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.
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.
T.M.Y, Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: cat Virginia Beach VA diet food
Sep 23, 2012
I adopted two purebred rag doll cats from the SPCA when they were a year old. I've had them for five years with no problems -- until now.
A few months ago, my male cat started acting strange. He would walk very slowly and stare off into space. He stopped purring and playing. He stopped using the litter box, and he urinated on the floor. There was blood in his urine.
I took him to the vet. The vet took some X-rays and saw that he had multiple stones in his bladder. He had surgery the next day. The vet said there were a lot of stones, and some were embedded in the lining of his bladder. She had to scrape the lining to get them all out. She put both cats on a prescription cat food for urinary health.
After two weeks, we went back to have the stitches removed. That was a little over a month ago, and my cat is not any better. I thought I'd have my baby back after the surgery, but that's not the case. He walks even slower now, as if he's in great pain. He does not play, purr or clean himself. He will not use the litter box and urinates wherever he is at the moment. The urine is clear. He cries all day and night.
I took him back to the vet, explaining my concerns. She did blood work, and everything came back normal. The vet said if I had further problems, she could recommend a specialist. She said his bladder still felt "thick," but other than that, she could not find anything wrong with him. Unfortunately, I am out of money. With all his care, I've spent over $1,000, and he's still not right.
Can you recommend anything? Is it possible he might still have stones somewhere that the vet missed? I feel so bad for him.
T.M.Y, Virginia Beach, Va Sep 24, 2012
This is one of the most common and painful afflictions of cats today. You have my sympathy.
While genetics can play a minor role, with some breeds being more prone to cystitis and bladder stones/calculi/uroliths, a proper cereal- and soy-free diet from kittenhood on is probably the best preventive measure.
The chronic inflammation of your cat's bladder that is causing him so much discomfort must be addressed. In addition to ensuring that he's drinking plenty of water (at least 1/2 cup daily -- you can season it with chicken broth if that helps), there are herbal and other treatments that may help. These treatments include glucosamine, probiotics, corn silk, cranberry, parsley and dandelion. Fish oil is also a good general anti-inflammatory product that is helpful in treating and preventing a variety of conditions.
He may be having bladder muscle spasms; treatment with Valium may offer relief.
L.R.R., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: cat dog
Aug 12, 2012
Thanks for writing about "ghost" animals in your column. It was a comforting and nonjudgmental response to your reader. I know many of us who have lost pets will find comfort in your words.
When we moved into our house 20 years ago, my husband and I felt the familiar landing of a cat at the end of our bed and the slow movement of paws up to our pillows. No cat was there. We called it "ghost kitty."
We would reach out to pet the cat or talk to it, but we just touched air. Our live cats (we had several) would not stay or sleep in our bedroom, so it wasn't a case of mistaken identity. This routine continued for many years until we adopted three homeless cats who took up residence in our bedroom (by choice) and never went downstairs until many years later. We hope "ghost kitty" has gone on, but, from time to time, we still wonder about the cat. Your column has given us an insight into this phenomenon. On her birthday in March 2011, when I got up in the morning, I went to the bureau, picked up her ashes and said, "I wish you were here for your 17th birthday" and gave the box of ashes a kiss. As I was putting the ashes back on the bureau, lying next to where her ashes had been was a blue rose.
L.R.R., Virginia Beach, Va Aug 13, 2012
Many readers will appreciate your letters. Several communications from our beloved departed pets are posted on my website; these stories support my belief that such phenomena are not mere coincidences or products of the imagination.
It is my contention that the more mindful we are of the spiritual dimension of existence and the great mystery of conscious life, the more we may begin to improve as a species in our regard for and treatment of all creatures great and small.
D.M., Virginia Beach, Va
Jun 04, 2012
My Lab/chi-chi-mix dog, Marty, is 2 years old. He will not go outside to pee if it is raining, so he goes on the carpet of the laundry room. He doesn't poop, just tinkles.
What do you suggest we do to get him to not be afraid of the rainy weather?
D.M., Virginia Beach, Va Jun 05, 2012
Your rain-phobic dog may respond well to desensitization. Chose a nice day, but go out with a large umbrella over both of you so that he gets used to it. Repeat for a few days until he is accustomed to the umbrella -- and your neighbors think you are certifiably insane! During the next light rain, take him out on the leash for a walk with both of you under the umbrella. Give him treats and praise. After a few walks in the rain, move the umbrella away as you give him a treat so he gets some rain on him. Then get him used to a rubdown with a towel.
Many dogs do not enjoy getting soaked, but will put their ears and tails down and get on with their business, the rewards of a good toweling and a treat being enough incentive.
In the interim, purchase disposable pads from the pet store to protect your laundry room floor. Your dog may need treatment with an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax, especially if he has a fear of thunder and lightning, which he might associate with rain.
V.A., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: dog Virginia Beach VA
May 20, 2012
I am writing about my 4-year-old male papillon, Papi Lee. I was pleased to have him join me and my 3-year-old rescued female papillon. I have now had Papi Lee for two years.
A few months after I got him, I noticed that he started to stumble a lot. Initially, it just seemed odd, but I soon realized something was wrong.
After observing him for a few months, I took him to my vet. After several visits and a few hundred dollars, the vet found no problem with his inner ears, kidneys, blood and eyes. The vet could not offer an opinion about his problem.
In spring 2011, I was in Alabama visiting my family. I took Papi Lee to a vet there for an ear problem. While there, the vet said that he might have a growth or tumor on his cerebellum, but it would cost a lot of money to find out for sure. The tumor probably couldn't be removed.
Since then, I've been doing all I can to make my pet feel safe and happy. He has an excellent appetite and appears to be in no pain. His back end seems to curve forward when he walks or runs. He falls at the least provocation, but he gets right back up and continues to play. He has fallen off the bed and patio steps, and he stumbles around in the car unless I put him in his bed on the floor on the passenger side.
Since he is failing so quickly, do you think he'll just not be able to get up one day?
V.A., Virginia Beach, Va May 21, 2012
I did some canine neurology research and clinical studies in the past, and, without being able to examine your little dog, the best I can offer is an educated guess to help put your mind at ease.
Your dog most likely has a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia, where the part of the brain that helps control balance and coordination did not develop normally. One test is to cover his eyes with a bandanna. If he cannot walk at all and falls over, it is probably this developmental defect, which he compensates for visually. This condition is not painful, nor is it fatal.
If his condition is actually getting worse, another possibility is hydrocephalus -- water on the brain. Hydrocephalus is not uncommon in toy breeds. Your dog is probably too young for a brain tumor. Either way, you are doing the right thing. So long as he enjoys life and you keep him away from situations where he might fall and injure himself, his handicap is something you can all live with.
P.G., Virginia Beach, Va
Apr 23, 2012
Two years ago, I adopted a beautiful male snowshoe cat from the animal shelter. He is very sweet, natural and content to be with me. But in all this time, I have never heard or felt him purr. I've had cats my entire life, and I have never known one not to be able to purr.
Do you have any explanation for this? He's 4 years old.
P.G., Virginia Beach, Va Apr 24, 2012
There is no scientific answer to your question, only educated guesses about genetics and individual differences. Many readers will attest to the fact that their cats never purr or meow. Some silent cats become vocal after a vocal cat in the home passes on.
Fear is a significant inhibitor of purring. The word "copycat" is appropriate -- cats learn from one another, so being separated from other cats at a young age might account for some cats' vocal sounds not being triggered. Try brushing your cat, and learn some massage therapy to help induce deep relaxation, which I've detailed in my book, "The Healing Touch for Cats." Hearing harp music or Gregorian chants can make cats relax and might get yours into a purring mood.
While cats may purr to relax and convey friendly intentions, one scientific theory holds that the vocal vibrations may influence bone density and help prevent osteoporosis. My view is that since purring may involve circular breathing to create an almost-continuous sound -- a trick some musicians employ, as I do when playing a didgeridoo -- the cats may be inducing a meditative or altered state of consciousness.
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D.B., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: cat Virginia Beach VA
Jan 08, 2012
Last February, a lady with Alzheimer's gave me a very large, beautiful cat. She had kept him in two tiny rooms of her apartment, and she couldn't tell me when or where she got him. She thought he was about 4 years old.
For the first few months with me he seemed happy with his new spaces, including a huge screened balcony with climbers, toys, scratching pads, good food and attention.
Recently he has changed. He will be snuggled close to me with his head in my lap when he suddenly breathes faster, his ears go back and he attacks me with his claws and teeth. Or sometimes when I'm walking, he sneaks up behind me and claws my legs seriously enough to draw blood. Neither my vet, who is excellent, nor our SPCA specialists can tell me how to deal with this. For some reason, he never disturbs me when he is sleeping peacefully at the foot of my bed during the night. I live in a cooperative retirement community in a two-bedroom apartment, so he has plenty of space.
I diagnosed the problem as a fearful, easily frightened cat who needs love and a playmate. The vet suggested a female; the SPCA says to get a male. I do have a backup home available with a relative in Arizona, but I doubt that another big change would help Charlie. I don't want to desert my cat, but what am I to do?
D.B., Virginia Beach, Va Jan 09, 2012
My sympathies go out to you. I believe that your diagnosis may well be correct. Still, I would first rule out a possible underlying medical cause -- hyperactive thyroid disease is all too common and often associated with increased irritability and aggressive behavior.
Next, try behavioral play therapy. Get a cane, and tie a string on it with a small fluffy toy on the end as a lure. Wave it around the cat and across the floor to encourage him to chase and grab. A 20-minute play session, two to three times a day, especially early in the evening, may prove to be the best remedy. Some cats prefer to chase a laser spotlight across the floor and along the walls.
The steps needed to introduce a new cat into a home where there is already one feline occupant are described on my website, www.DrFoxVet.com/info/. This might be the best remedy if your cat wants to engage in rough-and-tumble play fighting. A young adult female cat may be your best choice.
E.H., Virginia Beach, Va
Dec 18, 2011
We adopted a 1-year-old male Siamese-mix cat from the SPCA six months ago. My vet diagnosed him with asthma. She put him on prednisone and prescribed Flovent to be administered with a mask to his face. Between his being a traumatized cat who runs from everything and the expense, this is not an option.
He usually coughs only once or twice per day. Is there anything else we can try? We are retired and on a fixed income. I was told that prednisone could lead to diabetes, hence the prescribing of Flovent.
E.H., Virginia Beach, Va Dec 19, 2011
Asthmatic conditions in cats call for some detective work, provided a viral and/or bacterial infection of the respiratory system has been ruled out. First, every effort should be made to identify environmental sources of allergy-inducing materials. You must also rule out fur balls, which often cause cats to cough and gag when fur is swallowed after grooming and for which most cats need no treatment.
Prescribing prednisone may alleviate symptoms but, as you state, can have harmful consequences with long-term use. Putting a mask on cats is for emergencies only and takes expert handling.
Feline veterinary specialists now associate many cases of asthma with a food allergy. Corn, soy, beef and fish can be asthma triggers.
Try your cat on my home-prepared diet (on my website) or put him on one of the better brands of cat food, like Wellness, Evo or Castor & Pollux Organix. Get rid of all artificially scented products in your cat's environment -- from cat litter to laundry detergent and room fresheners. Many cats are allergic to the volatile chemical fragrances.
P.S., Virginia Beach, Va
Tags: dog Virginia Beach VA
Dec 05, 2011
I just wanted to share my experience for treating warts on my 7-year-old Maltipoo.
An article I read on the Internet had suggested treatment with vitamin E. I applied the vitamin E twice a day to her wart, and after about 10 days the top portion of the wart formed a scab. The scab continued to form down the wart, and I snipped it off after about four weeks. The remaining portion of the wart healed, and the scab fell off by itself two weeks later with this treatment. I continue to treat the tiny bump that remains, which is just about gone.
P.S., Virginia Beach, Va Dec 06, 2011
Many readers whose dogs have warts will appreciate your affirmation of the effectiveness of vitamin E in treating this common skin disease. It is most prevalent in young dogs (who usually develop immunity) and in older dogs whose immune systems have become impaired (often associated with low thyroid activity).
The agent responsible is a papilloma virus that is, fortunately, species-specific in that dogs' warts are not transmissible to humans.
While 20-some varieties of this virus have been identified in human warts, only three varieties have been found afflicting dogs. Cocker spaniels and Kerry blue terriers seem to be particularly prone to one kind that affects the skin. In young dogs, the virus invades the mucous membrane/skin border along the lips and eyelids, ccasionally invading the oral cavity and esophagus.
In the photo gallery on my website (www.DrFoxVet.com/info), you will see documentation of how my dog Tanza removed, with amazing precision, three large warts I discovered and showed her the night before inside the lip of our other dog Lizzie -- a remarkable feat of "canine surgery"!