A finicky Labrador? It can happen

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Our 1 1/2-year-old lab, Gunner, is a picky eater. He will eat a
bite and go off to do other things. Our other labs just eat
everything at once with no problem. We changed Gunner’s food to
Canidae lamb and rice, but he still picks. So we started putting a
tablespoon of bacon grease on the food and now he eats most of his
bowl all at once. Can bacon grease every day hurt him?
Q: Our 1 1/2-year-old lab, Gunner, is a picky eater. He will eat a bite and go off to do other things. Our other labs just eat everything at once with no problem. We changed Gunner’s food to Canidae lamb and rice, but he still picks. So we started putting a tablespoon of bacon grease on the food and now he eats most of his bowl all at once. Can bacon grease every day hurt him?

A:

It’s not common for a Labrador this age to be a finicky eater, but some dogs can be just a little different. The important thing here is whether or not Gunner looks healthy. If he has a shiny coat and is just as active as the other dogs, chances are he’s all right. But there are a few health issues that could possibly cause a young adult dog to pick at his food. Parasites are at the top of that list, so a sample of his stool should be checked at the vet’s office.

Another potential problem could be stomach irritation. This, too, can cause similar symptoms. Even if he isn’t a nervous dog, an ulcer or other irritation to the gastrointestinal tract could make him feel queasy when he eats. Other possible causes? Well, even a loose tooth (causing pain when he chews his food) could be at the root of Gunner’s behavior. Bottom line here: a quick visit to the vet’s office might be a good idea.

And yes, bacon grease in very small quantities is safe for an otherwise healthy dog. I’d recommend no more than a teaspoon once a day for a dog his size. Years ago, this is what

veterinarians would suggest as a dietary supplement to add shine to a dog’s coat. But too much grease or any fat can lead to dangerous pancreatitis. So be very careful how much Gunner gets so that he doesn’t end up with more serious problems.

Q:

Scotty, our mutt terrier, has a bump on the back of his neck. We first noticed it when we clipped his fur this summer. It was the size of a jelly bean. Now it is smaller, but very hard, and when we squeeze it, it seems to be larger the next day. We think it’s a cyst, because another of our dogs had one. But that one was easy to break open. Is this something different?

A:

Could be, and it could be much more serious. Any time a lump changes in size when it’s bumped or squeezed, we need to determine if it might be a mast cell tumor. These tumors can look very innocent, but they are a malignancy that is potentially very serious. Mast cell tumors contain histamine, and when they are manipulated (ie. squeezed), they release some of this chemical. This results in swelling in the local area. Mast cell tumors are treatable, but early diagnosis is very important. So Scotty should be seen by his vet soon to determine just what kind of lump it really is.

Q:

I heard on the radio that the canine flu H3N8 is contagious to people. Is this true?

A:

No. But people can carry the virus on their hands and their clothing if they handle a sick dog with this infection. Since the virus is easily destroyed by cleansers and soap, good hygiene is important. Wash your hands carefully before you go home if you handle other dogs. Remember, this virus can be contagious even before a dog shows symptoms. So if you take your dog to the park or to the store with you, you should talk with his veterinarian about the new vaccine recently made available.

Q:

Our old dog, Henry, has sore joints. He gets up veeery slowly in the morning, but seems to be all right after he’s been up for a while. We started him on glucosamine. But I think it upsets his tummy. Is this possible? What do we do?

A:

Some dogs, like some people, seem a little sensitive to certain preparations of glucosamine. You can try giving him smaller amounts for a while to see if he might develop a tolerance. Consider giving him half the normal dose twice a day. Or you might have to switch to a different product. Always be sure to give it to him with some food. And if he’s still having trouble, talk to someone at the vet hospital about this problem.

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