DEAR DR. FOX: My dog is a 16-pound rescue, probably 8 years old, with a heart murmur. His vet says he needs a Bordatella booster and Lyme disease shots, along with vaccines called DAPP and 4L.
He does not run free. Does he really need all these? -- M.R., High Point, North Carolina
DEAR M.R.: I answer your question with a loud “no!” Your dog should not need any of these shots.
My first question is, when was your dog last vaccinated? Annual “boosters” without doing blood titers are not needed, with the exception of a rabies vaccine that’s only good for one year. (Three-year-duration rabies shots are available, and preferable.)
The Bordatella vaccine is only of short duration, and is usually only given a few days before a dog is boarded. If a grooming facility insists on all of this, then hire a groomer to come to your home instead.
This combination of vaccines all given at the same time amounts to a “carpet-bombing” of your dog’s immune system, with a high probability of long-term adverse consequences. Try to find a holistic veterinary practitioner in your area who is more informed and less driven to put profits before patient well-being. Visit the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association’s website: ahvma.org.
DEAR DR. FOX: My dog has a terrible smell, even after one day of bathing him. He smells musty. I am wondering if it’s his breed or what he eats.
He is 8 years old, and he is a Peekapoo (half Pekinese, half poodle). He eats Caesar and Pedigree brands of food. -- C.N.K., Highlands, New Jersey
P.S. I am 13 years old.
DEAR C.N.K.: I am encouraged to receive letters from young readers of my column, such as you. This gives me hope that concern and caring for animals is passing on from one generation to the next. I fear younger generations are becoming lost in cyberspace, entertainment and social media, and becoming more and more disconnected from nature and the living world around them.
You are demonstrating one of the primary skills of a veterinarian: your nose! The smell of an animal can tell you a lot about his or her health. Healthy dogs smell like fresh hay, and their paw pads like popcorn. Older dogs do become smellier when their kidneys and livers are not doing a good job ridding the body of harmful wastes. Home-prepared diets (such as my basic dog food recipe, posted on my website) can help, coupled with supplements -- especially digestive enzymes, which a daily teaspoon of unsweetened canned pineapple in his food will provide.
Frequent bathing to get rid of any unpleasant odor can actually make things worse by upsetting the healthy balance of bacteria and other microorganisms living on your dog’s skin. So stop the baths for a while. A few drops of wild salmon fish oil in each meal, twice a day being best, should help his skin and overall health.
Considering your dog’s breed and age, do you brush his teeth every evening? Are his teeth and gums healthy? Check my article on dental care posted on my website. This is so very important for dogs -- and cats, too -- and is a widespread health issue with serious ramifications including kidney, heart and liver disease. This could be why your dog smells so musty, because smelly saliva from a diseased mouth will get on your dog’s coat and legs in the course of self-grooming and licking. A full wellness exam by a veterinarian may be called for, if your dog has not seen an animal doctor over the past year.
Do let me know how you solve this problem for your little canine companion.
DOGS IDENTIFY CHILDREN WITH EARLY-STAGE MALARIA
Two trained dogs identified children with subclinical malaria from the smell of their socks with about 70 percent sensitivity and 90 percent specificity, according to researchers reporting at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual meeting.
If future studies validate the findings, bio-detection dogs could be deployed to prevent asymptomatic carriers from bringing malaria parasites into malaria-free areas. (The Guardian, London, Oct. 29)
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)