DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 7-year-old miniature poodle, and in the last two years, we've had problems with his dental cleaning.
After the first cleaning, he was lethargic for almost 48 hours after his discharge. After the latest cleaning, he came home with hip tenderness. Sometimes he walks for a few seconds with his right hip protruding to his right side like an S. The vet thinks it is a muscle/nerve tenderness due to the sedation shot.
We are considering stopping his annual dental cleaning. Is this a must-do procedure? What kind of food can we feed him to keep his teeth clean? -- G.R., Springfield, Virginia
DEAR G.R.: I receive many letters about dogs and cats having routine dental work done and having adverse reactions following anesthesia.
Much of this could be avoided by getting the animals used to in-home restraint or cradling by one person, ideally from an early age, and having another person gently brushing the animals' teeth or using a gauze-wrapped finger and then applying a tried and true dental cleaner. This can range from a home-prepared aloe vera juice and 3 percent hydrogen peroxide just before bedtime or a natural product such as the oral care gel or spray from PetzLife. Visit petzlife.com for details.
PetzLife also has American-made dental chews for dog to help keep the teeth clean and gums healthy. Always read the label on such products, and purchase only if it is clear on the label that the product is manufactured in the United States. You can also give your dog a scalded strip of raw stewing beef or chicken wing tip every day or so for the dog to chew, avoiding the various rawhide and other animal parts sold in pet stores that can be heavily contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals and bacteria.
DEAR DR. FOX: I don't own a dog, but I hike, and during these hot days, I have seen plenty of dogs who look exhausted and are struggling to go up the hills. One dog looked so bad, it was akin to animal abuse. I suggest well-intentioned hikers who want to give their dog exercise refrain from doing so when they go on hikes during the summer.
One hiker poured a bottle of water in his dog's mouth, but even that didn't seem to bring relief to the dog. Even modest hikes uphill wear out dogs in the heat. -- K.R., Gaithersburg, Maryland
DEAR K.R.: Thanks for the reminder to all people with dogs during hot and humid summer weather. The only way dogs can regulate their body temperature is by panting; unlike humans, dogs cannot sweat. So while we may not experience any significant distress, they often do. As you have witnessed, heat stress can be a killer, especially for old dogs and brachycephalics -- those with short, puggish faces. Hot pavements and sidewalks only add to their stress and extreme discomfort. Evaporative cooling vests, walking on the grass and a provision of water are essentials for healthy dogs going on long hikes.
(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.)