Dear Dr. Fox: My 3½-year-old spayed female Boston terrier constantly licks and scratches. She has been on Apoquel for the last three years, which does not help.

Is there anything that can help her? I have tried different brands of dog food, but there’s been no improvement. Would holistic treatment help?

I also think she has psychological issues, and that may be part of her problem. It also seems that she does not sleep a lot, even during the night, as she is constantly moving and licking. — B.K., Barnegat, New Jersey

Dear B.K.: I would taper off the Apoquel, which is being widely prescribed for dogs, often with no benefit and sometimes with harmful consequences of suppressing the immune system.

Considering the breed, your dog could need surgery for an upper-respiratory obstruction related to having a pushed-in face, which can interfere with sleep and limit physical activity. Such dogs often need their nasal orifices enlarged. Difficulty breathing can cause restlessness and anxiety, can lead to secondary infections such as pneumonia, and also puts extra work on the heart. With reduced physical activity, obesity is another complication.

I am sending you my home-prepared dog food recipe (drfoxonehealth.com), which will help rule out any possible food allergy. In addition, I would give her 1,000 IUs of vitamin D3 with each meal (three small meals a day). This supplement helps in some cases of atopic dermatitis in dogs for whom Apoquel has been prescribed.

Remember to weigh your dog before starting on a new diet, and then weigh her every three to four weeks to help maintain optimal weight.

Limiting access to alternative medicines: As a member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, I have been a longtime advocate of integrative medicine and a holistic approach to animal health, including the use of nutraceuticals and various botanicals. But I am concerned about reports that access to websites on these subjects as they relate to human health is now being blocked by Google, which has just contracted with the Mayo Clinic to “improve diagnoses, treatment and outcomes by mining the medical records of people ...” (Star Tribune, Editorials, Sept. 16).

Several years ago, when I gave a lecture at the University of Minnesota in Rochester — the hometown of the Mayo Clinic — I was told by the graduate student organizer that the university bookstore and the main bookstore downtown had both been instructed by “the powers that be” not to stock my controversial books on industrial agriculture and related environmental and consumer health concerns. Now, it would seem, there is further censorship that is proceeding at an unprecedented pace to further vested interests in conventional medicine, rather than advance the first medicine of prevention, and also the use of alternative treatments to various pharmaceutical products that are often costly and have harmful side effects.

For details, see naturalnews.com and healthnutnews.com. The latter reports that popular websites like Mercola and GreenMedInfo have lost significant visibility over the year studied (Mercola -84.02%, GreenMedInfo -81.14%), while the Mayo Clinic showed a 59.98% increase in visibility.

Backyard chickens? Please think twice: Keeping your own chickens may be popular these days, but it is far from harmless. More than 1,000 cases of salmonellosis from backyard poultry had been reported in 49 states this year as of Aug. 23, resulting in two deaths and 175 hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC survey of patients found 49% of those infected had snuggled chicks, 46% allowed the birds in their house and 10% allowed them in their bedroom. (CNN, Sept. 14)

My advice is to resist being drawn into this trendy hobby, and keep children away from such backyard operations. If you do eat eggs, do your best to find those from free-range, uncaged hens fed organically certified food. If you saw how commercial layers are housed, you would never eat another egg.

Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 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.