B.S., Fort Ripley, MN
Nov 28, 2009
We have two granddogs, both Lhasapoos and both belonging to different members of the family. They usually visit us at separate times, and the first thing they each do when they get here is bark to be put on my bed, where they roll around on my husband''s pillow. They seem to snuggle into it, lie on it for a bit, and then they jump off and are onto other things. They do this at various times during weekend visits with us. I wash the bedding after each visit. My pillow is next to my husband''s, but they''ll have nothing to do with mine. My question is: "Why only his pillow?" After staying over at our daughters'' houses, they will do the same to the pillow my husband used.
B.S., Fort Ripley, MN Nov 29, 2009
Having researched canine behavior, my educated guess is that the dogs like the scent or pheromone from your husband''s scalp. They enjoy it so much while on his pillow that a kind of "olfactory bonding" occurs. Rubbing on the pillow puts their scent there and at the same time gets your husband''s scent on them.
Human-scalp scents are quite distinctive, in part influenced by age, diet, sex hormones and age. Note how parents cuddling their infants instinctively sniff their scalps. This is one reason why I advise people (especially away-at-college students) to send a well-worn cap or an unlaundered T-shirt home for the dog or cat to sniff and lie on as a way to alleviate separation anxiety. I should add that it might be better still to rub the shirt in one''s scalp first; then put it in a plastic bag for mailing. Do not shampoo before this. An alternative, on the basis of what your dogs are enjoying, might be to send a well-used pillowcase.
D.T., Monroe, CT
Tags: cat Monroe CT diet food
Nov 28, 2009
I have a 5-year-old male cat. When he was about 1-year-old, his mouth smelled terrible, and his gums turned bright red. We took him to a cat dentist who recommended we remove his teeth. All teeth were removed except the front teeth. The removal didn't help the situation. He still has sore gums, which makes it painful for him to eat, yawn, clean himself, or even relax. My vet has been giving him a cortisone shot every three months for the past four years. The shot used to work for an entire three-month period, and then it lasted two-and-a-half months, two months -- now it only works for two weeks. But my poor cat can't get the shot again until the three-month period is up. My vet said it would be bad for his kidneys if he gets it too often. Plus, the shot doesn't even work for him anymore. We can't figure out why his gums do this. The gums start turning red in the back, and the redness works its way to the front. My vet doesn't think pulling the front teeth will help. It's as though his body is rejecting his own gums, according to the vet. Is there anything you can suggest that may help my poor cat? In between shots, I give him Metacam to relieve the pain.
D.T., Monroe, CT Nov 29, 2009
Your veterinarian is correct: Your cat's serious disease has an autoimmune component, but the removal of all teeth is questionable. First, do not give your cat more vaccinations or anti-flea drugs. Avoid all gluten-containing food ingredients such as corn and wheat. Try transitioning to a whole-food, ideally raw-food diet. Load your cat up with natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as fish oil and skullcap herb; and super-antioxidants such as Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, CoQ10, zinc, selenium and N-acetylcysteine, along with amino acids L-carnitine, folic acid and taurine. Discuss these options with your veterinarian who can advise you on sources and doses. I would also encourage you to try PetzLife oral-care products and consider applying aloe-vera gel, propolis and sangre de drago to the cat's gums twice daily.
S.G., Boynton Beach, FL
Tags: cat Boynton Beach FL diet food
Nov 28, 2009
I have a 4-year-old male cat that I rescued. My vet said he might have irritable bowel syndrome. He gave him prednisone for a while and prescribed Science Diet m/d food. He defecates half in the litter box and half on the floor next to the box. His stool is loose.
I have tried to give him cooked rice mixed into his food, but he eats around it. Is there anything I can give him to bind up his stool?
S.G., Boynton Beach, FL Nov 29, 2009
This condition termed inflammatory or irritable bowel syndrome is extremely common in cats today, largely owing to various wholly unnatural and biologically inappropriate ingredients that are put into most manufactured cat foods. The kinds of cat food being sold in McVeterinary hospitals play a major role in this distressing feline epidemic of inflammatory bowel disease. Weaning cats off their regular food that contains corn, soy and other possible culprit ingredients is a first step. For details and a list of prepared cat foods that are less hazardous, visit my Web site. For those cat owners without access to a computer, my co-authored book "Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Foods" provides many insights and a good basic recipe for cats like yours. On my Web site, you and other cat owners will also find a link to the Web site (www.fnes.org) for the not-for-profit Feline Nutrition Education Society that is enlightening. Gradually transition to a more natural, ideally raw food diet; and give probiotics -- 1/2 teaspoon of fish oil in food and 50 to100 mg. of glutamine twice daily between meals may help.
G.W.B., Clinton, Md
Nov 28, 2009
We have lost two precious, wonderful, beautiful German shepherds, apparently due to health problems. Both dogs suffered crippling hind-leg deterioration. In both cases, the overall strength in their hind legs and lower back appeared to simply give out. One of them had gotten to the point where he couldn''t walk at all. Is there any way we can prevent this from happening to future German shepherds? Or is this species simply doomed?
G.W.B., Clinton, Md Nov 29, 2009
If you go to Germany, you will see what the standards are before anyone with a registered German shepherd is permitted to breed the dog and sell any of the puppies as certified pedigree offspring. What American breeders have done to this superb breed is one of the greatest tragedies of the past century -- selectively breeding dogs with sharply sloping hindquarters as a desirable breed standard. In actuality, they created weak-legged dogs prone to hip and spinal problems. In Germany, the breed club is not permitted to breed a dog like that and sell the pups. I will never forget seeing a pathetic -- but otherwise healthy and spirited -- American-bred German-shepherd pup of 16 weeks dragging and flapping his deformed hindquarters as he tried to play with my dogs in the local park. At least he had been neutered. Much can be done to help such dogs, especially massage therapy, physical therapy, especially swimming, acupuncture, and anti-inflammatory herbal supplements when there is pain, one of my choices being New Chapter''s Zyflamend.
H.Z., Trumbull, CT
Tags: cat Trumbull CT diet food
Nov 21, 2009
I read in one of your recent columns about the woman in Jupiter, Fla., who adopted a kitten that bites. I have had two kittens with the same problem, both at varying times. I suggest buying thinly sliced, low-sodium turkey. Feeding this to our kittens stopped the biting.
H.Z., Trumbull, CT Nov 22, 2009
I always welcome readers'' advice and insights and am glad that you found a way to remotivate your kittens and to stop them from biting you.
My first concern, however, is that kittens often bite and scratch not when they want food, but when they want attention and to play. My book "Cat Body, Cat Mind" will help cat owners better understand feline communication and how and when to play, even to roughhouse, with them.
My second concern is that giving a kitten a treat every time he/she attacks could actually reward and encourage such behavior.
Thirdly, you could end up with one fat cat who still would like to play. When a young cat attacks playfully, the appropriate response is to play with the cats. There are many interactive toys you can use from gloves with puppet fingers to twirly wands and lures for chasing and killing.
D.K.W., St. Louis, Mo
Tags: cat MO diet food
Nov 21, 2009
I have a 13-year-old male cat. The problem is that he vomits two to four times a week, sometimes more. It is usually food, rarely a hairball. It does not seem to matter what type of food he has -- he still gets sick. In the past two years, I have given him three different foods, with the same result.
There is no rhyme or reason for the vomiting. Sometimes it is watery, sometimes whole pieces of food and sometimes a mixture of both. The time of day varies, as well. He will vomit a few moments after eating, but also in the middle of the night or after a long afternoon nap. Once in a while, he will make a mewing sound before vomiting, and that makes me think he is in pain.
I have mentioned this to my vet several times, but it was not considered a major problem. I am still concerned and would appreciate your professional advice. Could there be some sort of blockage causing this problem? What can I do to help my sweet pet?
D.K.W., St. Louis, Mo Nov 22, 2009
Cats regurgitate food for a variety of reasons, and you are right -- it can be very distressing for them. You must first rule out fur balls, food allergy (especially to soy and corn) and nausea caused by elevated blood urea levels associated with chronic kidney disease -- a common malady in older cats. Try feeding no more than 1 teaspoon of quality canned cat food, containing a single protein (beef, turkey or chicken) six to eight times between breakfast and bedtime (if his kidney function is normal and he does not need a special diet and supplements). Since he has regurgitated fur or fur balls, an X-ray would be advisable to determine whether the stomach has either a large fur ball or a tumor, which that can lead to vomiting.
For further insights, visit the Web site for the not-for-profit Feline Nutrition Education Society and www.fnes.org.
L.W., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL
Nov 21, 2009
In one of your columns, someone wrote to you complaining that their dog had a very bad itch. You suggested Selsun Blue hair shampoo. My husband has had an itch on his head and back for 50 years or so, so I decided if it was good for a dog, it might be good for a human, too. I bought Selsun Blue Medicated and used it on his back and hair. No more itch!
Thank you so much. I plan to send a copy of this letter to Dr. Gott, a wonderful doctor for humans. His column is usually just above yours. He, too, gives out wonderful information to help others.
L.W., Naples, FL Nov 22, 2009
I am glad that the Selsun Blue Medicated hair shampoo helped your husband. I am all for using human-tested products on animals, since I oppose the routine testing on animals of new cosmetics and toiletries. Selsun Blue has been on the market for decades for human use. I use it myself and recommend many products for animal use that have a long and safe history of use by the human species, whose cruelty toward animals in new product-testing is a profit-driven abomination.
M.C., Staten Island, NY
Tags: cat Staten Island NY diet food
Nov 21, 2009
My 10-year-old male cat had to be euthanized. In February, he began to gag and vomit small amounts of food. He continued to be interested in food but wouldn''t eat. Gradually, he lost 3 to 4 pounds. My primary vet did X-rays and blood work. The vet said he had an autoimmune disease that would benefit from steroid shots every three weeks, although this would not be a cure. He had bad breath, but the vet discounted dental issues. I told the vet that he kept shaking his head when I petted him, but that was ruled out as a symptom. He received two shots, three weeks apart. I got a second opinion when he did not seem to improve, and the new vet said he had severe dental problems, but wanted an endoscopy to rule out other problems. He had an abdominal sonogram, endoscopy and more blood work. All tests were satisfactory, and I agreed to dental work. As he recovered, he began to eat again and gained 11 ounces in three weeks. The dentist said he was healing nicely. A week later, he was dead.
After his dental surgery, I purchased and applied an over-the-counter spot-on flea product. Being between vets, I was concerned about his comfort because he was not getting his usual meds. Slowly, he began to display neurological symptoms that I did not recognize at first. He began to limp, gradually leaning to one side, and he seemed confused. This occurred over a period of about 2-1/2 weeks. I thought he''d hurt his leg, but right before I scheduled the vet appointment to check him out, he had a seizure in the middle of the night -- thrashing about, crying, leaving one pupil completely enlarged. He could not seem to regain his balance and was fairly non-responsive. I agreed to have him euthanized and have been heartbroken ever since.
I''m curious to know what you think of the treatment he got and whether you think the flea product could be what killed him. Thinking the latter breaks my heart even more, as it was my poor choice. I have notified Farnum Industries, ASPCA and EPA.
M.C., Staten Island, NY Nov 22, 2009
My sympathies go out to you. I''m glad you reported the adverse drug reaction to the EPA, which has been receiving thousands of such reports from owners with dogs and cats treated with various anti-flea drugs. I wish people would not use most of these topical and oral treatments except as a last resort. Never use them as prevention, as there are effective preventive measures that do not put pets or the environment in harm''s way. For details, visit my Web site at www.DrFoxVet.com/info. Those without computers can find information on integrative flea control in my books "Cat Body, Cat Mind" and "Dog Body, Dog Mind."
The first veterinarian who diagnosed your cat with an autoimmune disease, gave steroids and never checked your cat''s teeth should be shot at dawn. Your cat''s health was compromised by bad teeth (associated with bad diet) and by the anesthetic needed for dental work. Chances are your cat would have been fine if there had bee a warning label on the anti-flea drug you gave saying, "Can be fatal for sick animals and those in recovery from illness and surgery. Healthy animals can also be at risk."
P.A.R., Rockville, Md
Tags: dog Rockville MD
Nov 14, 2009
Recently, my husband and I had a very painful and heartbreaking experience that we need to find some closure to.
After the recent death of our son, we took over the care of his beautiful female shepherd/husky (age 9). She was our life and such a beautiful, healthy and happy dog. She became tired and lost her appetite. Then, one day, she got hot and vomited. We took her to our vet, and they sent us to an acute-care hospital. We were told she had a disease called Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) -- a disease that has no cause or real cure.
It was so painful to watch a very healthy dog slowly die before our eyes. Most people who saw her a few days before her death could not believe this.
P.A.R., Rockville, Md Nov 15, 2009
My condolences to you and your husband. Such a double loss must have been emotionally devastating. The most likely cause of your dog''s acute autoimmune disease is vaccinosis -- an adverse vaccine reaction. Some breeds are more susceptible than others. Vaccine-related diseases are being more widely recognized and accepted by veterinarians who are changing their vaccination protocols accordingly. Giving annual rabies vaccinations in combination with a cocktail of other vaccinations is becoming a thing of the past. Advocating annual across-the-board booster vaccinations for dogs and cats is, I believe, tantamount to malpractice. Check my report on this topic on my Web site: www.DrFoxVet.com/info.
L.D.F., Midlothian, Md
Nov 14, 2009
My son has a 6-year-old male Great Dane. A couple of years ago, he began to get an open sore on his leg. We took him to our vet who treated him, but it continues to grow. When asked to have it removed and the wound closed. The vet told us that because of the location that would be very difficult to do. I have enclosed photos of the knee at the present time.
We were given different ointments to apply and also internal medication in the form of antibiotic pills. When our vet finally decided to operate, we found (through blood tests) that he had a heart murmur, and we were told that he might not come out of anesthesia if he were put under. We have continued to doctor him ourselves by applying a medicated powder several times a day, but the sore just seems to get worse. Some days it looks better, even like his hair is growing back; but then the scab comes off and it starts to bleed again.
Is there any treatment you might suggest that may help to heal this wound?
L.D.F., Midlothian, Md Nov 15, 2009
Sending photos of your dog''s nonhealing wound was very helpful. Clearly, the wound must be scraped (debridement and curettage) and surrounding hair removed. Medicated powder will only delay healing.
I would first try daily applications of aloe gel and calendula (marigold) herbal tincture and pad the elbow well, using the large size Dog Leggs elbow protector that helps many dogs suffering from sore, calloused elbows and hygromas (visit www.dogleggs.com or call 1-800-313-1218). Giving the dog a human-dose equivalent by body weight of daily supplements with his food, such as fish oil, zinc, selenium, and Coenzyme Q10, may also help the healing process.
For difficult granulomas, a mixture of 100 drops of almond oil and 5 drops each of essential oils of lavender, myrrh, frankincense and helichrysum applied daily can work miracles, but it can take many months of treatment before the large wound closes up.