DEAR DR. FOX: I have a mini Chihuahua. He is a six-pound, 3 1/2–year-old dog.
I fed him human meats, hard dog foods and dog snacks. He wouldn't eat a lot of regular dog food, so I gave him chunks of ham, beef and salami. Then I gave him popcorn, Doritos, potato chips or cheese for snacks. He ate about 1 cup of food a day.
I saw that he had dots in both of his eyes, so I took him to the vet. I was told his cholesterol levels may be high and that's what's causing the dots. I then got a cholesterol test, a blood test and had his eyes checked. I was told not to feed him any more human food in the future. I was told that some human foods aren't bad for dogs (like cheese), but one must be careful.
Are there any human foods that won't affect him negatively? If I can feed him any, I would like to when I am eating and feeling guilty. I am waiting for the vet's results -- T.C., O'Fallon, Missouri
DEAR T.C.: I understand how tempting it is to give in to a dog who is looking at you with great expectations. Instead, have a container beside you with some healthy dog treats, such as freeze-dried, preservative- and additive-free beef or salmon. Most human snack foods are full of fats, sugar, salt, MSG, artificial coloring and preservatives. Dried organic fruits and nuts are better for you and your dog (but no raisins for dogs).
As for cheese, all things in moderation. Low-fat mozzarella and white cheddar cheese are better than the cheaper, often high-salt yellow and gold cheeses. These latter cheeses contain a vegetable dye called annatto, which in some dogs can cause seizures.
DEAR DR. FOX: Your recent column about the poor dog with incessant itching reminded me that I had a similar experience with my little Schipperke.
He developed a rash and itched so badly that he was digging out his fur on his back and legs. Our veterinarian gave him prednisone and changed his diet to fish and potatoes. It was by accident that I came across an article about a woman who had a terrible eczema problem and nearly itched herself to death. It turned out that she had an allergy to peanuts. It dawned on me that maybe this was causing my dog's problem, since I had recently started giving him various treats that were peanut butter-flavored, plus a little peanut butter as a reward.
I stopped all of that, and he healed and stopped itching. I just wanted to pass my experience along as a possible solution. -- J.U., Clarksburg, Maryland
DEAR J.U.: Your diligence is commendable. We must be mindful of the treats we give to our dogs on occasion and not forget to mention them when the animal develops an allergy and sees a veterinarian.
DEAR DR. FOX: I think you have the perfect name for my question. Having seen the devastating effects of mange on foxes, I did some research and found a homeopathic remedy, arsenicum album and sulfur, which has been very effective. I had to do some guessing on the dosage, but three pellets of each daily has worked.
However, I currently have a neighborhood fox who doesn't seem to be getting better. Her fur is not really bad, but it seems to be deteriorating rather than improving. I have been treating her for about four weeks, which is usually the amount of time it takes to see some improvement. Because she started showing up younger and smaller than any others, I initially only gave her two pellets a day, so do you think that might not have been enough to be effective? -- J.S., Millersville, Maryland
DEAR J.S.: I appreciate your concern for the little fox, but have mixed feelings about encouraging people to intervene to help wildlife without any experience or qualified rehabilitation training. I also have little clinical experience with homeopathic remedies, any and all of which I doubt would help an animal suffering from mange.
Ivermectin, available only from a veterinarian, is my drug of choice (the amount you put in the food being determined by the estimated weight of the animal, taking 10 pounds off if she has a full coat). Try a half a can of sardines or other oily fish daily to provide omega-3 fatty acids that help the skin fight the infestation.
With good nutrition, many wild canids recover. Mange is highly contagious and often strikes when fox and coyote numbers are high.
(Send all mail to email@example.com 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.)