DEAR DR. FOX: My friend's dog came from a shelter and must have had some terrible experiences. At times, and for no reason that I can understand, when I am around the dog he will charge me. I do not understand what I am doing.
It seems to happen when I am close to my friend. At other times, he will come to me for petting, wagging his tail. He has some other issues -- flashing lights, thunder, charging when someone is picking up something off the floor, when I get close to his food bowl, mail trucks, mail carriers and other odd things.
Can you explain why he is acting strangely toward me at certain times? He has me baffled. -- N.L., Washington, D.C.
DEAR N.L.: You have every reason to be baffled by this "bipolar" dog. He is showing classic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You must learn to initiate interactions around such an animal only after you have made eye contact with him and when he signals he wants interaction. Put away all expectations you've learned from your prior experiences with friendly dogs.
You need to empathize with his need for space and control -- fear and aggression are triggered when he feels threatened or blocked. Try motivating him with toys that may appeal to him, like a ball, squeaky toy or rope. Initiate the interactions by letting him have his way at all times. Such engagements may lead to play therapy, enabling him to gain trust and self-confidence.
Get him used to enjoying being groomed, and eventually massaged, which can result in miraculous transformations in dogs like him. Let me know how things turn out.
DEAR DR FOX: My 16-year-old pug has anal gland and ear problems. She's had her anal glands drained twice in the last six months, but she still scoots when I take her outside and scratches her ears.
She eats Rachael Ray's Nutrish (beef) mixed with cooked carrots or green beans. I give her Special K cereal for a snack. Can either of these products be causing her discomfort? -- L.W., Chapel Hill, N.C.
DEAR L.W.: I checked on the basic ingredients of your old dog's food: beef, chicken meal, ground rice, brown rice, soybean meal, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols) and dried plain beet pulp.
The brand claims, "No beef byproduct meal, fillers, wheat or wheat gluten," but what is beet pulp if it is not filler?
Stating that there is no wheat or wheat gluten but including lots of other gluten from corn, plus whole-grain corn and soybean meal, is disingenuous at best. I would not recommend this food when there are better formulas on the market. You may wish to try my recipe for home-prepared dog food and treats, purchasing known ingredients for human consumption in your grocery store.
Anal gland and chronic ear and skin problems are often associated with food allergy/hypersensitivity, which is what I suspect for your poor dog.
UPDATE FROM THE ORIGINAL LETTER WRITER:
DEAR DR. FOX: Thank you for the information on this dog food. After only one week off this food, all scratching of ears and scooting has stopped. She even seems livelier -- hopefully she will soon reach her 17th birthday.
I can't seem to find your recipe for homemade dog food on the website. Can you please give me the ingredients or where I can find it? I can't thank you enough for your advice. -- L.W.
DEAR L.W.: I appreciate your quick feedback about your dog's speedy recovery! Look on my website, DrFoxVet.com and click on "Dr. Fox's Library" for my home-prepared dog food recipe.
EUKANUBA DOG AND IAMS DOG AND CAT FOOD RECALLS
On Aug. 14, Procter & Gamble voluntarily recalled specific lots of dry pet food due to the potential for salmonella contamination. These lots were distributed in the United States. No salmonella-related illnesses have been reported to date in association with these product lots.
Consumers who purchased Eukanuba dry dog food or Iams dry dog or cat food products should stop using the product if the code on the bag matches one of the recalls, and discard it. Contact P&G toll-free at 800-208-0172 or via the brands' websites at iams.com or eukanuba.com. The products are also listed on my website.
The number of pet food recalls are commendable in terms of state and federal monitoring, but the high frequency and wide scope of many of these recalls is cause for concern over the safety of food ingredients and manufacturing and storage facilities.
(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.)