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Published August 19, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Dishes matter to dogs

Dear Dr. Fox: Would you know why my 4-month-old Boston terrier puppy will eat her food only off of the hardwood floor?

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: Would you know why my 4-month-old Boston terrier puppy will eat her food only off of the hardwood floor? She ate fine from a bowl the first three months, but now it’s only on the floor. I discovered that she wasn’t eating and I spilled some food on the floor and she ate it. I have tried several foods – all the same experience. I have tried china bowls, plastic flat bowls and wooden bowls. I don’t think licking the hardwood is good for her.

She also was chewing on her tail area a lot, but I changed her food and that seems better now. – M.W., Fort Worth, Texas

Dear M.W.: Many dogs, especially those with short muzzles, have difficulty eating out of narrow and deep bowls, and most dogs have problems when the bowl or dish keeps sliding on the floor. Some dogs are like one of ours – he likes to pick some food out of his deep and wide food bowl and put it on the floor to eat, so we set down a sheet of newspaper. Another of our old dogs suddenly developed an aversion to eating out of her deep and wide no-skid bowl and now prefers a shallow and wide soup dish. They both now prefer drinking from a bowl set in a metal frame with 9- inch-high legs. Some dogs, especially large ones and arthritic older ones, enjoy elevated food and water bowls so they don’t have to reach down too far.

Experiment with your dog and avoid using plastic food and water containers that may contain bisphenols and other toxic chemicals.

Dear Dr. Fox: My husband and I enjoyed your column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, but they no longer run it. So I am attaching our home address if you wish to send a personal reply.

We have not been able to get a straight answer as to why our 14-year-old dog (who has no health issues, according to our veterinarian) always seems hungry and never gains weight. In fact, he’s lost close to 2 pounds, and he’s always weighed in at about 40 pounds. Do you have an answer for this? – A.W.M., Plymouth, Minn.

Dear A.W.M.: Since your veterinarian has given your dog a clean bill of health and he has not become overweight (an all-too-common problem in older dogs), he is most probably suffering from age-related food malabsorption. This inability to properly digest food (also common in older cats and humans) can be remedied.

It may be helpful to supplement his diet with probiotics and digestive enzyme nutritional boosters (such as IN dietary supplements and Platinum Performance Canine Plus) and pet multivitamins and multimineral tablets such as Pfizer’s Pet Tabs.

It is important to feed older dogs who are not maintaining normal weight three or four small meals a day, which should include some highly digestible protein such as egg, cottage cheese or lightly cooked chicken or turkey. Also, plenty of walks are good to stimulate both mind and body. If he continues to lose weight, the possibility of cancer, the most common cause of death in older dogs, needs to be considered.

- Nestle Purina PetCare Co. is recalling almost 1,000 bags of dry cat food that may be contaminated with salmonella. The bags were distributed in error in February to Colorado, Idaho and Oregon.

The recall involves:

- Cat Chow Naturals Dry Cat Food: 6.3-pound bag; best by August 2012; production code 10331083 13; bag UPC code 17800 11320.

- Friskies Grillers Blend Dry Cat Food: 3.15-pound bag; best by August 2012; production code 10381083 06; bag UPC code 50000 08450.

- Friskies Grillers Blend Dry Cat Food: 16-pound bag, best by August 2012; production code 10381083 06; bag UPC code 50000 57578.

Consumers who have purchased any of these dry cat food products with these “best by” dates and production codes should discard them. For further information or to obtain a product refund, call Nestle Purina toll-free at (800) 982- 6559 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays Central time, or visit

Salmonella can affect animals, and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product.

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 Web site at