by Michael W. Fox

Dear Dr. Fox:

We adopted a beagle a year ago, and although she is supposed to be about 5, I would say she is older. Her teeth were in terrible condition, and she now has a white muzzle.

Her stools have always been too soft; she has anal gland problems. Upon having her food changed in December, she had a terrible bout with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Since then, I have been feeding her brown rice, chicken and broccoli, but these foods have not helped with the soft stools.

Recently, after running out of rice, I gave her oatmeal instead, thinking that would be bland enough. Big mistake: The gastroenteritis started all over again.

I am not sure what to feed her. I would like to put her on the homemade food that you recommend, but am afraid to add the supplements. At the moment, she eats Hill’s i/d Gastrointestinal Health food.

S.A., Warrenton

DF: Your dog probably has inflammatory bowel disease. Many co-factors should be addressed, such as intestinal infection, parasites such as giardia, food allergy and gluten sensitivity.

During acute episodes of diarrhea, give rice or barley water with a pinch of salt and sugar and no food for 24 to 36 hours as an emergency measure. Body hydration is important and might require emergency veterinary treatment with replacement fluids.

During such an episode, veterinarians often prescribe antispasmodics and metronidazole. They also advise a bland, home-prepared diet of known ingredients such as the recipes formulated by veterinarians for various dog and cat health problems available from Balance IT, DVM Consulting in Davis, Calif.; telephone, 888-346-6362.

Successful treatment with oral calcium aluminosilicate or kaolin and pectin, slippery elm or aloe-vera juice has been reported and could be tried under veterinary supervision. The inexpensive drug tylosin has recently been reported to benefit dogs afflicted by inflammatory-bowel conditions.


Dear Dr. Fox:

My 8-year-old Russian blue cat was recently diagnosed with fibrosarcoma. He also has a round open wound on his right haunch that is clean and doesn’t seem to bother him, but it drains and is quite messy.

Two vets have told me that this wound can’t be closed and that it has something to do with the blood supply to the tumor that, at this point, is helping to keep him alive.

He doesn’t appear to be in any pain and is eating, playing and sleeping normally. His brother, from the same litter, is well. I don’t understand why this wound won’t heal or why it can’t be closed.

E-R.G., Norfolk

DF: It is good to know that your cancer-afflicted cat is still enjoying life and showing no other symptoms.

Because fibrosarcomas in cats are linked to the place in their skin where they were injected, veterinarians vaccinate cats down their legs rather than behind the neck. Surgical removal of the cancer, often involving limb amputation, is more likely to eliminate the cancer (which can spread into surrounding tissues and internal organs) than surgery around the neck or between the shoulder blades.

Because frankincense oil has been shown to kill melanomas in horses, I would like to see clinical trials with this and other essential oils, such as myrrh and helichrysum, in cats with fibrosarcoma, noting that for cats (unlike dogs and humans), these oils are not without some risk to their livers.

Also, discuss treating the non-healing lesion with your veterinarian using a mixture of organic honey and sangre de drago, the red-colored healing sap from an Amazon tree.


Dear Dr. Fox:

Do all Siamese cats shed? My 5-year-old keeps shedding and shedding, no matter how much I brush her. She has numerous white flakes on her back. She also vomits now and then, but it seems to happen less often since I’ve been brushing her daily.

The other day, after brushing and seeing all the dandruff, I bathed her with Vet Solutions Aloe & Oatmeal Shampoo and used Tropiclean Oxy Med Medicated Oatmeal Treatment Rinse. Afterward, the hair came to the surface of her back in clumps and there was more dandruff. Later that night, I brushed her again and used pramoxine HCI spray and rubbed it into her scalp. Handfuls of hair came out again, and yet she has no bald patches.

This has been going on all her life, but it seems much worse now. I rarely resort to all that bathing and rinsing. I use the FURminator or the wire brush, and she loves it. She eats well and drinks lots of water. Her food is Nutro Natural Choice Indoor Active Health Adult, ocean-fish flavor, and I usually put a few drops of olive oil on top. I’ve tried Halo, Science Diet, Wellness and many others.

The vet says she’s healthy, and the girls at work say their cats shed and lick a lot, too.

J.D., North Palm Beach, Fla.

DF: Olive, flaxseed and other vegetable oils are good for dogs’ coats and skin but lack some of the essential fatty acids that cats need. Cats require oils and fats of animal origin such as wild salmon or cod-liver oil. Organic butter is also an excellent source for cats in particular.

I find it best to groom my cats once a week with the FURminator and daily with a medium-hard bristle brush. The more deeply and vigorously you groom a cat, the more fur you will remove and the more they will produce — so, all things in moderation!

Stress can make cats suddenly shed, and chronic shedding and constant licking and scratching in dogs and cats could mean there is an underlying nutritional or other health issue that calls for a thorough veterinary checkup.

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