DEAR DR. FOX: For some reason, my 14 1/2 year old cockapoo mix has decided to eat toilet paper. He had a kidney removed earlier this year due to a cyst and cancer, and now he has this behavior. He is eating prescription food with a lot of coaxing and is on blood pressure medicine since that time. Is there any connection between these two events? Could he be missing something in his diet? -- J.B., O'Fallon, Missouri
Dear J.B.: This behavior is called pica. Animals who are sick; feeling pain, especially abdominal; or are experiencing nausea will eat various materials, such as paper and leaves, possibly to alleviate the discomfort, and often to induce vomiting.
You should consult with your veterinarian on this and try an analgesic or anti-nausea medication. After considering these possibilities for his toilet paper craving, I would next consider his diet. He may need a higher level of good-quality protein and a phosphate binder to compensate for kidney dysfunction.
The basic diet for animals with cancer, which must be fine-tuned if there is a kidney problem, is high-quality protein, fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants and little to no starches.
DEAR DR. FOX: For large-breed dogs like my Rottweiler, is there a preferable age to have them spayed in terms of future health issues? My Rottie will soon be 6 months old. -- C.S., Washington, D.C.
DEAR C.S.: Because some cancers may be prevented by not spaying, some veterinarians are now removing only the dog's uterus and leaving the ovaries intact. This is a different surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia, and the optimal age is somewhat debatable -- before the first heat or a few weeks afterward to avoid excessive bleeding if the operation is done when the dog is just coming into heat.
Some dogs come into their first heat around 6 to 8 months of age, and for them it may be better to wait until after the second heat so that they are more mature in terms of skeletal, joint and external genitalia development. Micro-vulva and skin folds around the genital area leading to urine burns, inflammation and infection are associated with early spaying and dogs becoming obese. Urinary incontinence can also develop. More dog owners and veterinarians are opting not to spay their dogs, instead dealing with the minor twice-yearly blood spotting with sanitary pads designed for dogs, and appropriate behavioral control or confinement.
FROZEN RAW DOG FOOD RECALL
California-based OC Raw Dog has recalled 6.5-pound Doggie Dozen Patties, 4-pound Doggie Sliders and 3-pound Meaty Rox frozen raw pet food products with the lot number 1819 and use-by date of May 5, 2016, over concerns the food may contain salmonella. Visit ocrawdog.com/about-us/ocrdpr.html for more information.
HORSE FEED RECALL
Western Milling of Goshen, California, is recalling 50-pound bags of Western Blend horse feed with the lot number 5251, manufactured Sept. 8, 2015. Some horses have died. The recalled feed was distributed to stores in California and Arizona. All stores where the bags were sold have been notified. Of the 1,100 bags being recalled, all but 67 bags have already been reclaimed by the company.
This recall was initiated after Western Milling learned an ingredient in the feed in question may contain monensin, an ionophore. Ionophore poisoning can cause illness and death. Symptoms include poor appetite, refusal to eat, diarrhea, weakness, rapid heart rate, labored breathing, decreased exercise tolerance, depression, wobbly gait, colic, sweating, recumbency and sudden death.
Monensin is one of several ionophore drugs used extensively to control disease in cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and rabbits that pose an environmental risk to organisms in soil and water from drug-contaminated animal wastes.
(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.net.)