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Dr. Waterhouse answers your questions

by CARY WATERHOUSE, DVM / Lake Union Veterinary Clinic

Posted on May 6, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Updated Sunday, May 6 at 3:45 PM

Q: Why does an old dog stop eating?  - Sharon Burris

Dr. Waterhouse: Dogs can stop eating for a number of reasons -- in the very old and in the very young we tend to get more concerned, as this can mean a more serious problem.  Sometimes a dog may get 'tired' of his/her usual food, but will eat treats or small samples of 'people food" well -- some can actually go on a bit of a 'hunger strike' -- holding out for something better (they know we will cave in before they do). Most healthy dogs will not have the willpower to resist eating for more than a day or 2.  If they are still not eating, a trip to the vet may be in order.

Older dogs are certainly prone to a number of health issues that  can affect eating and appetite -- dental disease can make it too painful to eat, and stomach/intestinal upset may make food unappealing to them.  Pain elsewhere in the body (like arthritis in the neck and back) can also make the act of lowering the head into a bowl to eat quite painful as well.  It sounds like a trip to the vet for a complete physical exam and possibly blood work or X rays is in order -- once a problem can be identified, steps can be taken to correct it.
How can I get my dog to stop barking at shadows, spiders, raindrops, and the wind? - Noelle Beaulieu Hunter

Dr. Waterhouse: Dogs will bark for a number of reasons -- out of fear, out of defense, or out of anxiety, for example.  Determining the root of this barking behavior will be the best way to correct it -- as the correction for one trigger can be quite different than another (there is no 'one way' to correct any given bad behavior).  We are fortunate to have a number of trainers and behaviorists in the area who can come out to your home to assess the situation.  Talk with your veterinarian about trainers he/she is familiar with and can recommend.
Q: Is it safe to give your Dog liquid Glucosamine that also has Aloe Vera juice in it? How about Flax seed oil? - Kim Melville Ingham

Dr. Waterhouse: There is not a 'blanket' answer for what is safe and what is not safe for every dog -- it all depends on their overall health and medical condition. Many over the counter supplements and medications can be irritating to our pets, so use them with caution (under veterinary supervision). 
Q: Can pets be allergic to wheat?My flame point Himalayan loses patches of hair every time she eats anything but special kitty food from walmart.She also has this problem when ashe uses any cat litter other than odor control Johnny Cat scoopable. - Mollie Poisel

Dr. Waterhouse: Our pets can have allergies to any of the same compounds people can be allergic to -- but because of the distribution of histamine in their body, they often show these allergies in their skin.  If you have identified items she reacts poorly to,  it will be important to make sure you avoid these.