Energy-Boosting Dog Supplements; Treating Abrasions; Old Age

'¦Plus, monitoring your pup's eating habits

Question
A few years ago we adopted a three-year-old English setter. He was an outside dog that lived in a kennel 100 percent of the time and ate lamb and rice dry food along with some canned mixed in. We took ownership and brought him in the house. The lamb and rice diet continued.


In the fall we noticed signs of seasonal allergies with the ragweed blooming. The previous owner hadn't noticed the red eyes, head shaking, hair loss and scratching. The local vet gave him some Prednisone and that didn't do much to solve the problem. I called the breeder to ask about allergy history in his dogs and he said he wasn't aware of any and suggested a visit to his vet.

The dog was allergy tested and the results say he is allergic to most fillers in dog food (corn, rice, potato, wheat) along with beef, in addition to having seasonal allergies. The list of approved foods that this dog can eat is pretty small. He currently eats Hill's Prescription ZD Ultra canned and dry.


This dog is now seven years old and still works for a living. He hunts pretty hard for about 90 minutes before he starts to run out of energy. I'm guessing the ZD doesn't provide him with enough fuel. What type of supplements should he be getting that will boost his energy and not cause him any stomach problems (diarrhea, etc.)? — A


Answer
Ultra z/d is an excellent diet for dogs with allergy problems. Unfortunately the composition of Ultra z/d is such that it does not maintain an athletic dog very well. As you know we recommend a diet with approximately 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat during the active hunting period. You can read the bag but for the information of the other readers, Ultra z/d is about 15 percent protein and 10 percent fat. Obviously your dog is getting about half what it needs to perform at peak level in the field.

Supplementing this diet can be difficult as the ingredients are selected and prepared to eliminate their allergens. This is difficult to do in your kitchen. One thing you might try to do is get more food into the dog. This can be a problem just by virtue of volume. But you might develop some regimen of multiple daily feedings during the hunting season. Adding vegetable oil to the diet may introduce allergens and in moderate levels will cause diarrhea.

Question
I have a female yellow Lab that hunts primarily pheasants. The dog is a great hunter and is a phenomenal tracking dog. Living in Minnesota, we hunt a lot of cattail swamps and grassy lands.

My Lab tends to lose the hair around her eyes and nose during the hunting season. The problem seems to be due to her constant drive with her nose on the ground and running through the cattails or grass, causing it to cut her skin or wear the hair off.

Since she has hunted for a few years, she literally has worn the hair off her nose and near her eyes. This causes her to get open sores sometimes and they eventually scab over. They bleed a little in the field if it is dry and we hunt a lot of cattails. Do you have any suggestions to cope with this or treat it properly? --P

Answer
I would use Vaseline on the affected areas of the nose and ears prior to the hunt. You can carry a jar in your vest and periodically throughout the day apply more. At the end of the hunt clean up her face with a povidone shampoo and dry her thoroughly.

During the off-season use some A&D Ointment on the affected areas to see if you can stimulate some hair growth to create protection for those delicate thin-skinned areas.

Question
I have a golden retriever who is displaying symptoms that are seemingly impossible to diagnose.

First some history that may or may not be relevant. Tucker is 10 years old and was neutered as a pup. Before he was a year old he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and had a double FHO. His hips have been fine since, as long as we are careful not to overdo it. He has always suffered with skin allergies and for quite some time has been on Prednisone every other day and chloraphenarimine to supplement.

The dosage of Prednisone has ranged from 20mg a day to 40mg. He was allergy tested, given shots for a year, put on a food trial...to no avail. Finally we switched his food to potato and venison and the allergy symptoms were greatly reduced.

A few years ago he had what was described as Bell's Palsey. One side of his face became paralyzed, but later mostly corrected and the other side drooped slightly. It never fully corrected, but he is no longer paralyzed, just somewhat droopy. As we were testing to figure out what that was, we discovered a thyroid problem so he was taking Thyro-tab, .5mg twice a day.

Two months ago I noticed Tucker was wobbly in the back end. I took him to our vet who did X-rays. Those only showed some slight arthritis in the shoulder. He decided there must have been some injury...falling, legs splaying out, etc., and gave us Tramadol.

Also at that time we started trying to reduce the Prednisone to every third day since the allergies were so much better. That is when we realized that he could not lift his head once the steroid wore off. X-rays showed nothing.

The vet thought Tuck had Wobbler's disease and most likely a bulging disk in his neck was causing the neurological problems with his leg functioning.

We had an MRI of the neck area that showed nothing. A neurologist thought maybe there was some soft tissue damage or "whiplash" of some kind and told us to continue with the Prednisone daily in decreasing doses over four weeks.

After the first attempt at decreasing the dosage we realized it was not going to work so we went back for a full body MRI. This scan was of muscles, ligaments, brain, spinal column...the works...and still it showed nothing.

Currently Tucker is on 20mg of Prednisone once a day, Thyro-tab .25 twice a day, and Tramadol 112.5mg two to three times a day. My vet has told me that some things can be ruled out simply because the symptoms respond to the steroid.

Tucker is getting worse. His back end is very "drunk" with legs crossing and wobbling and just general weakness.

A few days ago we walked him around the perimeter of half our property, but he collapsed and was dragging himself by his front legs. Later in the day he stabilized and was no worse than before the walk.

He shows no signs of pain, other than when his neck won't move, but that seems almost fully alleviated with the steroid. He eats, drinks, defecates and urinates with no problem. This week we tested for Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses and all were negative.

I am desperate and getting panicked. We are currently looking at trying acupuncture and/or physical therapy. My vet has exhausted all his ideas. I suggested Hypothyroid neuropathy from my own research since the symptoms match, but the vet said he felt sure it was not that since Tuck was already on the Thyro-tab. --JS

Answer
When I see patients like this dog of yours I think of diagnoses such as "old age," "body wearing out," and "too many medical and surgical problems all these years." Those answers are not intended to be "wise guy" remarks but are intended to guide you to thinking about what has happened to this dog over the years and what effect it has had on his body.

Just the femoral head ostectomies had to leave the dog with a compromised rear end that required more than an average amount of care and upkeep to perform the functions requested of it. Add to this the fact that the dog has been given enough Prednisone to suppress his immune system and create problems with his adrenals as well as the balance of his body's hormone systems.

I think you should not worry about diagnosing problems in this dog. Your goal should be to make the dog's final years relatively pain free, control his weight and give him light exercise and excellent nutrition.

Question
I have a German shorthaired pup that is now four months old. She is a bundle of energy, loves everybody, takes to yard training well and is a joy.

However, I have one problem with her. When we are outside or going for walks she wants to eat everything in sight--sticks, stones, dried grass, etc. Is something lacking in her diet? How can I get her to stop this bad habit?

We feed her three times a day with Eukanuba lamb meal and rice and she gets plenty of puppy biscuits. I am concerned what this habit could do to her intestinal tract. --BF

Answer
This is normal behavior for a puppy. They are constantly sampling things with their mouths. It is their way of getting information. Still, you have good reason to be concerned as the pup could pick up something that might lodge in its intestine or be toxic to its system. Luckily, despite all the stuff that puppies eat, serious side effects are uncommon.

Instead, the pup usually ends up in the veterinary clinic with a case of vomiting and/or diarrhea. If you are really worried about this problem you could get a cage muzzle for the pup to wear when on walks or just keep a close eye and short leash on the dog.

I remain at htholcombdvm@qwest.net

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