DEAR DR. FOX: My sister and brother-in-law adopted a black Lab awhile back. The dog was given to them by a family whose son was allergic to it. He was well cared for, but he got cancer in his nose and died during a related operation.
After that, they decided they wanted a dog who was bred from good stock. They didn't want to take a chance of any other illnesses. They had a chocolate Lab bred for them. The dog is a lively, friendly, wonderful dog. She is now 5 years old. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed recently with lymphoma.
I don't believe in breeding dogs, as so many dogs need homes. However, I love the dog dearly, and I have two questions:
-- Is there anything we can do to prolong the dog's life?
-- Are Labs prone to cancer? -- S.F., Rockville, Md.
DEAR S.F.: Yes, indeed, many good dogs are in adoption centers in need of good homes. The commercial puppy mill mass production of purebreds and designer varieties is a major factor contributing to full-to-capacity shelters and adoptable dogs being killed.
Lymphoma is one of the more common canine cancers and is prevalent in certain breeds such as the golden retriever, boxer, German shepherd and Scottish terrier. Exposure to lawn and garden herbicides, electromagnetic radiation, solvents and paints has been associated with increased incidence of the cancer. In cats, it is most commonly associated with feline leukemia virus infection.
Depending on the dog's overall health and the invasiveness of this cancer, chemotherapy can accomplish a complete recovery with the drugs doxorubicin and vincristine. The latter is an extract of the vinca rose, which I used successfully in India to treat dogs suffering from transmissible venereal tumors. I would like to see clinical trials conducted on dandelion root extract, preliminary tests of which indicate a promising and safe treatment for lymphatic cancer.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have a cat who is 9 years old and weighs 19 pounds. We have her on Purina Pro Plan weight management food trying to get her to lose some weight. The biggest problem we have is her throwing up.
She just started this about two years ago. We have been to three vets, and each says something different. Her stomach has been X-rayed. They think she vomits because of hair balls. She gets one Capilex pill every morning to try to digest her hair balls, but she still throws up several times a week -- and sometimes more. -- B.K., Washington, Mo.
DEAR B.K.: You have a middle-aged, overweight cat who is probably suffering from the same related health problems we see in overweight people. These health issues include diabetes, arthritis, fatty liver and heart disease. A veterinarian should check this out.
The most common reasons cats throw up after eating are not only hair balls in the stomach, but eating too quickly -- usually because they are so hungry and are fed only twice a day -- or being allergic to one or more ingredients in their food.
I would transition your cat to a cereal-free cat food such as Organix or Wellness. Give 2 teaspoons of food six to eight times daily, along with probiotics or a little plain live yogurt or kefir. Try to get her to play more; physical activity is good therapy. This is one of the reasons I advise people to keep two cats. They stimulate each other and are more active and healthier than live-alone cats.
(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.)