Letters July 2004 Issue

Your Dog's Skin Problems, Ear Care and Help for Aggressive Dogs

Righting Wrongs

The article, "Home Remedies For Your Dog's Skin Inflammation" (WDJ May 2004), was interesting and full of great information. But I would have liked to have read more than a passing glance at the end of the article with regard to diet.

For several years I’ve provided foster care for NorCal Golden Retriever Rescue, and with that came several Goldens with hot spots, chronic itchiness, etc. There was a common thread for these and other dogs from the sporting breeds I’ve encountered over the years, and that was the issue of high- and super-high protein dog foods.

People are eager to feed “the best” to their animals, and the more protein the better it is – right? (Not!) Many of the dogs surrendered through the rescue arrived with the food they were eating along with other “personal effects.” Since most of these animals were young to middle age and house-bound for the most part, I found simply changing to a food with a lower percentage of protein cleared their ailments within a few days and their coats returned to normal within a couple of weeks.

It’s very important to realize that too much of a good thing is bad and protein in concentrations designed for “working” dogs being fed to “couch potatoes” is simply asking for problems.

I found that for normally active “family dogs” a protein content of not more than 22 percent was more than adequate for proper nutrition and weight management. Dogs that actually worked in the field did well with a protein concentration of not more than 28 percent.

I also found a correlation between hyperactivity and high protein content. Some super-high protein formulas are as much as 32-34 percent protein; this is great if your dog runs 3-4 hours each day, 7 days a week, but it’s deadly “hot” for most average activity levels.

Take into consideration what kind of activity your dog engages in daily and feed him an appropriate protein content for that activity.

-Keith Wentworth
via e-mail

Great point, Keith. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


I love your magazine. You do good work. And I love that you don’t take any advertising.

I went to the Web sites you mentioned as sources for some of the toys in the review, “Toys to Keep ’em Busy” (May 2004) and was dismayed by what I found. In addition to selling some of those wonderful toys, one of the Web sites sells puppies! And it has all the signs of a puppy mill: all breeds, prices listed, etc.

I realize you’re in a bind. People like me in the hinterlands want to be able to buy the products you like. But can you suggest some other sites where we can buy the toys mentioned in the article?

-Carlynn Ricks
via e-mail

We were horrified to learn that we had recommended a source for some of our recommended toys (such as the IQube, above) that also sells puppies. It’s absolutely not our intention to support businesses, even in a peripheral way, that support puppy mills.

There is an alternate site (www.ihelppets.com) where you can buy not only all the toys in question (Plush Ring Puzzle Toy Frog, The Intellibone, The IQube, and Hide A Squirrel), but also products with anti-puppy mill messages. We hope this helps make up for our oversight.


Ears Another Solution

I just finished reading my June issue and was interested in “A New ‘Old’ Ear Treatment.” I thought you and other readers might be interested to know what I used to clear up bad ears in my Boykin Spaniel. He had a chronic problem with yeasty ears. I’ve used a product for several years for my own struggles with yeast, and decided to use the product on my dog. The product is called “Geneflora” and it is a wonderful probiotic that does not have to be refrigerated. It comes in a capsule that can be opened so you can sprinkle the contents on food.

I started sprinkling the powder from several capsules on Dudley’s food every night. A few weeks later, his ears cleared up (now they’re nice and pink) and the itching and scratching stopped. Now I just sprinkle some on his food occasionally as maintenance. He doesn’t know the difference and it keeps his bowels in working order, too.

I love this product. It has literally changed our lives for the better and keeps us happy and yeast-free. It is made by a company called America’s Bio-Plus Corporation; they can be reached at (800) 498-6640 or www.yeastbuster.com/geneflora.htm. I highly recommend the product and encourage you to look into it.

-Liz Collins
Florence, SC


More Positive Help For Aggressive Dogs

I am a huge fan of your magazine, and have recommended it to dozens of people. I have a comment to make about “Virtual Support, Real Help,” (June 2004). While the article is very good, the author made one poor recommendation for a Web site to go to for support and advice. It was for a message board for people whose dogs have aggression problems.

The board mentioned is run by people who support using electronic collars and other forms of corrections and punishments for aggressive dogs.

I have been an advisor on another behavioral Web site (www.doggiedoor.com, formerly www.k9u.com) for more than three years. We recommend only positive training methods and never suggest that anyone put a shock or “e-collar” on any dog, particularly one with aggression problems. The advisors on doggiedoor.com spend hours every day giving advice to dog owners about remaining positive.

-Renee Premaza, Dip. CB, CCBT
Marlton, NJ

We were not aware that members on that list recommend the use of old-fashioned punishment-based methods including shock collars. WDJ does not recommend the use of verbal or physical punishment or shock collar tools in training – especially as a part of an aggression behavior modification program.

Training Editor Pat Miller has an additional suggestion for readers who are interested in a discussion group on the topic of positive solutions for canine aggression.


Helpful Articles, Supportive Tone

Articles like “Rage Syndrome in Dogs” (June 2004) are exactly the reason I subscribed initially. I need to read it again because I only skimmed it during dinner, but I’m so glad to see an article written this way. It was worded in a way that most people could understand and it didn’t make me feel like I should give up on my dog. She doesn’t attack humans, just the other dogs in the house, and it only happens one to three times in a year.

I’ve been trying to pinpoint why this article is different and I think it is the human touch you put in it. It’s not a cold article about bad dogs, which makes me feel better about the situation. Thanks for a great job! (Actually, all of your articles are good, but this one really hit home.)

-Connie, Maggie, Casey & Kylie Connor
Sugar Hill, GA


Internet Panic Attacks

Believe me, I don’t usually fall for these things. I’m the first one of all my friends to debunk those scary, phony e-mails about new forms of breast cancer, computer viruses, and “killer” ingredients in food. But I find the ones that involve dogs to be much more difficult to dismiss! I think that’s why I initially fell for the latest one to sweep through the dog-related discussion groups and my e-mail in-box: the one that alleged that a Swiffer cleaning product was deadly to dogs.

I called Procter & Gamble, maker of the Swiffer, and was told that the story was untrue, and that their product is perfectly safe. But I still have doubts. Can you help me put my fears to rest? I use the Swiffer products – I’ve found them to be very helpful for keeping my floors dog-hair-free – but now I’m kind of nervous about using them.

-Leah Morrison
via e-mail

Good for you for calling the company that makes the product in question; I did, too, after receiving, oh, 40 copies or so of the e-mail in question.

Of course, as skeptical people, we also worried about whether we’d get a straight, honest answer from company reps. So my next step was to call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, who confirmed that there was no credence to the report that Swiffer products are lethal to cats and dogs.

By the way, every dog owner should have the Animal Poison Control Center’s number somewhere handy: 888-426-4435. They charge for individual consultations, but they also serve as a clearinghouse for information on all sorts of toxic threats to animals. You can also go to www.aspca.organd click on the link for the poison control section.

I’m convinced the Swiffer story wasn’t true, but I do have concerns about any and all cleaning chemicals used in households with pets. As we reported in an article about the dangers of poor indoor air quality ("Toxins in Your Home?"; October 2001), our pets bear the brunt of our indoor chemical usage. The volatile organic compounds used in hundreds of products in our homes have a higher molecular weight than air, so they settle toward the floor, where our pets live and breathe.

Plus, all chemicals used on floors end up in your dog’s body. Dogs walk “barefoot” on our floors and carpets and lick their feet. This realization made me toss out all the floor cleaning products in my home several years ago. And my floors look fine! We published an article about safe alternatives for many cleaning products (“Good, Safe Housecleaning,” November 2002), and the suggested products are all I use now.

Here’s one last resource – another past article, “Danger Signals,” that ran in our August 2002 issue. It explains the meanings behind the warnings on chemical products, and helps consumers select the least-toxic products in any given category.

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