A.E.S., Fairfax, Va
Feb 27, 2012
I have a 3-year-old Brussels griffon named Callie who was recently diagnosed with Addison's disease.
I have been able to get some information regarding this disease from my veterinarian and the Internet. Initially, when Callie was diagnosed, I was relieved because he was so sick (in "crisis"), but now I am overwhelmed by the disease.
It has been only three weeks since his diagnosis, and now I'm concerned about his long-term health requirements. Callie's vet told me that she will be testing him every four to six weeks to determine his progress with regard to his Percorten injection and his daily prednisone requirement.
Currently, Callie seems to be doing great: His appetite is back, he is up and running again and his bowels are normal (considering he did not eat for about five days).
Could you please give me some advice about Callie's long-term care? His daily dosage of 1.25 mg of prednisone is not a good thing for the long term, right? Can it be replaced by something else? How about his diet? Currently, he is on a home-cooked diet in combination with an excellent quality kibble.
A.E.S., Fairfax, Va Feb 28, 2012
Your dog is suffering from an all-too-common malady for which there is no simple remedy. There is also no definitive answer as to what causes the adrenal glands to stop functioning.
Many diseases of the endocrine glands seem to fall into the class of autoimmune disorders where the animal's immune defense mechanism goes haywire and attacks certain cells in the body.
Genetics can also play a role in susceptibility to environmental triggers in food, vaccines and infections that disrupt the immune system.
Discuss with your veterinarian giving Callie daily probiotics. Once he is stabilized, continue monitoring his condition while giving him oral melatonin, which may give some relief.
D.M.R., Silver Spring, Md
Tags: cat Silver Spring MD diet food
Feb 27, 2012
We have a 15-year-old seal tortie point Siamese cat named Minerva (Minnie for short). She is on several medications, including Denamarin for a liver problem and Zeniquin for a respiratory problem. She eats well and keeps her weight at 11 pounds, which is good for her size.
But we have noticed that for the past several months, she searches for cobwebs everywhere in the house, and if she finds one, she eats it. We work hard to remove these, but she finds a few from time to time. She does this before eating her regular food, and it appears that she may have some dietary deficiency.
We know that humans who have an iron deficiency sometimes crave and eat yeast, ice or dirt, and we wonder if it is possible that animals can experience the same sort of problem and cravings. Is there anything you can recommend for Minnie that will help her end her constant search for cobwebs?
D.M.R., Silver Spring, Md Feb 28, 2012
Your cobweb-craving cat may be seeking materials in your house that she can consume as "roughage."
Minnie may delight in a pot of sprouted wheatgrass or other green sprouts like alfalfa, which you can grow for her or purchase in pet stores. Also, try a pinch of dried organic catnip. If she drinks well, adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of psyllium seed husks to her food every three to four days may be beneficial, especially if she (like many old cats) is constipated. Additionally, a daily teaspoon of plain yogurt may help reduce her pica, which is the craving for nonfood substances -- usually dirt and plant materials.
Pica can be a sign of anemia or other nutritional deficiencies, or it could be discomfort from digestive problems and more serious chronic diseases. Giving her a supplement of pediatric multivitamins and minerals, 1/2 teaspoon of brewer's yeast and a drop or two of fish oil daily may help your cat. One tablespoon of lightly cooked calf's liver every few days is also a good idea.
H.C., Trumbull, CT
Tags: cat Trumbull CT
Feb 27, 2012
I have always felt sorry for cats who are kept indoors, never allowed to smell the sweet outdoors, roam over their terrain and come inside the house again when they are ready.
I realize you have given substantial reasons for NOT letting cats outdoors, but the happiness and freedom the cat will have outweigh all of your reasons. One can always get the cat fixed, microchipped and vaccinated.
Even though they are expensive breeds, I have always allowed my Norwegian forest cat, calico Maine coon and mixed Russian blue/Persian/Siamese to roam around the yard and neighborhood. None has been declawed.
H.C., Trumbull, CT Feb 28, 2012
As much as I appreciate your sentiment, vaccinations and microchips will not protect cats roaming the neighborhood from cat-killing dogs, vehicular traffic and, in some regions, rat poison, traps and those who enjoy using cats for target practice.
There are also diseases cats can get from other infected cats that vaccinations do not protect against. Eating rodents can cause toxoplasmosis, which can be passed on to humans. Outdoor cats also bring home ticks and fleas that can transmit other diseases to humans, such as Lyme disease.
While not all cats are hunter-killers, many are. These cats can decimate local songbird populations and negatively impact wildlife ecosystems by competing with natural, indigenous carnivores, like foxes and bobcats, and spreading diseases to them. Furthermore, the domestic cat is a descendant of Felis lybica, the African desert cat -- it simply does not belong outdoors as a free-roaming hunter in North America!
Responsible people do not let their dogs roam the neighborhood. Nor should cat owners allow their cats outdoors except into an enclosed cat home or a properly fenced backyard. Some cats enjoy walking in a harness, and cat walking is catching on.
R.B., Waldorf, Md
Feb 26, 2012
I have two golden retrievers (one was a rescue from a shelter), and they both engage in stool eating. With a little research, I solved the problem.
I bought a Super B-Complex vitamin at Wal-Mart. I give each dog one daily. I've done this for years, and it really works. It's worked on my dogs and for other dog owners I've met over the years.
R.B., Waldorf, Md Feb 27, 2012
Every few months I receive a letter like yours, and it's time to reaffirm the benefits of vitamin B complex in curing dogs' desire to eat poop. Brewer's yeast is possibly better -- and cheaper, too. Give one teaspoon per 30 to 40 pounds of body weight in your dogs' food daily.
Both of the supplements also help repel fleas, but neither will cure all dogs of coprophagia. For some, daily probiotics (in capsule form or in yogurt and kefir) and digestive enzymes will do the trick.
Tags: small pet diet food parrot
Feb 26, 2012
I would appreciate any information you could give me about my parrot. He has pulled out all of his feathers, and now he is completely naked.
How can I get him to stop pulling out his feathers?
Feb 27, 2012
Your poor parrot is one of many who develop this feather-pulling problem, which can lead to severe self-mutilation and is difficult to stop.
First, you need to find a veterinarian who specializes in birds. Your bird will be checked for skin and feather mites. The vet will most likely put your bird on a special diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables and a multivitamin and multimineral supplement. Too many parrots and other caged birds are fed the wrong kinds of food, like a mix of birdseed or parrot pellets that may be stale, moldy or lacking in essential nutrients. Lack of sunlight is also a factor in the feather pulling, and provision of a Vita-Lite or other full-spectrum light during the day may help.
Emotional stress, boredom and a high-strung temperament, especially in parrots who do not have a close bond with their human caretakers, play a major role in the development of this problem.
A course of treatment with an anxiety-reducing medication (like Valium or valerian) can be considerably beneficial. But the best solution is to try to identify and correct the cause, which could be boredom from being tied to a perch or imprisoned in a cage most of his waking hours.
P.S., Boynton Beach, FL
Tags: cat Boynton Beach FL diet food
Feb 26, 2012
In the winter of 2004, a beautiful Maine coon/tabby mix showed up on my doorstep, grabbed hold of my heart and has remained my love ever since. I took her to the vet, had her checked out, vaccinated, etc. At the time, the vet estimated that she was about 2 years old.
The other day, I took her in for her yearly rabies shot. She was given two injections, a rectal examination and a clean bill of health. After I brought her home, she fell into a deep sleep that lasted throughout the next day. She didn't eat at all, was lethargic for the rest of the week and looked significantly thinner. She had never had a reaction like that before, so I took her back to the vet. He took her temperature, said she had a cold and prescribed cephalexin (250 mg) to be given orally twice a day. As an aside, he commented that she was an old cat, probably about 12, because he detected arthritis!
This came as a shock to me, because this is the same doctor who estimated her to be 2 years old in 2004, which would make her 10 years old today. I asked him about this, and he said you can't tell a cat's age by the teeth the way you can with a horse.
Is it possible that a competent veterinarian could be so far off in his observations?
P.S., Boynton Beach, FL Feb 27, 2012
Your veterinarian is correct -- it's difficult to determine the age of a cat by the teeth, because teeth do not wear down as consistently in cats as they do in horses (and in dogs, to a lesser degree).
Your cat most likely had an adverse vaccine reaction. Your veterinarian may want to reconsider vaccinating your cat next time.
Giving your cat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids will help the suspected arthritis. Try feeding her organic beef and dairy products (butter, yogurt) from grass-fed cattle, sardines and wild (not farmed) salmon and mackerel. But go easy on the fish at first -- many cats are allergic, plus fish can contain mercury, fluoride and other harmful chemicals.
Try the massage techniques I outline in my book "The Healing Touch for Cats." Massage therapy is both beneficial and enjoyable for older cats.
Tags: cat dog shelters animal care
Feb 20, 2012
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has launched a global campaign to raise public awareness of what it has identified as better animal welfare, environmental sustainability and the economy.
WSPA is urging people to sign a letter to place the topic of animal welfare on the agenda at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development next June, stating that "high-welfare farming is a viable, environmentally friendly alternative to intensive production methods." Perhaps you can help spread the word through your column, and also urge that all countries run animal shelters and spay/neuter programs?
Feb 21, 2012
I appreciate your concerns, and agree with you that every community should have an animal shelter, along with humane and environmental education in schools.
But from my perspective, having worked in animal protection and wildlife conservation for decades, this kind of campaign by the WSPA is a feel-good initiative that is too little, too late. Sorry to sound so pessimistic, but so long as meat is considered a dietary staple for our world's 7 billion-person population and countries fail to protect wildlife habitat and endangered species, I see little hope. Additionally, while human encroachment by our expanding numbers, lack of policing by corrupt governments and the relentless poaching of elephants, tigers and other wildlife continues, along with whaling, trophy hunting and the bush-meat trade, this campaign will be futile.
We need to put into practice enlightened initiatives like a United Nations paramilitary force to occupy and police critical endangered species habitats around the world, which I describe in my new book, "Animals and Nature First" (CreateSpace). Animal shelters and spay/neuter programs help improve public health as well as the welfare and health of domestic animals, as my wife Deanna Krantz proved while working in India.
D.D., Medford, OR
Tags: dog OR Medford euthanize
Feb 20, 2012
Our 19-year-old terrier has many problems, and we need to know our options. He is 80 percent blind and totally deaf, and he recently started defecating on our rear deck, where his doghouse is located. We cannot let him in the house for more than a few minutes at a time because he will relieve himself on the carpet.
What makes the decision to put him to sleep a difficult one is that when he is allowed into the house, he behaves like a young pup. On these occasions, he is full of vigor and joy and, in his happiness, manages to run into objects.
In short, he has many maladies and creates cleanup problems for his owners, but maintains a youthful vigor.
D.D., Medford, OR Feb 21, 2012
It is always a challenge, clinically and emotionally, to determine when it is time to consider euthanizing a beloved animal whose quality of life is declining and increasing the burden on his caregiver.
At this time of writing, my wife and I are wrestling with this issue with our 17-year-old dog Lizzie, who sleeps most of the day, is stone-deaf, going blind and often gets up in the morning with poop under where she was lying. We take her outdoors to evacuate many times during the day, and often she seems disoriented or forgets and wants to go back out again as soon as she has been brought inside. She usually enjoys short walks, has a good appetite and has occasional bursts of play, chewing and shaking one of her stuffed toys. She used to enjoy car rides, but now panics. She is also evidently afraid to be left alone for any period of time in the home on her sofa. Like your dog, in the wild she would probably have been long gone, with the exceptional accounts of a wild dingo caring for a blind companion, and members of a wolf pack bringing food to an injured packmate. But our dogs are not in the wild -- and it's time to make a decision.
I would say that your dog is suffering from being separated from you while outdoors, and the evident relief and playful joy when allowed in confirms this. Try using doggy diapers, which come in various sizes and which many incontinent dogs readily accept. Take him for frequent walks so he can evacuate before you bring him indoors and put on a diaper. He may need supplemental heat for the winter in his outdoor kennel, but, ideally, he should be brought to live his remaining life indoors, especially if he used to be an indoor pet.
Give this a try, and then, in better conscience, euthanasia could be considered after some time spent on indulgent, affectionate bonding and seeing if his quality of life improves.
M.C., Bridgeport, CT
Tags: cat Bridgeport CT diet food
Feb 19, 2012
I am writing to you regarding my concern for my indoor/outdoor house cat. Her name is Lil Bit. She is 8 or 9 years old. I have had her since she was weaned from her mother.
We named her Lil Bit because she was so little when we got her, but she didn't stay that way for long. We started telling people that Lil Bit was short for Lil Bit Bigger Than Everyone Else.
My concern is this: She has always had vomiting issues. In the past it was once every three to four days and usually first thing in the morning. I blamed it on her eating too fast. Recently -- within the last couple of months -- it has gotten worse. Now she vomits just about every time she eats. She has lost quite a bit of weight, and her fur is no longer sleek and shiny like it used to be.
I have tried different cat foods -- canned, dry food with water and various dry food brands. Nothing seems to help. I even thought maybe it was an issue with fleas. She now wears a flea collar all the time, but she is still having vomiting issues. I don't know what else to do. I really can't afford to take her to a vet and have tests run. I am getting very concerned about her health.
M.C., Bridgeport, CT Feb 20, 2012
First, take off the flea collar. Fleas don't make cats vomit.
This "morning sickness" could indicate a serious health issue, like feline viral lymphoma. But it is most likely due to Lil Bit eating too much too fast during her first meal of the day. So give her a teaspoon of food when you get up and a tablespoon when you leave for work.
Be sure there is no corn in her diet -- many cats are allergic to this ingredient, which has no place in any pet food. She may be allergic to, or intolerant of, other ingredients and could benefit from transitioning to Gerber's baby food -- beef, turkey or chicken -- then to one of the better foods, like Organix or Wellness.
You might also try the home-prepared cat food recipe on my website on which many cats are now thriving. Preparing your own pet food means you know what's in it and where the ingredients came from. Let me know how Lil Bit progresses.
Tags: cat diet food
Feb 19, 2012
My German shepherd mix is about 3 years old. We adopted her when she was about 10 weeks old and gave her lots of TLC.
Until recently she was a friendly, outgoing and trustworthy dog. But now it's like a shadow comes over her, and she gets spooky and snappy. She pants a lot, gets sweaty and seems possessed. She also scratches more than she used to.
I thought of obedience school after the vet couldn't find anything wrong with her. He suggested trying Prozac if she does not improve with more TLC. Help!
Feb 20, 2012
I sympathize with you not being able to find the cause of your young dog's change in temperament.
Ruling out some backyard trauma while she was out and you were not present, or a change in the home social environment, I would ask your veterinarian to run a full thyroid profile.
Thyroid dysfunction causing aberrant behavior and seizures is reaching near epidemic proportions in dogs, according to my friend, Dr. W. Jean Dodds. In the fall 2011 edition of the excellent new journal "Integrative Veterinary Care," she notes that hypothyroid disease often appears around puberty. The disease afflicts young dogs like yours, who show behavioral changes, including seemingly schizophrenic behavior. Some breeds are especially prone, notably the German shepherd, Doberman pinscher, English springer spaniel, Akita, golden retriever, Rottweiler and Shetland sheepdog.
According to Dr. Dodds, hereditary autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland accounts for 90 percent of cases of hypothyroidism in purebred and hybrid dog breeds. After blood tests to confirm the diagnosis, Dr. Dodds recommends treatment twice daily with thyroxine at a dose level according to your dog's weight. Relief should be evident in a few days.
There are many chemical contaminants in our environment, food and water that are identified as endocrine disruptors, which I believe could play a significant role in this near epidemic. For details, check my website, DrFoxVet.com/info/.
Thanks to pioneers in the field of integrative veterinary care like Dr. Dodds, we are witnessing a revolution in cost-effective diagnoses, treatments and disease prevention in both human and companion animal medicine. I document this in my new book, "Healing Animals and the Vision of One Health" (CreateSpace).
In the light of Dr. Dodd's findings, I would like to revise my diagnosis of schizophrenia in a Doberman pinscher that I made some 30 years ago after his owner had taken him to many veterinarians who could find nothing wrong with the poor dog. A couple of thyroid pills a day might have been the answer.