S.P., Minnetonka, MN
Tags: cat Minnetonka MN litter
Feb 10, 2013
Are wood pellets safe for kitty litter? I know pine is not good for cats, but I heard some shelters use the pellets. I use World's Best, but it's expensive with five cats.
S.P., Minnetonka, MN Feb 11, 2013
Wood pellets (and also cedar chips/shavings) may contain dioxins and other potentially toxic chemicals, especially if made from treated lumber, and their absorbency of cat urine may be poor. Recycled newspaper pellets, like Purina's Yesterday's News, is more absorbent and may be safer than wood pellets. I have tried various cat litters, including imported coconut fiber, which can be very messy. In spite of the expense, I use the corn-based World's Best cat litter.
Some cats are allergic to corn in their food. I know of one cat whose cystitis cleared up after she was given a corn-free diet, but came back when a corn-based litter was used.
As a note, clay-based litters can be dusty and contain silica and other particulate material. Also, I advise that you not use scented cat litter. Cats can become allergic or develop hypersensitivity to synthetic fragrances, including room air fresheners.
P.R., Duluth, MN
Tags: dog MN Duluth
Nov 12, 2012
Do you have a remedy for curing/eliminating ear mites? Does witch hazel work? Is it safe for dogs?
P.R., Duluth, MN Nov 13, 2012
This mite, otodectes cynotis, is passed from animal to animal by direct contact. Often there is a cat in the home with no evident symptoms, and a dog in the same home gets the mites in the ears and scratches and shakes in obvious distress. These mites can infest the face and other parts of the body, but are most often confined to the external ear canals. They cause a dark brown or black tarry secretion.
The best treatment is with an insecticide such as ivermectin drops or pyrethrin. I would not use herbal products because effectiveness may not be as good as with insecticidal drugs, especially when there is much suffering to the infested dog. For best results, the ears must be thoroughly cleaned before applying medication. Repeated treatment after seven to 10 days is advisable. Witch hazel is a soothing herb for many skin and ear issues, but it will have no significant impact on the offending mites.
J.D., Coon Rapids, MN
Tags: dog MN euthanize Coon Rapids
Mar 12, 2012
I remember a 2009 letter from P.L. in Minneapolis, who was upset that she was not with her cat when he was euthanized. I would like to share my daughter's experience.
Last year, my daughter Leah had to make the decision to put down her 20-year-old cat, Bridget. She was in a state where she wasn't eating, couldn't get off the bed to find the litter box and was barely able to meow. After searching the Twin Cities, we found a vet who, for a minimal fee, performed the procedure at Leah's house. Leah held Bridget the entire time. The vet gave her time to mourn before he gave the first shot. He explained everything in detail beforehand. After the procedure, the vet quietly packed up and left without a word. He was a cat lover, and he had put down his family's beloved cat a few weeks earlier, so he had a lot of empathy.
This was the ideal way to experience this very difficult situation. Since this has happened, I have a lot more respect and understanding of how hard this was on the vet, also.
J.D., Coon Rapids, MN Mar 13, 2012
I always welcome a good word for fellow veterinarians. Indeed, we do suffer the burdens of empathy, especially when euthanizing animals. I take my hat off to those who work in animal shelters, where the euthanasia of "throwaway" and unadoptable, lost and "surplus" dogs and cats is a daily event adding up to millions of lives every year across the United States.
I strongly advocate for in-home euthanasia if possible -- though not all owners are up for that emotionally. Unfortunately, not all communities are blessed with veterinarians who provide the service.
The next step in animal care is in-home hospice care for aging and sick pets. This new aspect of companion animal care needs veterinary support across the world. Hospitalizing a terminally ill animal can mean great suffering from being separated from loved ones and a familiar environment. There is also the risk of costly and unwarranted life-saving interventions -- just as we see in the care of terminally ill and dying humans, which helps to bankrupt the nation's already dysfunctional health care system. For more details, see my book "Healing Animals and the Vision of One Health" (published by CreateSpace; available on Amazon.com).
L.S., Apple Valley, MN
Tags: dog Apple Valley MN diet food
Oct 24, 2011
We have been feeding our two border terriers (8 and 7 years old) your recipe for homemade dog food for several years. We feed them half of your recipe and half Wellness Super5Mix Chicken dry food. Both dogs are doing very well.
Upon your recommendation, we also added a multivitamin and purchased Pet-Tabs by Pfizer after reading about this brand in your column. I recently read that these vitamins have been found to contain high levels of lead by one testing lab. Pfizer denies that this is true. Our vet researched this and advised us to discontinue the vitamins for four months to see if there was any change. Our dogs show no signs of lead poisoning, but I am wondering what your position is on this matter.
The other issue we have is that one of our dogs has continuing problems with her anal glands. Even though she eats a healthy diet and has firm, regular stools, her anal glands do not seem to empty on their own. My husband (an RN) has problems expressing them as often as needed (sometimes weekly). They are not infected, and the substance expressed is free of odor, mostly liquid with a slightly brown tinge. The vet told us that the anal glands can be removed surgically, but that it is not harmful to manually express them as often as needed. A relative who shows dogs suggested we add some organic pumpkin to her diet, which we have done in small quantities for the past couple of months. The situation has not changed.
Can you share your knowledge on this subject? Would a holistic vet have other treatment methods? Or should we just keep expressing them whenever she lets us know it needs to be done? We do not wish to subject her (or our pocketbook) to the surgical procedure unless that is the only reasonable option.
L.S., Apple Valley, MN Oct 23, 2011
Lead in Pfizer Pet-Tabs is probably so minimal as to be a non-issue. It is present in most calcium supplements that go into such formulations. I give them to one of my dogs with chronic anal gland issues. I have been periodically squeezing her gently for 15 years!
That is all one can do after ruling out food allergies and trying to increase fecal bulk with pumpkin or psyllium husks (about 1 teaspoon per 30 pounds of body weight). Fecal bulk, along with physical exercise, helps empty out the anal sacs (which sometimes does the trick).
When these glands get blocked or abscessed, they need to be irrigated and packed with steroids and antibiotics under general anesthesia. I advise against having them surgically removed because dogs may then suffer from a lack of anal sphincter control.
M.F., Minneapolis, MN
Tags: dog Minneapolis MN teeth
Sep 04, 2011
I would like to purchase the PetzLife gel. However, I am not sure how to use this product. Do you apply it with your fingers to coat the dog's teeth? Do you put it on a piece of food? My concern is that we have a German shepherd mix, and he is not used to fingers in his mouth. I am almost 100 percent sure that he would not let me apply the product this way.
M.F., Minneapolis, MN Sep 05, 2011
This is an excellent product to keep dogs' teeth and gums healthy. I got my dogs used to the taste by first putting a little on my finger and letting them lick, then I massaged their gums. They like the taste.
It is important to get to the back teeth (the big molars) where tartar or scale builds up. If the tartar is very thick, apply the gel for a few days. If it does not loosen -- try using a fingernail -- have the teeth professionally cleaned and then maintain them with daily treatments of PetzLife Oral Care Gel. My dogs also got used to the spray.
There is no use in putting the gel on food that will simply be swallowed. On a Nylabone or chew toy, OK, but the gel will not get to all the teeth unless you apply it yourself.
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.
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.S.S., Benson, MN
Apr 25, 2011
My mother told this story about her dad's foxhound Jack: "As a rule, Jack was not allowed in the house. But on this particular evening, he insisted on coming in. Once in the house, Jack went to each family member and placed his paw in his or her hand or on his or her knee and then left. In the morning, they found his body under Grandpa's hunting buggy."
As for me, I have a black Lab mix and three horses. The dog Inky and the horses became friends, so when I go riding, Red Rocker (my trail horse) is not as buddy sour (missing his pasture pal) when Inky is along. Inky was given to me as a 6-week-old puppy on the condition that I give her a good home. She has given me many hours of pleasure in return.
J.S.S., Benson, MN Apr 25, 2011
Your account of the old dog Jack is a valuable addition to the many accounts of dogs and other animals seeming to know when they are going to die. Their concept of death may be quite advanced, having seen the difference between the quick and the dead, and the sleeping and the mortified.
Many young readers will enjoy your horse story, and I am sure would enjoy a ride with you. You were wise to keep Inky, and it is great to see how horses and dogs can become best friends.
B.P., Minneapolis, MN
Tags: cat Minneapolis MN diet food
Apr 24, 2011
I have a 4-year-old Siamese cat who is overweight at 14 pounds. I've fed her Wellness CORE dry food. It's all protein and fat, no carbs. I give her 3/4 cup a day, which is probably too much, but I can't stand to see her sitting by her empty dish and looking at me. She is shedding terribly. I brush her almost every day, and it keeps coming. She also has developed fur knots that I mostly must cut out. The knots have appeared just in the past month.
What worries me is that my sister had a cat with many knots that also had a hyperthyroid condition. Could knots be a symptom of a thyroid illness?
B.P., Minneapolis, MN Apr 24, 2011
There are many reasons why cats (and dogs) constantly shed their fur and need daily grooming. You must do this to reduce the chances of your cat developing fur balls in her stomach from swallowing the shedding fur that she grooms off herself. Knots of fur are more of a problem with longhair cats and can form painful mats that must be clipped away. But remember, brushing cats too much can stimulate hair growth and shedding, so all things in moderation.
Your cat is probably too young to have thyroid disease. Her coat condition should improve by adding a few drops of good-quality fish oil, beginning with two to three drops daily on her dry food and working up to a teaspoon daily. Feed her several small portions of food throughout the day. Try her on various quality canned cat foods (such as Wellness, Castor & Pollux, Evo and PetGuard), because moist foods are better for cats than most dry foods.
N.H., Moorhead, MN
Tags: cat Moorhead MN allergies
Mar 27, 2011
I got a farm cat when he was about 4 months old. He is now a year old. He and the others at the farm were sneezy. I have taken him to the vet and have tried several things: an immune booster for 30 days (Enisyl-F Lysine Treats), two different antibiotics (Amoxi-Tabs 50 mg; and Clavamox 62.5 mg) and an antihistamine.
I have been told that he has an upper-respiratory issue/virus that won't ever go away. He sneezes frequently, and it is a mess. He also breathes loudly (like Darth Vader of "Star Wars") most of the time and occasionally coughs. Otherwise, he seems healthy and has grown at a regular rate.
I read one of your columns that seemed to address this, but the advice was just to contact a vet. I am wondering if anything else can be done. Would diet impact this at all? I would appreciate any other recommendations or just to know if there is truly nothing more to be done.
N.H., Moorhead, MN Mar 27, 2011
I have given frequent advice on this common feline malady. A head cold and sinusitis that won't go away, often compounded by sickening gums and teeth, calls for a radical holistic approach to alleviation and recovery.
In some instances, there can be a chronic allergy to cat-litter dust or artificial fragrances, corn or other manufactured cat-food ingredients. There may be an underlying viral infection such as feline AIDS or a chronic bacterial or fungal infection such as aspergillosis.
A holistic approach considers all these possible co-factors. Check AromaCat for some herbal inhalants for cats that may help, because some are antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory.