B.N., Potomac, Md
Tags: cat Potomac MD
May 27, 2013
My 17-year-old cat has a neoplasm at the site of a rabies vaccination on his mid-back that he got about four or five years ago. It has increased in size. I raised objections to the injection site (having heard that it was better to give the shot in the leg), but the holistic vet said that's no longer true. My homeopathic vet has begun treating it and wants to refer me to another holistic vet to consider escharotic injection. I understand it's very messy and possibly traumatic for the cat (and owner).
We haven't done a biopsy. He is in no apparent pain, it doesn't hurt when I touch it gently, he is eating well, he loves his twice-daily walks with me and his eyes are bright -- he's in good spirits.
My vet is also treating him homeopathically and with Standard Process Feline Renal Support for serious renal issues, further compounding my aversion to surgery for the neoplasm. I've had him on homemade cat food, high quality raw food and high quality canned food all his life, with about 10 nongrain kibbles as a bedtime treat.
Do you have any further suggestions for these issues? Many thanks.
B.N., Potomac, Md May 28, 2013
An escharotic injection is an injection of a caustic chemical like silver nitrate. Such a caustic material would not differentiate between the cat's healthy tissue and the cancer, essentially destroying both and possibly stimulating surviving tumorous cells to proliferate and probably causing the cat great discomfort. I think the veterinarians need to focus more on your cat's age and quality of life than on treatment options.
I am not aware of clinical studies demonstrating effective escharotic treatment of feline fibrosarcomas. Nor am I aware that there has been any change in the protocol for vaccinating cats as far down on their legs as possible, where amputation of the limb above any injection-site turmors is a more reliable way of getting rid of the cancer than extensive surgery.
If this were my cat, I would give him supplements of fish oil; Resveratrol for cats; and put one part each of essential oils of frankincense, lavender and myrrh in 40 parts organic almond oil. Apply this mixture twice daily for seven days, stop for seven days and apply again for another seven days. If there is no sign of shrinking, stop further treatment since essential oils are risky for cats.
While grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs, the toxins involved have not been identified. Resveratrol for dogs and cats is, by all accounts, safe, even though it is extracted from grapes. Its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and other beneficial qualities have made this a popular human supplement. For details, visit resvantagefeline.com. I have no financial interests in any company producing this supplement.
J.H., Silver Spring, Md
Tags: dog Silver Spring MD
Apr 21, 2013
My son and his family have a great and mild-mannered border terrier who is about 6 years old. My son works out of the home, so, for the most part, he is with the dog most of the time.
During the day, the dog is fine. But in the evening, he becomes anxious and hyper. They try playing with him as a distraction, but it takes a while for him to settle down.
Is this something common in his breed? Any suggestions would be appreciated. This behavior began just recently.
J.H., Silver Spring, Md Apr 22, 2013
I appreciate your concern for your son's family dog. I know the breed -- border terriers are great! The dog's evening anxiety could have a physical or psychological cause.
He may have retinal degeneration or some similar eye problem -- the first symptom is night blindness, which could be causing his behavioral change. A veterinary examination is called for if this is suspected.
Psychological causes include the fear of being abandoned when the family goes out for the evening, some element of post-traumatic stress disorder after an upsetting event one evening during a walk or a family argument, or high-frequency sound from the TV or other entertainment unit upsetting the dog.
Some detective work and a change in the evening routine may help.
C.B., Bethesda, Md
Tags: dog Bethesda MD
Apr 14, 2013
My new poodle, a rescue, is sweet, shy and adjusting to her surroundings. Her only problem is that she chews newspapers! She had been neglected in her previous home. What can I do to stop this, and is she trying to tell me there's something wrong?
C.B., Bethesda, Md Apr 15, 2013
The set response to your common complaint is to keep newspapers away from your dog, but one should always wonder why dogs sometimes do odd things like yours chewing the newspaper.
Is she playing and needs more suitable and safe chew toys? Perhaps she developed this behavior out of boredom or having been confined in a crate/cage with newspapers on the bottom?
I would have a veterinary checkup done soon because such behavior (abnormal appetite, called pica) can be associated with inflammation in the mouth (tonsillitis, gingivitis, etc.). Chewing and swallowing things may help relieve discomfort in the mouth or a stomachache because of worms. If your dog is a toy rather than standard poodle, her teeth and gums may need immediate veterinary attention.
J.F., Kensington, Md
Tags: cat Kensington MD
Apr 13, 2013
We have had a cat for almost seven years now, and he is not declawed. When Jasper was a kitten, I went to the store and brought home an inexpensive ottoman for the living room. Jasper started to claw it immediately. I figured that if he was going to scratch at that and nothing else in the house, it was OK by me.
To this day, he still runs to that ottoman and nothing else.
J.F., Kensington, Md Apr 14, 2013
I wish that more cat owners (and pet owners in general) had your philosophical attitude of "live and let live."
Too many cat owners declaw their cats rather than giving them their own scratching posts, boards or selected furniture. Many pet owners do not accommodate their animals' behavioral needs sufficiently to optimize their pets' well-being. The end result can be frustration, stress, distress and the genesis of abnormal behaviors.
It is everyone's duty to learn about, appreciate and provide for their animals' basic needs. This is the right of all creatures great and small.
M.K., Clinton, Md
Tags: dog Clinton MD
Apr 13, 2013
In October, we had our two beagles get their rabies shots from a veterinary house-call service. Two weeks later, neither could stand, and they dragged their rear ends on the floor. The vet said they probably had arthritis.
Is this just a coincidence, or could the shots have been tainted? The dogs are 12 years old. They have a hard time walking and both limp -- a back leg seems to be the problem for both of them.
M.K., Clinton, Md Apr 14, 2013
The answer that the veterinarian gave you is totally unacceptable. Both of your dogs becoming suddenly lame at the same time in one back leg can mean one of two things: The vaccine was improperly injected and caused damage to the sciatic nerve, or the vaccine caused a gradual-onset inflammatory reaction, causing your dogs pain.
Heat packs and massage applied to the afflicted limbs may help speed your dogs' recovery.
You should contact your state Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners if the veterinary house-call service does not make a free house call to check out your dogs and their conditions.
Adverse reactions to vaccinations are not uncommon in dogs and humans alike, and I am appalled by the cavalier attitude of many health care professionals on this issue of vaccinosis (vaccine-induced disease). I am an advocate for safe, effective, justified and closely monitored vaccinations. For details on this important subject, check out my article posted at DrFoxVet.com.
C.G., Hyattsville, Md
Tags: dog Hyattsville MD
Apr 08, 2013
I've owned five Pomeranians over the course of my lifetime. My latest pom is named Yancy. When Yancy was a puppy, he would run and scamper in the backyard freely, wanting me to chase after him. Yancy is now about a year old, and he refuses to step off the back porch without me accompanying him and staying with him. In the rare instances when Yancy does venture off the porch, he refuses to do his business in the backyard. He requires me to walk with him on-leash for five to 10 minutes before he decides to finally poop. I routinely walk him three times a day. Yancy gets excited when he sees me getting his leash. It's obvious that he enjoys our walks, but it's taxing me, not to mention my neighbors. My other poms enjoyed occasional walks on the leash, but they acknowledged the backyard as their sanctuaries and depositories.
Do you have any suggestions to get Yancy to bond with my backyard on a more personal level?
C.G., Hyattsville, Md Apr 09, 2013
A good friend of mine has a Labrador retriever who will urinate and defecate only when he is walked on his leash and is away from his yard. My friend is glad to have a dog like this.
Some dogs choose not to evacuate on their own property, and, when they have no choice, some clean up after themselves, engaging in coprophagia (poop eating). This behavior may be triggered when they see their owners picking up stools in the yard. Such behavior stopped in a few instances when the dogs were kept indoors and were not able to see the yard being cleaned up.
With your dog, I would stick a short post or tree stump in the yard and put some of his urine on it, which you can sponge up and put in a plastic bag (ditto with his poop) when out on your walks. Put the urine on what may hopefully become his marking post, and he'll deposit his stools in one corner that may become his regular latrine.
M.W.H., Hagerstown, Md
Tags: dog Hagerstown MD
Apr 07, 2013
I unwittingly killed my 13-pound, 3 1/2-year-old female Pomeranian, Lexi, with a few dollops of liverwurst. I didn't know that liverwurst was pure fat with a little flavoring, which my Lexi's pancreas couldn't handle. It took 40 hours for her to die, and I sat there watching her without a clue because I didn't understand the significance of what I was seeing -- occasional vomiting and then seizures -- until it was too late. My ignorance killed her.
My vet performed a necropsy. Lexi's pancreas was black. The bowel around the pancreas was purple-going-on-black. It looked so bad that the ER vets thought I had poisoned her. It doesn't need to happen to another dog -- education is key. Watch out for pancreatitis.
M.W.H., Hagerstown, Md Apr 08, 2013
My sympathy goes out to you and to your poor dog. Acute pancreatitis is a painful condition, and without immediate emergency veterinary care, it's usually fatal. Small dogs seem especially susceptible because what we may think is a small treat is too much for them to handle.
Your letter is important for all readers who have dogs -- small and large, young and old -- to take note. Fatty treats and scraps can destroy the pancreas, often compounded by high protein content that can lead to uremia (protein poisoning) when there is concurrent kidney disease. Pancreatic disease is often associated with fatty liver disease, other liver problems and genetic- and diet-related diabetes.
Animal health checkups and discussion of diet with the veterinarian are the best preventives of these all-too-common maladies.
K.W., Tacoma Park, Md
Tags: dog MD Tacoma Park
Mar 31, 2013
I just lost my third dog to cancer. They were all about 10 years old. They all had a sudden onset of acute symptoms, followed closely with euthanasia after finding metastatic disease.
By the time the symptoms appear, it is usually too late for treatment. My heart is breaking for this most recent loss.
Is there any clinical way to prevent this?
K.W., Tacoma Park, Md Apr 01, 2013
My sympathies go out to you and all those people in your situation, where cancer is discovered in a beloved animal and it has spread so much that nothing can be done.
Part of the problem is that it is not always easy to know when an animal is in pain or not felling well. Whenever in doubt, go to the veterinarian. Also go to the veterinarian every six to nine months for a checkup when you have an animal in the "old age" category, and annually up to the end of middle age, which can be around 6 or 7 for some breeds and 9 or 10 for others.
Going in on this schedule, and not just when the animal needs shots or seems ill, can lead to early detection of cancer, which means that effective treatment would be better assured.
M.C.M., Silver Spring, Md
Tags: dog Silver Spring MD food
Mar 30, 2013
A recent front-page article in the Washington Post, "Wolf-to-dog evolution went with the grain," states, "In particular, dogs show changes in genes governing three key steps in the digestion of starch ... it makes us convinced that being able to digest starch efficiently was crucial to dogs."
The article suggests that once dogs began living close to humans, they found a new feeding "niche" by scavenging human garbage. The implication is that grains are not harmful to dogs because their digestive systems have adapted to diets other than meat. In light of this, have you changed your recommendations about feeding dogs mostly grain-free foods?
M.C.M., Silver Spring, Md Mar 31, 2013
I appreciate your writing to me about this article on a finding that has been widely publicized.
This is an important issue because while dogs -- some breeds better than others -- have evolved the enzymes needed to process carbohydrates and starches from grains and potatoes, this adaptation does not mean that a high or even moderate carbohydrate content in dogs' diets is optimal for their health.
For most dogs, I advocate low levels of grain, but not for cats. A minute amount as a binder for dry foods is acceptable for cats, many of whom continue to suffer a variety of health problems because their diets contain more starches than an obligate carnivore like a cat can handle. Dogs are more omnivorous than cats, just as foxes and coyotes are more omnivorous than wolves and cougars.
For a more detailed response, see my article "Domestication and Diet: Dog Genes and Cat Gut Bacteria," posted on my website, DrFoxVet.com.
P.H., Silver Spring, Md
Tags: cat Silver Spring MD fleas
Mar 25, 2013
I adopted two sweet sister cats nine years ago -- Chase and Chochi. They've not had any major health issues until recently. They are indoor cats, although they are allowed to go out on our deck with us.
More than a year ago, I noticed Chase had lost some fur on her lower abdomen. Shortly after, we embarked on a home renovation that was loud, dusty and forced us to leave our Maryland home for several months and move into a vacation home in West Virginia. In West Virginia, I found a vet who said Chase was overgrooming due to a flea saliva allergy. She recommended Comfortis. She also noticed Chochi was overgrooming the same area, so both cats began the drug. Neither cat improved, so we went back to the vet, who found Chase, in particular, had redness and a possible staph overgrowth. Blood work on Chase was normal. Both cats received antibiotic injections, two doses one week apart. Chochi improved, but Chase began removing more fur. She received a shot of steroids and two laser treatments. The vet also recommended resuming the Comfortis, and the redness went away.
We moved back to Maryland, and Chase continued to overgroom. She now has bare-looking thighs, abdomen and upper chest. I took her to a vet two weeks ago, and this vet observed that Chase had no noticeable irritation and diagnosed her as having "psychogenic alopecia." She recommended continuing the flea treatment and starting with a homeopathic remedy. It seems to have had no effect. The next recommendation was Prozac.
Help! Since the cats are essentially indoor cats, I have wondered about the accuracy of the flea allergy diagnosis and treatment. I have never seen a flea, although at the start of the treatment ordeal, the vet did observe some possible flea casings in Chase's fur. The deck in West Virginia occasionally gets mouse and squirrel visits; the Maryland deck has only birds.
Both cats threw up shortly after the Comfortis after the last two injections. In looking at other options, I was recommended Frontline or Revolution. Both vets felt the symptoms were inconsistent with ringworm.
P.H., Silver Spring, Md Mar 26, 2013
Fleas leave telltale feces, not "casings" in animals' fur. Since you make no mention of your cats being tested for hyperthyroidism -- meaning it was not considered by the veterinarians -- I would seek a third opinion.
Considering your cats' ages and symptoms, hyperthyroidism is the first possible cause to consider and rule out before considering a specific allergy. Excessive grooming in our formally feral cat was quickly resolved when salmon was removed from his diet.
Let me know if thyroid disease is the problem, and inform the veterinarians, who should have considered this possibility from the start.