DEAR DR. FOX: We have an adorable 9-year-old dachshund named Max. We give him dry food mixed with some moist commercial food, as well as carrots or string beans.
Lately, he's been having diarrhea once or twice a week. My son also gives him half a slice of American or Swiss cheese. Could that cause his problem?
To curb his diarrhea, I give him some raw chicken with rice for a day or two, but the problem still comes back.
What do you suggest? -- A.T., Gainesville, Va.
DEAR A.T.: If your dog has an episode of diarrhea within a few hours of being given cheese to eat, then that is the logical cause of his digestive upset. Many dogs are allergic or hypersensitive to casein (a milk protein) in dairy products. The yellow coloring agent used in many cheeses is called annatto, and it comes from a tree called the lipstick tree. A small piece of yellow cheese will make some dogs have a seizure. You should read the labels on the manufactured dog foods you feed him and eliminate those containing any dairy products.
If his periodic episodes of diarrhea persist, he could be reacting adversely to other ingredients, such as beef, eggs, wheat or soy. So consider a balanced rice-and-lamb-only diet or prepare your own dog food from known ingredients, as detailed in my book "Dog Body, Dog Mind," or on my website, DrFoxVet.com.
A veterinary checkup of his stools to rule out parasites and bacterial infection or chronic pancreatitis would be prudent if this has not yet been done.
DEAR DR. FOX: My vet says he's been a vet for many years, but this is the first time he has encountered this one:
When Maxine, our spayed female indoor calico cat, finishes covering up her business, she becomes very possessive of her accomplishments. Soon after, when we are cleaning out her potty, she will strike out with claws at our hands and legs. We wonder if she feels that we are taking something of value away.
She has reacted this way for the nine years we have had her. We protect ourselves by closing the bathroom door. However, sometimes we find her waiting for us on the other side. -- W.K.Z., Naples, Fla.
DEAR W.K.Z.: Our formerly feral cat hisses when he sees me carrying the litter box out to be cleaned. I interpret his reaction as fear of something looming over him. When he is in the litter box and is disturbed, he bolts, which I think is an indicator of his sense of extreme vulnerability in that situation. Your cat's reaction is both unique and bizarre.
Animals are vulnerable when they are evacuating and, therefore, need a quiet spot to do their business. My interpretation of Maxine's behavior is an extension of this observation -- your "invasion" of her private toilet space triggers a defensive-aggressive reaction.
Other interpretations of Maxine's unusual behavior from readers with "inner cat wisdom" would be welcome.
(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.
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