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Published July 16, 2010, 12:00 AM

Spaniel has skin problem

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a problem with my Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Charlie is 4½ years old, and for the past three years, I’ve had a hard time with fungus on his skin.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a problem with my Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Charlie is 4½ years old, and for the past three years, I’ve had a hard time with fungus on his skin.

I went to my regular vet, and he said to bathe him in Betadine, leave it on for five minutes and then shampoo him. I did that, and it seemed to help, but it came back. I used an antifungal cream, leaving it on for 24 hours. It seemed to help, but it smelled so bad that I had to give him a bath in between applications.

I took him to a dermatologist, and he gave him an antibiotic and Malaseb Pledgets to wipe him down. The dermatologist said he had a fungus and this medication would get rid of the problem forever. It didn’t. It keeps coming back.

I shave him regularly so I can get to the root of the problem. The long hair seems to cover up the problem, and it gets bad before I feel the lumps of the sores that it makes.

I have stopped putting flea liquid on him, thinking that the medicine wasn’t doing any good. The fleas still bite him and then die, but the bite sites get this fungus stuff on him, and we go around again. He has no fleas now and still gets the fungus. I do still use the Heartgard.

He also had back surgery a year ago for two bulging discs that left him dragging his hind end. Some of the medicine for that left him with a damaged liver. My regular vet put him on some medicine to repair the liver. We also found that he had low blood sugar. He had another bad time (uncontrollable shivers), and we had to go to the emergency vet. They kept him 24 hours had him on IV and gave him shots. They said his sugar was low and to put him on two teaspoons of honey a day. – E.E., Suffolk, Va.

Dear E.E.: I am sorry you and your poor dog have had to go through so many problems. For such a young dog to have chronic skin and back problems is in part the legacy of his genetic background, coupled with (most probably) far too many vaccinations.

Your dog needs a total medical health makeover to address his ongoing problem from a holistic perspective, integrating conventional treatments with nutrient supplements in his food, especially fish oil and brewer’s yeast (up to ½ teaspoon of each daily), and plain live yogurt or kefir for immune-system-boosting probiotics.

A shampoo containing tea-tree oil should help get rid of any fungal infection, but remember, part of the dog’s skin reaction to flea bites is an allergic response to flea saliva. So if he gets itchy, a short course of antihistamine treatment should help.

Low blood sugar and acute hypoglycemia are common in small breeds and can be fatal. It may be prevented to some degree by feeding three to four small meals daily, rather that one or two. Eliminating cereal grains, corn and all starches (these metabolize into sugar) is advisable for your Charlie.

Dear Dr. Fox: Our granddaughter has a white cat that she raised from a kitten. We’ve heard that white cats are often deaf. This one certainly is, and we wonder how to teach this cat discipline. Water squirting does not work, as she loves water and will often jump into a bathtub to play. The cat is much loved, but we need suggestions on how to teach her right from wrong. – Z.J., Fergus Falls, Minn.

Dear Z.J.: Indeed, deafness and an all-white coat (often combined with one blue and one green eye) are genetically linked. There is no cure for this congenital deafness.

Deaf animals learn to respond to hand and arm signals and body language. A water squirter will only confuse your cat. Stomping on the floor can send vibrations to alert the cat, who will look around and, hopefully, see whatever visual signal you are giving, like showing the food bowl, dangling a toy, or making a gesture for her to come to you or to get down or away.

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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