Pet Care: Itchy-faced poochDear Dr. Fox: I have a shih tzu/bichon-mix who scratches his face a lot. There are no fleas, and his vet can find no apparent reason for the itching. Could you advise me of the best way to solve this problem?
By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM
Dear Dr. Fox: I have a shih tzu/bichon-mix who scratches his face a lot. There are no fleas, and his vet can find no apparent reason for the itching. Could you advise me of the best way to solve this problem?
– V.E., Fort Myers, Fla.
Dear V.E.: The itchy face condition in dogs can be linked with oral health problems like gingivitis, so a thorough oral examination is called for to rule out this possibility.
Another possibility is chronic conjunctivitis, which is often associated with one or more turned-in eyelashes. This is a common issue that I trust your veterinarian ruled out.
Some face-rubbing dogs show significant improvement when plastic food and water bowls are replaced with steel or ceramic ones.
In other instances, the fur around their lips must be trimmed and their mouths wiped with a baby wipe containing soothing lavender and aloe extracts after every meal. Some dogs develop a hypersensitivity to certain food ingredients, and those treatments can provide immediate relief.
If all else fails, you may want to transition your dog onto a different diet – one that contains a single protein as a food allergy elimination test. Providing filtered/purified drinking water rather than straight tap water may be advisable. For details, see my report on my website, www.DrFoxVet.com.
Finally, coming into contact with wool or synthetic fibers could set up some facial irritation, so have him sleep on clean cotton towels or sheets laundered with a scent- and fragrance-free detergent.
Dear Dr. Fox: Frequently, our 6-year-old terrier-mix gags up some bilelike liquid, shakes her head, drools and seems very upset. She will drink some water, but won’t finish her food. What can I do to stop this and help her feel better? – R.E., St Louis
Dear R.E.: Many dogs who have bouts of coughing, gagging, panting in evident discomfort and vomiting, and even those with raspier barks, are suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease. This condition, common in humans, can be distressing for afflicted dogs. In some cases, the stomach acids that the dogs regurgitate can damage not only the esophagus but also the throat, larynx and trachea.
There are other conditions that can cause these symptoms, so a thorough veterinary examination is called for. Your dog may show rapid recovery when given antacids, antibiotics and a change in diet – reducing the cereal content and providing a single protein source.
Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. 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 Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.