C.A., Fargo, ND
Tags: dog Fargo ND
Oct 15, 2012
I believe my 10-month-old puppy suffers from anxiety. He runs in circles and barks like crazy when he sees a tree, mailbox or person. Please help; I don't know what to do.
C.A., Fargo, ND Oct 16, 2012
This sounds more like excitement than anxiety. If he gets out and about rarely and is not widely socialized, you could be creating a Kaspar Hauser -- a poor soul who feels "overloaded" outside and cannot take in too much stimulation. This often manifests as agoraphobia and xenophobia -- fear of open spaces outdoors and strangers. Dogs kept in kennels can develop these anomalies, though genetics and temperament make some more susceptible.
Your young dog, with the tail chasing and spinning, could be developing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which, in some cases, can lead to tail biting and self-mutilation. I advise lots of physical activity outdoors; an organic, additive-free diet; and no more vaccinations after his one-year booster shots -- except for mandated rabies shots.
You may also try the cradling therapy, which is described on my website and in the archives of my "Animal Doctor" newspaper column. Find those at DrFoxVet.com. In severe cases where behavior modification fails to prevent tail chasing, Prozac or a light dose of Valium can prove beneficial.
M.E.G., Fargo, ND
Tags: cat Fargo ND diet food
Jul 29, 2012
My son filled our freezer with fish he caught this summer, and I am wondering if it is OK for me to feed some to our six cats. They love fish, and I would put just a bit in with their regular food every day or so. I'll cook the fish, of course -- some boiled or broiled and some fried in a little canola oil. Do you have any problem with this?
M.E.G., Fargo, ND Jul 30, 2012
Yes, I have problems with this and with feeding cats canned tuna. Lager, older ocean fish like tuna, swordfish, halibut, tilefish, orange roughy and king mackerel are some of the more contaminated fish that children and pregnant women should avoid. Some state health authorities have printed advisories for consumers of fish bought in the market or a restaurant or freshwater fish like those your son caught. Of particular concern with these freshwater fish are contaminants like mercury, which can cause neurological problems and kidney damage in cats and humans; dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyl, which may cause cancer and developmental defects; and perfluorooctane sulfonate, which can alter thyroid hormone levels and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol.
Freshwater fish should have all fat removed, since that's where some of these toxins accumulate. Cooking will not destroy any of the toxins. The basic rule for feeding yourself and your cats is to eat smaller, younger fish no more than once per week. Be sure to eat panfish -- a fish that doesn't outgrow the size of a frying pan -- like sunfish, crappie or yellow perch, rather than predator fish like walleyes, northern pike, bass and lake trout. Avoid consuming farmed salmon, which is especially noted for high levels of chemical contamination.
Many cats are allergic to fish. They can develop miliary dermatitis or itchy eczema or will vomit immediately after eating.
Tragically, many of our natural waterways are contaminated by industrial chemicals. This leads to contamination of the food chain and concentration of chemicals in apex predators at the top of the chain -- from humans to our carnivorous cousins, wild and domesticated, terrestrial and aquatic.
Y.T., Fargo, ND
Tags: cat dog Fargo ND litter box
Jul 22, 2012
My husband and I are having an ongoing argument that I hope you can resolve.
He cleans out the cats' litter box, which I appreciate. But he says once a day is sufficient. I say it's not. We use a scent-free clumping litter, and our two cats drink plenty water so you can imagine there's lots of clumps by end of day, plus poop. They eat a lot, but they are young and active and not overweight.
I say he should clean it out twice a day. What do you think? I am concerned -- not so much about the smell as for the poor cats who have to step around the stuff already in the box.
Y.T., Fargo, ND Jul 23, 2012
I appreciate and share you concern for your two cats, and wish that more people did. Try not flushing your toilet for a day -- that will get your husband to empathize with the cats!
Cats hate to get their paws wet and dirty, and a common reaction to dirty litter boxes is to become unhousebroken. They develop an aversion to the dirty, stinky litter box and evacuate elsewhere. The problem often goes unnoticed for a while since the cat evacuates in some concealed spot.
For our two cats, we use unscented World's Best, corn-based clumping cat litter, and I clean the boxes out four times a day -- just before each small meal I feed them. Some days I am amazed at how much they can deposit!
Your husband may be lazy or have his own aversion to the litter box, but out of concern for the cats and respect for you, he should be cleaning it out at least three times a day.
J.D.S., Fargo, ND
Tags: cat Fargo ND
Jun 25, 2012
I've adopted a wonderful, sweet cat from the shelter, but she has come with a serious ear issue.
When I took her to be checked by my vet, her ear canal was completely blocked by hardened wax and a serious ear infection, and her eardrum was completely deteriorated. After otoscopic surgery and weeks on prednisolone and Baytril, she has made a wonderful recovery and regained her balance and spirit. But because of nerve damage to the ear, her hearing and vision on the left side are impaired.
The problem now is that black earwax continues to build up in the ear. As it works its way toward the surface, I am able to remove it carefully without using cotton swabs, but I cannot get it all. Is this going to be a forever problem? Can you give me any advice for cleaning the ear better without causing her ear canal any harm? This cat is so worth it. Her name is Contessa.
J.D.S., Fargo, ND Jun 26, 2012
Good for you for adopting a sick cat and providing her with appropriate veterinary care. Many kittens develop chronic ear and upper respiratory problems, which, when neglected, can mean a lifelong battle. They may get well, but the chronic health issue returns when the cat is stressed. Good nutrition and supplements such as fish oil and probiotics are very helpful.
Often when there is a black, proliferative secretion in one or both ears, and especially when the cat is scratching behind the ears, there is an underlying ear mite infestation. The mites must be treated before secondary bacterial and fungal infections and associated inflammation can be tackled.
One effective ear product is an enzyme-based cleaner manufactured by PKB Animal Health called Zymox. First use the product that contains hydrocortisone for three to four days, and then switch to the basic Zymox otic enzymatic solution. Call PKB at 888-752-5487 for more information. You can also request your veterinarian provide the cleaner and clinically evaluate it on your cat.
C.K., Fargo, ND
Tags: dog Fargo ND
Mar 18, 2012
My younger sister has two Persian cats who get along fine. My question to you, and to settle an argument with her, is why are their eyes always tearing? She says it comes with the breed, so she washes their faces every day. I think they need veterinary attention -- they are freaks of nature. They could never survive in the wild.
C.K., Fargo, ND Mar 19, 2012
In my professional opinion, the small quantity of grain alcohol in PetzLife oral care products should not pose any risks to cats and dogs who are not being treated for any diagnosed liver or pancreatic disorder. The alcohol is used as a natural preservative and antibacterial agent in this excellent formulation of natural ingredients. Used in accordance with the manufacturer''s instructions, PetzLife oral health care products are of great benefit and can even be a lifesaver: Gum disease can have fatal ramifications when left untreated and when oral health is neglected.
G.W., Fargo, ND
Tags: small pet Fargo ND
Feb 13, 2012
You sometimes deal with aquarium animal health questions in your column, so I hope you have an answer to my question.
I get so disgusted when I read newspaper articles about the chef Andrew Zimmern, star of the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods" and "Bizarre Foods America." He goes all over the world eating unimaginable things. I don't know why people watch, except to be grossed out. When I read about Zimmern cutting slices off tentacles from a live octopus and serving them while they are still wriggling, I just about gagged. Don't these creatures feel any pain?
G.W., Fargo, ND Feb 14, 2012
I share your disgust. Zimmern gets a thrill out of challenging the squeamish, making a small fortune from his gross gustatory showmanship. Of course, that is not to say that slimy blue-green algae he eats is not a food of the future -- and a biofuel!
In my estimation, Mr. Zimmern is simply an ignoramus, and I trust that once informed of his folly, he may reform. He seems to embody the sad trait of having less and less feeling for other living beings the less and less they look like us. Yet empathy is one quality that makes us human. It may be difficult for some to empathize with a creature like an octopus, which looks and behaves so differently from us. But scientific studies have shown that they are extremely intelligent creatures, possessing great dexterity and the ability to reason, use tools, show fear and avoid pain. Octopuses also have other emotional reactions, including a degree of empathy and cooperative social behavior with one another.
So my philosophy is to show respect and compassion toward all living creatures since we really do not know what they are feeling and thinking, and to give them the benefit of the doubt with regard to their capacity to suffer. For more details see my new book, "Animals and Nature First" (published by CreateSpace, and available at Amazon.com).
As for Mr. Zimmern being a "chef," there are cooks and there are COOKS! In my kitchen, a chef of the highest order is one who considers compassion and environmental sustainability as well as nutrient value when it comes to considering food ingredients, not simply taste and novelty!
J.R., Fargo, ND
Feb 05, 2012
I read about a dog who survived the gas chamber in a Florence, Ala., animal shelter and was taken by Eleventh Hour Rescue group. The article said this dog, Daniel, was a rare survivor of the carbon monoxide in the sealed chamber -- he may have found an air pocket or was stuffed up from a cold.
Why is such cruelty toward lost and abandoned pets still allowed, Dr. Fox, and what can be done about it?
J.R., Fargo, ND Feb 06, 2012
I, too, was very disturbed by this article distributed by The Associated Press.
Years ago, I worked with other animal protection groups and the American Veterinary Medical Association to establish basic humane standards for euthanizing unadopted shelter animals. We succeeded in outlawing one injectable drug that acted like curare and paralyzed animals so they suffocated to death. There was resistance to this ban, and the resistance continues from some quarters when it comes to the use of the gas chamber for pet euthanasia.
Imagine several animals put together in a confined space, their last minutes before losing consciousness and dying filled with absolute terror, injuring one another in their panic and vain attempts to escape. I have witnessed these chambers in operation, and while car engine exhaust full of noxious fumes is no longer used -- computer-controlled gas pump systems are used instead -- the fact remains that more humane euthanasia methods are available, and gas chambers should be outlawed. The most humane method of euthanasia is an overdose of barbiturate anesthetic. Dogs and cats should never be killed en masse, even though it may save time and reduce costs.
I take my hat off to people working in animal shelters, where staff performing euthanasia is under considerable emotional stress. Thanks, too, to those who join me in condemning the throwaway attitude toward pets and their commoditization by pet industry commercial breeders.
J.Z., Ayr, ND
Tags: cat ND Ayr
Oct 30, 2011
I appreciate your protection of animals other than dogs and cats. I also wonder how you can even stomach or print the letters like the person who insists on toilet training the cats and now has one peeing on her bed.
I'm writing about my cat Marshmallow, who has hopped on my toilet seat many times to poop or pee. I never taught her that. Another interesting thing is that when she is having a urinary problem, she shows me when I am on the toilet. She will go in the tub next to me, pee and stare at me. Or while I'm scooping litter, she'll come to show me she is straining.
J.Z., Ayr, ND Oct 29, 2011
Cats are notably adept at communicating to their human caregivers when they are ill. Cystitis is one of their most common maladies, and many cats will deliberately squat, strain and, if they can, void some urine (often tinged with blood) at their human companions' feet. A few uninformed owners think their cats have suddenly become house-soilers and scold them or put them outside.
I would like to hear other readers' comments about when, how, where and why their cats, dogs and other animals have communicated that they are ill, suffering or in need of help. Many simply go into hiding out of pain and fear. Remember that any such sudden change in temperament calls for an immediate veterinary evaluation.
V.O., Fargo, ND
Tags: cat Fargo ND teeth
Oct 02, 2011
I have been brushing my cat's teeth almost two times daily for two months with the PetzLife cat formula. I took him to the vet yesterday for his annual physical, and she found a red bump on a lower left tooth. She said that once it moves to the surface it will be very painful, and that my cat needs to have it extracted and a full dental cleaning.
Does PetzLife help with this? He still has brown and yellow plaque at the gum line.
V.O., Fargo, ND Oct 03, 2011
While PetzLife oral-care products are the best on the market, in my opinion, they are no substitute for the thorough veterinary dental care so often needed to treat feline stomatitis (a very painful oral disease detailed on my website) and to deal with diseased and broken teeth and buildup of tartar or dental scale.
I would hold off on having your cat's tooth removed and see how this "red bump" develops. It could be the beginning of stomatitis, or hopefully it is a simple inflammation. If it is inflammation, it may go away if you eliminate all corn from your cat's diet and give a few drops of fish oil daily in his food (for its anti-inflammatory properties). In addition, rub (rather than brush) his teeth and gums, alternating daily treatments with PetzLife oral spray or gel with a solution of equal parts 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and aloe vera gel or liquid (available in health stores).
J.Z., Ayr, ND
Tags: cat ND diet food Ayr
Sep 26, 2011
Our kitten, Marshmallow, is 2 years old and has always had urinary problems. I had all my cats on Royal Canin SO 30 dry cat food for most of the time. I fed various canned cat foods every other day. The cats get chicken, lean beef, fresh grass and homegrown catnip. I have eight clean litter boxes and several sources of fresh water.
Last time I had Marshmallow to one of my vets, she had crystals and thickening of her bladder wall. He told me to give her Royal Canin SO 30 canned food plus 85 days of Dasuquin. It took more than two months, but her urine cleared and increased in amounts.
Recently, I decided to switch my cats gradually to the Wellness brand dry food. After only two weeks, Marshmallow is starting to strain a little, and her urine is darkening. I thought Wellness was good for urinary tracts. What should I do?
Also, my beloved 17-year-old cat, Lucky, has kidney failure. Any of your golden advice to make her more comfortable would be much appreciated.
J.Z., Ayr, ND Sep 27, 2011
You have learned from Marshmallow what happens to many cats who are fed only a dry food diet. Since she was doing well on the canned food brand, I would not switch to another. Encourage her to drink plenty of water, even flavoring it with a little milk or boiled chicken juice. Adding a drop of fish oil, such as Nordic Naturals for cats, to her food every day will help soothe her bladder because of the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil. Gradually increase the amount to one-half teaspoon.
Old Lucky, suffering from kidney failure, would also benefit from fish oil and, under veterinary supervision, from being given a phosphate binder plus potassium, a drug such as benazepril (to lower blood pressure) and a vitamin D supplement.
Administering fluids under the skin periodically is a cheap and effective form of kidney dialysis and benefits many cats suffering from kidney failure. Some veterinarians offer kidney transplants from healthy donor cats, but I am not in favor of this for medical and ethical reasons.