DEAR DR. FOX: My wife and I have an 8-year-old French bulldog, Lucy. We've had her since she was 8 weeks old. Over the past four to six months, she has had episodes of drooling that have lasted between two and six hours. She usually goes a week or two between drooling episodes. This drooling is akin to a leaking faucet (drip-drip-drip), and not like how even English bulldogs slobber. Lucy has no prior history of slobbering.
Since the drooling started, we have taken her to the dentist, who cleaned her teeth and removed a tooth that had early signs of decay or disease. He also took X-rays and found no other issues with her teeth.
We have taken her to our regular vet, who cannot determine specifically what may be wrong. The vet believes it is allergies and has recommended Benadryl. If that does not work, the vet's next step is a sonogram to determine if something is wrong internally. Do you know what may be wrong? -- T.S., Oakton, Virginia
DEAR T.S.: Your poor dog and other similar breeds with brachycephaly (pushed-in faces) often develop distressing facial problems. Some can hardly breathe for much of their lives.
My first thought is interference with the normal saliva-swallowing mechanism, because the dog does not have enough time to swallow with the mouth always being open. This could be because the dog is half-asphyxiated, possibly due to a partially collapsed trachea, which the veterinarian should check. Use a harness and leash for walks, since a collar may aggravate the problem.
Breeds like bloodhounds and Great Danes drool a lot because their pendulous lips simply funnel the saliva to each side of their lower jaws -- very messy! Also, some dogs salivate copiously when they are excited or anxious.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have a cherished tortoiseshell cat who is 19 years old. She eats little bits of food, and weighs around 7 pounds. Our doctor's only observation is that he thinks she is deaf. Her eyesight appears fine. She has regular senior wellness checks, but her veterinarian cannot explain her recent behavior. We hope you can shed some light on it.
She wails when she wants us to notice her. Even though we have a regular routine and she is rarely alone, she is increasingly vocal. Lately, she goes to her bed (at the foot of our bed) earlier and earlier, and she wakes us up one to three times a night, wailing and wanting to be petted. She settles down within minutes, but we are, of course, sleep-deprived.
Do older cats get the kind of restlessness that older humans may show in the evening? -- M.T., Newtown, Connecticut
DEAR M.T.: This is a common problem in older cats, and one must consider possible dementia and chronic pain, as from arthritis. Both conditions can be helped with a few drops of fish oil in the daily diet, and possibly melatonin or catnip around bedtime. Full-body massage, as per my book "The Healing Touch for Cats," can also help.
DEAR READERS: In August, English researchers Richard G. Lea and associates published a report, "Environmental chemicals impact dog semen quality in vitro and may be associated with a temporal decline in sperm motility and increased cryptorchidism," in the journal Nature. Against the background of declining semen quality and rising incidence of undescended testes (cryptorchidism) in humans associated with exposure to environmental chemicals (ECs) during development, it reports:
"A population of breeding dogs exhibit a 26-year (1988–2014) decline in sperm quality and a concurrent increased incidence of cryptorchidism in male offspring (1995–2014). A decline in the number of males born relative to the number of females was also observed. ECs, including diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and polychlorinated bisphenol 153 (PCB153), were detected in adult dog testes and commercial dog foods at concentrations reported to perturb reproductive function in other species."
Estrogen-mimicking, endocrine-disrupting chemicals have become virtually unavoidable in many of the foods we consume. Many of these chemicals are also included in manufactured pet foods, in the can linings of moist foods and in plastic bags that hold dry foods. Plastic may also be processed into the manufactured food along with discarded meats, packaging and all.
Food wrappers and other industrial and commercial products -- from firefighting foam to water-repellant clothing -- contain perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. When detected in drinking water, these substances have endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties.
Dioxins, predominantly released as byproducts of human activities such as incineration and fuel combustion, are a potent class of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. They are ubiquitous in the environment. Contaminated soil and vegetation undergo bioaccumulation in the fat of cattle and seafood (especially farmed salmon), which are common pet food ingredients. Dioxin adversely impacts wildlife reproduction and sexual development in several aquatic and terrestrial species, which has been well documented.
Other estrogen-mimicking and endocrine-disrupting contaminants of pet (and human) foods include glyphosate and other herbicide residues in corn and other cereals, along with phytoestrogens in soy products.
Aflatoxin B1 -- yet another endocrine disruptor -- from the mold on corn and other cereals is often found in dry dog foods, which are recalled too late to save many dogs from acute toxicity and death. Aflatoxins, dioxins and other endocrine disruptors, estrogen mimics, carcinogens and obesogens have harmful consequences in extremely low concentrations in the diet over an extended time period. This is especially concerning for pregnant females.
For additional details, see my article "Chemical-related human diseases in companion animals" at DrFoxVet.net.
(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.)