DEAR DR. FOX: I recently purchased a KONG Wubba toy from Petco. It was covered in nylon and made in China. After a few minutes of play, my Weimaraner dropped the toy and started licking the air, his legs, the blanket, floor, cabinets, me, etc. He hadn't been outside or had any other new items. I phoned my veterinarian, and he said to watch him and give him a Benadryl. I took him in later that day, and the vet could not find anything wrong with him -- he guessed the toy might have had a substance on it that got on my dog's tongue. He suggested washing the toy to see if it was still a problem. I did that, and when I gave it to him a week later, he started licking again.
Have you had any complaints about dog toys made in China? I'm wondering if the toy had a chemical on it? I would like to find out if the U.S. government has any restrictions on imported dog toys, but I don't know where to start. In the meantime, I will not be purchasing any more toys made in China. -- D.S., St. Louis
DEAR D.S.: I hope many readers and the Food and Drug Administration will take note of your dog's reaction. Contact KONG at kongcompany.com, and have your veterinarian report your dog's adverse reaction to the U.S. Bureau of Veterinary Medicine.
Simply washing this toy will not remove chemicals impregnated in the synthetic material. Phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), endocrine disruptors, and possible carcinogens and obesogens are all too common in plastic and synthetic food and water containers, children's toys and pet toys, and our government has been slow to regulate manufacturers and importers.
My advice is to never buy pet products, including pet beds, manufactured in China, or even in the U.S. if you are not sure they are pet-safe and there is no clear ingredient labeling. The foam filling of furniture and pet beds can contain endocrine-disrupting, thyroid-harming, fire retardant bromide compounds (PBDEs -- polybrominated diphenyl ethers). Check planetdogfoundation.org and ruffwear.com for safer pet products.
DEAR DR. FOX: My 21-month-old male wheaten terrier seems healthy and is very active.
He was born with a hernia, which was repaired by the breeder's vet at seven weeks of age -- he was neutered at the same time. Everything seemed to heal well, and he is a very active dog who eats and poops well. At his one-year checkup, he had a small, soft lump in the area of the hernia; the vet said it was probably just residual inflammation and was not concerned.
Now I am concerned because the lump has changed -- it is larger and harder. Can I wait until his two-year checkup, or should I take him to the vet now? He does not seem ill, but I am worried. I have three dogs, and the other two have scheduled vet appointments soon. -- K.J.M., Stroudsburg, Pa.
DEAR K.J.M.: Any time a dog develops a lump, one should be concerned, especially when it is increasing in size. In older dogs this is especially critical because it could be cancer, and the longer the veterinarian is delayed in taking a needle biopsy to determine if the growth is cancerous, the smaller the chances of the dog making a full recovery.
But do not panic with your young dog. I agree with your veterinarian, and I do not believe that there is any emergency at this time. If the navel/umbilical area was hot and inflamed or very soft and easily pushed into the abdominal cavity, then there is an issue. The veterinarian is correct that this is fibrous, healing tissue that helps close up the operated umbilical hernia area. Rub it with aloe vera gel or other herbal creams or ointments that help skin and tissue healing, such as calendula, frankincense and myrrh. Stop the dog from licking the area for at least 30 minutes after applying the creams twice daily. Measure how wide the swelling is, and make records every week for a month.
If there is any further growth, a veterinary appointment with the original surgeon is called for. There could be an embedded suture causing excessive inflammation and fibrosis, which would call for surgical correction -- at a discount price!
(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.)