Raisins are dangerous for dogs

The Baltimore Sun

I have an elderly dog suffering from painful arthritis in the knee and hip. Can I use the gin-soaked golden raisins with her safely? How many? She's been X-rayed, so I know it's arthritis. She hobbles around painfully. I'm already giving her a nutraceutical that has liquid glucosamine and chondroitin. Any advice on how to help her is greatly appreciated.

Do NOT give your dog raisins, gin-soaked or otherwise! Although humans may benefit from this remedy, veterinarians have found that raisins and grapes are dangerous for dogs and may cause kidney problems.

Glucosamine and chondroitin first became popular in treating dogs with arthritis, so it makes sense to continue that supplement. Your vet might be able to prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug such as meloxicam or a pain reliever like tramadol to ease your dog's discomfort. An extract of green-lipped mussels also might be worth a try (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Feb. 15, 2007).

I have a 17-year-old son. For years, I have suspected that he has a mild form of ADD. He tells me he seems to be bombarded with information, like hundreds of highways leading to his brain at one time. He's willing to try medicine to see if it makes a difference. I'd like to try a more natural approach if there is one. Where can I get information on natural remedies and self-help with this issue?

Diagnosing attention-deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD) is not simple. There's no blood test or questionnaire that will definitively determine that a person has this condition.

Although there are medications that can help focus attention, they don't work for everyone, and they do have some side effects. Ritalin, for example, can cause nausea, insomnia, weight loss, anxiety, heart palpitations, headaches and increases in blood pressure.

We have interviewed Dr. Edward Hallowell, one of the world's leading experts on ADD and author of Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life With Attention Deficit Disorder. He suggests dietary supplements such as fish oil, grape seed extract and pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). He is also a big advocate of exercise, adequate sleep and a structured environment.

A few weeks ago, I heard Listerine mentioned for jock itch. I didn't have jock itch, but I was suffering from a very persistent case of athlete's foot. I had used several over-the-counter medications for weeks, with no results. I daubed Listerine on my feet for three consecutive days, and the symptoms were all but gone. I have since used Listerine on my feet once a week and have had no recurrence of athlete's foot. Maybe it is just the alcohol content in the product, but whatever the active ingredient is, it works!

Listerine seems to be helpful against a range of common fungal skin infections, including dandruff as well as jock itch and athlete's foot. We suspect that the antifungal activity of the herbal oils in Listerine (menthol, eucalyptol, thymol and methyl salicylate) may be responsible. The alcohol also may discourage fungal growth.

I am having trouble leveling out my Coumadin. Many foods are not included on the list the dietitian gave me. Cranberries are a puzzle, for instance. The nurse says eat them; the doctor says don't. Can I eat cranberries or not?

Trying to maintain a steady anticoagulant effect from Coumadin (warfarin) can be a little like walking a tightrope. Too much medicine can lead to bleeding, while too little may permit blood clots to form. Coumadin interacts with many foods.

Several cases in Great Britain led the health authorities there to warn against combining cranberries or cranberry juice with the anticoagulant Coumadin (warfarin). Some people who had been on a stable dose of Coumadin had serious bleeding problems after drinking cranberry juice or eating cranberries.

Australian scientists have reported that cranberry significantly increases warfarin's anticoagulant effect (British Journal of Pharmacology, August 2008). We suggest you follow your doctor's recommendation and avoid cranberries and cranberry juice while you are taking Coumadin.

Someone wrote to you about using zinc oxide as a deodorant. I tried it, but it didn't work for me. At the same time, my hemorrhoids were burning and itching, and even Preparation H didn't seem to help. Since zinc oxide is used in diaper cream, I thought why not give it a try? From the first time I used it, I have not had any recurrence of the symptoms. At first I applied it every night, but now I only use it once a week or less.

The person who wrote to us found that zinc oxide cream (commonly used for diaper rash or sunburn protection) was effective as an underarm deodorant. Your experience shows that it may not work for everyone to control body odor.

We could find only one reference to the use of zinc oxide for the itching and burning of hemorrhoids. A German salve (Mirfulan) that contains zinc oxide plus witch hazel, urea and vitamins A and D was reported helpful (ZFA Stuttgart, Oct. 20, 1979).

Every winter, my skin gets awfully dry and itchy. My hands and particularly my fingertips really suffer. At times they crack and bleed. I heard that you have written about solutions for these problems. I would be so grateful if you would send me any information you have.

As indoor heating systems come on, humidity drops. That may be why dry skin is worse in the winter. Washing hands frequently to avoid colds or flu also aggravates dry skin.

Readers have suggested a variety of solutions, including O'Keeffe's Working Hands Cream, Thera- Seal Hand Protection and Lotil Cream. Inexpensive farmers' moisturizers such as Bag Balm, Corn Huskers Lotion and Udder Cream (an underwriter of our radio show) also are popular.

Cracked fingertips can be extremely painful, and moisturizing isn't always enough. Some readers use ChapStick or liquid bandage on split skin.

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.

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