K.L., Woodbridge, Va
Tags: cat Woodbridge VA
May 06, 2013
I need help in welcoming a cat to my household. I have two dogs: a 2-year-old Lhasa apso female and a 5-year-old male corgi/sheltie/beagle-mix. The dogs bark enthusiastically at every cat they see.
My father will be coming to live with us in an apartment in the basement of our home. He will be bringing his 12-year-old cat, Harry, who is in good health. The cat has always gone from inside the house to outdoors several times a day. He has never used a litter box. I expect this routine to continue when Harry comes to our house.
My dogs have visited the cat at my father''s current home. They bark and bark. Harry attempts to go outside and disappear until the dogs are gone, or he hides inside the house. He previously lived peacefully with my father''s late lab mix.
Harry will have an entrance to the house separate from the dogs. I should be able to keep the dogs out of the cat''s living area, but I am afraid they will bark nonstop to alert us that there is a cat in the house. I fear, too, Harry will run away from his new home with these dogs in it.
How can I get the animals to exist harmoniously together?
K.L., Woodbridge, Va May 07, 2013
First, I do not condone letting cats wander outdoors unless they are in an escape-proof enclosure with protection from the weather if they are left out. Alternatively, your father should get his cat used to wearing a harness, perhaps initially also with a collar and double leash.
My fear is that in a new place and hearing the dogs bark, the cat will try to get out and probably set out for his old home. It is imperative to keep him indoors for at least four to six weeks, installing extra screen doors for security and never letting him out except on leashes or into a secure cat house.
J.V., Gainesville, Va
Tags: cat Gainesville VA diet food
May 05, 2013
I recently took my cat, Mr. Puss, to the vet. He''s having a problem with peeing. He''s not blocked, but will empty his bladder and then go to the litter box, squat and do a little bit. I thought it might be a urinary tract infection.
Three years ago, Mr. Puss had some crystals, but no stones. The vet kept him overnight and did a urinalysis on him and found struvite crystals and a possible infection. He was put on Simplicef, on which he did not do well. He was running around the house like crazy. He was then put on Baytril, but that did not go well, either. He kept shaking his head and rubbing his eyes, he was restless, he would not eat and had diarrhea. I stopped that medication also.
The vet wanted to put him on the Royal Canin Urinary SO diet food. Mr. Puss was on it for about two years, but because it has all the corn and other undesirable ingredients in it, I took him off it about a year ago. I believe he was allergic to it because he would bite and scratch. I give him UT Strength Everyday chews that are supposed to keep his pH balanced, but he won''t eat them.
He eats Innova Evo canned food and Natural Balance dry food. He also eats some canned Wellness. I think he drinks enough water. He is an indoor cat who has been with us for five years. He could be 7 to 10 years old. He weighs about 20 pounds, but he''s a big boy, not overweight.
Is there anything I should be doing differently to keep Mr. Puss healthy?
J.V., Gainesville, Va May 06, 2013
I cannot understand why the veterinarian had to hospitalize your cat overnight to do a urine test. This is a stressful experience for cats. It would be far better to take the cat in first thing in the morning with a full bladder after keeping his litter box out of reach after 8 p.m. the night before.
Please visit feline-nutrition.org for information about transitioning your cat onto a grain-free, raw food or lightly cooked diet. Try flavoring his drinking water with some salt-free chicken stock. The more fluids he drinks, the better, since this is the best preventive of blockage by urine crystals or stones. Try feeding him plain organic yogurt or kefir or a probiotic supplement that may help him fight infection and heal from the antibiotic side effects.
P.B., Stephens City, Va
Tags: dog VA Stephens City
Apr 29, 2013
We have a 2-year-old Lhasa apso who will not walk on a leash. She's a nice little dog, but all suggestions have failed.
We let her drag the leash around the house when we are home -- it doesn't work. We've tried offering treats -- no, she doesn't like any kind of treats.
She came from a wonderful shelter, but we think she had been kept in a cage before her arrival there. She was bred before she was a year old. During our six months with her, she has learned to play, enjoys a huge yard and seems happy. But we'd like to be able to enjoy walking her.
P.B., Stephens City, Va Apr 30, 2013
It is good to know that you adopted this sweet little victim of a puppy mill.
She may have a phobia about going into open spaces and strange places, not of being led on the leash. Patience is called for -- a virtue that you are clearly not lacking after helping her recover from life in a cage.
Be sure she is not wearing a collar attached to the leash. Instead, keep the collar, but fit her with a comfortable, snug harness and attach that to the leash. The pressure on her neck when you try to walk her with the leash attached to her collar could trigger fear and, if she struggles, cause serious damage to her windpipe.
Just yesterday I was driving my car and saw a young woman walking what looked like a longhaired Chihuahua. She suddenly jerked the dog backwards, and all four of the dog's feet left the ground. The pressure of the collar on the dog's trachea could cause permanent damage, especially when repeated as a "no pull" training method.
N.H., Middleburg, Va
Apr 28, 2013
I'm writing in response to a letter by F.A.V. of Honolulu, who had a 13-pound, 6-year-old Brussels griffon with oxalate crystals in his bladder and urethra. The dog had to have surgery every two years.
Three years ago, our 9-year-old female Jack Russell terrier had the same problem, but only one surgery. After surgery, our vet prescribed Royal Canin Urinary SO dog food. This has solved the problem and keeps her urine clear. She has not had any problems since going on this prescription food. I give her both dry and canned servings of it.
This prescribed dog food might be something that F.A.V. may want to explore as an option.
N.H., Middleburg, Va Apr 29, 2013
There is a confounding combination of genetics affecting dogs' metabolism and kidney function. The artificial acidification of some manufactured dog foods, done to help prevent struvite crystal formation, may make dogs prone to developing oxalate crystals in their lower urinary tracts. High dietary calcium and low fluid intake when a dog is fed dry food only may also be contributing factors.
The best prevention is a home-prepared diet, as I offer on my website, DrFoxVet.com. Alternatives to the costly, and for some dogs, unpalatable, prescribed diet foods are available at secure.balanceit.com.
Tags: cat Falls Church VA
Apr 08, 2013
I inherited a lovely cat who was given up by her owners because she eats plastic.
She particularly likes the thin plastic bags that newspapers come in. We keep all plastic bags away from her, but sometimes she'll eat the trash bags when she's hungry (we try to make sure that there are no edges she can grab onto).
We've found tiny plastic bag pieces in her feces once or twice, but we usually do everything we can so she can't find them.
Do you know how we can stop her from this awful habit?
Apr 09, 2013
Many cats like to chew and even swallow pieces of plastic. Larger pieces can cause intestinal blockage, and some chemicals in plastic may cause cancer and disrupt the endocrine system.
Cats and other animals may be attracted to plastic because manufacturers often incorporate animal byproducts called stearates. Similar animal fat derivatives are used in the sizing of money, which may explain why some cats steal dollar bills!
Never let your cat near any plastic bags or other plastic materials. Stores should phase out non-biodegradable plastic bags -- they pollute the oceans and kill many marine creatures who eat the material they think is food. Plastic kills cattle, goats, horses and various wildlife species abroad who consume discarded bags, food wrappers and containers in streets and fields.
J.M.S., Falls Church, Va
Tags: cat Falls Church VA
Apr 07, 2013
We have a 15-year-old Maine coon cat. He takes an atenolol tablet for cardiomyopathy, which was diagnosed at an early age. He had a polyp removed from his ear in 2010 during a dental cleaning. In 2011, an MRI showed he had fluid in his ears (bilateral otitis media). He was given Simplicef and metronidazole for three months. He is now deaf.
He started limping on his back leg and is now on Dasuquin for his joints. In 2011, his physical showed that his liver enzymes were elevated and he was prescribed a liver protectant, Denamarin. After a month, I chose to discontinue it.
His 2012 physical results show his liver enzymes are lower. The pH in his urine is high -- 7.5. His urine concentration is good. Our veterinarian recommends Royal Canin diet food. He has been raised on PetGuard with a healthy addition of water since he does not drink from the bowl. I also mix in psyllium husks and fish oil. Lately, I've added Wellness and ProPlan food to his diet. He weighs 15 1/2 pounds, down from his top weight of 18 pounds two years ago.
Should I have continued him on Denamarin? What diet would you recommend to lower his urine pH level? I have saved your cat food recipe from an earlier article, but when I tried a homemade diet at a young age, he refused to eat it.
J.M.S., Falls Church, Va Apr 08, 2013
I think your cat is receiving appropriate veterinary care, and I would put him back on Denamarin. This may help offset any harmful side effects from the Dasuquin.
You may want to try substituting the Dasuquin with up to 1/2-teaspoon daily of fish oil. Begin with a few drops. Fish oil is anti-inflammatory, and it may help improve his kidney and heart functions.
While acupuncture treatments can be of benefit, I would advise only in-home therapy. Many cats love a regular massage. Read tips in my book "Healing Touch for Cats."
J.S., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: dog Virginia Beach VA
Feb 18, 2013
I have a little shih tzu/Lhasa-mix. She is 4 years old. She's had an endoscopy of her stomach, an ultrasound and a check for colic disease performed.
She eats only every other day, and she spits up large amounts of yellow foam. She is very picky about eating. She won't eat dry food at all, and she doesn't drink much water. Sometimes she acts like she is choking and gags a lot. The woman I bought her from mated her mother every time she came into heat. I didn't know this at the time I bought her. She was very hard to train, but she is a good dog now -- except for the eating.
I give her pills to coat the stomach, but she spits them up as soon as they go down. I don't know what to do. Please help us.
J.S., Virginia Beach, Va Feb 19, 2013
You and your poor dog have been subjected to several costly diagnostic procedures. The cost may be justified if symptomatic treatments failed, such as giving the dog antacid tablets to correct gastroesophageal reflux disease or trying a single protein, grain-free diet.
If neither of these possible treatments were considered prior to subjecting your dog to these diagnostic procedures, you should seek a second opinion, ideally from a member of American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
I receive far too many letters like yours that indicate some veterinarians do not seem to appreciate that these are economically hard times for millions of Americans. Many pet owners cannot take their animals in for regular checkups because they are afraid of the possible costs that may be incurred.
Try my suggestions, and let me know how your poor dog does.
G.L., Roanoke, Va
Feb 04, 2013
I followed your advice about giving catnip to my three cats, and visited your website archives to learn more. Two of them love it! I grow my own in my yard, sun dry the herb and give them a pinch every few days. They get so relaxed!
I decided to give some fresh flower heads and leaves to the two who love it, and one immediately puked. He never did this when I gave him the crushed dry leaves and flowers. Cleaning it up, I found two fur balls. Maybe that's another use for this great herb. I make my own tea with it some evenings to relax.
G.L., Roanoke, Va Feb 05, 2013
First, let's give salutations to the many herbs in our yards and roadsides that can offer us and other animals so many healing benefits, and which most people wage war against with herbicides, not knowing how harmful these chemicals can be. We kill herbs that have many medicinal properties, but our ultimate healing will come when we change this adversarial and ignorant attitude toward all wild things that we seek to control and exterminate.
My two cats also enjoy the occasional pinch of dried catnip. One even vomited fur balls less than a minute after he ate the fresh herb, like your cat. Fur balls can be harmful to cats, and many do not regurgitate them; they can fill up the stomach, interfere with digestive processes and even cause intestinal blockage. Perhaps this is a new use for this herb, and I would like to hear from other cat owners and feline medicine experts on this topic.
E.H., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: cat Virginia Beach VA
Jan 20, 2013
We adopted a 1-year-old Siamese-mix cat from the SPCA two years ago. He is very skittish but affectionate.
Several months ago, he stopped cleaning his anal area. This is causing a lot of problems, as he resists any type of help and runs when we try to approach him. He is on Prozac because he was urinating in the dining room instead of his litter box, and the medication seems to work for that problem.
He weighs 12 pounds, and we feed him Purina Indoor Formula dry food and a half can of Friskies moist food daily. He has no problem reaching his anal area, but he won't clean himself. We are at our wit's end. Do you have any suggestions?
E.H., Virginia Beach, Va Jan 21, 2013
Have you ruled out chronic cystitis rather than some emotional distress factor as the root of your cat's house-soiling behavior, even though the Prozac seems to help?
The type of cat litter you are using, how often you clean out his box (which should be at least three times a day) and the location of the box all play a part in determining your cat's litter box behavior.
I am not clear from your letter why your cat's posterior needs to be cleaned regularly. Certainly, longhaired, obese and older cats may need cleaning when debris from the litter box, urine and fecal matter adhere to the hindquarters. If your cat is dribbling urine or has fecal incontinence or blocked, painful anal glands, litter box aversion and house soiling may happen. If that's the case, your cat needs to see a veterinarian who can offer more than the Prozac. Also, your cat may benefit from a change in diet. Some food ingredients can cause bladder inflammation and associated incontinence. For details, visit feline-nutrition.org.
P. & R.B., Machipongo, Va
Tags: dog VA diet food seizures Machipongo
Jan 20, 2013
We have a 3-year-old tricolor Australian shepherd named Coach. For the past two years, he has suffered from seizures.
Starting in February 2011, he began having episodes where he would jump as if someone poked him with an electrical prod. These types of seizures occurred every eight to 10 days through June. He would jump or spasm every 45 to 60 seconds for 45 minutes to an hour.
We took him to the vet, but by the time we got there, the seizure was finished. The vet checked him, did blood work -- and found nothing. We videotaped one of these seizures and took the video to the vet. At that point, the vet recommended we see a dog neurologist. She did a more thorough exam and ran a battery of tests -- all negative. We opted out of getting an MRI.
In July, Coach had his first grand mal seizure. The neurologist prescribed zonisamide, but she said it was up to us to decide whether to start the pills. She advised that we should start them when his quality of life (or ours) suffered. He had six more grand mal seizures over the next eight weeks. At that point, we started the pills. He gets two 100-milligram pills in the morning and two at night. He takes his pills with some peanut butter or soft cheese. He went for six weeks with no seizures, but began having them again, about once a week. His follow-up blood tests were OK.
The neurologist prescribed a second drug, Keppra, in addition to the zonisamide.
At this time, a friend who is a dog trainer gave us some advice about his diet. We removed all foods that have red dye, wheat gluten and corn. This seemed to help -- the seizures happened about once a month, so we did not give him any of the Keppra. However, the seizures are starting up again.
Coach has a loving, fun personality that has not changed since the seizures. He gets a good amount of exercise. He walks and plays with several neighborhood dogs daily, and he gets good rest and naps every day.
I make most of his food. He gets Iams dry food, but very little of it -- I usually have to add some shredded cheese to get him to eat it. He loves fish, especially tuna and salmon, but I am not sure if fish is OK for dogs and how much is too much.
Any advice you can give us would be greatly appreciated.
P. & R.B., Machipongo, Va Jan 21, 2013
It seems from your letter that you have thoroughly considered the diet-related aspect of epilepsy.
I would avoid tuna for many reasons -- canned mackerel or wild salmon is preferable. I would suggest a pragmatic trial-and-test approach, including a twice-daily dose of melatonin, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in his food daily, and 1 teaspoon of fish oil for dogs daily. Discuss potassium bromide with your veterinarian as an alternative medication, and put a few drops of lavender oil on a bandanna around his neck morning and evening for its calming properties. Try to get Coach to drink a calming chamomile or valerian tea. An ice pack on the lower and middle parts of his back may shorten the seizure duration and intensity.
Try my home-prepared dog food recipe, and avoid all manufactured pet foods -- what the labels say may not be in the can or bag. Keep me posted on Coach's progress.