Ask the Vet

posted January 15th, 2008 by
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Photo by Evan Taylor Photography

Story by Dr. Chad Lewis


 Even though I feed my 8 year old Schnauzer/Poodle mix a good quality lamb and rice mix food and no people food (except for an occasional piece of cheese) she has periods where she will leave a mess on the carpet even though she has just been outside a couple of hours earlier.  It is definitely diarrhea and I treat it with crushed Pepto-Bismol tablets, which generally works.  She will be fine for months and then for two or three days have diarrhea.  I have heard that a day of fasting for a dog will allow their digestive system to rest and “catch up.”  Is this true and if so, will it hurt her?

Thanks- D. Bennetch

A: I am glad to hear that you limit her “people food”; Schnauzers as a breed more commonly get a disease called pancreatitis which is severe stomach upset including vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Dogs and cats in general have a sensitive stomach and rapid food changes or fatty treats such as steak, hot dogs and hamburgers can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  As a general rule I would recommend a good lab work up to rule out metabolic diseases, multiple fecal screens and a giardia ELISA test to rule out intestinal parasites.  Sometimes intestinal parasites such as whipworms or giardia can cause on again off again diarrhea.  If she will eat you do not need to withhold food, but a diet higher in fiber may help calm the signs of diarrhea.

Q: My 15-year old female Lab has suddenly started having a hard time getting around, and her back legs splay out from under her, especially on tile or hardwood floors where there’s no traction.   I’ve put her in little hunting type “boots” with a non-skid bottom on them.   I’ve heard that dogs sweat through their feet, so will leaving these boots on her for prolonged periods of time hurt anything?

S. Miller

A: It is true that dogs do sweat through their pads, but they pant to get rid of the majority of their excess heat.  Leaving on the booties will not cause her to overheat, but may make it more likely to develop a skin infection if the booties are left on all the time.  Just take them off occasionally to let the feet dry out a few times a day and make sure that skin is a healthy pink and does not smell abnormal.  Also there is a newer prescription diet out by Science Diet that is great for older dogs with arthritis called J/D.  It has done wonders for our patients and some dogs are acting like puppies again. We try to use multiple methods to treat arthritis pain in dogs: weight control, chondroitin-glucosamine supplements, diet and controlled exercise.

Q: I have a young Golden Retriever pup that’s about six months old.   Sometimes when she’s sleeping she must be having violent puppy dreams because she’ll cry and jerk and her legs go back and forth.   Should I wake her up when she’s doing this?   Sometimes it can be loud and she seems frightened.

T. Wilder

A: Dogs and cats seem to “dream” while they sleep and will twitch and cry out at times and this is normal and nothing to be concerned about.  You do not need to wake her up.  You can video tape her when this happens and have your veterinarian take a look to make sure it is not a seizure.  

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