F.M, Hendersonville, NC
Tags: dog Hendersonville NC diet allergies food
Dec 12, 2011
We have a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier who is scratching and rubbing his backside. We have been to three vets and have had his glands cleaned. They provided a spray (CortiSpray), and I use 1 percent hydrocortisone on his raw spots.
We have not seen improvement. We feed him dry food and salmon, chicken, beef and sweet potato. But he is still biting and scratching, creating hot spots. Could this be from allergies?
He developed a snapping condition and is taking phenobarbital (16.2 mg) twice daily. We would like your opinion on these issues..
F.M, Hendersonville, NC Dec 13, 2011
Chronically inflamed anal glands, like some chronic ear conditions and "hot spot" itchy skin, can have an underlying food allergy issue. Some dogs respond well after a few weeks on a hypoallergenic lamb and rice diet coupled with anti-inflammatory fish oil supplements, such as Nordic Naturals (available in pet stores). Other dogs need to be put on an "elimination diet," which should begin with a couple of basic ingredients and should be monitored closely by a veterinarian.
Your dog may have one or more other underlying medical problems such as hypothyroid disease, which is often associated with skin and behavioral problems. I would advise some additional tests and, of course, avoid using any anti-flea and tick preparations and giving any vaccinations to your dog.
R.H., Stuart, Va
Dec 12, 2011
I have a 3-year-old female longhaired cat who has a lot of tangles and mats in her hair. This is the first time she's had these mats.
I've bathed her in water with hair conditioner and have sprayed a conditioner on her coat for the tangles. Although it has softened her hair, the mats have not come loose. I've brushed her, but the brush doesn't get them out. They are very close to the skin. What else can be done to get these mats out?
R.H., Stuart, Va Dec 13, 2011
Longhaired cats often need their owners' help with grooming. Owners must use their fingers to gently pull apart the clumps of fur. Otherwise, thick mats can form, as with your poor cat. These put painful tension on the underlying skin, which may even tear and become infected. The discomfort discourages the cat from self-grooming and may lead the cat to avoid being groomed and even petted.
Your cat may need to be sedated by a veterinarian and carefully clipped. An experienced groomer may be worth consulting first, especially if your cat will tolerate being clipped and thoroughly groomed -- ideally while you hold and reassure her. Once her coat is free of knots and mats, you must provide daily attention. The FURminator grooming tool may prove effective.
P.L., Winchester, Va
Tags: dog VA diet food Winchester
Dec 11, 2011
My 11-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Katie, is having a liver crisis. When I got her five years ago, she had severe heartworm and periodontal disease. She also had a mast cell tumor on her back. All were treated successfully.
She has always been a finicky eater, but because of irritable bowel syndrome, she has been put on Hills i/d diet food. On good days, she weighs 9 pounds.
In March, Katie ruptured three discs in her back. She had just had her six-month geriatric lab work done. Everything came back normal, and she had surgery to repair her back. In July, Katie went in for her six-month lab work, three-year rabies shot and six-month Bordetella. Her lab work came back fine, with only a slight elevation in liver enzymes (200). She was put on Denamarin, and six weeks later she had no appetite. Biopsy showed fibrosis and cirrhosis. Could the rabies shot have caused this?
P.L., Winchester, Va Dec 12, 2011
Poor Katie has faced many health problems, no doubt from her poor start in life before you adopted her. Poor nutrition and lack of regular veterinary care (including normal health checkups and heartworm preventive medicine) can wreck an animal's chances of enjoying a healthy life. This is also true for puppies that came from puppy mills, where many commercial breeders do not provide pregnant dogs with good nutrition and veterinary care. Their offspring, sold in pet stores and on the Internet, suffer the consequences, often compounded by inherited genetic diseases.
Your old dog's liver is reflecting a lifelong battle after a poor start in life. Katie may enjoy some improvement with a special diet of good-quality protein and various supplements, which your veterinarian can provide in appropriate doses. These include vitamins A, E and B-complex; L-carnitine; and zinc, in addition to the Denamarin already prescribed. (Denamarin is a liver-benefiting formulation of an extract of milk thistle and methionine, an important amino acid.)
The rabies vaccination could not have brought on this chronic liver disease, but it certainly could have played a role in stressing her system beyond its capacity to maintain normal physiological functions and regulatory activities. Sick animals should never be vaccinated, as I emphasize in my new book, "Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health".
M.W., Norman, OK
Tags: small pet Norman OK gerbil
Dec 11, 2011
My old gerbil has a lump on the lower part of his chest and partly over his tummy. It seems more swollen than usual, and I wonder if it is cancer. Should I take him to the vet? I guess it will cost me more than I paid for him, but he's worth it to me.
M.W., Norman, OK Dec 12, 2011
I am glad that you are not one of those people who say that seeing a veterinarian isn't worth the expense for an animal you paid only a few dollars for.
First, you should know that what you are seeing on the underside of your gerbil is a scent-marking gland that tends to get bigger with age. Rarely does it become cancerous. More often, it is a mild infection and inflammation that can be treated by careful cleaning and application of an antibiotic ointment the veterinarian can prescribe. Call first, tell them how old you are and ask what they might charge you after my provisional diagnosis. After applying the ointment, you should keep your gerbil actively distracted for as long as you can -- at least half an hour -- to stop him from licking off the medication.
G.M.G., Turners, Mo
Tags: cat MO Turners
Dec 11, 2011
We recently learned of something called bobcat tick fever (Cytauxzoonosis). Numerous cats have been lost to it. Our neighbors just lost one of their four cats.
We understand that most cats do not survive and that not much can be done to prevent it. Our neighbors are using a powder form of Sevin insecticide on their surviving cats. Is it safe and effective?
Our wonderful cat is an indoor/outdoor cat. Since we learned of the fever, we have kept her in the house, but she is not happy about it. Are there any vaccines available? What can we do to help her?
G.M.G., Turners, Mo Dec 12, 2011
The disease Cytauxzoonosis is caused by the blood parasite Cytauxzoon, first reported in the United States in 1976. The disease is carried by bobcats and is transmitted by ticks to domestic cats, to which the disease is usually fatal. The parasite is evident in Southern states where this tick thrives, including Texas, Florida and the Carolinas. But with climate change, it is likely to spread to Northern states. It is not transmissible to dogs or humans.
Infected cats require emergency care, including oxygen, intravenous fluids, anticoagulants, whole blood, a nasogastric tube to supply nutrients and oral medications such as atovaqnuoe and azithromycin.
Sevin is a carbaryl-based insecticide that is falling out of favor for garden use, especially because it is highly toxic to bees and there are safer alternatives. Putting it on cats is beyond stupid; Sevin is a far greater health risk than bobcat fever-carrying ticks!
Alternative tick repellants on the market are not 100 percent reliable, and not all are safe for cats, so I see no alternative but to keep cats indoors. Cats used to going outdoors generally adapt better to indoor life when they have a feline companion and climbing trees, cat condos and carpeted window shelves so they can enjoy looking outdoors. Interactive play with them is also important, as is provision of a sturdy scratch post. Some cats adapt well to wearing a harness and enjoy outdoor walks, keeping clear of all bushy areas that may harbor ticks.
Free-roaming and feral house cats who survive this disease may become carriers like the bobcat, one of many rare carnivores suffering loss of habitat and extinction due to human encroachment, trapping and hunting.
P.S., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: dog Virginia Beach VA
Dec 05, 2011
I just wanted to share my experience for treating warts on my 7-year-old Maltipoo.
An article I read on the Internet had suggested treatment with vitamin E. I applied the vitamin E twice a day to her wart, and after about 10 days the top portion of the wart formed a scab. The scab continued to form down the wart, and I snipped it off after about four weeks. The remaining portion of the wart healed, and the scab fell off by itself two weeks later with this treatment. I continue to treat the tiny bump that remains, which is just about gone.
P.S., Virginia Beach, Va Dec 06, 2011
Many readers whose dogs have warts will appreciate your affirmation of the effectiveness of vitamin E in treating this common skin disease. It is most prevalent in young dogs (who usually develop immunity) and in older dogs whose immune systems have become impaired (often associated with low thyroid activity).
The agent responsible is a papilloma virus that is, fortunately, species-specific in that dogs' warts are not transmissible to humans.
While 20-some varieties of this virus have been identified in human warts, only three varieties have been found afflicting dogs. Cocker spaniels and Kerry blue terriers seem to be particularly prone to one kind that affects the skin. In young dogs, the virus invades the mucous membrane/skin border along the lips and eyelids, ccasionally invading the oral cavity and esophagus.
In the photo gallery on my website (www.DrFoxVet.com/info), you will see documentation of how my dog Tanza removed, with amazing precision, three large warts I discovered and showed her the night before inside the lip of our other dog Lizzie -- a remarkable feat of "canine surgery"!
A.M., West Palm Beach, FL
Tags: cat West Palm Beach FL diet food
Dec 05, 2011
I have a 15-year-old domestic cat. At the end of last year, he started to have a mucous, almost guttural cough. He would sound like he was ready to cough up a hair ball, but nothing came up.
He has been to the vet several times since then for the same thing. At one visit, I was told he had asthma (after an X-ray had been taken). I am a nurse and have never heard any wheezing or observed any rapid breathing. He was given an injection of Solu-Medrol, and we were told to return if needed. We returned, another dose of Solu-Medrol was given and he was put on prednisone. Again, we had to return as his cough had not gotten any better. Since then, he has had a third dose of Solu-Medrol. I was told to stop the prednisone and come back if needed. Blood work was done and he had an elevated eosinophil level. He was also exposed to heartworms at some time in his life. We had to return three weeks ago. I reviewed the X-ray with the doctor and was told there was a "touch of asthma." He was then placed on Lasix BID.
I am dumbfounded as to what is going on with him. Why can't anyone tell me what he has? If you have any suggestions, I would appreciate your advice.
A.M., West Palm Beach, FL Dec 06, 2011
The Solu-Medrol is probably increasing your cat's appetite and may be contributing to weight loss. I would not repeat this injection, since his condition seems to be deteriorating and this steroid can cause ulcers in the digestive tract. Foul-smelling stools may be a sign of this, and treatment with oral antibiotics followed by probiotics should be considered. The elevated eosinophil count could reflect a continuing, unresolved heartworm infestation that needs to be ruled out with an appropriate blood test.
Asthmatic conditions in cats are sometimes associated with food allergy. Possible congestive heart failure should not be ruled out. This may not be the only health issue that needs to be investigated; others may include lung disease and cancer.
Above all, focus on your cat's quality of life and enjoyment of food. Gerber's turkey, beef and chicken baby foods may build his strength, and supplements such as fish oil and CoQ 10 may prove beneficial.
E.W., Scranton, Pa
Tags: dog PA diet food Scranton
Dec 04, 2011
I want to tell you how much I appreciate your advice about changing diet. It can make a lot of health problems go away. My 6-year-old schnauzer mix, Sam, had recurrent skin problems and frequent episodes of diarrhea. Veterinary treatments with various medications gave her only temporary relief at best.
After I read one of your columns and visited your website, I decided to put her on your home-prepared diet, plus Organix and Pet Guard certified-organic dog foods. I alternate feeding these brands every few days and giving canned and dry food, all of which she loves. Honestly, she is like a new dog, with more vitality and no recurrence of her skin and digestive issues. Thanks a million!
E.W., Scranton, Pa Dec 05, 2011
I appreciate hearing from readers who have applied my advice and hearing about the outcomes for their animals. Home treatments don''t always work, and I always advise seeing a veterinarian first. But when that fails, and when a second opinion or veterinary specialist also fails to alleviate the animal''s condition, it is quite stunning to me how often it turns out that all that was needed was a change in diet. So often, eliminating corn or soy (both of which are likely to be genetically engineered and cause health problems, as per my review at www.DrFoxVet.com/info) and feeding a more natural diet based on organically certified, whole-food ingredients does the trick. Dogs stop scratching, and cats'' stool and urinary tract problems clear up.
Often these improvements are reported to me by readers who took the initiative themselves or were advised by other pet owners and were unaware of my advocacy on this issue. I would very much appreciate hearing from other readers with experiences like yours to let me know what their animals'' health problems were before making a diet change and what improvements they witnessed in their pets'' health and overall well-being.
K.M., Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Tags: dog Palm Beach Gardens FL licking
Dec 04, 2011
Can you tell me about dogs licking?
My 7-year-old female shih tzu loves to lick everything, including the air. Is she lacking something in her diet? She is a rescued dog and has always licked, but much more so now. She recently had a stone removed from her stomach but otherwise is in great health. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
K.M., Palm Beach Gardens, FL Dec 05, 2011
Dogs lick for many reasons: to express or solicit caregiving behavior and intentions; because they are anxious or suffering physical discomfort; because licking provides comfort.
The veterinarian must first rule out any disturbing condition in the dog's oral cavity, such as gingivitis, which might account for this behavior. Obsessive chewing in dogs is sometimes associated with tonsillitis, and it was at the root of one of my first cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in an English cocker spaniel who had a stomach full of stones! OCD is especially common in small, active breeds, for which psychotropic drugs such as Prozac may provide some relief, especially when coupled with a behavior modification program. Genetics, environment (boredom and lack of stimulation) and possibly chemical additives in some manufactured pet foods play a role in animal behavior.
Providing more activities and a natural diet (such as the home-prepared food on my website) may help. In addition, making turkey a frequent ingredient will provide more tryptophan (also available as a supplement), which may have a calming effect. Herbs such as valerian, passionflower and chamomile tea may prove beneficial; also PetzLife's' @-Eaze (formulated with relaxing L-Theanine) and Vetri-Science Lab's thiamine-based Composure.
N.N., Bethesda, Md
Tags: cat Bethesda MD
Dec 04, 2011
My 18-year-old male tabby cat, Nick, has led a healthy and happy life as an indoor cat, with yearly examinations by a terrific vet who makes house calls.
Recently, he has shown signs of aging -- his hearing is poor and he isn't able to jump up on high places. He also has begun loud yowling at about dawn every day, sounding like he's in terrible pain. Once I get up with him, he's fine. The vet did blood work and could find no signs of thyroid trouble, kidney issues or anything else unusual for a cat his age.
What could be wrong, and how can we make this distressing noise stop? His appetite is good, and I always make sure food and water are available.
N.N., Bethesda, Md Dec 05, 2011
You are fortunate to find a veterinarian who makes house calls, which are so much less stressful for most cats than being taken to the hospital or clinic.
I receive many letters from people with old cats such as yours who yowl and are restless at night. This is often correctly diagnosed as senile dementia (or dysphoria). Seligiline, prescribed by a veterinarian, may help. It is notable that cats can develop brain lesions similar to those seen in Alzheimer's disease in humans.
Giving a cat like yours a warm box or heat lamp or pad to sleep on may also provide comfort and security. If fish oil supplement (a few drops in his food every day) does not help, anti-inflammatory drugs may be of benefit. Arthritis is a medical condition in older cats that can result in yowling and restlessness at night.
If your cat likes catnip, a pinch at night might do wonders.