DEAR DR. FOX: This letter is in reference to the article about the itchy dog who is costing his owners a fortune, we, too, had a similar experience, but I kept insisting to my vet that there has to be a better, less costly way to resolve this.

DEAR DR. FOX: This letter is in reference to the article about the itchy dog who is costing his owners a fortune, we, too, had a similar experience, but I kept insisting to my vet that there has to be a better, less costly way to resolve this.

She finally told me that she had heard of a medical shampoo and a maintenance spray that has some positive results. Douxo shampoos and sprays by Sogeval can be bought online. Soon after I started using this, following the instructions, my dog had immediate results; if I used too much, it caused extremely dry skin. Also, my vet mentioned to keep my dog on food that has a cooling effect, such as canned salmon. I mixed this with a dry dog food that also has a fish base, and pour capsules of fish oil over her food occasionally. I noticed during my desperate experimenting procedures that chicken was the only food I could not feed her because skin bumps and redness would appear immediately, and she would lick her front paws excessively.

It has been a few years now, and she still appears to be completely cured and has a very shiny coat, too. I feel sorry for dogs and cats who have skin problems. I can relate — many years ago, I had skin allergies myself, which were eventually resolved. I hope this has helped animal lovers out there. — B.J., Chesapeake, Virginia

DEAR B.J.: Because of the prevalence of various distressing and costly skin conditions currently afflicting dogs, I appreciate the opportunity to post successful outcomes for canine companions.

There is no one cure, and tests and treatments are costly and can have harmful side effects. Your letter will be added to the archives on my website ( In my opinion, it is the omega-3 fatty acids in the salmon and fish oil that really helped improve your dog's skin and coat. Keep up the good work.

Vet group develops position on free-roaming cats

As an Honor Roll member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and after sharing concerns from readers about feral cats and trap, neuter, release initiatives in this column, the following excerpt from the AVMA's policy statement on this issue adds significant clarity and helpful standards:

"The AVMA encourages and supports actions to eliminate the problem of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats. As a result of irresponsible societal attitudes, millions of these cats exist in the United States.

"Unfortunately, most of these cats will suffer premature mortality from disease, starvation, or trauma. Their suffering is of sufficient magnitude that it constitutes a national tragedy of epidemic proportions. These free-roaming abandoned and feral cats also represent a significant factor in the mortality of hundreds of millions of birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. This population of cats also poses a zoonotic disease risk for the public.

"State and local agencies should adopt and enforce ordinances that:

Prohibit the sale or adoption of intact cats by humane organizations and animal control agencies. Require licensing, rabies vaccination, and permanent animal identification through micro-chipping of all cats. Encourage that owned cats be kept indoors, in an outdoor enclosure, or on a leash. Cats in rural areas must be confined to the property. Prohibit public feeding of intact free-roaming abandoned and feral cats. Prevent establishment of managed cat colonies in wildlife-sensitive ecosystems."

Further, "The AVMA neither endorses nor opposes appropriately managed cat colony programs. ... Managed colonies should be considered an interim solution to the problem of feral, free-roaming cats — the first step toward reducing the size of the colony through attrition.

"The AVMA opposes placement of managed cat colonies on public lands or in any area that could threaten at-risk wildlife or in areas that may pose a zoonotic risk to the public.

"Should managed cat colonies be established, natural or artificial restrictive barriers should be employed to protect both cats and native wildlife.

"If sanctuaries for feral cats exist or are to be built, the AVMA encourages properly designed and maintained facilities. High-quality care is imperative and overcrowding must be avoided."

I would add that "high-quality care" must include proper nutrition, preventive vaccinations, anti-parasite treatments and routine veterinary inspection and appropriate treatments as needed.

DEAR DR. FOX: A stray kitty adopted me a couple months ago and has since been tamed enough that I have found a vet to neuter him and do some much-needed dental work. My fear is that the poor boy will be so traumatized by this ordeal that he will no longer consider my home his own and strike out on his own. He currently is still an outside cat as I already have four indoor-only cats in a tiny two-bedroom house. Due to the remoteness of where I live, the vet I will take him to is about an hour away. Do you have any recommendations on how to make his first vet visit a success? — K.B., Snowflake, Arizona

DEAR K.B.: Cats, as you know, are exceptionally sensitive to the stress of being put in a crate and going to the veterinarian. There is no way to avoid such stress when performing neutering surgery and teeth cleaning under a general anesthetic. But first I would advise a blood test for feline AIDS and leukemia because if the cat is infected, you could be putting him at risk. Also, the cat should be scanned for an identifying microchip under his skin.

The bond of trust that you have with this cat will probably be broken because he will be suffering from the equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder when it is all over. If you plan to bring him in to live with you, check my article on my website,, on the steps to take when introducing a new cat.

Ideally, to avoid additional stress, have the cat given whatever vaccinations are called for at a later date by a home-visiting veterinarian. This is because I do not advise vaccinating cats that are already severely stressed, although the rabies vaccine may have to be given when he goes in to the vet's. It is a good idea to separate giving the rabies vaccination by three to four weeks from the three "core" vaccines of feline parvovirus, panleukopenia, calici virus and herpes virus. These vaccines can often give lifelong immunity. Injecting the vaccines under the skin at the end of the cat's tail is a new protocol veterinarians are following to reduce harmful complications if a fibrosarcoma were to develop at the site of injection.

Dog owners should note that similar long-term immunity has been shown for the "core" canine vaccines — canine distemper virus, parvovirus and adenovirus — and it is advisable to separate the rabies vaccination from these others to avoid "carpet bombing" the immune system.

Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox's website at