The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Rescued Cat With Growth on Jaw

DEAR DR. FOX: My rescue cat has a small bump on its jaw that the vet thinks is a tumor. It is firm, and doesn’t seem to bother him. Is there anything I can use, such as oils or supplements, that would help him to fight this?

Thank you for all you do for our animal friends and for the planet. -- A.T., Rolla, Missouri

DEAR A.T.: I am glad that you have had your cat examined by a veterinarian.

You must keep an eye on the growth, which could be cancer or a dental-root abscess causing jawbone inflammation. Cats are prone to chronic dental problems, which can get worse with age. One such disorder causes resorption of the tooth sockets in the jaw, necessitating tooth extraction. For details, check out my article on dental problems on my website,

I would give your cat a few drops of fish oil daily for its anti-inflammatory properties. Begin with one drop in his food, since cats are finicky, and work up to five drops per meal. Meals should ideally consist of canned cat food fed in small amounts, five or six times a day. Cats do best with small meals.

Hope this helps. If the lump gets larger or the cat shows any discomfort eating, make another vet appointment.

DEAR DR. FOX: I read with interest about a Pomeranian with alopecia (hair loss) in your recent column. Our little dog Yogi Bear suffered from the same condition, also known as “black skin disease.” Yogi was diagnosed with the condition in 2005. He was 10 years old at that time. As the condition worsened, so did Yogi’s health, but we were told the condition was cosmetic and that his other problems were age-related.

I found a company called DERMagic that had a wonderful group of products that helped our Yogi. Yogi went from having very little hair in June of 2010 to a full coat by October that same year. Even our vet was amazed.

Company veterinarian Dr. Adelia Ritchie told me that Yogi’s energy would improve as well as his appetite, which they both did. But to us, the amazing thing was that the little quirks of his personality also returned. Even though he is nearly 16 years old now, Yogi is sleeping less, is more interested in people and his surroundings than he used to be, and is just a happier little guy in general. We have also seen a change in his bladder. When we began using the Skin Rescue Lotion, Yogi needed to urinate three times to empty his bladder as his stream was slow, much like a man with an enlarged prostate. In the last month, we have noticed that he is no longer needing to “three-pee” -- he will go one time, then back-kick and strut like he did a good job. He always used to do this.

We don’t feel there is any other explanation, other than his improved health from using DERMagic. -- D.G., Talent, Oregon

DEAR D.G.: I checked out this lotion and the other products on the website, which states:

“Founded in 2006 by Dr. Adelia Ritchie, DERMagic has been striving to help dogs and cats live a more comfortable life. In our all-natural skin care formulas, we use only the finest ingredients, including certified organic whole-leaf aloe vera gel, vitamin E, lanolin, beeswax, and soothing natural oils. DERMagic products promote fuller and healthier hair, protect skin and hair from damaging elements, and restore good skin condition. If your pet is suffering from black skin disease (alopecia-x), yeast, hot spots or dry and itchy skin, we have an all-natural product for you.”

I find none of these ingredients questionable, and am a longtime advocate of using aloe vera and natural oils for various skin disorders in animals as well as humans. The evident clinical benefits of such practices are discounted by drug companies that would rather see no such natural products on the market.

But I do not encourage dog owners to make their own diagnoses when their animals have some skin issue. These issues could be due to mange mites in the skin; flea bites; or other allergens, including seasonal pollens and certain food ingredients. A veterinary examination and diagnosis should be the first step, and then, based on the diagnosis or probable cause, discuss using a product like DERMagic with the veterinarian.

I would certainly try this option before using steroids or immunosuppressant drugs like Apoquel in treating chronic skin diseases.

(Send all mail to 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.

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