L.W., Alexandria, Va
Tags: cat Alexandria VA diet food
Aug 27, 2012
My indoor male cat is about 9 years old. Lately, he's been limping or favoring his right hind leg or hip area.
Sometime last year, he may have fallen from a cat climbing tower or window and landed wrong. We're not sure exactly what happened, but he avoids climbing the tower now. His vet thinks he has some arthritis due to the probable injury and the fact that he is a large-framed cat who weighs 14 or 15 pounds.
My vet has given me a sample of tramadol to try for him as needed for pain relief. I have heard that the taste of the tablet is very bitter and that he could foam at the mouth after taking it. Aside from the bitter taste, are there any serious side effects of using this drug as needed for my cat?
As a side note, he is also asthmatic and has been on a daily regimen of inhaled Flovent and albuterol for about six years. He is very good about this routine.
L.W., Alexandria, Va Aug 28, 2012
After middle age, many cats suffer from chronic arthritis, which is often only diagnosed when they take a tumble because of reduced mobility, like yours probably did.
The tramadol will give some pain relief, but I would not advise long-term use. Fish oil is something I recommend frequently because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Massage therapy and acupuncture can be beneficial, ideally done in-home by a qualified therapist or trained veterinarian. There are schools for pet massage -- just search the Internet -- and my book, "The Healing Touch for Cats," is used by many for in-home therapy.
You are fortunate that your cat accepts the inhalation therapy. Many cats protest this and are stressed by the experience. With patience, many often come to accept the treatment -- no doubt because of the associated relief.
In all cases of diagnosed asthma, food allergy and heart disease must be ruled out. A change in diet -- trying various formulations -- might be all your cat needs if this has not been considered before.
P.B., Manassas, Va
Tags: dog Manassas VA
Aug 27, 2012
We have a 4 1/2-year-old female Chihuahua named Angel. She is an alert and friendly dog, but she has one quirk that we do not understand.
The problem that causes concern is her licking. If you sit next to her on the couch, she will reach her paws out and pull your hand over to her. Then she will start to lick and may do so for 10 or 15 minutes if allowed to.
But it is not just people she licks. She will lick upholstered furniture like the couch until the area she is licking becomes soaked. Since she is something of a burrower, she may be under a blanket, licking away, and we are not even aware of it.
We feed her Purina Pro Plan for small breed dogs. We wonder if this licking is due to some kind of dietary deficiency, and, if so, what we need to do to correct it.
P.B., Manassas, Va Aug 28, 2012
Your dog's licking is probably a neurotic obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that should be evaluated by a veterinarian. It may be resolved, which will improve the quality of your dog's life -- and yours, too.
Compulsive licking can also be a sign of discomfort caused by periodontal disease or other oral problems, which the veterinarian will consider. Another strong possibility is digestive discomfort.
If there are no oral health issues, I would transition your dog onto one of the dog food brands that carry my seal of approval on my website, DrFoxVet.com, or look up my home-prepared dog food recipe. Soy ingredients and some cereal grains can cause serious digestive problems in dogs.
If your dog does not improve after six to eight weeks on a new diet coupled with safe chew toys to play with and as much physical activity outdoors as possible, she may have an anxiety-driven OCD. Psychotropic drugs such as Prozac have proved very effective for dogs with this condition.
S.D., Weaverville, NC
Tags: cat NC Weaverville
Aug 26, 2012
We have a 7-year-old male domestic cat who has overgroomed himself from the belly to his behind. He is now starting on the inside of his back legs.
We keep his litter box clean and give him as much attention as we can with a newborn in the house. How can we change his behavior and make him happy again?
S.D., Weaverville, NC Aug 27, 2012
A crying baby in the home and the associated change in daily routines can be extremely stressful for some cats. Obsessive-compulsive grooming can be one self-comforting response. The stress may have contributed to your cat's thyroid gland becoming overactive, one common sign being excessive grooming. So I advise a veterinary appointment. Other possible causes are allergens in the cat's food or home environment, which the attending veterinarian will also consider.
J.C., Beltsville, Md
Tags: cat MD Beltsville
Aug 26, 2012
My 17-year-old female indoor cat's behavior has become increasingly unbearable in the past six months.
She leaves poop on my couch, on carpets and right next to her clean litter box, though she urinates in the box. She yowls constantly and for no apparent reason. These episodes wake us up three or four times a night. She will stop if we clap our hands or yell louder than her screams.
The tones of her vocalizations sound as though she is in severe pain. Our vet said that, but for the usual ailments of an old cat, she is fine.
What causes these horrific sounds, and what can we do to stop it? It is driving us nuts.
J.C., Beltsville, Md Aug 27, 2012
I am not sure why your veterinarian said your cat is fine but for the "usual ailments." What does that mean?
She is clearly suffering, most likely a combination of chronic constipation, possibly diabetes, arthritis and probably senile dementia. One form of feline dementia is virtually identical to Alzheimer's disease in humans.
There is much that can be done to improve your cat's quality of life -- visit my website for more information. For good measure, find a more empathic and informed veterinarian, and get a second opinion.
M.S., Archdale, NC
Tags: dog Archdale NC
Aug 26, 2012
I have a 7 1/2-year-old Yorkshire terrier. Ever since I've had him, he has had very dry skin. A few years ago, his hair became very oily, but his skin remained dry. Three days after giving him a bath, his hair is very oily.
I have tried aloe, oatmeal and lanolin, plus numerous other shampoos and different kinds of food. I have been giving him a bath about every three days because if I wait any longer, he looks like he has been dipped in oil.
The vet hasn't seemed very concerned about this. Two years ago in the spring, my dog's hair started falling out on his back, and he was itching. The vet said he had a flea allergy. I comb him once or twice every day with a flea comb -- he had a few, but never many, fleas. In the winter, his hair grew back.
This spring, the hair started falling out again. I took him to the vet, and the vet gave him Temaril-P tablets. He seemed to be a lot better while taking the tablets, but when he was through with them, the hair started coming out again with the itching.
I have put him on brewer's yeast tablets, and I spray him with a pennyroyal and water mix for fleas. I gave him Comfortis for a while and he was better, but I did not like giving him those types of things.
What do you suggest doing for the oily hair and dry skin?
M.S., Archdale, NC Aug 27, 2012
Your Yorkie is at the age when the thyroid, and sometimes the adrenal gland, become dysfunctional, leading to hyperthyroidism and Cushing's disease.
The veterinarian should rule out these underlying possibilities; you should also discuss your dog's nutrition. He may be lacking omega-3 fatty acids, a common problem in dogs fed poor-quality dry dog foods. His digestive system may need enhancement with probiotics, which will also help his immune system. For more details, visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, and check the archives, which contain several letters from people with dogs sharing symptoms similar to your little Yorkie. I would not use the pennyroyal since it may cause liver damage.
L.Y., Cumberland, Md
Tags: cat Cumberland MD
Aug 20, 2012
I sincerely hope that you can help us with a difficulty we've been perplexed by for almost a year now. It concerns our dear old cat Maddie.
A few months ago, we adopted a very nice cat named Maggie. We thought it might be beneficial for Maddie to have a little sister for companionship and stimulation. But Maddie was not impressed. She was under the assumption that she was an only child, and she liked it that way. She hid under low chairs for weeks, coming out only to eat and drink. We finally got that situation under control, but there's another problem:
Maddie was always a very proud lady; she cleaned and preened herself meticulously. But when she spent that time under the low-lying furniture, she matted up terribly. It looks awful, and she won't let us help her at all. I believe if we were able to rid her of the mats, she would go back to her hygienic ways.
We've thought about taking her to a groomer or even a vet, but a letter we read in your column scared us. It was about someone with a similar dilemma, and when the reader took the cat to be groomed, she was traumatized, had a heart attack and died!
Is there anything at all that we can try? My only guess is to have her sedated and then groomed.
L.Y., Cumberland, Md Aug 21, 2012
The trauma of having uncomfortable mats of fur removed (which is essential for Maddie's physical health) and then coming home to face the intruder Maggie could be very harmful to your old cat.
I would put Maggie in a boarding facility for a few days. Coax Maddie out of her hiding place, and have a groomer, veterinarian or veterinary technician come to your home and, while you restrain Maddie, have her carefully clipped to remove the fur mats. If you're not confident about effectively restraining her, arrange for a helper to come and hold her. I have single-handedly cut off terrible mats from the back of our feral cat. There is rarely any justification for anesthetizing a cat for such a procedure.
Give Maddie full freedom of the house for two or three days, then go through the steps detailed on how to introduce a new cat, essentially starting from scratch -- no pun intended -- with Maggie.
B.J.C., St. Charles, Mo
Tags: dog MO St Charles sneezing
Aug 20, 2012
I hope you can help me. My miniature poodle, an 11-year-old rescue dog, has developed episodes of coughing and sneezing, from which some matter emerges from her nose. My regular vet had me try allergy medication and then Dramamine, which was slightly more effective.
I took her to two more vets. The first put her on Temaril P tablets and an antibiotic. The second X-rayed her and ordered more Temaril P. Each time I gave her a pill, I added 1/4 of a 500 mg vitamin C tablet. As the Temaril P gained momentum, I gave her Neosynephrine spray in her nostrils.
After going through that routine for two months, I decided to stop all medicine except for an occasional multivitamin. The coughing and sneezing episodes have lessened but still happen occasionally.
What do you suggest? I've had dogs all my life, and I've never experienced anything like this.
B.J.C., St. Charles, Mo Aug 21, 2012
Since your dog's problem has not yet cleared up after seeing three veterinarians, more sleuthing is warranted.
First, chronic bronchitis and periodontal disease, both common in older breeds, need to be ruled out. Then she should be tested for a possible food allergy or some allergen in your home. The volatile organic compounds in synthetic fragrances in many household products can cause havoc to the immune system. But some natural essential oils can, when inhaled, fight infection and inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses.
Put your dog in a carrying cage and cover it with a sheet to make a tent. To a bowl of boiled water, add three to four drops each of thyme, eucalyptus and lavender essential oils. Place the bowl close to the front of the crate under the tent, and let your dog inhale the oils for five to 10 minutes. Do this three times daily for a week, increasing the inhalation time to 15 minutes. Use fewer drops if your dog shows discomfort. Most likely, she will get used to this inhalation therapy and experience considerable relief.
J. and E.K., Chesterfield, Mo
Tags: dog Chesterfield MO veterinarians
Aug 19, 2012
We always look forward to your newspaper column. Your column about differing veterinary prices was interesting and held so much truth.
My husband and I have three dogs, and we treat them like family. We never leave the vet's without a bill over $100. But our little stray got cancer on his tummy, and it cost more than $1,000, including a teeth cleaning. He also needed an annual shot, so my husband said, "Tell them one shot but no wellness exam." They said that it would be $55 for a shot and tags. The Humane Society said $125. My husband found a vet who gave our dog the shot and tags for $19.95.
I don't mind a vet making money, but something is wrong with cheating your customers. There needs to be some kind of veterinary regulatory procedures.
J. and E.K., Chesterfield, Mo Aug 20, 2012
Thank you for sounding off on the question of health-care costs for our animal companions and the lack of consistency in charges for products and services. Some procedures, especially those including anesthesia (notably for dental work), are unavoidably costly, as is diagnosing types of cancer and other diseases.
It is always advisable to get a cost estimate that includes line items rather than bundling. With that information, coupled with details about the animal's condition, you can seek a second opinion and price quote, provided the animal does not require immediate treatment.
Many veterinarians are open to discussion of fees and to clients seeking some kind of deferred payment or other arrangement in cases of financial hardship and limited monthly income.
Aug 19, 2012
You recently ran a letter from V.A. in Virginia Beach, Va., who had a dog, Papi Lee, who kept falling down. You told the woman, "As long as he enjoys life and you keep him away from dangerous situations, his handicap is something you can all live with."
This condition is so similar to our experience with my 6-year-old Maltese that I have to wonder if it couldn't be the same. She was diagnosed with Canine Cranial Cruciate Ligament (ACL) disease, which was brought on by my teaching her tricks that were too energetic for her body. She would stumble and fall frequently. The veterinarian recommended surgery on her left hind leg first, and then planned to do a second surgery when she recovered from the first.
It took about 13 weeks of keeping her still, lying on a table and making sure she didn't walk. My daughter and I took turns sitting beside her. When she recovered, the doctor discovered that those long weeks of stillness had somehow cured the weakness in her other leg.
Now we have to keep her from running in circles, jumping up on her rear legs and running on wood floors. And since our floors were wood, we had to invest in wall-to-wall carpeting.
I hope this could possibly be a solution to your earlier letter writer.
Aug 20, 2012
I decided to publish your letter because it raises an important point. This is separate from your point that the dog referred to in an earlier column possibly had the same problem as your little dog. This is not the case. But for all small dogs like yours suffering from painful, crippling cruciate ligament rupture, giving enforced rest, as you describe, can be a viable alternative to costly surgery.
I would not advocate keeping the afflicted dog on a table for 13 weeks. Simple restraint around the home or in a cage or crate and time under collar and leash control can lead to full recovery.
This knee-joint condition must be distinguished from patella luxation (dislocated knee caps), which is a common defect in small breeds. For that condition, enforced rest will not help -- surgical correction is the only option.
S.M.P., Gaithersburg, Md
Tags: dog Gaithersburg MD
Aug 13, 2012
My sister adopted a female German shepherd, Cassidy, from a rescue organization about two years ago, at which time the vet believed she was a little more than 4 years old.
Monday through Thursday, Cassidy is in contact with her owner and her regular dog walker (me). On the weekends, Friday afternoon through Sunday evening, she is cared for by two other family members at a different location, approximately 25 minutes away by car.
Is it harmful for Cassidy, either emotionally or physically, to be shuttled back and forth between her owner and the other family members? Is it confusing or upsetting for her to maintain this schedule on a weekly basis? All parties involved would like to continue with the current arrangement, but only if it is not detrimental to Cassidy in any way.
S.M.P., Gaithersburg, Md Aug 14, 2012
I appreciate your concern. Most dogs would enjoy this kind of extended pack and two-den lifestyle, since it provides more varied stimulation and environmental enrichment, rather than seeing the same people and places day in and day out.
I am happy to see dog owners linking up on the Internet and community bulletin boards for dog play groups. It's even good for a person with a dog to take in others while their owners are away at work -- yes, a doggie day care business.
Boredom, loneliness and separation anxiety are modern dog burdens. Having more than one dog and a dog walker to get your pet outside for stimulation and physical activity during the workweek are responsible decisions. A happy dog is a healthy dog.