DG: I have received letters from dog owners in different states telling me that this summer has been a tough one on dogs because of the heat and humidity, biting flies and mosquitoes.
Most over-the-counter human bug repellents are not very effective. A drop of eucalyptus essential oil rubbed into the tips of the ears works to keep flies off dogs for two or three hours. Peppermint and lemon oils are also effective, but keep them away from dogs’ eyes.Simmer a sliced lemon in two cups of water for five minutes, strain and store in the refrigerator in a glass jar. Rub some of the extract into your dog’s fur before going out. This is an excellent and safe insect repellent for dogs, although it’s not safe for cats because they might groom it off.The organic product Orange TKO, an excellent, safe concentrated cleaner, can be diluted (one teaspoon to a pint of water) and spritzed or sponged on a dog’s coat to serve as a bug repellent. For details, go to www.tkoorange.com.
ITCHING TO KNOW THE CAUSE
Dear Dr. Fox:
My Shih Tzu and bichon mix scratches his face a lot. There are no fleas, and his vet can find no apparent reason for the itching.
V.E., Fort Myers, Fla.
DF: The itchy face condition in dogs can be linked to oral health problems such as gingivitis, so a thorough oral examination is called for to rule out this possibility.
Another possibility is chronic conjunctivitis, which is often associated with one or more turned-in eyelashes. This is a common issue that I trust your veterinarian has ruled out.Some face-rubbing dogs show significant improvement when plastic food and water bowls are replaced with steel or ceramic ones. In other instances, the fur around their lips must be trimmed and their mouths wiped with a baby wipe containing soothing lavender and aloe extracts after every meal. Some dogs develop a hypersensitivity to certain food ingredients, and these treatments can provide immediate relief.If all else fails, you might want to change your dog’s diet to one that contains a single protein as a food allergy elimination test. Providing filtered or purified drinking water rather than straight tap water is advisable. For details, go to my Web site, www.drfoxvet.com.Finally, coming into contact with wool or synthetic fibers could set up some facial irritation, so have him sleep on clean cotton towels or sheets laundered with a scent- and fragrance-free detergent.
ACID REFLUX in DOGS
Dear Dr. Fox:
Frequently, our 6-year-old terrier mix gags up some bilelike liquid, shakes her head, drools and seems very upset. She will drink some water but won’t finish her food.
R.E., St. Louis
DF: Many dogs who have bouts of coughing, gagging, panting in evident discomfort and vomiting, and even those with raspy barks, are suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease.