DEAR DR. FOX: What can be done to educate dog owners to not let their pets urinate on trees and in gardens near sidewalks in urban areas? I live in a densely populated area in downtown Washington, D.C. Residents try to keep their trees and gardens lush and healthy for the enjoyment of all. Repeatedly dog owners will allow their pets to walk in gardens or by trees to urinate. Damage is evident by wilting, trampled plants and distressed-looking trees.
The District built a very nice dog park nearby that could be used for such purposes.
Also, is it possible for pet owners to have their dogs use the curbs? Thank you. -- S.D., Washington, D.C.
DEAR S.D.: You raise a very significant environmental and public health issue. I lament the fate of many urban trees with little soil, stifled by concrete and brick sidewalks, poorly nourished, rarely watered, with poor root formation making them prone to disease and being toppled by wind storms. All should have large soil and gravel beds around them, which would do much to help dilute and biodegrade dogs' urine.
All dog walkers should be fined for not picking up dog feces, which is a public nuisance for footwear and can be a public health hazard, being a source of potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.
Dogs, especially males, need to mark their routes or territories with urine, and fire hydrants and lamp posts, again with a large circle of gravel and soil around the base, should be preferred targets directed by the dog walkers.
The cavalier attitude and indifference of some dog walkers when it comes to preventing their dogs from evacuating on neighbors' lawns and plants give a bad name for dog owners who are more mindful and respectful. Neighborhood parks, primarily for children, should have designated, ideally off-leash, dog zones, and strict rules when it comes to cleaning up after dogs and not allowing aggressive or unmanageable dogs off-leash.
DEAR DR. FOX: Our Weimaraner has developed allergies to almost all foods. Her reaction is severe ear infections.
Blood tests show the only things she isn't allergic to re beet pulp, potatoes and eggs. Her next lower sensitivity is to chicken and turkey. Is there any help out there? She's even allergic to the super-hypoallergenic dog food from Science Diet.
My husband wants to have her destroyed because we are to the point we can't afford to keep up her steroid medicines while I'm in school. I need help to find something to feed this dog to keep her from getting so many ear infections.
Any help would be appreciated. -- D.K.H., Wood River, Illinois
DEAR D.K.H.: Weimaraners are extremely sensitive to vaccinations and can develop a variety of adverse reactions, which can impair their immune systems. So I would first advise no more vaccinations and no oral or topical anti-flea and tick drugs. Check my website, DrFoxVet.com, for more details.
Science Diet special prescription foods can be of help for some dogs, but they are not free of additives, preservatives and manufacturing plant contaminants. These can cause problems for some dogs.
An ear product called Zymox, available online, would be worth trying. Pure, organic olive oil can work wonders after washing the external ear canals with a solution of equal parts warm organic apple cider vinegar and warm water. Dry the ears well and apply the oil after an hour or so on a daily basis until the inflammation subsides.
A good hypoallergenic diet for many dogs is a mixture of white fish and potato, with one human multivitamin and multi-mineral supplement per serving; a few drops of flax seed or fish oil; 1 teaspoon of coconut oil; and try adding a little well-cooked sweet potato, blueberries and lightly cooked broccoli. Discuss this home-prepared dietary regimen with your veterinarian. Many veterinarians now provide special recipes for their clients' animals' various diet-related health issues.
(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.)