NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: A close friend has a police dog (a German shepherd, bred in Germany for that purpose) with severe health issues.
The major problem is pancreatic enzyme deficiency. His vet has him on pancreatic tabs, but he still has loose stools, is very thin and his coat is dry and lackluster. He also has recurrent ear infections, but I think that is a separate issue.
Is there a natural diet or any type of supplements that could help this wonderful dog?
— C.C., Fallon, Mo.
Dear C.C.: This is a very prevalent issue for German shepherds, which used to be confused with chronic colitis associated with stress and sensitive temperaments. Chronic disease of the pancreas, producing insufficient digestive enzymes, is a problem more common in certain breeds like your friend’s dog and is thought to be a kind of exhaustion due to having to digest a high-carbohydrate diet.
I would advise that the dog be gradually transitioned — over five to seven days — onto a grain- and soy-free diet, digestive enzymes (a few pieces of canned pineapple will provide these), plus a twice-daily human dose of good-quality probiotics and a few drops of fish oil to provide essential fatty acids to help improve the dog’s coat and overall condition.
Check my website for more details. Let me know how the poor dog progresses.
Dear Dr. Fox: Why do some dogs chase cars and others howl when they hear the tornado test siren? I live in a rural area, and these dogs drive me mad. I have a dog who does none of these things, and I am the only person around who walks him on a leash. Most are chained up or let out to roam.
— I.M., Galesburg, Ill.
Dear I.M.: The answer to both questions is instinct. Dogs chase vehicles and kids on bicycles, which can be a hazard, as a displaced prey-chasing activity. I know of some vehicle-chasing country dogs, along with turtles and any creature on the road, being deliberately run over by some drivers.