DEAR DR. FOX: I have a mature 13-year-old poodle who has warts all over his back, and I don't know how to treat them.
My vet said he could freeze some -- three at a time for $500 each visit -- but they may grow back. If there is anything I can do to help dry them out, I will. I was going to get some medication from the drugstore, but I'm afraid it might hurt him. -- J.G., St. Charles, Mo.
DEAR J.G.: I wonder what is happening to the veterinary profession. To give you a price of $500 to remove these harmless growths, so common in older dogs and small breeds like yours, is outrageous.
One of my readers painted her dog's warts with organic cider vinegar, twice daily for several days, until they disappeared. Other readers have used over-the-counter human wart-removing ointments with good effect. Other herbal remedies include garlic juice, fresh nettle juice and thuja tincture.
You should, of course, keep any wart-removing application away from your dog's eyes. A veterinarian should be consulted concerning any growths that are especially irritating and have a reddened base -- they may have a bacterial or fungal infection. If this could be an issue with your dog, seek a second opinion from another animal doctor.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 15-year-old Maine coon cat. He takes an atenolol tablet for cardiomyopathy, which was diagnosed at an early age. He had a polyp removed from his ear in 2010 during a dental cleaning. In 2011, an MRI showed he had fluid in his ears (bilateral otitis media). He was given Simplicef and metronidazole for three months. He is now deaf.
He started limping on his back leg and is now on Dasuquin for his joints. In 2011, his physical showed that his liver enzymes were elevated and he was prescribed a liver protectant, Denamarin. After a month, I chose to discontinue it.
His 2012 physical results show his liver enzymes are lower. The pH in his urine is high -- 7.5. His urine concentration is good. Our veterinarian recommends Royal Canin diet food. He has been raised on PetGuard with a healthy addition of water since he does not drink from the bowl. I also mix in psyllium husks and fish oil. Lately, I've added Wellness and ProPlan food to his diet. He weighs 15 1/2 pounds, down from his top weight of 18 pounds two years ago.
Should I have continued him on Denamarin? What diet would you recommend to lower his urine pH level? I have saved your cat food recipe from an earlier article, but when I tried a homemade diet at a young age, he refused to eat it. -- J.M.S., Falls Church, Va.
DEAR J.M.S.: I think your cat is receiving appropriate veterinary care, and I would put him back on Denamarin. This may help offset any harmful side effects from the Dasuquin.
You may want to try substituting the Dasuquin with up to 1/2-teaspoon daily of fish oil. Begin with a few drops. Fish oil is anti-inflammatory, and it may help improve his kidney and heart functions.
While acupuncture treatments can be of benefit, I would advise only in-home therapy. Many cats love a regular massage. Read tips in my book "The Healing Touch for Cats."
DEAR DR. FOX: I unwittingly killed my 13-pound, 3 1/2–year-old female Pomeranian, Lexi, with a few dollops of liverwurst. I didn't know that liverwurst was pure fat with a little flavoring, which my Lexi's pancreas couldn't handle. It took 40 hours for her to die, and I sat there watching her without a clue because I didn't understand the significance of what I was seeing -- occasional vomiting and then seizures -- until it was too late. My ignorance killed her.
My vet performed a necropsy. Lexi's pancreas was black. The bowel around the pancreas was purple-going-on-black. It looked so bad that the ER vets thought I had poisoned her. It doesn't need to happen to another dog -- education is key. Watch out for pancreatitis. -- M.W.H., Hagerstown, Md.
DEAR M.W.H.: My sympathy goes out to you and to your poor dog. Acute pancreatitis is a painful condition, and without immediate emergency veterinary care, it's usually fatal. Small dogs seem especially susceptible because what we may think is a small treat is too much for them to handle.
Your letter is important for all readers who have dogs -- small and large, young and old -- to take note. Fatty treats and scraps can destroy the pancreas, often compounded by high protein content that can lead to uremia (protein poisoning) when there is concurrent kidney disease. Pancreatic disease is often associated with fatty liver disease, other liver problems and genetic- and diet-related diabetes.
Animal health checkups and discussion of diet with the veterinarian are the best preventives of these all-too-common maladies.
(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.)