Q. What can you tell me about selegiline? The vet prescribed it for my elderly dog. She had been showing serious agitation, pacing for hours at a time (sometimes 12 or 15 hours straight). She would pace until she dropped from exhaustion, sleep for half a day, then get up and start pacing again. She was also drooling excessively, digging compulsively, deliberately knocking things over and urinating in the house whenever I left.
My vet said these are all symptoms of senile dementia in dogs. I think it was precipitated by the death of my other dog. They had been together for more than 12 years, and she just couldn't handle being alone.Several days after she started on selegiline, all those behaviors stopped completely. It was amazing. She started acting like herself again. After seeing how much it helped my dog, I would definitely take it myself. Do they ever prescribe it for people with memory problems?
A. Our veterinary consultant, Andrea Frost, D.V.M., says that selegiline can be helpful for dogs with the canine equivalent of senile dementia. When an old dog gets lost in his own house or becomes incontinent because he can't remember to ask to go out, quality of life for the owner -- and the dog -- has really declined.Not every dog has as dramatic a response as yours, but selegiline can help buy some old dogs a little more quality time with their human families.
Selegiline is used in human medicine to treat people with Parkinson's disease. It has been studied against Alzheimer's disease with mixed results. Some patients seem to benefit, but overall the results have not been promising.
Q. I am a 34-year-old, married female, and I am suffering from a low sex drive. I am on birth control, and I have hypothyroidism. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
A. Libido can be affected by many factors, including thyroid function and medications. Birth-control pills may reduce sexual desire for some women. It is essential to get thyroid hormones properly balanced. To help you, we would like to send you our Guides to Thyroid Hormones, Female Sexuality and Treating Sexual Dysfunction. Anyone who would like copies, please send $4 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. PTZ-94, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717-2027. If the problem persists, check with your doctor about other contraceptive options.
Q. My daughter is an avid hiker and camper. When she returns to civilization, she is covered with bites -- not just 20 or 30, but hundreds!Is there anything she can use to keep the bugs away? Is she putting off a scent that is different from most campers?
She uses DEET but has concerns about its long-term safety. It also isn't working well.
A. Some people are undeniably more attractive to mosquitoes than others, probably because of their scent. Some readers swear that taking the B vitamin thiamine cuts down on bites, but scientific evidence is flimsy.Two new insect repellents are worth a try. Consumer Reports tested Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, and it worked for four to seven hours, longer than a DEET-containing product. Cutter Advanced with Picaridin is another alternative that should provide two to three hours' protection against aggressive mosquitoes.
XIn their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.
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