Dear Dr. Fox:

My small beagle is 6. I took him to the vet for his distemper shot last year.

When we arrived home from the vet, he was fine for a short time. He then became excitable, running through rooms, jumping on furniture and rubbing his face and head on the cushions.

The vet told me to take him in for a shot to counteract the obvious allergic reaction. They gave him dexamethasone and Benadryl. He quieted immediately and remained calm until the next evening. His behavior became irritable again. His tongue got quite red; he panted and drank a lot of water. I am concerned that he may have gotten a bad batch of serum.

G.P.T., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

DF: Please follow up with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog’s adverse reaction to this new type of distemper vaccine was reported to the manufacturers and to the FDA’s Bureau of Veterinary Medicine.

If your dog had received a distemper vaccination between one and three years ago, this shot was probably not called for. Acute anaphylactic and hypersensitive reactions might mean seizures, allergies, cancer and other health problems later in life.

Repeated, unwarranted and potentially hazardous vaccinations primarily benefit the manufacturers and distributors. Vaccinations play an important role in preventive medicine but should not be relied upon as the only solution.


Dear Dr. Fox:

I have two completely indoor cats, both 101 / 2. I adopted a 9-month-old feral cat, Dolly.

A vet checked her out and gave her shots. I have kept her separated from the others in another room for about five months. She is now in the main room of my home. She eats and drinks water from the same place as the other two. The first two (male and female) have been sterilized and declawed.

When the male cat goes near Dolly, she hisses. She has started to “go” on the floor, near where she hides.

M.S., West Palm Beach, Fla.

DF: The trick is to keep the new cat separate but close enough to the other cats so they can become scent-, sound- and sight-habituated toward each other.

Because your new cat is under some stress and because cats often develop cystitis when they feel stress, have a veterinarian examine her to rule this possibility out. Otherwise, try the cat pheromone Feliway room diffuser and give them all a pinch of catnip as an evening cocktail.


Dear Dr. Fox:

My cat, 8, was diagnosed with ringworm eight months ago. My vet treated her with what I believe was griseofulvin for three months. During that time, she grew worse. She has lost about 30 percent of the hair on her body, and the bald patches are covered with scabs and scaly patches.

According to my vet, antifungal medications are somewhat dangerous and likely to harm or kill the cat.

T.K., High Point, N.C.

DF: Cases of feline ringworm (not a worm but a fungus) that do not respond to conventional treatment call for drastic measures.

Discuss with your veterinarian giving your cat supplements such as omega-3 and vitamins A, D and B-complex; shaving the cat to remove fungus-infected fur; and applying an Elizabethan collar to stop the cat from self-grooming and allowing you to safely apply an emulsion shampoo containing essential oils, such as tea tree, rosemary, lavender and myrrh. They have antifungal properties, but because they can be toxic to cats when ingested, they should be used only as a last resort.

Your cat should be on a zero-carbohydrate diet, high in good-quality animal protein and fat. Probiotics in her food might help boost her immune system.

A few days after the first medicated shampoo treatment, have a veterinarian check her to assess the effectiveness of the essential oils. More cat-safe hydrosols are available via Internet suppliers.


Dear Dr. Fox:

Our 9-month-old mastiff likes to eat lots of things. He usually vomits after a while. He recently ate a small squeaky toy. Should I induce vomiting?

F.B.F., Portsmouth, Va.

DF: Your young dog probably developed this habit when he was teething.

Go to a veterinary hospital without delay. Swallowed items can cause potentially fatal intestinal obstructions and might contain toxic metals and plastic.

As a first-aid measure, try to immediately induce vomiting with diluted hydrogen peroxide or a weak baking-soda solution poured down the dog’s throat. This should not be done if any caustic substances might have been swallowed.

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.

2011 United Feature Syndicate