miracle of relaxation for dogs who are anxious in the car.
The vomiting is more a motion sickness issue. Give the dog 1/2 teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger root buried in a couple of balls of cream cheese or peanut butter 30 minutes before going on a long journey. Then make hourly stops to exercise the dog and allow him to relieve himself. Giving a second dose of ginger after two hours in the car should keep his stomach calm and make him one happy puppy.
Apr 28, 2013
For years, St. Louis has displayed dogs in the dreadful Beggin' Barkus Pet Parade, an annual February fundraiser for the Open Door Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter.
I see no humor in humiliating our furry friends and spraying them with harmful chemicals (paint, etc.). In my opinion, this is animal abuse.
Could you please address this in your column? I find it very upsetting that it seems to become more extreme every year.
Apr 29, 2013
Having walked our dogs in fundraising and July 4 celebration parades, I can attest to the fact that most temperamentally stable dogs really enjoy the experience. Many seem to enjoy wearing various costumes (like children, they appreciate the extra attention they receive). But I do not like the idea of sprayed-on dyes to color their coats.
The most important considerations are noise and weather. People blowing antique car horns or playing instruments in marching bands should be separated from the dog part of any community parade. I would like to see an end to all fireworks.
In hot, sunny weather, very hot pavements must be avoided and dogs should wear protective boots -- the same goes for very cold weather. Drinking water and evaporative-cooling wet coats can provide comfort for dogs in summer, and umbrellas give shade. Where there is flexibility in terms of setting a fundraising walk, the mild months of spring and fall are wise, humane choices.
Speaking of St. Louis -- a city where I was a psychology professor at Washington University during the 1970s -- I will be giving a fundraising talk for Stray Rescue on May 5, titled "The Great Healing: Animal Feelings and Feeling for Animals." For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For tickets, visit strayrescue.org/UrbanWanderersTailEnd2013.
N.H., Middleburg, Va
Apr 28, 2013
I'm writing in response to a letter by F.A.V. of Honolulu, who had a 13-pound, 6-year-old Brussels griffon with oxalate crystals in his bladder and urethra. The dog had to have surgery every two years.
Three years ago, our 9-year-old female Jack Russell terrier had the same problem, but only one surgery. After surgery, our vet prescribed Royal Canin Urinary SO dog food. This has solved the problem and keeps her urine clear. She has not had any problems since going on this prescription food. I give her both dry and canned servings of it.
This prescribed dog food might be something that F.A.V. may want to explore as an option.
N.H., Middleburg, Va Apr 29, 2013
There is a confounding combination of genetics affecting dogs' metabolism and kidney function. The artificial acidification of some manufactured dog foods, done to help prevent struvite crystal formation, may make dogs prone to developing oxalate crystals in their lower urinary tracts. High dietary calcium and low fluid intake when a dog is fed dry food only may also be contributing factors.
The best prevention is a home-prepared diet, as I offer on my website, DrFoxVet.com. Alternatives to the costly, and for some dogs, unpalatable, prescribed diet foods are available at secure.balanceit.com.