A doggone good solution for hot spots

May 15, 2008|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon

The solution of equal parts Listerine, baby oil and water for dogs' hot spots is the most fantastic remedy I've read about in a long time! The minute my dogs start "worrying" a spot, I get out my spray bottle, spray the area thoroughly, massage the solution into their skin, and the problem stops immediately. No more hot spots that involve trips to the vet.

Several years ago, we heard from a radio listener that his veterinarian had suggested Listerine and baby oil for his Dobermans and his horses. It worked for them, so he tried it on his own scalp and found it banished dandruff. We're glad you found this combo helpful. One possible explanation is that Listerine contains herbal oils (thymol, eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate) that may have anti-fungal activity.

I've had extreme chronic pain in my lower back, pelvis, hips and legs for nearly four years. Lying flat was agony, so I had to sleep propped up on a love seat. I went to many doctors who said there was nothing wrong with me. Then I found a rheumatologist who checked my vitamin D and found it was extremely low. I've been taking 1,600 IUs of vitamin D a day and have been feeling much better and happier. At this rate, I think I'll be about back to normal in six months. It's terrible that anyone should suffer for so long from this. If in doubt, get your vitamin D checked!

Vitamin D deficiency is common and is often underestimated as a cause of chronic pain. Low levels of this vitamin can contribute to arthritis, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and high blood pressure. In a high-tech society where most people work indoors and wear sunscreen whenever they are outside, vitamin D insufficiency may be far more common than most doctors suspect. I get cold sores occasionally, and for years have taken L-lysine tablets as soon as I feel one coming on. I continue to take several tablets a day for a few days until all signs of a cold sore are gone. It works like a charm!

Many readers agree with you. As far as we can tell, L-lysine has few side effects.

Last summer, we visited my brother with Mocha, my Pekingese. The day we were supposed to leave, he had diarrhea. We were not looking forward to a 200-mile trip with a sick dog! My sister-in-law said she had heard that coconut would stop the diarrhea. I just put some in my hand and let him eat it, and he was fine the whole way home.

Then my daughter brought her two Pekingese to my house. One was very sick. A few days later, he was not much better even after the medication the vet ordered. I told my son-in-law about the coconut, the dog ate some from his hand, and she was well from then on.

Other readers have found coconut or pumpkin helpful in battling diarrhea in dogs. We see this as a "first-resort" or stopgap measure rather than as a substitute for veterinarian-prescribed medication.

I have heard that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may be beneficial in helping the body repair cartilage and improving arthritic joints. I wonder if this is an old wives' tale or if it holds up under scrutiny.

There have been a number of studies suggesting that fish oil is helpful for joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Even when the doctor does not detect an objective difference, patients taking fish oil report less pain and morning stiffness and take fewer pain relievers (Pain, May 2007).

One reader wrote: "Fish oil is amazing. My husband is under a doctor's care for arthritis. Within one day of starting fish oil, the swelling began to go down in his fingers. He still takes his prescribed medication, but in lower doses. This relief is so much better."

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site: peoples pharmacy.com.

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