DEAR DR. FOX: We took our standard poodle to a dermatologist three weeks ago. The vet thought her problem may be sebaceous adenitis, and sure enough, the biopsies confirmed this genetic disease.
Instead of a drug, he suggested we try mineral oil baths once a week, and then less often if this helps. We gave Ember her first "bath" in this very concentrated oil and left it on her for five hours. She had to be crated several of those hours as this oil is quite messy; however, she didn't seem to mind. We used Dawn dish soap to clean her, though it didn't remove all the oil after a two-minute bath, so we will bathe her again today.
As mineral oil is a laxative, we were concerned about her licking herself. We have a follow-up appointment with the dermatologist vet in four weeks, and hopefully we will see an improvement.
She is very healthy. She walks 3 miles daily, plays with other dogs, swims in the river and doesn't seem to be affected by her skin condition, except for the hair loss and lots of dander. When I Googled sebaceous adenitis, there is a concern for secondary infections, which the vet also discussed with us, with open sores, which looked quite nasty and I'm sure are not pleasant for the dog. I hope our beloved Ember never has to contend with that issue. -- S.B., Toms River, New Jersey
DEAR S.B: I am glad that a diagnosis has been made for your dog's skin issue, which, if not treated, is likely to get much worse.
Sebaceous adenitis (also known as inflammatory skin disease) is seen in other breeds, such as the Akita, Belgian sheepdog, Samoyed and Hungarian vizsla. The genetic component may be linked to a special need for certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A. Discuss adding these to your dog's daily diet with your veterinarian.
You may also consider Selsun Blue medicated shampoo (for humans), which can help with various seborrheic skin conditions. Another weekly treatment protocol is to use bath oil in equal parts with warm water, which should be left on the dog one to two hours, then removed with a degreasing, unscented dish detergent or a benzyl peroxide shampoo, gently scrubbed into the skin with a soft brush. Follow this with an oil-based skin conditioner, such as PetzLife's Bath-Eaze. Visit petzlife.com for more details.
Keep me posted on your progress. And be sure to keep your dog out of the river and any and all standing water until her skin is healed.
DEAR DR. FOX: I had to write and tell you what just happened when my (indoor) cat saw the large picture of a tick on the cover of today's Washington Post.
I happened to look down at her as I was opening up the paper. I noticed that she was acting skittish, her eyes were completely dilated and her tail was HUGE! She even had a worried look on her face. I quickly hid the picture, but she continued to look for it. I talked soothingly to her and petted her, and eventually she calmed down.
Well, I guess you could say she has really good eyesight, and also that the picture was realistic enough to cause this reaction. -- S.S., Springfield, Virginia
DEAR S.S.: This is a surprising event, and it's clear from your cat's behavior that she was very much disturbed by what she was looking at.
Perhaps rustling the newspaper drew her attention to the large image that appeared to move when the paper was moved. Many cats (and dogs, too) are responsive to television images and associated sounds, but to my knowledge, they are not responsive to static images of other creatures. Certainly, as learning and discrimination studies have shown, cats, dogs and other animals can recognize various picture symbols and signs, and they respond to them as cues.
I would like to hear from other readers whose companion animals have responded to nonmoving pictures of other creatures. Maybe we are on the threshold of a new era of picture books and magazines to share with our cats and dogs. Our dogs, when we tried to capture their attention with color photos of other dogs in a book, were either indifferent or sniffed the colored inks on the page.
SUMMERTIME DOG HAZARDS
A warning for all dog caregivers: Don't walk or jog with your dog on hot pavements for any distance, especially in humid weather. Also, don't leave your dog alone in a vehicle. Even with the air conditioner going, the engine could stall, and you come back to a dog with potentially fatal heat stroke. Take an ice chest, cold drinking water and a towel to soak as needed to cool your dog. It amazes me when I see people on TV suffering through a heat wave, and are were wearing a wet bandana or towel around their necks -- the most efficient way to help cool the blood!
Unlike us, dogs pant to regulate their temperatures, and quickly develop a thirst. Never allow your dog to drink water you would not, or even swim and play in standing water with blue-green algae floating on the surface, which produce a toxin that quickly kills dogs every summer in the U.S.
(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.)