Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published July 01, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Use care with oral products

Dear Dr. Fox: I have been brushing my cat’s teeth almost twice daily for two months with the PetzLife cat formula.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I have been brushing my cat’s teeth almost twice daily for two months with the PetzLife cat formula. I took him to the vet yesterday for his annual, and she found a red bump on a lower-left-side tooth. She said once it moves to the surface it will be painful, and my cat needs an extraction and a full cleaning. Does PetzLife help with this? He still has brown and yellow plaque at the gumline. – V.O., Fargo

Dear V.O.: PetzLife oral-care products are the best on the market, in my opinion, provided the manufacturer’s instructions are closely followed. Applying too much too often could put some cats at risk, especially those with underlying health problems.

Oral-care products and regular brushing are no substitutes for thorough veterinary dental care so often needed to treat feline stomatitis (a painful oral disease detailed at my website, and also to deal with diseased and broken teeth and buildup of tartar or dental scale.

I would hold off on having your cat’s tooth removed and see how this bump develops. It could be the beginning of stomatitis, or hopefully simple inflammation that may go away if you take all corn out of your cat’s diet, give a few drops of fish oil daily in his food (for its anti- inflammatory properties), and rub rather than brush his teeth and gums with a solution of equal parts of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and aloe-vera gel or liquid (available in health stores).

Dear Dr. Fox: I’ve been making your dog-food recipe coming up on three years. Solid Gold has now quit making the bone meal, and I can’t find it anywhere else. I know you mention several other options, but which would you personally prefer? I keep finding calcium tablets plus vitamin D, and that D concerns me – not sure if it is good for the pups.

We lost our 10-year-old Bichon Frise on April 1 to prostate cancer. He was a castrated male, and it was a true shock. I thought when you get a small dog, they live a lot longer than 10 years.

We are heartbroken. We still have our 2-year-old mixed-breed pup and are spoiling him rotten. He has a terrible anal-gland problem, though. I don’t know if you have time to address that, but I wonder if we should consider surgery. His glands release that awful smell at least once a day, and you can tell he doesn’t like it, either. – V.V., Brunswick, Md.

Dear V.V.: The cheapest source of calcium is from oyster shells, available in tablet form in most drugstores without vitamin D. In the latest version at my website, I list various kinds of calcium supplements, one of the best being calcium citrate, available from GNC with or without vitamin D, small amounts of which will not harm dogs. Giving about 1,000 mg daily per 30 to 40 pounds of body weight in the home-prepared diet should provide an optimal amount of calcium for a healthy dog.

Growing pups, especially of the giant breeds, need ample dietary calcium. But excessive levels can interfere with the uptake of other essential minerals, so a balanced multimineral and multivitamin supplement is advisable.

As I point out in a review at my website, some sources of calcium, like bone meal and oyster shell, can be high in toxic chemicals such as fluoride and lead. These are best avoided.

Sorry to hear about the death of one of your beloved canines. Anal-gland problems often require irrigation under general anesthetic and packing with antibiotics and steroids, coupled with a hypoallergenic or all-natural single-protein (lamb, venison) diet because one expression of food allergy in dogs can be chronic anal gland and/or ear inflammation and infection.

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a female 12-year-old dark-gray cat with white boots and the darkest green eyes I’ve ever seen. She weighs around 8 pounds and seems in general good health. However, for the past two to three years, she has become chronically constipated, and her vet has prescribed 2 to 2-1/2 mg of lactulose USP 10g/5ml that she takes every other day to get a bowel movement. She will not have a bowel movement without it.

She is not a heavy eater, but will eat a Little Friskies Chicken/Tuna and some dry Evo – a little of both. We did try to feed her the natural diet from your website about two years ago, but she turned up her nose at all efforts to ease her into it. Do you have any other suggestions? – R.D.R., Winston-Salem, N.C.

Dear R.D.R.: Cats can be finicky. One of my own refuses to eat my home-prepared diet and prefers dry food to canned or raw and he was a feral cat, so go figure! He at least drinks plenty of water. (If he did not, I would, of course, moisten his dry food.) Chronic constipation and megacolon (where feces accumulate and require periodic enemas to remove) are common feline afflictions. These conditions are aggravated, if not caused, by high starch and fiber dry cat foods – and a lack of physical activity. An exercise program for your cat is called for. Purchase various interactive toys like a wand, fishing pole, dangling lures and laser lights to get your cat to play, especially early in the evening before her last meal.

Feed her three to four small meals a day, adding a drop of fish oil or olive oil, gradually working up to 1 teaspoon daily. Get her used to a daily abdominal massage. Several readers have told me this helps cats that are constipated or have megacolon. Another cat to play with is probably the best medicine for a variety of maladies.

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