DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 7 1/2–year-old pit bull/terrier-mix. She is a rescue dog. We adopted her when she was 12 weeks old. These last two years or so, it seems like her stomach gets upset easily. Often, she doesn't eat and just lies around. Sometimes I give her Pepto-Bismol, and sometimes she will eat a little of a certain grass that makes her vomit, then she is ready to eat.
Daily, I give her boiled chicken, green beans, dry food, her multivitamin (half of an adult tablet) and garlic juice, which she gets only in the morning. I can't figure out what is upsetting her stomach so often. I have caught her eating bunny and squirrel poop in the yard, but she doesn't get an upset stomach every time.
She loves raw pasta. I give her maybe 12 pieces of the no-yolk kind a day. The only other thing she will get is Pup-Peroni when we leave the house as positive reinforcement. Is there anything else I could add to her diet to cause her to not want to eat the poop?
My other question concerns her anal glands: I have to take care of them once a month like clockwork, and they are usually full. You mentioned something about an allergy or intolerance. The dry food I purchase is Purina One with lamb, rice and soft morsels in it. Is that why she can't release her anal glands on her own? -- G.S., Cedar Hill, Mo.
DEAR G.S.: If you are giving your dog the garlic juice on an empty stomach, this could be the problem. I would cut out this supplement and the snacks and transition her onto my home-prepared diet (available on my website, DrFoxVet.com). Also try my buckwheat dog treat recipe.
Many manufactured pet foods contain various food industry byproducts and other ingredients not always indicated on the label. Food hypersensitivity/allergy can manifest is chronic ear and/or anal gland disease. I would certainly avoid any manufactured food that contains GMO (genetically modified) ingredients such as corn and soy. Consider transitioning her onto a raw food diet such as Bravo or some of the whole-food and organic dog foods listed on my website.
The poop eating may indicate a nutritional deficiency, so she may benefit from a daily teaspoon of brewer's yeast and a probiotic supplement in her food. You can use live bacteria-rich organic plain yogurt or kefir as a backup.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have enjoyed your column for many years. You often get letters from people dealing with their cats who have symptoms of feline urinary syndrome. I had a cat who displayed those symptoms and, though no stones ever needed to be removed, I drove to the emergency hospital late at night on more than one occasion because I believed he would not live until morning.
I came across a book about cats and vitamin C, and the vet who wrote it suggested giving sodium ascorbate to cats for FUS. Sodium ascorbate, as you would know, is vitamin C buffered with salt for easier digestion. The book even gave recommended quantities based on the cat's weight. I gave my 12-pound cat 1/8 teaspoon mixed into his moist food every day for the rest of his life, and he never had any more problems with FUS. I found a vet who, when I told her I was giving my cat sodium ascorbate, responded, "Good idea, keeps the urine nice and acidic."
In learning about human natural medicine, I learned that for either diarrhea or constipation, bran flakes are effective. When my cat was straining to defecate and I took her to the vet to get checked out, the doctor said that one can treat a cat the same way as a human for constipation. I bought some bran flakes and now I mix a teaspoon in with my cat's moist food every day. Stools are softer and leave her body easier.
I really hope these natural and inexpensive treatments don't die with me. I don't hear veterinarians these days prescribing these simple "cures" found at any natural food store. -- D.S., St. Louis
DEAR D.S.: I hope that veterinarians and cat and dog owners will take note of your personal testimony of the benefits of such natural products for some serious health conditions in companion animals.
Vitamin C is a natural acidifier, which can help dissolve and prevent struvite crystals/calculi but may not be of benefit when animals have oxalate or other kinds of urinary tract-blocking calculi. Veterinarian Dr. Wendell Belfield was one of the first, I believe, to recognize these and other benefits of vitamin C for companion animals.
Bran can be effective, but I prefer psyllium husks, presoaked in water. When animals are on a dry food diet and don't drink enough water, bulk laxatives can aggravate constipation.
(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.)