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Published December 24, 2010, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Problems plague canine

Dear Dr. Fox: Suzy, a 12-pound schnoodle, is my most recent rescue. We have no idea of her background other than she had at least two pregnancies and was deserted in a Walmart parking lot. The vet determined that Suzy is between 8 and 9 years old.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: Suzy, a 12-pound schnoodle, is my most recent rescue. We have no idea of her background other than she had at least two pregnancies and was deserted in a Walmart parking lot. The vet determined that Suzy is between 8 and 9 years old.

She did have some medical problems. First, she needed a stone removed from her bladder from which she recovered nicely. Then she needed extensive dental work and three surgeries for glaucoma.

Suzy also has allergies. To determine if food was the cause, Suzy was switched to the Primal complete raw-food diet (1-ounce nuggets) of either chicken or lamb. I add 1/8 teaspoon of plant enzymes and probiotics; 1/8 teaspoon of Royal Coat Express (100 percent wild fish oil and borage oil) organic pumpkin puree; organic plain yogurt; and some freshly pureed cooked squash. She adores and laps this up, and the vet says Suzy is extremely healthy.

For her sake and ours (we also have allergies), we have no carpeting except in the bedrooms; no chemicals are used at any time for cleaning anywhere except laundry, and she drinks filtered water, too.

After all of this, she rubs her eyes, scratches her muzzle, licks her pads, sometimes to the point of raw and red. The vet has checked Suzy, and no physical problems were found. I am at my wits’ end and open to any suggestions. – R.K., Naples, Fla.

Dear R.K.: You have done much to give Suzy a good life. Good for you! But allergies, especially in states such as Florida, can undermine the quality of life for animals.

Central air conditioning with an ionizing air purifier (that removes pollen, dander, bacteria and other potential allergens and pathogens) can make a big difference. We have the Bryant system in our home, which significantly improves the air quality.

Bathing every two to three weeks in a shampoo containing skin-soothing ingredients such as aloe vera, chamomile, lavender, calendula and other beneficial herbs may do wonders.

Discuss a rotation diet with your veterinarian, giving your dog a different single animal protein (buffalo, duck, venison, lamb, etc.) for one week, then switch to another.

The fish oil could be problematic, so give none for three to four weeks then try Nordic Naturals for dogs and cats. Also discuss with your veterinarian giving your dog immune-system-boosting antioxidants such as CoEnzyme Q and N-acetylcysteine. The antioxidant resveratrol has recently been found to have beneficial anti-inflammatory properties and may help your dog. Also daily supplements of probiotics (giving your dog a higher dose than in live yogurt or kefir) are often prescribed to help in cases like yours.

In some instances, dogs suffer from multiple allergies, including contact with certain upholstery materials, wool blankets and even toxic dog-bed and pillow-stuffing material. So spreading cotton sheets laundered in a scent-free detergent where the dog lies down most often may also be helpful.


Dear Dr. Fox: A dog owner in my neighborhood says that his dog is a cross between a fox and a border collie. Is that even possible? Likewise, my sister believes her cat is part raccoon. Is that possible? – C.T., Falls Church, Va.

Dear C.T.: The genetic barrier between dogs and foxes prevents crossbreeding. So any dog that seems foxlike cannot have any fox ancestry.

Foxes are distant cousins of dogs; but close cousins like wolves and coyotes will crossbreed with each other and with dogs. The offspring are fertile.

The ringlike marks on some cats’ tails look raccoonlike, but raccoons cannot interbreed with cats. Occasionally in the news, there are mistaken reports of cats thought to be part rabbit because they hop around like rabbits, which is most likely due to a spinal cord abnormality most common in tailless Manx cats.


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. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

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