K.L., West Palm Beach, FL
Tags: dog West Palm Beach FL
Jun 27, 2009
I had a 6-year-old female Jack Russell terrier who was diagnosed with lupus last summer. We took her to the vet because we thought she got into some poison and was treated for that. No blood test was taken at that time. A week later, she had a seizure and went to the vet again. This time, she was diagnosed with lupus. She did get a blood transfusion at that time. She was good for several weeks. Then, one day, she woke up and was lethargic all day. Around 5 p.m., she fell off a kitchen chair and had trouble getting up and walking. We took her to the vet, and she died five days later. She would not respond to any treatment. She took a blood transfusion, medications and chemotherapy. Could you please explain how this disease works?
K.L., West Palm Beach, FL Jun 28, 2009
My educated guess is that your poor dog developed this autoimmune disease soon after receiving booster vaccinations. Vaccines are high-risk for some animals, and for certain breeds, mimicking an infection that can lead to an immune system that produces antibodies that attack certain organs and systems, or cause genetic damage that could lead to cancer. So a minimal-risk vaccination protocol is called for. For cat and dog protocols, see my Web site, www.DrFoxVet.com/info.
Hyperimmunization (vaccinosis) can give rise to many chronic illnesses in both humans and companion animals. To play it safe, a blood test can be done to see if booster shots are needed. Some animals have a strong response to vaccines, producing many antibodies that can give protection for many years.
L.F., West Charlton, NY
Tags: dog West Charlton NY diet food
Jun 27, 2009
I have a spayed 7-year-old Lab mix who weighs about 60 pounds. Her daily diet consists of a cup of dry Purina Pro Plan Adult in the morning and one at night, with occasional table scraps. We live on a farm, and she gets lots of daily exercise. For the past year, her anal glands have been leaking, on and off, to the point that she will be lying down and sit up quickly and begin licking herself and the carpet where she is sitting. There is no sign of irritation; she does not drag her butt on the ground. I did have the glands cleaned at one point -- the vet saw no inflammation. How can I help her overcome this situation?
L.F., West Charlton, NY Jun 28, 2009
Chronic anal gland, skin and ear problems are often cleared completely with a change in diet. The manufactured convenience food you are feeding to your dog could be at the root of the problem. Check my Web site, www.DrFoxVet.com/info, for my choice of dog (and cat) foods, many of which are organically certified; or try my home-prepared diet.
The days of feeding the same dry processed food out of a bag, day in and day out, must come to an end. Many readers attest to the dramatic health benefits of feeding their dogs and cats whole and minimally processed foods.
R.S., Perth, NY
Tags: small pet
Jun 27, 2009
I recently read your column in a local newspaper that contained a subject I had considered writing to you about. The writer had a dog who ate elm leaves. My cat, one of three and the only one who does this, will seek out and eat elm leaves as well. He is out for short periods under supervision, and the first thing he does is dash to his elm "plantations." He remembers the best spots and seeks them out. If the seedlings are bare, he''s just as happy to grab low branches of saplings and eat these larger leaves. He shuns all other leaves, even if they look nearly identical. One difference I''ve noticed about elm is that the leaves have a rough "hairy" underside. He is almost voracious in his desire for them. In winter, he''ll eat dried catnip with similar relish. My other two cats and dog could care less about the elm. Apart from that, he''s big, a little overweight and a finicky eater who won''t eat your homemade food, although I prepare it for one of the others. I wa!s intrigued to hear of another animal doing this and thought I would pass along my observations.
R.S., Perth, NY Jun 28, 2009
Thanks for passing on this information. I would appreciate hearing from other readers about their dogs'' and cats'' wild-plant choices. Clearly, your cat is self-medicating. Elm leaves can have a soothing effect on irritated bowels. She may benefit from treatment with probiotics and prebiotics, along with aloe vera and L-glutamine under veterinary supervision and prescription. Many of these beneficial healthcare products are sold over-the-counter for human use, and can be of dubious quality and effectiveness. Look for certification by a reputable quality-assurance agency, such as the National Animal Supplement Council.
B.E., Hendersonville, NC
Tags: dog Hendersonville NC diet food
Jun 27, 2009
My 6-year-old rescue cat is going bald on the inside of her front and back legs, as well as on her stomach. Her fur is otherwise glossy, no flaking; but she does shed a lot. She is not scratching more than normal.
The vet thought she might be allergic to the detergent I use and gave her a shot about two months ago. There is no rash, no redness, no scaling or flaking, and she doesn''t scratch herself in any extreme manner. She doesn''t seem uncomfortable at all. She will, however, only eat Purina dry cat food; no human food whatsoever, except for the occasional water from the tuna can. I have started to add a few drops of flaxseed oil to her food, but she doesn''t seem to like it much.
I have had other cats who lived to very ripe old ages on only dry cat food. Could a change in diet help?
B.E., Hendersonville, NC Jun 28, 2009
Many other veterinarians now join me in decrying the nutritional deficiencies and excess carbohydrates in dry cat foods. Many cats, like yours, become addicted to them, and far too many eventually become ill as a consequence. A change in diet may help your cat, but she may have an endocrine disorder like hyperthyroidism that should be ruled out first.
Check my review "Dr. Fox''s Choice: Finding the Right Prepared Food for Your Dog or Cat" under the Special Reports section on my Web site. Flaxseed oil and hemp or borage are good oils for most dogs and people, but are inadequate for cats. They need a good-quality fish-oil supplement like Nordic Naturals (1 to 2 teaspoons daily). A teaspoon of organic butter from grass-fed cows is also an excellent supplement. Some cats hate fish oil but will eat sardines in oil -- a daily teaspoon is sufficient. Avoid tuna because of the high mercury content and other chemical contaminants.
S.R., Arlington, TX
Tags: dog Arlington TX diet food
Jun 27, 2009
I have a 4-year-old male beagle. Our vet put him on Phenobarbital for seizures, twice a day for the rest of his life. His seizures happen about three to four times a year. Unfortunately, he is lethargic from the medicine, and I am thinking about cutting back. Is it necessary for him to be on this medicine for the rest of his life? What are the consequences if we discontinue the medicine entirely?
S.R., Arlington, TX Jun 28, 2009
Epilepsy is a common canine affliction. It often has a genetic basis and may be aggravated by dietary factors like wheat and various glutens and "natural flavors" that contain glutamates. I would not keep him doped out on Phenobarbital, day in and day out. His quality of life will be reduced, and his liver may be eventually damaged. Potassium-bromide medication can be effective in controlling seizures in dogs, and it has less side effects. But, again, long-term use is not without risks of bromide toxicity.
There are supplements such as lecithin, tryptophan, melatonin, vitamin B complex, magnesium, fish oil, evening primrose oil and phosphatidylserine (PS) available in health stores, all of which may help. These supplements are safe, and the dosage is determined proportionately: one-third of the recommended daily human dose for a 50-pound dog. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian. Daily chamomile, hops or valerian tea may also help. Avoid future vaccinations and anti-flea drugs, and feed your dog a natural diet free of dyes and artificial preservatives. Once established with these supplements and good nutrition, try weaning him off the Phenobarbital. So-called "idiopathic" epilepsy is not uncommon in beagles, and anti-distemper and rabies vaccinations may play a contributing role.
J.S., Jupiter, FL
Tags: cat Jupiter FL
Jun 27, 2009
I have been fostering a kitten for four weeks now, and she bites constantly. She is still very small so it doesn''t hurt, but she will grow and so will her teeth. Since we are considering adopting her, we were wondering if there is any way to change this behavior. She is very active, even feisty. She will also fall asleep in your arms.
J.S., Jupiter, FL Jun 28, 2009
Kittens need to play with each other and their mothers. Then they quickly learn not to scratch and bite too hard. This is one of the reasons I advise people to have more than one cat -- ideally, two kittens from the same litter.
Both pups and kittens have sharp milk teeth that will eventually be replaced by not-as-sharp permanent teeth. By that time, the kitten should have learned some self-control. My book "Cat Body, Cat Mind" will help further your understanding of cat psychology, handling and socialization.
R. & R.K., Valley City, ND
Tags: dog Valley City ND diet food
Jun 20, 2009
Our purebred Pomeranian had a severe ear infection when he first came to live with us. He would experience severe irritation with itching and even cankers. It would take six to seven weeks of treatment with vet checks every week to cure the problem. This not only got very expensive but, in a few weeks or months, it would recur and we would have to go through the entire procedure again. It breaks my heart to read about other dog lovers going through the same thing.
We finally found a permanent (and very inexpensive) solution to the problem. I happened to stumble across it when reading one of my Drs. Foster and Smith catalogs. It''s called Ear Clens Solution. Since we began using this product, our cat has not had one recurrence of ear problems, and he couldn''t be happier. From the label on the bottle, the ingredients are propylene glycol, malic acid, salicylic acid and benzoic acid (it doesn''t give proportions). If you approve of this product, maybe you can pass the tip on to you readers -- it has been a godsend to us.
R. & R.K., Valley City, ND Jun 21, 2009
I always appreciate hearing from readers who have good treatments to offer for various canine health and behavioral problems (and felines, as well).
I would say this product is an effective ear cleaner, but should only be used at intervals. My wife, Deanna Krantz, used my ear-cleaning formula of one part white vinegar (organic cider vinegar being preferred) to one part warm water weekly on scores of rescued dogs at her refuge in India with great success. Good nutrition is the best prevention (no more junk pet food), since many cats and dogs with chronic ear and other health problems make dramatic recoveries when they are fed wholesome diets. Fish oil (1 teaspoon per 30 pounds of body weight daily in food) is an excellent and natural anti-inflammatory food supplement.
J.Z., Boynton Beach, FL
Tags: cat Boynton Beach FL
Jun 20, 2009
I have a male tabby cat who is almost 3 years old. I live in Palm Beach County, and the powers-that-be want him to have a yearly injection for rabies. The cat stays indoors or on my screened porch. My vet also gives him other injections at the same time, and I really don''t know what they are for. I use Advantage on him for fleas, and he gets heartworm meds orally on a monthly basis. I would like your opinion on animal rabies injections for an indoor cat that has no contact with other animals (except an occasional salamander). I have friends who do absolutely nothing, and their cats are fine. Please advise -- I am going broke from the vet bills.
J.Z., Boynton Beach, FL Jun 21, 2009
It''s the law. All cats and dogs must have up-to-date rabies shots. But the law should be changed.
Have the vet take a blood test next time to see if your cat really needs a booster. The 1-year anti-rabies vaccine is given to cats rather than the three-year duration because it is considered safer; but no vaccinations are 100 percent safe or 100 percent effective.
Considering your cat''s age and indoor life, no other vaccinations are likely needed. I would call around and find another animal doctor who has a less cavalier (if not money-motivated) attitude toward vaccinations, the long-term adverse health consequences of which are now being hotly debated in both veterinary and human medical circles.
J. & J.M., Boynton Beach, FL
Tags: cat Boynton Beach FL diet food
Jun 20, 2009
We have a 5-year-old calico cat. We rescued her at 7 months from the local animal shelter. She has turned into a lovable, happy cat, and we really enjoy her company. However, she does have one bad habit that we cannot break.
She is obsessed with licking my husband''s legs. He has very dry skin and applies lotion nearly every day. She doesn''t lick my legs, so we think it''s definitely the lotion she''s after. Our vet has no answer for this. She is, otherwise, a healthy cat. Can you shed some light on this obsession with the lotion? Is it harmful for her to be licking this lotion? Can we break her of this habit?
J. & J.M., Boynton Beach, FL Jun 21, 2009
I often receive letters from cat owners who have cats like yours -- eager to lick off skin lotions and facial creams from their human companions.
Rather than thinking you are dirty and need to be cleaned (like a mother cat will wash her kittens), your cat probably thinks it''s some kind of food.
Some ingredients in the lotion probably give off scents of various animal fat and protein byproducts that your husband is putting on his legs. However, other ingredients, especially petrochemicals, could make your cat sick. I would try coconut and shea oil/butter. These will not harm your cat. Avoid products containing synthetic fragrances.
B.B.D., Alexandria, Va
Jun 20, 2009
I have an issue pertaining to pet dental care. I have just lost my second dog within the past two years during a routine tooth cleaning and tooth-extraction process. My first loss was a 14-year-old Chihuahua. I was notified that the procedure had been completed and all was well. Within the hour, I was notified again that I had to rush the dog to the nearest emergency clinic -- an hour away -- because my dog came out of the procedure in convulsions. The animal did not survive 24 hours and had to be put down. I lost my second dog, a 14-year-old pug. The continuing poor condition of his teeth, despite numerous cleanings (the last was one year ago), affected his overall health. He also suffered from a lung and bladder condition. He was definitely a high-risk case, and my local vet did the referral. I was very concerned because of my prior experience. The vet said he would view the dental X-rays and then notify me of the procedure to be taken. Later in the day, I was notified that all of his 25 remaining teeth hadto come out because of the disease and bone loss. This was done, and at 5 p.m., I brought him home, still sleepy from the anesthetic. By 7 a.m. the next day, I notified the clinic that I was very concerned because he still showed no signs of waking and his breathing seemed labored. One hour later, I was prepared to take him to our vet when, in one gasp, he appeared to be choking. I bundled him up, jumped in the car, and rushed him to our regular vet about five minutes away! he expired before we could get there. The staff tried to revive him, but could not.
Dental care has obviously become a lucrative field of veterinary care. Isn''t there such an ethic as "first do no harm"? What has happened to common sense? The fees for this seemingly routine procedure are very high. While there is a lot of compassion by all the professionals involved, there is never any reduction of the unexpected cost when a catastrophe occurs within 24 hours. Veterinary fees have become unaffordable, even for routine care for the average pet-loving family. Tragically, our shelters are full of pets that have been turned in for this very reason.
I have met six other people who have also experienced this, which suggests death through dental care is more prevalent than the profession is willing to admit.
B.B.D., Alexandria, Va Jun 21, 2009
My condolences to you for your tragic losses. You state that prior tooth cleaning didn''t really help. So what''s going on in this costly veterinary dental field where these high-risk patients die soon after and all you are left with is a hefty bill and a lot of grief?
Part of the problem is that the composition of many processed pet foods can cause gingivitis. Small-dog breeds (and cats) are at higher risk of dental disease. Nutritional deficiencies and kidney disease can aggravate periodontal disease.
A toxic mouth is often associated with diabetes and can lead to the spread of bacteria and inflammatory substances throughout the animal''s body -- kidney, heart, liver, lungs and joints. The worse the mouth, the higher the anesthetic risk.
For important preventive measures, check my Web site, www.DrFoxVet.com/info. Fish oil is one miraculous food supplement, and there are several measures to take to help keep pets'' mouths healthy.