Dear Dr. Fox:
Do you have any recommendations for natural flea and tick protection for dogs that live in Florida? My dog, a 35-pound mixed terrier, is not out a lot but does like to roll in the grass and go for walks.
L.W., Stuart, Fla.
DF: Controlling fleas naturally is a challenge, especially in Florida and Texas.
These measures should help: daily flea-combing, vacuuming the house everywhere the dog goes three to four days per week, and dusting floors and other likely flea larva-hiding areas with borax powder.
Give your dog brewer’s yeast (one teaspoon per 50 pounds of body weight) and flaxseed oil in his food. Also, spritz the dog with lemon oil in warm water or diluted TKO organic orange cleaner.
Dear Dr. Fox:
We purchased two longhair cats, male and female. The female started having rectal bleeding, and we found out that she has feline infectious peritonitis.
We’ve been told that it is terminal. It’s so sad because she’s so loving, and I see her getting weaker and weaker.
Should we have the male tested?
What can I do for the female? The vet gave her a steroid shot, and then we tried Interferon, but that made her sick. She is sensitive to any medicine. She also has constipation, but no more rectal bleeding. Is it okay to keep giving Laxatone?
E.B., Grand Prairie, Tex.
DF: As long as an animal is not suffering and has some quality of life, has a good appetite and enjoys being petted and gentle play, then never give up.
Visit www.feline-nutrition.org, and consider putting your cats on a lightly cooked or raw-food diet.
Supplements such as probiotics, aloe-vera liquid (human grade, available in health stores), ginger, lecithin, fish oil, glutamine, n-acetyl-cysteine, L-alpha-lipoic acid and L-carnitine are all worth considering. Such supplements can help boost the immune system and improve digestive processes, both of which are failing because of this viral disease affecting your cat.
Your cat should not be given any more steroids or vaccinations.
Dear Dr. Fox:
My Congo African Grey parrot began to feather-pick about five months ago, mainly on her chest. She is sweet but also hyper. Her diet consists primarily of African special pellets; the remainder is vegetables, fruits and treats.
I have tried both sprays once a week, and every night I spray just her chest. It seems to get better for a while, but she resumes picking again. We also tried using the cone, with moderate results. She is a great talker and loves to please.
DF: Feather-picking (often to the point of extensive disfiguring and self-mutilation) is an all-too-common problem with caged birds, especially parrots.
An avian veterinary specialist must rule out possible physical causes such as feather mites and nutritional deficiency. Then focus on possible psychological causes and try various remedies. Those causes can include boredom, prolonged confinement, lack of exercise and stress associated with the placement of the cage near a noisy or high-traffic part of the house and any other environmental factors that could make your bird fearful.
Many birds improve when given more freedom, a large flight cage and a compatible, healthy bird of the same species as a companion.
Dear Dr. Fox:
My dog has cauliflower ear problem, and I need your advice.
M.L.S., Swanton, Md.
DF: If you think your dog has a cauliflower ear (all swollen and crumpling), it might be too late to surgically correct it.
Cauliflower ear occurs in dogs that develop a kind of blood blister under the skin of an ear traumatized by a bite or, more often, from violent head shaking and scratching associated with an ear infection.
Early treatment of ear infections is the best preventive. When the earflap or pinna swells, immediate drainage and plastic surgery (inserting compression buttons) to prevent the ear from filling up and to facilitate natural healing is called for.
The longer the delay, the more the damage as scar tissue forms.
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.