J.M., Arlington, Va
Tags: dog Arlington VA
Apr 24, 2010
My mother has a 6-year-old male French bulldog. For the past two or three years, she has lived alone. Owing to a physical disability (COPD), she isn''t able to take him on walks but does let him get some air and do his business in the backyard. She gives him nothing but love and affection, and they seem to be inseparable. This all changes when I (or my niece) go to visit. When my 13-year-old niece comes over, the dog clings to her all the time. If my mother calls to him and tells him to come, he just stares at her and doesn''t go over to her. Why does he become so cold to the hand that feeds him? What happened to his loyalty? It hurts my mother''s feelings.
J.M., Arlington, Va Apr 25, 2010
Perhaps the dog is craving the affection and companionship of a more active, lively human who takes him out for walks and long romps. Or maybe he senses that your mother is fading away and may soon be hospitalized with her COPD. I hope that you are prepared to take her beloved dog when the time comes.
The dog is not being disloyal. He may be showing your mother how much he loves your company and your niece''s. Your mother should celebrate that.
C.E., New York, NY
Tags: dog New York NY diet food
Apr 24, 2010
Just a note to say that my 4-year-old Chihuahua has learned to tell time!
Ever since I''ve been making your version of dog food, he knows when it''s dinnertime -- 5:30 p.m. -- give or take five minutes. I freeze the portions by filling a cupcake tin halfway and compressing the food into cakes. Once frozen, I pop the cakes into a plastic zippered bag and store that in the freezer. For each meal, I microwave a cake for 30 seconds, stir, and voila! At dinner, I put half a vitamin (Pet Naturals'' Daily Best) into the mixture. The noodles and scrambled eggs is Vincent''s favorite, followed by brown rice and chicken. Thank you for publishing the recipe, and thanks for the work you do on behalf of the animals.
C.E., New York, NY Apr 25, 2010
I am delighted to hear how receiving good nutrition made your dog ready for his food on time. All animals should be fed at regular times. Dogs also benefit from being walked and exercised before eating rather than soon afterward. The latter can even be dangerous and a co-factor in bloat.
T.T., Arlington, Va
Tags: small pet Arlington VA diet food
Apr 24, 2010
I understand you may not treat small rodents, but I need your help desperately. A few days ago, my gerbil (Whiskers) was scratching a spot just below his left ear that became a scab that comes off and bleeds a lot. I am worried it might get infected. I don''t understand how it could be itchy there -- I clean his cage once a week, and I change his food and water every two to three days. He pees in his food dish once in a while. But I got him a little hamster-size litter box, and he goes in that now. My parents refuse to take him to our vet who absolutely hates small rodents. They won''t pay the $40 for a checkup and are saying to me that it might be a sign he might be ready to move on to a better life in the clouds because he is 2 years old and that''s old for a gerbil. I want to keep him alive and healthy as long as possible. I hope you have answers to my questions. Thank you.
T.T., Arlington, Va Apr 25, 2010
I always welcome letters from young readers who, like you, try to give proper care to their pets. Your gerbil may have something in the ear canal, even an infection that makes him scratch so hard as to hurt himself behind that ear.
I would use a dropper to put three to for drops of olive oil into his ear twice a day for a week. If the sore spot bleeds badly, touch it lightly with a styptic (like your dad may use to stop a bleeder when he shaves). Once it is beginning to heal, apply a smear of Bacitracin three times a day for three to four days. Be sure that your gerbil gets some nuts and little bits of fresh sweet potato, carrot and parsnip in addition to his regular food. Good luck. Every creature is special.
R.H., Pinckneyville, IL
Tags: dog Pinckneyville IL diet food
Apr 24, 2010
I have a 9-year-old Maltese. I''ve been treating her for a bacterial infection since Dec. 18. She has had three (two-week intervals) rounds of Baytril, but three weeks after the symptoms returned. They start like a small bite and then spread to the size of a half dollar. The scab is light in color. She licks her feet until they bleed, but she doesn''t scratch and is eating well. When you mentioned the Sarcoptes mite, I thought about my dog''s situation. My longtime vet is caring for her. He says it is simply a bacterial infection and not uncommon. I wonder where it came from. Is it contagious?
R.H., Pinckneyville, IL Apr 25, 2010
A diagnosis of "bacterial skin infection" is just giving a name to one of the symptoms. One must ask what, in the dog''s body or environment, might have impaired the normal defenses of the dermis to allow a bacterial dermatitis to settle in, causing both you and your dog much distress.
I would begin by prescribing probiotics rather than antibiotics (unless your dog is feverish and septic) and slowly transition from his regular diet to a hypoallergenic diet (rice and lamb, venison and sweet potato) over a five- to seven-day period. Give supplements such as fish or flaxseed oil and brewer''s yeast, along with a Selsun Blue medicated (human) shampoo, followed three to four days later by an aloe, oatmeal or calendula-based shampoo. Let your dog lie on clean (no laundry scent) cotton sheets, and use only white vinegar, baking soda and Orange TKO to clean your floors. A food or chemical allergy may be weakening your dog''s immune system. This or a nutrient deficiency underlying her dermatitis may then be rectified. Other factors include early diabetes and hypothyroidism for which your veterinarian may wish to test.
C.A., Poughkeepsie, NY
Tags: dog Poughkeepsie NY diet food
Apr 17, 2010
I have a 2-year-old Shih Tzu who has developed the habit of licking everything: walls, furniture, floors and carpet. He also walks around with his tongue halfway out of his mouth. His tongue is like this even when he is sleeping. Someone suggested he might have a vitamin deficiency. I only feed him Science Diet dog food. He once licked a wall so much it developed a hole. Any suggestions?
C.A., Poughkeepsie, NY Apr 18, 2010
I would never recommend feeding a dog (or cat) just one brand of commercial pet food. Most pet foods contain highly processed ingredients and human food-industry byproducts together with various chemical additives and preservatives. Humans and animals both need whole, natural foods, including some raw food such as grated sweet potato and alfalfa sprouts. Dogs do well on a diet of lightly cooked vegetables, meat or poultry, plus a bit of well-cooked grains or pasta with a little vegetable oil and a multimineral/multivitamin (one a day) supplement. Discuss this sensible alternative with your veterinarian. And give your dog a raw beef marrow or soup bone to chew on. He needs a full-blown checkup to determine if his obsessive licking has a physical or psychological basis. Dietary deficiency or discomfort from an underlying chronic gum or other infection/inflammation may be responsible. Sheer boredom, lack of exercise or anxiety may be the cause, and treatment with Prozac may be the final solution. Either way, please see about improving his diet.
P.F.M., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: dog Virginia Beach VA diet food
Apr 17, 2010
We have a problem with our mini beagle and wonder if you can give us some advice.
About two years ago, she developed epilepsy. Our vet said we would see how she did, and she went another year without an attack. Then they began to happen quite frequently, and she was put on one 32 mg phenobarbital tablet twice daily. This seemed to do the job, because she hadn''t had an attack since. But when we took her back to the vet for other reasons, the minute we step inside she has an attack! The attendants take her in the back and, in a short time, she''s OK again. What do you think?
P.F.M., Virginia Beach, Va Apr 18, 2010
Epilepsy in dogs is more prevalent than most people realize. Some older veterinarians believe it has increased in recent years, in spite of vaccinations that have reduced distemper-related epilepsy. Phenobarbital, as prescribed for your dog, is one of the most widely used drugs to help prevent seizures. In some dogs, potassium bromide or primidone works well.
From your experience, you have learned that anxiety and stress can bring on a seizure. So the next time you have a veterinary appointment, double the dose of medication and give two hours before the visit.
Some dogs have seizures when they are afraid or become anxious when family members are having a spat. There can be a hereditary basis to epilepsy, adverse vaccination or drug reaction, or hypersensitivity to certain foods such as wheat. In older dogs, seizures may indicate a brain tumor. You may wish to explore other ways to control you dog''s seizures such as a hypoallergenic diet or acupuncture; under veterinary supervision, evaluate various Chinese herbal formulas or Western herbs such as skullcap and passionflower. Giving melatonin in the evening may also help.
I.C., Flint, MI
Apr 17, 2010
We have a cat with an attitude (catitude), and it is not endearing. Larkspur is a 4-year-old calico we adopted from a shelter when she was just 2 months old. We have an older calico, Sunny, who is 6 years old. Larkspur is the dominant one, and Sunny seems to be OK with that. Larky has never really been a lap cat. She seems as if she would be just as happy without us. We''re OK with that, but she recently has become totally unpredictable and aggressive. She often scratches us without provocation. We just walk by, and she darts out, claws at the ready. Blood has been drawn many times in the past few months. This behavior is on the increase. Just yesterday, she was getting head rubs and purring, seemingly enjoying being petted and stroked; then, all of a sudden, she clawed my head and drew blood. We have two children (11 and 8) and I''m afraid for their safety. What''s up with Larky? How can we get her to stop chewing us indiscriminately?
I.C., Flint, MI Apr 18, 2010
Your Larkspur is clearly a delinquent young feline who is dominating you and using you as substitute prey, hiding to ambush you as you walk by.
I would advise a two-pronged behavioral-readjustment-therapy approach. Play hide-and-seek with Larky and have her attack and "kill" a small stuffed toy on a string. Second, put on gloves and a thick coat to protect your arms and, while petting her, grab the scruff of her neck and hold her down for 10 to 15 seconds. She may protest violently, but this is the best way to restore your dominance over her in a way she''ll understand, because this is how one cat will dominate another.
If this fails, try one of the new psychotropic, behavior-changing medications like amitriptyline or a natural product like valerian. You may have success with catnip, because many cats enjoy this herb and will readily eat servings. Catnip, a member of the mint family, is more palatable than valerian, and has similar sedative effects after causing transient stimulation.
A.C., Washington, DC
Tags: cat Washington DC diet food
Apr 17, 2010
I have an 11-year-old female cat, Molly. She''s active, bats her toys, likes to chase a feather on a string tied to a stick, "stalks" birds outside the window, and plays with the other, younger cat. She has a hearty appetite, maintains her coat, has regular bowel movements, and has constant access to fresh water.
The problem is that in the past six months, she has vomited her meal in its entirety, with very little of it seemingly digested. She has been given dry Iams cat food since I first adopted her more than six years ago. She does not go outside at all and doesn''t get table scraps. When this first occurred last July, I took her to the vet. She gave her a complete checkup and found nothing wrong. She also said that since the vomiting could be a response to the unusually warm summer, I should provide extra bowls of water. The vomiting stopped for a while, and I thought it was over. But the problem has returned, and I cannot think of what is causing it. The contents of the upheavals are only dry cat food and quasi-clear fluid. I don''t see hairballs or any foreign objects. Please advise.
A.C., Washington, DC Apr 18, 2010
If Molly''s blood tests for kidney and liver function and other profiles check out within normal range, you should first do the elimination-diet test to rule out a food allergy or hypersensitivity.
It is quite likely that she has developed a bad reaction to one or more ingredients of her extremely mixed diet ("mixed" in terms of an unnatural diversity of ingredients). Molly should not be on a dry-food-only diet. In my opinion, such a diet is abnormal for any carnivore and may play a leading role in the feline urologic syndrome that includes painful cystitis and often urinating all over the house; it also contributes to obesity and diabetes.
Discuss the elimination- and hypoallergenic-diet approach with your veterinarian, who should be well versed on this subject, because food allergies cause a lot of serious, chronic health problems in cats and dogs -- and humans, too.
E.G., Burleson, TX
Tags: cat Burleson TX
Apr 10, 2010
In a recent column, you asked readers to relate nonvisual or non-auditory communication with animals. I had such a relationship with a former kitty, Hunny.
My husband told me that Hunny would go to the front door and wait for me to come home. It didn''t matter how long I was away, because she wouldn''t go to the door until just a few minutes before I pulled into the driveway. Her timing probably coincided with the time I pulled off the highway and drove the backstreets to our home. As I drove, my mind was no longer on traffic but on home and my kitties. Hunny was with us for 17 years, and she did this every time I was away from the house by car. I had several other cats at the same time, but none of them displayed the same behavior. I now have two other cats, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Whenever I say, "Dale, find Roy," she immediately starts searching all of his favorite haunts in the house (he likes dark, secluded places). She stops looking and runs off when Roy has been found. I realize this is verbal communication, but it''s kind of odd that I can ask a cat to do something and have her understand exactly what I want. I remember the first time I was looking for Roy, and Dale was sitting in the living room looking at me. I looked at her, asked her the question, and she instinctively knew what I wanted. I suspect it wasn''t my words but the fact that my mind was focused on Roy and that I was obviously somewhat anxious at my inability to find him.
E.G., Burleson, TX Apr 11, 2010
Your letter evokes the wish for our animal companions to tell us what they really know. In more than one sense, they actually do, as I have described in various books and articles (for details, visit www.DrFoxVet.com/info/). Specific spoken words and the tone/intonation of our voices provide sufficient information for animals to learn what we are saying and why. How quickly many seem to learn all of this can come as a surprise to us. But when we are open and receptive to our animal companions, they can teach us much about what they feel, know, and have learned from observing us and listening to what we say.
Many pet owners have been cognizant of the cues they give to their animals that make them respond accordingly. Not providing overt cues and getting an appropriate response on the basis of what one was thinking is well documented in the following letter:
B.J.B., Chesapeake, Va
Tags: cat Chesapeake VA
Apr 10, 2010
My cat Gracie is 3-1/2 years old. When I took her for her annual checkup, they found she had some nasty ears. The technician showed me how to clean them. Cotton balls saturated with a cleaning solution were stuffed in her ears and then massaged. The procedure was repeated with a dry cotton ball. The next morning, I found Gracie staggering and falling over. We were waiting for the vet when they opened.
After ruling out a stroke and discussing the ear cleaning, we were instructed to keep an eye on her for the next few days and, if there was no improvement, to bring her back in. No explanation was ever given as to what was done to her ears that caused the problem. After several upsetting days for her and us, she was finally back to normal. Can you offer any suggestions as to why this to happened to her? I am supposed to clean her ears periodically, but I''m afraid to attempt it now.
B.J.B., Chesapeake, Va Apr 11, 2010
Normal ear cleaning does not usually bring on the acute middle-ear syndrome that affected your cat''s balance for a few days.
When infection and/or ear-mite parasites have destroyed the eardrum or the tympanum, cleaning solution can seep into the deeper parts of the ear and this can cause impaired hearing and balance. You should consider yourself fortunate that your cat''s external ear disease was diagnosed and a treatment regimen initiated; she could have lost her hearing in one or both ears and have permanent neurological disability affecting her normal balance and gait. To be on the safe side, a broad-spectrum antibiotic should be prescribed, along with a probiotics supplement and anti-inflammatory fish oil such as Nordic Naturals or New Chapter''s salmon.