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Diet helps canine overcome seizures

Dear Dr. Fox: My daughter e-mailed you recently, asking whether you had any suggestions to help rid my dog of frequent epileptic seizures. His vet has him on phenobarbital and sodium bromide daily and a high-fat diet - four tablespoons olive oil,...

Dear Dr. Fox: My daughter e-mailed you recently, asking whether you had any suggestions to help rid my dog of frequent epileptic seizures. His vet has him on phenobarbital and sodium bromide daily and a high-fat diet - four tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons butter and one egg each day. He was still having one seizure a day for three or four days in a row. You suggested putting him on gluten-free food. So I started that right away, and he hasn't had a seizure since Jan. 9. You e-mailed my daughter to see how he was doing, so that's why I'm sending this note. Thank you so much for the advice. I just hope it continues to work for him. It has been great having him seizure-free for this long. - L.McC., Silver Spring, Md.

Dear L.McC.: I am glad that my advice helped your poor dog get rid of the most distressing seizures. I just wish that more of my colleagues would bone up on the multiple health problems in cats and dogs associated with many manufactured pet foods and their ingredients. For more details, check my new Web site, www.twobitdog.com , and book on this topic, "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food."

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 9-month-old French bulldog who is the best dog I've ever had. We go out for walks twice a day, but she never pees or poops on our walks. Sometimes, after a block, she wants to go home. We play fetch for an hour a day, but I can't get her to "go" on our walks. What do you think? - S.M.G., Naples, Fla.

Dear S.M.G.: Your wonderful dog has been trained to go potty indoors, and that can be a hard-to-break fixation. Begin by taking a soiled pad outdoors for her to sniff. Take a soiled piece in a plastic bag on your walks, and put the soiled material on the ground for her to investigate. This may trigger her urination/marking response or defecation. When and if she goes outdoors, give her plenty of praise.

Once this behavior pattern is established, you must put the toilet pad in the house near the door you use for exiting the house. Then, after a few days, show her the open door and the stained (urine-scented) pad set outside. Take her to it repeatedly during the day, and she should eventually make the connection: Outdoors is for evacuation/elimination; no more training pads indoors.

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Dear Dr. Fox: My granddaughter has two pet cats that she has had for about a year, but they were mature cats when she got them. She is now pregnant, and I've heard old wives' tales about cats and babies, and none of them are good. Please publish this so everyone can know the truth. - C.B., St. Louis, Mo.

Dear C.B.: As long as your daughter's two cats are healthy, there's little to worry about. For good measure, a veterinarian should check them out for roundworms and toxoplasmosis. These can cause problems to infants and pregnant mothers.

Your granddaughter should have her spouse clean out the cat litterbox and have a clip-on, Velcro-secured net over the baby's crib to keep the cats out. Cats are curious about babies and may want to snuggle or see waving limbs as things to catch and scratch.

Cats sleeping with babies have been wrongly blamed for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It is ridiculous to think that a cat will smother a baby while trying to suck out its milk - an old wives' tale associated with SIDS and people seeing cats licking up infants' milky vomit.

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a neighbor whose dog barks continually while it's outside - and it's outside most of the time. I've heard it bark for more than four hours. And I don't mean a bark and 10 seconds later another bark - I mean continuously. I've gone to bed around 11:30 p.m., and it's still barking. Is there something wrong with the dog? And don't a dog's vocal cords ever get sore or tired? - R.W.K., St. Louis, Mo.

Dear R.W.K.: The dog could be lonely and neglected, suffering from separation anxiety. Perhaps the dog is old and somewhat deaf (ditto for the owner). Some dogs just like the sound of their own barks, which they broadcast loud and clear when outdoors, possibly to proclaim, "It's me!" or "This is my territory."

Dogs can develop "sore" vocal cords with persistent barking, usually associated with an infection like kennel cough. As dogs get older, their vocal cords (as with many humans) become more "croaky" and have limited range. You can often tell when a dog is stone-deaf - the tone of the bark rarely changes.

Dogs bark for many reasons and have a variety of barks for different situations and events. Your situation calls for immediate action by the police and animal-welfare/protection agencies if you think the dog is being neglected and may be barking to be let indoors or if the barking truly disturbs your peace.

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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

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