DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 2-year-old Lhasa apso who will not walk on a leash. She's a nice little dog, but all suggestions have failed.
We let her drag the leash around the house when we are home -- it doesn't work. We've tried offering treats -- no, she doesn't like any kind of treats.
She came from a wonderful shelter, but we think she had been kept in a cage before her arrival there. She was bred before she was a year old. During our six months with her, she has learned to play, enjoys a huge yard and seems happy. But we'd like to be able to enjoy walking her. -- P.B., Stephens City, Va.
DEAR P.B.: It is good to know that you adopted this sweet little victim of a puppy mill.
She may have a phobia about going into open spaces and strange places, not of being led on the leash. Patience is called for -- a virtue that you are clearly not lacking after helping her recover from life in a cage.
Be sure she is not wearing a collar attached to the leash. Instead, keep the collar, but fit her with a comfortable, snug harness and attach that to the leash. The pressure on her neck when you try to walk her with the leash attached to her collar could trigger fear and, if she struggles, cause serious damage to her windpipe.
Just yesterday I was driving my car and saw a young woman walking what looked like a longhaired Chihuahua. She suddenly jerked the dog backwards, and all four of the dog's feet left the ground. The pressure of the collar on the dog's trachea could cause permanent damage, especially when repeated as a "no pull" training method.
DEAR DR. FOX: My daughter has a 2-year-old bull terrier who has developed car sickness over the past year. He was always happy to ride in the car on trips that generally did not exceed 1 1/2 hours. However, he now vomits several times after each ride, and it can take up to two days before he recovers.
He is in good health otherwise. Is there a remedy available that you may recommend? -- J.D.F., Springfield, Mass.
DEAR J.D.F.: That your daughter's dog enjoyed car rides rules out any anxiety issues. Hanging a cloth strip soaked in essential oil of lavender or placing a few drops on a bandanna around the dog's neck can produce a small miracle of relaxation for dogs who are anxious in the car.
The vomiting is more a motion sickness issue. Give the dog 1/2 teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger root buried in a couple of balls of cream cheese or peanut butter 30 minutes before going on a long journey. Then make hourly stops to exercise the dog and allow him to relieve himself. Giving a second dose of ginger after two hours in the car should keep his stomach calm and make him one happy puppy.
DEAR DR. FOX: Please tell me something about staph infection in puppies. We have been fostering some pups, and a few got little pustules on their tummies the vet said was Staphylococcus. -- L.B.S., Fort Myers, Fla.
DEAR L.B.S.: Staphylococcus bacteria, of which there are various strains, is arguably a normal "commensal" organism. Along with other kinds of bacteria, it helps keep the skin healthy and resistant to invasive bacterial and fungal infections. But in puppies with poorly developed immunity and animals with impaired immune systems, Staphylococcus intermedius can cause follicular dermatitis -- pustules with a hair shaft protruding from the center. Shampooing with benzoyl peroxide, chlorhexidine or human Selsun Blue medicated shampoo may resolve the problem. Applying essential oils with antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties -- such as frankincense, lavender and tea tree -- diluted in 10 parts almond oil to one part of these oils, applied twice daily may prove effective.
More resistant cases call for oral antibiotics such as erythromycin. Penicillins are not generally effective because of bacterial resistance. Be sure to get the dogs tested and treated for other concurrent disease.
(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.)