DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 4-year-old female shih tzu who has chronic ear infections. She weighs 15 pounds. Her problem is pretty much controlled with Royal Canin Hypoallergenic dry and moist dog food.
I would like to prepare moist food myself. I printed a copy of your recommended food recipe from the Internet, and I would like to know how much of my home-prepared food I should give her daily? How much dry food? She eats twice daily.
She is active and healthy, except for the chronic ear problem. -- R.W., Winston-Salem, N.C.
DEAR R.W.: Please visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, and search the column archives to find answers to questions concerning ear problems in dogs and effective treatments.
Changing the diet is not the only answer, but not addressing diet as a possible cause amounts to veterinary negligence, since so many dogs with chronic ear -- and anal gland -- problems have an underlying food allergy or intolerance. The proof is in the "evidence-based medicine," documenting improvement after changing to a basic, whole-food diet with known ingredients. It is often only then that treatments applied to the ears help the healing process.
After weighing your dog, feed her 1/2-cup home-prepared food plus 1/2-cup dry food twice daily. Weigh again after two to three weeks, and adjust the amount to maintain normal weight. If your dog is overweight, have the veterinarian help determine the optimal weight for her breed.
DEAR DR. FOX: My Lab/chi-chi-mix dog, Marty, is 2 years old. He will not go outside to pee if it is raining, so he goes on the carpet of the laundry room. He doesn't poop, just tinkles.
What do you suggest we do to get him to not be afraid of the rainy weather? -- D.M., Virginia Beach, Va.
DEAR D.M.: Your rain-phobic dog may respond well to desensitization. Chose a nice day, but go out with a large umbrella over both of you so that he gets used to it. Repeat for a few days until he is accustomed to the umbrella -- and your neighbors think you are certifiably insane! During the next light rain, take him out on the leash for a walk with both of you under the umbrella. Give him treats and praise. After a few walks in the rain, move the umbrella away as you give him a treat so he gets some rain on him. Then get him used to a rubdown with a towel.
Many dogs do not enjoy getting soaked, but will put their ears and tails down and get on with their business, the rewards of a good toweling and a treat being enough incentive.
In the interim, purchase disposable pads from the pet store to protect your laundry room floor. Your dog may need treatment with an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax, especially if he has a fear of thunder and lightning, which he might associate with rain.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 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.com.)