DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 5-year-old yellow tabby who gets rodent ulcers on her upper lip. This occurs every six weeks to three months. She has had them since she was 2 years old.
The vet has been giving her laser treatments for the past year. She gets a Depo-Medrol shot. This time she had to take ClindaCure twice a day.
I feed her out of stainless steel and ceramic bowls that I disinfect with baking soda and vinegar. She eats 9Lives and Fancy Feast dry food; Whiskas, Friskies and Fancy Feast wet food; and Friskies treats.
I was told to put aloe vera on her lips. But should it be from the live plant -- I thought it was poisonous to cats -- or the gel from a tube? I would appreciate any advice you might have. -- R.A.S., Maysville, W.Va.
DEAR R.A.S.: Rodent ulcers are disfiguring skin lesions afflicting the upper lip region of cats. They may be triggered by a contact allergy to certain food ingredients, drinking water contaminants or leached chemicals from plastic food and water bowls. The cat's raspy tongue aggravates the problem with constant licking, which removes medications applied to help heal the ulcer.
I would give your cat pure, filtered water and switch to a single protein or hypoallergenic cat food such as Wellness or Organix. Alternatively, try my home-prepared cat food recipe (on my website, DrFoxVet.com). After two weeks or so, switch from chicken to turkey, then to lamb -- see how your cat responds. If she licks more, you may have identified which protein is triggering the allergy.
Some cat experts believe that aloe vera is toxic to cats. Organic olive oil has amazing healing properties and is safe to consume. This may be of benefit applied four to six times daily, cuddling your cat to stop any licking for as long as you can.
DEAR DR. FOX: My dog likes to eat dirt! I try to stop him, but when he is free in our yard he will go to one corner, dig in the soil and gobble some before I can stop him. He never seems to eat much, and he never throws up, though his poop is darker the next day. Should I let him continue or put a muzzle on him? -- K.L.P., St. Louis
Dear K.L.P.: Dogs and many wild animal species regularly eat dirt, often selecting a particular kind. Clay contains gut-soothing compounds similar to kaolin, and beneficial minerals like iron and magnesium; dark, humus-containing soil rich in beneficial bacteria helps improve digestive processes and, acting as a probiotic, boosts immune system functions.
I say all things in moderation, even for dirt eating. A 30-pound dog can eat a tablespoon once in a while. If your dog is obsessive about it and is constantly seeking out dirt to eat, he may have an underlying medical problem such as anemia.
Living in relatively sterile indoor environments and being fed heat-sterilized, processed pet foods, cats and dogs may suffer from intestinal dysbiosis -- a deficiency in the variety and number of beneficial bacteria in their digestive systems. This may be aggravated by the inclusion of GMOs (genetically engineered corn and soy) in their diets. (For details, see my article on my website, DrFoxVet.com.) This is why some pet food manufacturers are now adding probiotics to their dry dog and cat foods, and it is the reason why I advise the routine inclusion of quality probiotics, present in organic sources like plain cultured yogurt and kefir, in your pets' diets.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)