D.C.B., Severna Park,
Tags: dog Severna Park
Jul 31, 2011
I am one of your faithful readers, and today's column was of particular interest. Your subject was colitis. Our first puppy, Taffy, was a cocker spaniel and she was a doll, except we could not cope with her inability to be housebroken. We were continually dealing with diarrhea. After many trips to the vet and all kinds of medication (including Kaopectate in pill form), he said he had one more thing to try.
Taffy, bless her heart, took Miltown by Wallace Laboratories, and it worked! Prior to taking the pills, she would get very upset when she had an accident. After taking them for a while, we slowly cut back on them and eventually stopped them completely.
She lived to be a "senior citizen" (14 years) and never had another problem along those lines. When her time came, she went off in her sleep.
D.C.B., Severna Park, Jul 31, 2011
Many readers, including veterinarians, will be interested in your letter. After ruling out intestinal infection, parasites, food allergy and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by appropriate tests and clinical trials, a psychological or psychosomatic cause should be considered. Emotionally sensitive dogs can develop diarrhea when stressed, and this can turn into chronic colitis. Many cases of suspected IBD and irritable bowel syndrome may fall into this category.
Miltown (Wyeth's Equanil) is an anxiety-reducing sedative (meprobamate) widely prescribed for humans in the 1950s and '60s. It was a forerunner of the benzodiazepine class of drugs such as Valium and Xanax, which also may help dogs with a psychological/emotional propensity to develop diarrhea.
I recall one classic case where a sensitive mixed-breed dog would begin to tremble and hide when there was a family argument, during which time one could hear his guts churning! If the argument were not quickly settled, the dog would have to go out to evacuate because he had quickly developed acute diarrhea. The German shepherd was one of the first breeds to be identified as especially prone to developing chronic colitis in association with this kind of emotional stress.
A.W., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: cat Fort Myers FL
Jul 31, 2011
You may think me crazy, but I am sure my cats know when there's a full moon. They are indoor cats, so they don't actually see the moon, but it seems like every month around the time of the full moon the two of them go wild at night.
Is there an explanation for this, or is my imagination running wild?
A.W., Fort Myers, FL Jul 31, 2011
Some cats have wild imaginations that seem to get wilder around the time of the full moon. Just before he takes off for a mad race through our house, one of our cats, Mr. Pinto Bean, gets a feral glint in his eyes and his tail often fluffs out. He acts as though he is chasing or being chased by the most fearsome things!
A few studies have been reported on how a full moon can affect behavior -- kindergarten children being more unruly and more pet emergency hospital visits being recorded around the time of a full moon. "Lunacy" and "lunatic" are ancient terms reflecting long recognition of how the moon can affect human behavior. I would be interested in hearing from other readers about this intriguing phenomenon and how the lunar cycle affects their animals.
Changes in seasonal radiation in the Earth's geo- or electromagnetic field (EMF), in air ionization and in barometric pressure can all affect mood and behavior in humans and other animals. One of my theories is that animals' vibrissae (whiskers) may serve as dowsing rods, enabling them to sense changes in the EMF and essentially map where they are and navigate accordingly.
R.M., Washington, DC
Tags: cat dog
Jul 31, 2011
My wife and I are very upset about how tornadoes and other severe weather across the country harm wildlife, as well as people and their pets. So many dogs, cats and other pets are never seen again, and there is little news coverage about what happens to farm animals. I know there are no simple solutions, but what do you suggest?
R.M., Washington, DC Jul 31, 2011
In my book "Inhumane Society: The American Way of Exploiting Animals," I documented what climate experts were predicting 25 years ago if governments around the world ignored the warning signs of climate change and failed to take immediate steps to reduce carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gas emissions. We are now witnessing the consequences of political inertia and a business-as-usual attitude.
Dog and cat owners should have crates/cages on hand to secure their animals with them under safe cover when community sirens give the alarm. Collars with ID tags are essential. Disaster relief efforts must include funding for animal search and rescue.
I rarely see search and rescue dogs on TV wearing protective boots as they scramble over broken building materials -- glass, sharp metal and splintered wood. This is gross animal neglect. In hot weather, especially, rescue dogs also may benefit from wearing evaporative cooling vests, but of course not in a poorly ventilated, confined space.
Horses and farm animals in fields and those confined in "animal factory" sheds are especially vulnerable. Emergency veterinary services play a major role in triage determinations, the euthanasia of severely injured animals being a humane and responsible decision.To reiterate, the tragic consequences to people and animals of intensifying extreme weather events could have been lessened if appropriate actions had been taken more than a quarter of a century ago, but it's never too late to act. Great international cooperation will be required to save the environment.
A.W.M., Plymouth, MN
Tags: dog Plymouth MN diet food
Jul 25, 2011
My husband and I enjoyed your column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, but they no longer run it. So I am attaching our home address if you wish to send a personal reply.
We have not been able to get a straight answer as to why our 14-year-old dog (who has no health issues, according to our veterinarian) always seems hungry and never gains weight. In fact, he's lost close to 2 pounds, and he's always weighed in at about 40 pounds. Do you have an answer for this?
A.W.M., Plymouth, MN Jul 25, 2011
Since your veterinarian has given your dog a clean bill of health and he has not become overweight (an all-too-common problem in older dogs), he is most probably suffering from age-related food malabsorption. This inability to properly digest food (also common in older cats and humans) can be remedied.
It may be helpful to supplement his diet with probiotics and digestive enzyme nutritional boosters (such as IN dietary supplements and Platinum Performance Canine Plus) and pet multivitamins and multimineral tablets such as Pfizer's Pet Tabs.
It is important to feed older dogs who are not maintaining normal weight three or four small meals a day, which should include some highly digestible protein such as egg, cottage cheese or lightly cooked chicken or turkey. Also, plenty of walks are good to stimulate both mind and body. If he continues to lose weight, the possibility of cancer, the most common cause of death in older dogs, needs to be considered.
Nestle Purina PetCare Co. is recalling almost 1,000 bags of dry cat food that may be contaminated with salmonella. The bags were distributed in error in February to Colorado, Idaho and Oregon.
The recall involves:
- Cat Chow Naturals Dry Cat Food: 6.3-pound bag; best by August 2012; production code 10331083 13; bag UPC code 17800 11320.
- Friskies Grillers Blend Dry Cat Food: 3.15-pound bag; best by August 2012; production code 10381083 06; bag UPC code 50000 08450.
- Friskies Grillers Blend Dry Cat Food: 16-pound bag, best by August 2012; production code 10381083 06; bag UPC code 50000 57578.
Consumers who have purchased any of these dry cat food products with these "best by" dates and production codes should discard them. For further information or to obtain a product refund, call Nestle Purina toll-free at (800) 982-6559 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays Central time, or visit www.purina.com.
Salmonella can affect animals, and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product.
M.W., Fort Worth, TX
Tags: dog Fort Worth TX diet food
Jul 25, 2011
Would you know why my 4-month-old Boston terrier puppy will eat her food only off of the hardwood floor? She ate fine from a bowl the first three months, but now it's only on the floor. I discovered that she wasn't eating and I spilled some food on the floor and she ate it. I have tried several foods -- all the same experience. I have tried china bowls, plastic flat bowls and wooden bowls. I don't think licking the hardwood is good for her.
She also was chewing on her tail area a lot, but I changed her food and that seems better now.
M.W., Fort Worth, TX Jul 25, 2011
Many dogs, especially those with short muzzles, have difficulty eating out of narrow and deep bowls, and most dogs have problems when the bowl or dish keeps sliding on the floor. Some dogs are like one of ours -- he likes to pick some food out of his deep and wide food bowl and put it on the floor to eat, so we set down a sheet of newspaper. Another of our old dogs suddenly developed an aversion to eating out of her deep and wide no-skid bowl and now prefers a shallow and wide soup dish. They both now prefer drinking from a bowl set in a metal frame with 9-inch-high legs. Some dogs, especially large ones and arthritic older ones, enjoy elevated food and water bowls so they don't have to reach down too far.
Experiment with your dog and avoid using plastic food and water containers that may contain bisphenols and other toxic chemicals.
A.S., Moorhead, MN
Tags: cat dog Moorhead MN
Jul 24, 2011
I have a 4-year-old neutered male cat who has all his claws. A year ago, I brought home a 6-week-old male beagle pup. I have never had him neutered. I had read that beagles were aggressive toward cats, but I thought getting the pup very young so he could grow up with the cat would temper any aggression.
Well, the dog torments the cat mercilessly. Every time the cat is on the floor, the dog leaps on top of him and wrestles. The cat hisses, meows and eventually works himself free and jumps on top of a piece of furniture.
The cat is a very good and loving kitty, but I have seriously thought about placing him in a home where he won't be tormented. I'm concerned for his long-term well-being, as well as him feeling under siege.
I have been told the dog may grow out of this behavior, and that would be a huge relief. But is this a reasonable expectation? Do you have any advice for keeping these two apart? I have tried disciplining and scolding the dog, but it doesn't help.
A.S., Moorhead, MN Jul 24, 2011
The dog is no longer a pup. You have had him for a year. Beagles aren't particularly aggressive so much as they want to chase and play rough. So your best solution may be to get another dog. That way the beagle will be happy, and the cat will get some peace and may enjoy watching the antics of the two dogs.
You will have to train them (as you could and should have with the first pup) not to gang up on the poor cat. Redirect and remotivate your dog to play with you. Train him to "sit and stay" for a treat reward, and use a clicker (available in most pet stores) every time he goes after the cat to condition him to stop. He should quickly learn that going after the cat as though he's a rag-doll toy is unacceptable behavior.
J.B., Estero, FL
Jul 24, 2011
I have enclosed a letter from the surgeon who saw my 13-year-old cat, Tom. Both she and my regular vet think he has cancer but cannot verify it without a biopsy.
I rescued Tom 11 years ago in upstate New York, where I found him starving and flea-infested. He was later diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus. I am now living in Florida, and several weeks ago I noticed he couldn't stop eating but was losing weight. My vet thought he had a thyroid condition or diabetes, but the blood work showed otherwise. When an ultrasound showed some sort of obstruction, I was sent to the surgeon.
The options would be to put Tom through additional tests, do the biopsy surgery, wait a week and then try chemotherapy if it turned out to be cancer. If not, I was told he would probably be dead in a month. My husband and I decided not to put him through this ordeal and took him home.
He is acting very normal, running around, going to the litter box and cleaning himself, and he does not act sick or in pain. He is constantly hungry, and I am feeding him whenever he wants food. I give him and my other cat a can of Fancy Feast in the morning, Wellness dry food all day and Fancy Feast appetizers for snacks along with Temptation treats.
I am writing to see if I can be more proactive with him. I spoke with my vet and she agreed to bring him in for an antibiotic injection and B-12 shot next week. I am giving him an omega-3 fatty acid supplement every morning in his food.
Is there anything else I can do for him? I know I may be grasping at straws, but I want to make sure I am doing the best for him.
J.B., Estero, FL Jul 24, 2011
Your cat's primary care veterinarian took all the right diagnostic steps in my opinion, correctly referring you to a small-animal surgery specialist. I have reviewed the specialist's report and proposed approach, which would be invasive and stressful to your old cat and costly for you, with no guarantee of any immediate cure since the surgery would be exploratory.
I have mixed feelings, especially with older animals such as yours for whom quality of life is paramount. Advanced diagnostic, surgical and other therapeutic procedures may help extend the animal's life, but if there can be no guarantee that the quality of life will be improved, I err on the conservative side -- more so when the quality of life may be jeopardized as by exploratory surgery, anesthesia and subsequent therapeutic procedures. Younger animals have more resilience.
Discuss with your veterinarian adding probiotics and digestive enzyme supplements to your cat's diet and providing some less-processed food such as raw or lightly cooked ground organic poultry meat and organ parts (liver, gizzard) that may prove beneficial. His compromised liver may be improved with the addition of silymarin (milk thistle), lecithin, taurine and S-adenosylmethionine; mix such supplements in a little tasty canned mackerel for cats who like fish.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at www.DrFoxVet.com/info.
J.K., Jupiter, FL
Tags: dog Jupiter FL massage
Jul 18, 2011
My dad and I read your column frequently, and a while ago you did a piece on an elderly dog with hip dysplasia. I own a dog with a slightly different situation, but he also has hip dysplasia.
I am a 21-year-old college student and, against my parents' wishes, I adopted an 8-week-old mixed breed about a year ago. At the age of about 6 months, he slid on the tile floor and dislocated his hip and, consequently, injured his patella. His hip was put back into place and we were informed of his hip dysplasia. A couple of months later, he had a medial patellar luxation repair on his knee and recovered quite quickly. We have been to several vets who have said that he is probably part husky, Lab or shepherd and that this is common in these breeds.
I have added turmeric, ginger and advanced-strength glucosamine powder to his diet that seems to help with his inflammation, and he has fewer "stiff" days. He gets regular exercise on the beach and on soft paths and will be swimming in my pool in warm weather.
The veterinarian I'm seeing has suggested that being proactive and repairing his hips before the age of 2 might allow him to lead a normal life. However, as I stated before, I am a college student and am working part-time to pay off his surgery.
Is there any hope for my young pup leading a normal life without another surgery? Is there anything else I can do?
J.K., Jupiter, FL Jul 18, 2011
I would delay the surgery on his hip(s), especially if his condition is not severe.
Swimming is excellent physical therapy, along with jogging, but no racing or chasing balls or discs. Many dogs with mild congenital joint problems naturally compensate by building supportive muscle and joint tissues, even additional supportive bone, which is an arthritic reaction but may not cause discomfort or impair normal physical activity.
Massage therapy, as per my book "The Healing Touch for Dogs," and additional supplements such as fish oil, chondroitin and MSM, in addition to what you are already giving him, and anti-inflammatory canine resveratrol may prove beneficial.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at www.DrFoxVet.com/info.
M.S., Urbana, Mo
Tags: dog Urbana MO
Jul 18, 2011
I am at my wits' end trying to help my sweet 14-year-old miniature poodle with her coughing problem. She acts like she has something in her throat and gags like she's trying to get something up, but there is never anything. This used to happen a few times a day, but for the last five months she coughs and gags a lot. I rub her throat and she stops for a while.
I've taken her to the vet and was told she has a heart murmur. He was afraid to clean her teeth because of this, but he said that if food were stuck in her teeth, some liquid would be expelled when she coughed. (This is not the case.) The vet put her on 12.5mg of Furosemide for a month to see if that would help. She doesn't urinate any more than before and still coughs. The vet says she may have an allergy. She is healthy and runs and plays with my other poodle. I've had poodles live up to 19 years or more, so I take good care of them.
M.S., Urbana, Mo Jul 18, 2011
Small-dog breeds are especially prone to develop heart problems when they get older, and it is good that your veterinarian is considering this. A chronic cough and fluid in the lungs are cardinal signs. Neglected dental problems can lead to bacterial infection getting into the upper respiratory tract. But if she is physically active as you say and chronic bronchitis has been ruled out, I would suspect another common condition in toy breeds: a partially collapsed windpipe due to weakness in the supportive tissues of the trachea. There is little that can be done to alleviate this condition. Gentle massage may help, and the veterinarian could prescribe medicine to prevent bronchial spasms if that is diagnosed.
Above all, never walk your dog with leash and collar since the dog's pulling can bring on this condition. All toy breeds are best walked wearing a chest harness.
S.D., Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Tags: cat Palm Beach Gardens FL
Jul 17, 2011
Dusty, my 17-year-old male cat, just died. We got Dusty from the pound when he was 7 years old and Katy a year later when she was 8 weeks old.
Dusty was jealous, and they never really bonded as I hoped they would. But they were company for each other and got along in a compromised way. I know Katy mourned Dusty's passing -- I could sense it.
I can never replace Dusty, but I think it is important to find another companion for Katy. If possible, I would like to have the new cat or kitten and Katy bond this time. Katy is now 10 years old. What factors might bring this about?
S.D., Palm Beach Gardens, FL Jul 17, 2011
It is generally true that the older the cat, the less likely it is to accept a newcomer. Cats get set in their ways, and any change in their familiar environment can be upsetting.
But there are exceptions to all generalizations, and Katy may come to enjoy a friendly feline companion. I would opt for adopting a neutered male of about Katy's age on approval, so you can return the new cat if they don't get along after three to four weeks. A playful and active kitten may be too much for her to handle without "time out" to give her a break. But that is your alternative choice.
Use a plug-in Feliway cat pheromone diffuser in one room where you must keep the cats together, closely supervised. Take one of the cats with you when you leave and put that cat in an adjoining room or closed corridor so they can get used to each other's scent and sounds under the closed door. Have a towel handy to throw over them if a fight occurs, and set up furniture and a few cardboard boxes so the cats can hide if they need to. Set up a separate litter box in the other room or closed hallway, but encourage both cats to eat together. Seeing you pet, groom and play with Katy will also help the newcomer settle down.