A.R., Washington, DC
Tags: cat Washington DC diet food
May 05, 2013
I have adopted a rescue dog who is about 15 months old. One vet said it''s possible he has irritable bowel syndrome. I am not committed to supporting a sickly dog, so I hope to get this problem corrected if possible. Two vets have suggested canned pumpkin. This works if the dog eats his entire bowl of food; however, if he doesn''t, the problem is assured to manifest immediately.
The first bowel movement of the day is normal. The second -- if the pumpkin has not been eaten, and often even if it has -- is characterized by straining (which include yelping that I assume indicates discomfort/pain), a mucus texture and concludes with further straining, resulting in wet droplets. This is frowned upon at the dog park because I think it is interpreted as evidence of an owner who is lax in providing medical attention for her dog.
Note: Regardless of the number of walking/dog park opportunities he is presented per day (usually four), the dog''s bowels move on average only twice a day. Is there some kind of fix for this condition?
A.R., Washington, DC May 06, 2013
If your veterinarian ran no fecal tests to rule out parasites and did not try a short course of treatment with metronidazole or Tylosin and only suggested you give your dog canned pumpkin, I would take your dog to another animal doctor, especially if what kind of food you are giving him was not discussed.
Check my website, DrFoxVet.com, for details on the various factors that can trigger this common canine and feline condition, as well as treatments. These can range from a diet free of grain/cereal and GMOs to giving psyllium husks in the food along with digestive enzymes and probiotics. Peppermint tea, mixed with his food if he won''t drink it or accept it syringed into his mouth, can be beneficial for dogs and humans alike.
J.P., Washington, DC
Mar 03, 2013
Our beagle/basset-mix has had a persistent itching/scratching/biting problem for the past two years.
We have tried many medications. They all bring temporary relief, but none cures the itching. We have tried many types of food, from grain-free to all-natural to homemade. Again, there is no consistent relief. We have spent a lot of money at different veterinarians, trying to pinpoint the problem -- to no avail. Prior to the itching, which started in August 2010, our dog had been on the same high-quality food for three years. We''ve added no new pets, changed his beds and given him baths with prescription shampoo and conditioner/lotion. There is no consistency as far as time of year.
We got him as a rescue, so we are unsure of his age, but we believe him to be 8 to 10 years old. We have grown weary of opening our wallet time and again to try and fix a problem that is frustrating for him and us.
J.P., Washington, DC Mar 04, 2013
It seems you and your poor dog have been through the ringer. He may have multiple allergies and a dysfunctional immune system. More costly tests and trial-and-error treatments may -- or may not -- put an end to his problem.
Here are a few suggestions: Have his thyroid function evaluated. Try short-term oral antihistamines. Discuss starting an elimination diet with your veterinarian. Give your dog cotton towels or bedsheets to sleep on, and never use scented laundry detergents. Don''t use any anti-flea or -tick products. Give him up to 1 teaspoon brewer''s yeast and fish oil. Give him a spritz of a mixture of aloe vera juice, calendula and witch hazel. (For more suggestions, check the archives on my website, DrFoxVet.com.)
M.C., Washington, DC
Tags: cat Washington DC dental
Dec 09, 2012
My question concerns the relatively recent advice on cleaning the teeth of cats -- a process requiring anesthesia. If you recommend this for a healthy animal, how often should he or she be subjected to it?
In my childhood, we had many pets over the years, and they all lived long lives. Our cats lived to be 18 to 20 years old, and their teeth were never cleaned.
M.C., Washington, DC Dec 10, 2012
Some will argue that cats in years past did not receive adequate veterinary preventive care. But in years past, many cats were allowed to roam free, killing mice and other small prey that naturally helped keep their teeth clean. Nor were they fed high-fiber, processed ingredients in their diet, like the microparticulate, glutinous materials in many canned and dry (soak them and see!) cat foods.
Regrettably, periodontal and other gum and tooth diseases are all too common in cats and dogs, especially toy and brachiocephalic (pushed-in face) breeds with crammed and misaligned teeth. Neglected, these oral diseases cause animals pain, misery and secondary infections spreading to the heart, liver and kidneys. Inflammatory substances (cytokines) injure the heart, kidneys, pancreas and possibly the joints.
Daily brushing (with equal parts salt and baking soda), safe chew toys, and periodic treatments with specific oral care products -- like those from PetzLife -- will help reduce the need for annual dental cleaning under a general anesthetic. This is a high-risk procedure for many animals and could be avoided by owners taking better care of their animals' mouths.
G.L., Washington, DC
Sep 02, 2012
For the past 17 months, I have been a feral cat colony caretaker. All of the cats were part of the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, and further breeding has ceased. The colony in which I am involved consisted of 10 cats originally; there are now five. Some have disappeared over time, and, sadly, one was found dead recently, with no obvious illness beforehand.
I have two beloved felines at home -- a tortoiseshell and a tuxedo. One was a rescue cat, the other a shelter adoptee. Needless to say, they are loved and respected for the wonderful animals they are.
I am writing to you today with the following questions regarding feral cats, as well as caretakers such as myself:
- Are you an advocate of feral cat colonies, and, if so, what conditions must be met by the caretaker(s)?
- Do you believe that euthanasia is a more humane approach for cats that are not receiving annual vet visits, such as feral cats?
- Do you feel I am wrong in sustaining the lives of these innocent animals that are susceptible to disease and many other hardships?
My colony has ample shelter and fresh food and water provided daily. We clean feeding bowls, etc. We stress hygiene as much as possible in our efforts.
I decided to be a feral cat caretaker because we, as human beings, through neglect and disdain, have forced these innocent animals to fend for themselves through no choice of their own. Many of these cats have unique personalities, no different from my two at home. As a caretaker, I do whatever I can to lessen the hardships of these animals.
G.L., Washington, DC Sep 03, 2012
I wish there were more compassionate and caring people like you helping animals. Unfortunately, the best intentions often go awry. Maintaining a feral cat colony is a full-time responsibility. Cats who are sick or injured and too fearful to be caught do suffer. Even with neutering, there is the ethical question of providing food and shelter to cats only to prolong their suffering until they expire.
My biggest concern, and the reason I oppose TNR programs, is cats killing birds and other wildlife.
As I have discovered, some feral cats can be socialized and make good indoor companions. Perhaps you may find more fulfillment facilitating adoptions at your local shelter (ideally for two or more littermates) and pushing for legislation and public education to deter people from letting their cats roam free.
I applaud your efforts to help these poor animals, and I respect all involved in TNR programs. But the consequences of humane intervention must be considered, for the road to hell is indeed often paved with good intentions. I would rather advocate TNA or TNE -- trap-neuter-adopt or -euthanize the unadoptable -- knowing that given time and patience, many wild, terrified cats can be rehabilitated. I kiss one on his tummy every morning.
C.R.W., Washington, DC
Tags: dog Washington DC vaccinations
Aug 05, 2012
I have a 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier named Rondo who has a large, bald hot spot on the upper thigh of his right hind leg.
I took him to a veterinarian when the spot was small. She said that it came from hormones in a vaccination that was too strong for him. (I got him vaccinated at the local Petco, and it cost me $37.) She prescribed Animax Ointment nystatin-neomycin. The tube of ointment was $20, and the visit was $87. I used the entire tube to no avail.
The spot is getting larger and has a bumpy feeling. What do you suggest putting on it to make it heal? Although it does not seem to bother Rondo, it is unsightly for such a little dog
C.R.W., Washington, DC Aug 06, 2012
If this is indeed the spot where your little dog was vaccinated with a relatively huge shot for his size, then you could have a serious problem developing, especially since it is getting larger and has a "bumpy feeling."
Any veterinarian who tells a client that the "hormones" in a vaccination caused the reaction and gave you Animax Ointment should go back to school, give you your money back and read my article on adverse vaccination reactions on my website.
A biopsy needs to be taken to determine if the growth is a benign granuloma or a cancerous fibrosarcoma, which is a more prevalent reaction in cats at the point of injection. Until such a determination is made, I would advise against giving your dog any more vaccinations or other treatments.
R.M., Washington, DC
Tags: cat dog Washington DC
Jul 30, 2012
We enjoy your syndicated column here at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and we appreciate your commitment to companion animal health and welfare. We want to alert you to a rally on Aug. 7 at 4:00 p.m. at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. We are marching to the South Korean embassy to protest publicly the production and sale of dog and cat meat in that country. I hope you can attend!
For those of you who can't attend, you can still organize a campaign, demonstration or leaflet distribution for South Korean dogs and cats at a local venue. AWI will provide the materials you need. To learn more about events happening nationally and internationally, please contact Rosalyn Morrison at AWI: Rosalyn@awionline.org or 202-446-2126.
R.M., Washington, DC Jul 31, 2012
Many readers share your concerns about the cruel treatment of dogs and cats in South Korea and other Asian countries, where cats are often skinned and boiled alive and dogs are tortured, beaten, hung and torched to tenderize their flesh before they are killed.
I will not be able to attend your rally, but here is my position statement: Why dogs and cats are killed for human consumption in countries such as South Korea is a question of culture, custom and commerce. But how they are handled and killed is a question of conscience, civility and compassion, which must be answered by all involved. Informed people from around the world are calling for full accountability since the measure of civilization is in how humanely animals are treated, regardless of their monetary value and utility. We should all ask ourselves if it is ethical to consume any animal species that has died in fear and pain.
C.W., Washington, DC
Tags: cat Washington DC diet food
Jul 08, 2012
My vet recommended my cat, Bob, have a dental cleaning and an extraction of at least one tooth due to a resorptive lesion. We do not want to risk putting him under anesthesia because he has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and an arrhythmia. He was diagnosed with asthma and is being treated with the Flovent inhaler.
Are the ingredients in PetzLife oral products safe for our cat to ingest? What are the results of using PetzLife on a resorptive lesion? We were told that the tooth would rot and eventually fall out, possibly causing a lot of pain and maybe an infection. Have you seen other cats with resorptive lesions use this product? Any other inforomation you could give me would be appreciated.
C.W., Washington, DC Jul 09, 2012
This possible autoimmune disease, namely the tooth resorption, is a complication of stomatitis -- check my website and archives therein for more details: DrFoxVet.com.
In my opinion, your cat is at greater risk from anesthesia than from giving him a daily treatment of PetzLife oral care gel or spray. Simply follow the manufacturer's instructions, applying a small quantity to you fingertip and rubbing it on your cat's gums, making sure to get between the teeth and gumline to help your cat get used to this treatment. Remember, more is not better for any medication. This treatment will help reduce inflammation and infection, and it may actually help arrest further tooth resorption. Let me know if this turns out to be the case.
For his heart, and also to help his dental problem, get him used to a few drops of Nordic Naturals fish oil for cats, working up to about 1 teaspoon daily. Discuss with your veterinarian giving Bob benazepril and a CoQ10 supplement.
Many cats diagnosed with "asthma" actually have a food allergy. You may want to transition your cat onto organically certified, grain-free cat food. For details, visit www.felinenutrition.org.
F.M., Washington, DC
Tags: dog Washington DC fox
Jan 22, 2012
I am in love with the domesticated foxes from Russia I read about in a National Geographic magazine article "Designing the Perfect Pet." I have a friend who works in Russia, and he would be willing to look into buying one for me. There is no problem about importation if the animal is vaccinated, I am told.
Do you see any difficulties with my dearest wish?
F.M., Washington, DC Jan 23, 2012
I have read this article from the March 2011 National Geographic magazine. The tame foxes, from the Novosibirsk, Russia, Institute of Cytology and Genetics, are being sold to fund the genetic research. The foxes are all neutered to prevent competitive breeding. The suppliers keep some 3,000 foxes in small cages and have bred an estimated 50,000 foxes over the years trying to develop a truly domesticated prototype.
These numbers and the evidently poor conditions under which these animals are kept -- documented in Dr. Ceiridwen Terrill's book "Part Wild" (Scribners) -- lead me to question the ethics of continuing these studies. I advise you not to purchase any of these genetically tame foxes until significant improvements in their care are made.
I published the lab's earlier findings in 1975 in "The Wild Canids" (Dogwise), and, while the research is of scientific merit, animal care standards of excellence must come first. There are often foxy-looking dogs up for adoption in shelters and online that you might wish to consider. After all, dogs and foxes are distant cousins.
V.S., Washington, DC
Tags: cat Washington DC scratching
Jan 15, 2012
My boyfriend and I just adopted a 1 1/2-year-old cat. She's our princess, and we've tried to make her as comfortable as possible since she is alone all day in our one-bedroom apartment.
We bought her shelving to perch on, two scratching posts (one vertical, one horizontal), numerous toys, cat grass and a water fountain. She's a loving, friendly, healthy cat.
One thing, though, is unsettling: We can't seem to redirect her scratching. We put double-sided tape on the couch and mattress, and she doesn't scratch there now. However, she doesn't appear to use her scratching posts, either. I know scratching is necessary for cats to mark their territory and stretch.
What can I do to teach her that she is allowed to scratch appropriate items to her heart's desire, but not certain other things?
V.S., Washington, DC Jan 16, 2012
Cats generally avoid using scratch posts that are not secure. A post or board that wobbles when they are reaching up and clawing can spook them. Some posts are simply too short for the cats to enjoy a full stretch before they start clawing. Providing a good, solid scratch post is the first step. Then rubbing dried catnip into the material on the post may make it more attractive to your cat. Be sure the material is not cheap, looped carpeting that snares the cat's claws. Most cats seem to like a short-cut pile or sisal woven twine or even a sturdy log with natural bark. Our two cats enjoy the sturdy, veterinarian-designed PurrFect Post, available at www.PurrFectPost.com or by calling 800-989-2542.
Since some cats are "copycats," get down on your knees in front of your cat and claw the post with your fingers. Then place her front paws against the post and alternately move them up and down so she gets the idea. Several repetitions of this should do the trick. Keep a squirt gun filled with water to spritz her when you catch her clawing where she shouldn't.
S.M., Washington, DC
Tags: dog Washington DC
Aug 08, 2011
I have read and enjoyed your column for many years, but I wonder why you are opposed to veterinarians prescribing prednisone. It helped when my doctor gave it to me for an itchy skin condition that wouldn't go away. My dog is on it now for the skin condition the vet calls "atopic" dermatitis, and it really seems to help.
S.M., Washington, DC Aug 08, 2011
I am certainly not opposed to the appropriate and judicious use of prednisone and other corticosteroid drugs for various canine and feline maladies, either in ointments, pills or injection solution.
Corticosteroids are like a silver bullet when it comes to treating various inflammatory conditions, often due to the patient's cellular overreaction, helping stabilize tissues and thus facilitating the healing process. One of our old dogs got relief within 24 hours when given oral prednisone for a debilitating spinal condition. But now he drinks more and is always hungry.
Prolonged use can impair the immune system, lead to secondary infections, delay healing and cause hormonal disorders such as Cushing's disease. While the most common use is for skin conditions, in many instances addressing the underlying cause, such as food allergy, would be prudent.
BREED-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS IN DOGS: The University of Georgia's Dr. J.M. Fleming and associates, studying more than 75,000 dogs from 82 breeds, determined that bigger breeds are more vulnerable to musculoskeletal disease, gastrointestinal disease and cancer, while smaller breeds are more at risk for endocrine/metabolic diseases such as diabetes and Cushing's disease. Young dogs died more commonly of gastrointestinal and infectious causes, whereas older dogs died of neurologic and neoplastic causes. While the medium-sized mutt/mixed-breed dog stands out as arguably the healthiest of all, breeders of pure-breed/pedigree dogs continue to be challenged to provide "quality assurance" for prospective purchasers of their pups, most notably those of very large and very small size.