Bowel Disease, Heat Cycles And Chewing

...plus, feeding garlic as a tick preventative?

Question
I have a black Lab male, just over one year. He is a great gun dog. However, he has had a loose stool ever since I have owned him since the age of 71⁄2 weeks. He has had several bouts of intestinal parasites, which I believe to have been part of the problem in the past.


His latest stool sample came up negative, but I am completing a deworming prescription given by my vet just in case. I have had a complete blood and urine workup, all of which came back normal. My vet believes he simply has a "sensitive" stomach and a food change is in order.

Since he was a puppy he was on Solid Gold (Hund Chen Floken Puppy). I thought that was causing some of the problem so I switched about four months ago to Nature's Variety Raw Instinct. The three foods my vet has recommended are Eukanuba Low Residue, Royal Canin Intestinal HE or Hill's Science Diet ID.


I really don't know what to do. I am concerned that these foods will not provide the amount of protein/fat that a hard working dog needs. I run him daily and need a good quality food. Do you have any suggestions?
— JD


Answer
I would suggest that you have your veterinarian run a fecal test for cryptosporidium, giarrdia, and clostridium. If those tests come back negative then you are down to a probable diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease.

The disease is also known as lymphocytic/plasmacytic bowel disease or in humans as Crohn's disease. It can be diagnosed by biopsy of the small bowel.

Another way to make a presumptive diagnosis of the disease is to treat the dog for two weeks with a low dose of Prednisilone and a bland diet.

If stool quality improves then try to reintroduce the dog to a good quality food. I do not like the raw diets. I would not challenge this dog's gut with a raw diet. Stick with a good quality dry food. Also, don't give the dog any treats or human food.

Question
I have a 23-month-old female German shorthaired pointer. Previous vet exams show she's in great shape, physically sound. The problem is that next month she'll be two years old without having had a heat cycle. I'm wondering if this is a sign of a problem?

I've never had a bitch that has been regular. Ten-month cycles are as close to normal for the last five females that I've owned. But all have started at a year to 16 months. I was looking to breed her later, and OFA cert. should be conducted soon.

Is this something to be concerned about and have checked out by my vet (if there is a way to check), or should I just be patient and see what happens?
--BR

Answer
The simple answer is that she is probably just a late-maturing dog. I would wait and see if she comes in heat in the next six to nine months. If she does not show signs of heat by then I would become proactive and begin to investigate.

You could try a hormone stimulation test to see if the ovaries respond. You could test her chromosome make-up to see if she is in fact a female. Also, an exploratory surgery can be performed to see if the ovaries are of normal size and structure.

Some bitches go through heat cycles that are referred to as "silent heats." These heat cycles can be identified by running monthly progesterone tests and watching for a rise in that hormone, which would indicate that the bitch has in fact ovulated in the past 30 days.

This then sets up a monitoring process using vaginal smears to try and identify her next "silent" heat.

This is a time-consuming process, however, with a low percentage of success. I think the best approach is to be very observant and patient.

Question
I have a dilemma. Several people I train with at our local retriever club supplement Frontline by feeding garlic powder mixed in the dog food each day. The supplier claims their Bug Off Garlic Powder for Dogs is air-dried and has a reduced Allicin content, which can cause problems when used in excess.

The users claim the product is effective and they do not have problems with ticks, even though the area where we train is heavily infested. On the other hand, the naysayers claim garlic causes anemia in dogs, and that, like chocolate, onions, grapes, etc., it is toxic. Can you help me sort this out?
--RW

Answer
People are always looking for herbal remedies for parasite problems when in reality there are very few things that effectively and safely control parasites. Ticks are parasites that can't smell and they do not have taste buds. Their life is guided by vibrations and temperature.

I don't think the smell of garlic will have any stimulus to the tick. I spoke with a horse veterinarian about this issue and she related that it certainly makes the barn smell like garlic, but it does nothing to prevent ticks.

Toxicity from garlic and onions appears as destruction of red blood cells and resulting anemia. Long-term feeding of either bulb is required to create the anemia and the problem is resolved by withdrawal of the onions or garlic in the diet. Bottom line, stick with the Frontline product or with K9 Advantix.

Question
I have a year-and-a-half-old Brittany that started licking his front legs around the knees a few months ago. I had hunted him in rose bushes for pheasants late in the season and shrugged it off as nothing, believing that he was licking rose stickers that might have gotten into his skin.

Lately, however, I have noticed that he is chewing on his front legs, and much of the hair around his knees has been chewed on. There are no bald patches, but the ends of the hair are clearly bitten off. Somebody told me that it might be a food allergy that is causing him to do that.

I've seen a few other dogs do the same thing, but one had arthritis, so I didn't think anything of it.
--T

Answer
Allergies can cause dogs to chew at their feet and legs. You might try giving the dog one 25 mg Benadryl, if your veterinarian recommends it, to see if the dog gets any relief.

This might also be an obsessive/compulsive behavior that the dog is exhibiting. The fact that it all started when he had some abrasions from the brush he was hunting in may indicate that he started doing the licking then and now can't stop. Drugs are available to treat these disorders. Increasing his activity level will also help.

To all my readers: Be safe this hunting season, and enjoy your time afield with your dogs.

I remain at htholcombdvm@qwest.net

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