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Published January 06, 2012, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Coping with an ill canine

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a 62-pound mixed-breed older dog – he may be a chow, German shepherd or Lab. We’ve had him for 12 years, but he was a stray, so we’re guessing he’s about 13 years old.

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a 62-pound mixed-breed older dog – he may be a chow, German shepherd or Lab. We’ve had him for 12 years, but he was a stray, so we’re guessing he’s about 13 years old.

He has been leaking feces for months now. Our vet felt inside, did blood work, took X-rays and put him on antibiotics. He guessed it could be cancer and recommended an ultrasound and/or MRI, but those are too expensive. The vet also suggested we feed our dog chicken and rice, which we did for several months. We then started mixing the chicken and rice with his dry food, but he never stopped leaking poop. He strains to defecate in the yard and just dribbles feces. On the patio, he is constantly licking himself, leaving fecal matter behind. We bathe him once a month and try to clean off his behind from time to time.

I’ve started giving him half an Imodium tablet daily, but my husband says I should not give him something that will “stop him up” when he already struggles to go. Despite the Texas climate, he can’t come into the house anymore.

What are your thoughts on this? – N.F., North Richland Hills, Texas

Dear N.F.: Your poor dog is suffering terribly, being sick and banished from the house. If he is not used to being outside for extended periods, he will be suffering emotionally from separation. You must ask yourself, why are you keeping him alive? I appreciate your patience and concern, but it sounds like he should be bathed daily and be brought indoors. A holistic approach to possible chronic colitis or inflammatory bowel disease is in order if the attending veterinarian did not consider these possibilities. For a searchable list of holistic veterinarian practitioners, visit

I would suggest trial medications like Tylosin or metronidazole, along with probiotics and psyllium seed husks (1 to 2 tablespoons in a gruel of boiled brown rice or oatmeal and ground lamb or turkey). You can also add 2 tablespoons of aloe vera juice (available in health stores) to his food, and encourage him to drink soothing and healing peppermint tea.

If he does not improve on this kind of treatment in 10 to 14 days or with what a holistic veterinarian might recommend, he could have cancer – the most common cause of death in dogs today. In that case, I would euthanize him rather than allow him to continue to suffer outside.

Dear Dr. Fox: My two 4-year-old male cats had urinary blockages a couple years ago. I now feed them Hill’s c/d wet and dry food and change to Hill’s s/d twice a year, per my vet’s instructions.

I understand the old way to prevent urinary blockage was to add vitamin C to cats’ regular food, but I don’t trust myself to give mine the correct amounts. I give my cats small feedings a few times a day so they won’t overeat and vomit. (I’m not too happy with the ingredients in the c/d and s/d.)

I also brush their teeth with a rubber finger brush, using sodium bicarbonate in water. Do you have better recommendations for these problems? – H.O., West Palm Beach, Fla.

Dear H.O.: Clearly, you care very much for your cats, and I am glad that you have gotten them used to having their teeth cleaned. You can add a little table salt to the sodium bicarbonate or check out your local pet store for any easy-to-apply paste or gel like PetzLife Oral Care products.

Acidifying cat food, as with vitamin C, was once thought to be beneficial, but it actually helped trigger a different kind of urinary tract-blocking stone (oxalate) when manufacturers started adding it to cat food to prevent common struvite stones from forming. These were associated with the high cereal content in big-brand cat foods. For details, see the book “Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Foods” that I co-authored with two other veterinarians.

It is especially important for your cats to drink plenty of water, even seasoned with milk or boiled chicken juice. Encourage your cats to play and get some physical exercise and to eat primarily moist (canned) cat food, including the home-prepared diet in the above book.

Send all mail to animaldocfox 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.

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