DEAR DR. FOX: My 9-year-old cocker spaniel has several health issues, but the most recent one is the growth of warts in her ears. They are quite large and far down in her ear canal.
The vets I go to are reluctant to remove them surgically since they are so difficult to get to and would be painful. The warts stop up her ear and keep it infected.
Do you know of anything I can do for this poor dog? I have tried vitamin E, and it is working to some extent. -- A.G., Luray, Va.
DEAR A.G.: Poor cocker spaniels suffer from a human-created (anthropogenic) disease susceptibility caused by genetic selection for heavy, long, pendulous ears. There should be a change in their breed standards, selecting for dogs with ears that are shorter and not so heavy. In the interim, many enjoy a better quality of life having their earflaps (pinnas) tied with a ribbon on the top of their heads for part of the day. The ear canals can then be ventilated and dried out after routine cleaning. If you have never bow-tied her ears as part of the treatment protocol, I would start today.
So many cockers suffer from itchy, smelly, chronically infected and inflamed ear canals. Good nutrition rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps, as does a zymogen enzyme-based cleaner or diluted apple cider vinegar and olive oil applied after drying the ears out, which can work wonders in helping prevent more serious problems like the one your poor dog is suffering from. Try various topical treatments to reduce the inflammatory growths and make her life more comfortable. She may even become a better candidate for corrective surgery to open up both external ear canals.
DEAR DR. FOX: My daughter is having her first child. She has three cats who she's had for several years. My concern is for the baby's safety after he is born.
Are there any precautions my daughter can or should take regarding the cats not injuring the baby? -- M.J.L., Baltimore
DEAR M.J.L.: Most cats are gentle, curious and often affectionate with human infants. Some may show fear and run away, or approach with evident concern in response to an infant's crying. Generally, cats habituate quickly to these distress calls, which are not unlike their own.
Cats have been blamed for smothering babies in their cribs -- the old myth is that they are trying to suck the milk out of the babies' mouths. Cats may lick regurgitated milk, but crib deaths are more likely attributable to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or to the baby being placed in the wrong sleeping position. Still, a large cat could lie across the baby's head or face and restrict breathing.
A baby placed face-up will flail hands and feet, which might get scratched by a playful cat. Your daughter should place a net over the crib to keep the cats out. She should have the cats checked for toxoplasmosis and ringworm. Get rid of any pediatrician who advises her to get rid of the cats.
(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.)