M.G., San Francisco, CA
Jul 31, 2010
Which causes the least trauma -- a no-kill kennel for an inadaptable cat that hates kennels or a big barn in Virginia for a cat that likes people? After my dad passed away, I found a home for his cat, but it turns out he doesn''t do well with other cats. My landlord let me keep him this past year as I searched for a new companion with no luck. I''m shipping out in a month, and I can''t keep the cat. How can I do right by this creature who was such a comfort to my dad? I know this isn''t your usual type of question, but I hope you''ll have some advice.
M.G., San Francisco, CA Aug 01, 2010
Many good souls like you who are taking care of relatives'' pets after they have died, been hospitalized, or placed in a nursing home that allows no pets are often in a serious predicament. There are shelters for such animals, but they can be far from ideal for cats and dogs who do not adapt to group living or worse -- life in a solitary cage. The farm-barn situation can work out well for cats, provided those who are attached to humans get some human contact on a regular basis.
Your local animal shelter/humane society should have some leads for you, including names of people who offer temporary in-home living as a halfway house or foster home prior to adoption. It is always wise to make some provisions in one''s will when companion animals might outlive their owners.
L.B.J., Lake Worth, FL
Tags: dog Lake Worth FL grief
Jul 31, 2010
I'm writing in response to your recent column about how a "dog's devotion to master can lead to the grave." It is similar to what occurred with our golden retriever more than 20 years ago when my husband died at 46 after a four-year battle with cancer. During my husband's illness, Friday laid beside his bed, provided support when my husband walked, and never left his side. He obviously knew something was wrong and was devoted to his master. Before my husband was ill, he was a senior sports-and-news cameraman for a major TV station. Owing to the nature of his assignments, my husband's work hours were unpredictable. Regardless of the hour, Friday always knew when my husband was headed home and ran to the front door, wagging his tail and sitting patiently until my husband's car pulled into the driveway. After my husband's death (in the hospital), Friday sat at the front door all day, every day, whining and waiting for my husband's return. He stopped eating and wouldn't leave the front hallway. He refused to play with our children whom he loved because "guard duty" was his only purpose. He left his post only when he needed to be waked. My heart was breaking for this dog. After one week of watching Friday's vigil, I decided to help him understand what happened. Hesitantly, Friday left his post and got into the car with me. His car behavior was unusual: He paced from window to window, looking everywhere for my husband. I drove to the cemetery, and we walked together toward my husband's gravesite. As we got closer, Friday pulled away from me and ran directly to my husband's grave. He lay down on the grave, closed his eyes, and just stayed there, quietly. I didn't try to talk to Friday or to disturb him -- he needed to grieve, too. After an hour, Friday got up and walked over to me, using his mouth to hand me his leash. He was ready to go home. On the way back home, Friday laid down quietly in the backseat. After we arrived home, he kept kissing my hands as if to say "thank you" and never again sat by the front door waiting for my husband to return home. He now understood. Although obviously sad, his behavior returned to normal around the children and he began eating again. In time, he healed as we did.
L.B.J., Lake Worth, FL Aug 01, 2010
Many readers will join me in thanking you for this remarkable example of giving a dog closure with regard to your husband whom Friday thought was perhaps still alive. Your devoted dog clearly advances our understanding of how much some dogs really do know and feel. We should never underestimate their ability to comprehend and make every effort, as you did, during such difficult times of bereavement to help them when they are grieving.
R.B., Eden Prairie, MN
Tags: dog Eden Prairie MN diet food
Jul 25, 2010
I am the proud (well, normally proud) owner of a 5-year-old female basenji/heeler mix. I rescued her about four years ago, and she was very underweight. She got back to a healthy weight, but went into heat, even though she had been spayed. The vet who spayed her performed exploratory surgery and found that he left bits of ovary in her, which continued to produce hormones. After the remaining bits were removed, she began to gain weight rapidly, about 15 pounds in six months.
I shifted her to a diet of Precise Light Formula. After eating, she is always licking her bowl, eating things off the ground and chewing them. Now she's started chewing my belongings. She has always been an avid chewer of bones and chew sticks, but not my personal things. I can't have her chewing shoes, belts and bookbindings when I leave the house.
Will a change in her diet help change this behavior?
R.B., Eden Prairie, MN Jul 26, 2010
After being spayed, some dogs suddenly begin to put on weight, a possible endocrine-related hormonal imbalance. Hormone-replacement therapy with DES (diethylstilbestrol) may help, but it has potentially harmful side effects with long-term use. Most manufactured "diet" dog foods are full of fillers, fail to satisfy dogs' appetites, and may be deficient in essential nutrients. So dogs suffer from perpetual hunger.
The supplement L-carnitine can help with weight loss. I would give 250 mg with food, four times daily. Give the dog four small meals using my home-prepared recipe at my website, DrFoxVet.com/info, or from my book "Dog Body, Dog Mind." Delete the rice ingredient in this recipe. Alternatively, transition your dog onto a raw-food diet like Pepperdogz or Darwin's. The high-cereal and -fat content of many "junk" dog foods is a big factor in the canine obesity epidemic.
D.S., Norfolk, Va
Tags: dog Norfolk VA
Jul 25, 2010
I own a beautiful 3-year-old chocolate miniature dachshund. He weighs 10-1/2 pounds, is well-behaved, and is a very close friend. Mooky has only one testicle. I assume the other one is somewhere in his stomach area. Two vets have recommended that I have him neutered, as both testicles need to be removed. What should I do? Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide.
D.S., Norfolk, Va Jul 26, 2010
My opinion, I am sure, echoes what the other two vets have said. The undescended testicle, which is somewhere inside his abdomen, should be removed. It could turn into a cancerous, Sertoli-cell tumor. This kind of tumor can produce a lot of female sex hormone, essentially feminizing your dog. This situation will reach the point where his pheromones attract male dogs, and their noses will take him to be a receptive female. He will then, most likely, get into fights and detest being courted and mounted. There is evidence that this problem, called cryptorchidism, is hereditary, so removing both testicles to make sure that the condition is not passed on to male offspring is advisable.
B.C., Henderson, NC
Tags: dog Henderson NC
Jul 24, 2010
I have a dog that came into my life from nowhere. She was young, maybe a year old. She is unstable; her feet will slip out from under her on waxed floors. Her head shakes while trying to focus. I carry her in and out of my vehicle. Her gait is like the "running walk" of a Tennessee walking horse. Through all this, she loves life and seems perfect in every other way. The vet said she has a neurological disorder or cardiac problem. I have had her for more than a year with no changes in her condition. The problem is that I dare not have her spayed or give her any shots, including rabies shots, yet the government here insists upon both. The vet will give no guarantee as to adverse effects from the shots or the operation. I accept this. What I do not accept is the possibility that those procedures might harm my beloved pet, owing to her predisposed medical condition. The county authorities here have arrested two pet owners on private property this month for noncompliance. This rabies scare seems more to do with the money being made on shots and fines than with an actual health problem because the county is overrun with loose cats.
B.C., Henderson, NC Jul 25, 2010
If your dog also has a dry, crusty nose and/or thick, hard pads, it is almost certain that she had distemper as a pup. This would account for the jerky movements called chorea. Alternatively, she could have a congenital brain abnormality. If she falls over when blindfolded (because she relies on her eyes for balance), she probably has cerebellar hypoplasia, which is more common in kittens. The rear part of the brain has not developed properly, leading to impaired balance, high-stepping gait, etc. There''s not much you can do to help her. Try massage therapy, good nutrition and extra B-complex vitamins. The anti-rabies vaccination should not cause further problems. It must be done if she has never been vaccinated before. That is the law. The veterinarian can take a blood sample to see if the dog needs a distemper vaccination, but I would avoid that and other potentially risky procedures and injections, unless your veterinarian is sure that there are no risks. A monthly anti-heartworm medication like Heartgard is advisable for your dog, and a blood test to see if she is already infested is required prior to giving the preventive medicine that could kill her if she already has heartworms.
J.G.K., Minneapolis, MN
Tags: small pet
Jul 24, 2010
You have offered much opinion on the risks of vaccinations to cats and dogs, and I have read the convincing documentation of the health problems that can occur at your website and others. Please provide a concise summary to help convince pet owners that annual booster vaccinations are high-risk and unwarranted.
J.G.K., Minneapolis, MN Jul 25, 2010
Thanks for your well-worded question, which I will endeavor to answer concisely. For documentation supporting the validity of the health issues associated with vaccinations and how to reduce the risks of vaccinosis -- vaccination-induced diseases -- visit www.DrFoxVet.com/info/.
I would encapsulate the matter first by pointing out the obvious: Humans do not need annual booster vaccinations, so why do dogs and cats? I then point to the rising clinical evidence (which vaccinologists, manufacturers and others will debate forever) that while vaccines work by programming the immune-defense system, this programming can go haywire for a variety of partially documented reasons, leading to vaccinosis. This is especially true in certain feline and canine genotypes/breeds. So the precautionary principle must be applied and blood titers taken to determine whether revaccination is needed. Annual booster vaccinations only increase the risk of autoimmune diseases and other vaccinosis, including allergies, chronic infections and cancer.
M.K., Chesapeake, Va
Tags: dog Chesapeake VA
Jul 18, 2010
We have a 14-year-old female basset hound that no longer has the flexibility to lick (clean) herself. After she relieves herself, we gently clean her with baby wipes. Is there any way we can rid her of the odor she has developed in her anal region since she stopped cleaning herself? Is there a deodorizing agent in her saliva that has been replicated in the market for this challenge?
M.K., Chesapeake, Va Jul 19, 2010
Old dogs and cats, especially when they are overweight, need daily posterior cleaning. Those with long fur need to be clipped around their hindquarters to facilitate cleaning. Placing washable towels where the animal regularly rests also helps control the old dog odor.
Wipes containing witch hazel (a soothing herb) or calendula are preferable to those with synthetic scents. Very diluted Orange TKO cleaner would also work well every few days. Animals generally like to feel clean, enjoy being odor-free, and many have an aversion to their own malodorous secretions and may become depressed when not given the loving attention you are providing.
K.G., Arlington, Va
Tags: cat Arlington VA
Jul 18, 2010
In response to a question from M.C. in Staten Island, N.Y., regarding the cause of her late cat's neurological problems following dental surgery and application of flea preventives, you stated that spot-on flea products should never be given to even healthy cats and dogs, except as a last resort when safer methods of flea control prove ineffectual. Can you please detail these "safer methods"? I give my cat Frontline or Revolution about every two to three months and usually once a month in summer. He hates getting it, blinks and runs away, but he has also had terrible flea problems in the past, and once in the house, they're difficult to get rid of.
K.G., Arlington, Va Jul 19, 2010
Safer methods of flea prevention, as described at my website and in my books "Dog Body, Dog Mind" and "Cat Body, Cat Mind," are combined to make an integrative approach to flea control. Regrettably, there isn't sufficient space in this column to cover these steps, which begin with good nutrition, daily brewer's yeast and weekly vacuuming after sprinkling various safe products where fleas and flea larvae develop. Every day or so, check your cat with a flea comb. Regular, year-round use of oral and spot-on anti-flea drugs is to be avoided in states like yours, where cold winters de-bug the environment.
D.S., Washington, DC
Jul 17, 2010
A lady friend, who reads your syndicated column, suggested that I e-mail you with a question. My 100 percent indoor male cat (almost 6) has not urinated in his litter box in almost three days. What do you think could be the problem of him withholding urine?
D.S., Washington, DC Jul 18, 2010
Your poor, presumably neutered male cat, most likely has a urinary-tract blockage, probably because of urinary stones or "sand" or mucous plugs that are common in cats, which are fed an all-dry diet and do not drink a lot of water every day. I am glad that you e-mailed me about this issue. I receive many missives every week and wish that pet owners would bring their animals to see the veterinarian -- or into an emergency hospital, in your cat''s case -- whenever there is any sudden change in normal behavior -- eating, urinating, showing fear or aggression.
W.T.Y., Fort Worth, TX
Jul 17, 2010
Our 6-year-old miniature poodle is in excellent health. She eats only food that we purchase from our vet: Hill's dry food. She has been on this same food for three to four years. In the last year, the weeping from her eyes has turned brown. We took her to our vet, and he did not find a cause for the brown stain. He could only recommend Angel Eyes. We gave her Angel Eyes over a three-month period without improvement. We have also used Excel Tear Stain Remover pads to little or no effect. Please tell us what you might recommend.
W.T.Y., Fort Worth, TX Jul 18, 2010
Hydrogen peroxide in an equal amount of warm water will clean up your dog's tear stains. Apply a little Vaseline under each eyelid before wetting and gently rubbing the facial fur between your fingers. Rinse off with a little baby shampoo and warm water after 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat daily as needed.
Red-brown tear stains come from two sources: pet-food dyes and natural porphyrins (tissue pigments) that are secreted into the tears from the Harderian gland as a byproduct of metabolism. Many animals, notably gerbils, secrete these substances that can look like dried blood in the corners of their eyes. There is more secretion of porphyrins when there is infection, so the best solution may be a course of treatment with an antibiotic eye ointment and transitioning onto a natural, additive-free, whole-food diet. Chronic eye infections can lead to dry eyes and corneal ulcers that are difficult to treat and can permanently impair vision.