Dear Dr. Fox:
My Scottie has high liver-enzyme levels — more than 500. Can you provide me with a diet that I can make for her at home? I’ve looked on the Internet, but much of the information is confusing.
DF: Some individual dogs and certain breeds have higher-than-average liver enzymes but appear healthy otherwise.
Scottish terriers have a body chemistry that apparently makes them more susceptible to herbicide toxicity, especially the chemicals used on lawns and gardens, which should be outlawed in every state because they end up in drinking water and in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women.
Dogs with diagnosed liver problems do well on a natural, home-prepared diet (such as my recipe on my Web site, www.twobitdog.com/drfox) and with supplements such as brewer’s yeast (or vitamin B complex), milk thistle and the supplement SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine).
Dear Dr. Fox:
I got a call from our grooming facility (also a boarding facility and clinic) saying it would not groom our dogs unless they were vaccinated for canine influenza, at a cost of $50 per dog.
I contacted another boarding facility that I occasionally use, and it said this shot was not required. Is this a necessary vaccination?
N.P., Springfield, Mo.
DF: It concerns me deeply that many uninformed people, usually with the best intentions (including health-care professionals), erroneously believe that vaccinations are some kind of risk-free panacea.
Vaccinations are a big moneymaker for manufacturers and providers. Their unnecessary overuse is to be deplored. Many autoimmune diseases and other vaccine-associated illnesses have been reported in humans and animals.
Certainly, an unhygienic, poorly ventilated dog-grooming facility that has no restrictions on taking in sick animals is a canine- and public-health risk. Go to another groomer.
There are many groomers who do not fear liability and do not insist on vaccinations as some kind of professional business practice.
Dear Dr. Fox:
We own a 9-year-old, 12-pound female schipperke. She eats Science Diet Adult Small Bites and has good, consistent health care with a qualified local vet.
We think a great deal of this doctor, and he has given her the best of care over the years, which includes bringing her through a life-threatening bout of canine lupus two years ago, for which he still monitors her closely.
To all outward appearances, she seems like a normal, healthy schipperke. She is active, curious, stubborn, has a thick, shiny black coat and is sometimes friendly toward people. Her one obvious problem is extremely bad breath.
We think it must come from her stomach and is caused by the illness because she has sparkling teeth regularly cleaned by our veterinarian. In addition, her teeth are brushed nightly with Virbac’s CET toothpaste.
Are you familiar with this foul-smelling breath caused by dogs with canine lupus? If so, is there anything we can do for it? She has a good appetite, tolerates food and treats well (maybe a little too well) and is regular in her bowel behavior.
D.W., Naples, Fla.
DF: Considering that your dog has a clean and healthy mouth but still has nasty halitosis, I would first explore changing her diet to a non-processed, whole-food formula free of additives and food-and-beverage industry byproducts.
Many readers have told me how, in just a few weeks, putting their dogs on my home-prepared dog food recipe got rid of halitosis, bad body odor, dull coats and poor appetite, and restored their animals’ zest for life.
Providing your dog with a daily supplement of probiotics or a tablespoon or two of plain live yogurt or kefir between meals might prove beneficial, improving digestion and even immune system function.
The supplement SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) might also prove beneficial when given daily. Many veterinarians recommend it for older dogs with chronic liver, joint and other health problems.
Cut out all treats except natural, freeze-dried beef, chicken or wild salmon. You can also try my buckwheat-based cookie recipe and my basic home-prepared dog food at my Web site.
Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.