DEAR DR. FOX: My girlfriend gives my little Yorkie a large spoonful of sour cream every night. She says it's no problem, but I'm not sure. What do you say? -- H.L., St. Louis
DEAR H.L.: I appreciate your concern for your girlfriend's indulgence of your little dog. Yorkies can have a lot of genetic and other health problems, especially when it comes to their teeth. A better evening ritual would be a teeth cleaning with a doggie dental brush or finger cot designed for this purpose. Doggy-friendly toothpaste is available in pet stores.
Organic sour cream would be preferable to conventional because the latter will probably be lower in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and is likely from cows injected with genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, which is prohibited in Europe for consumer health reasons.
A tablespoon of organic kefir or plain yogurt might be a healthier choice for this little dog; you could also try a thimble of organic butter from free-range dairy cows plus a few drops of organic flax seed oil mixed in with the dog's food. Check my website, DrFoxVet.com, for some good dog food brands and my home-prepared dog food diet.
DENTAL IMPLANTS FOR DOGS AND CATS?
Veterinary dentistry has made some great and very necessary strides for the benefit of thousands of dogs and cats and has become a specialty service providing many of the skilled diagnostic, treatment and surgical procedures provided by human dentists and oral surgeons.
A recent review on the costly procedure of dental implants in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association concludes that, at best, the benefits are purely aesthetic and for the owner, and unlike implants in humans, they fail to offer any significant benefits to the animals themselves. In addition to the cost, the surgical procedures -- including general anesthesia -- for dental implants can put animals at unwarranted risk.
The authors of this article note that the AVMA declared as official policy that it "opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done for solely cosmetic purposes," and should similarly oppose dental implants for dogs and cats. Opposing the routine declawing of cats would be another ethical decision, one that's long overdue but delayed for reasons financial and pandering to naive cat owner demands.
(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.)
DEAR DR. FOX: I had the same problem with carsickness with my beautiful Aussie when I adopted him a couple years ago. There was a simple solution -- peppermint oil on the bottom of his feet before getting into car! I have given lots of bottles to friends with the same issues, and it always works! -- J.N., St Louis
DEAR J.N.: Thanks for the photo of your very beautiful dog you included with your letter. I do find animals generally far more attractive in many ways than most people, which is not my bias, I believe, but what is so self-evident in the demeanor and eyes of our animal relations than in so many of our own species!
I am not surprised at the peppermint oil cure for car sickness because peppermint is a calmative, like ginger, really subduing nausea. Applying the essential oil of peppermint on the paws/foot pads is an easy way to accomplish rapid and possibly long-term dermal absorption. Many dogs settle quickly after being given a treat of candied ginger 10 to 15 minutes before getting into the car.
I would try adding a few drops of calming lavender oil, which has been shown to benefit many dogs who are fearful rather than simply nauseated when riding in a vehicle. Because peppermint oil can be irritating, it should be diluted to a ratio of 1 drop to 5 to 10 drops of a carrier oil such as almond or olive oil before being placed between the toes.