W.Q., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: cat Winston-Salem NC
Jul 23, 2012
I want to express my appreciation for your work. Thank you for relaying the importance of giving filtered water to dogs and, especially, cats. My two cats, 8-year-old littermates, seemed to be declining. They had frequent bouts of vomiting, refused to eat and seemed depressed. After changing their diets and many costly veterinary tests, they did not improve. They ate plenty of dry food and drank plenty of water. When I stopped giving them water from the tap, they seemed better. Now I give them pure bottled water, and, thanks to your advice, they are full of life and are more playful and active.
W.Q., Winston-Salem, NC Jul 24, 2012
Water quality is a major health concern for humans and other animals. It is one component of health care that is easily overlooked. But according to the evidence that I have compiled, it is a major public health issue that cannot be ignored. Visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, for more information.
N.M., Winston-Salem, NC
Jun 24, 2012
My cat Samantha and I want to thank you for writing about feeding cats several small meals a day if they eat too fast and vomit. That was Samantha's issue -- not hair balls or a food allergy, which you also suggested could be the cause.
The other night, we watched "My Cat From Hell," the TV show with cat "expert" Jackson Galaxy, who told the couple to feed their cat twice a day only. How many viewers are going to take his wrong advice and have puking cats?
N.M., Winston-Salem, NC Jun 25, 2012
This reminds me of some of the cat-food ads -- even featured during this show -- where a cat races to the food bowl and gobbles down the dry kibble like a dog would. This irresponsible advertising gives the impression that this is how cats normally eat. In actuality, the cats used in these commercials are clearly food deprived and, therefore, ravenous.
A cat fed twice a day may behave in this way, and like your Samantha, have episodes of vomiting, experience digestive upsets and have diarrhea. Feeding twice a day is not the best way to have a cat lose weight or become more sociable. Feline veterinary experts, nutritionists and behaviorists are unanimous that a twice-a-day feeding schedule, which is fine for dogs, is biologically inappropriate for cats. At least four small meals a day is closer to the natural feeding pattern.
It is regrettable that there is such poor control over what gets put on television these days, especially with regard to programs about dogs, cats and pet care. I wonder about the qualifications of purported experts and advisers, and I find many of these shows exploitative of animals and of the human-animal bond. And all of this to sell advertisements promoting dubious pet foods, pet products and even purebred and exotic animals. Sound science, common sense and ethics seem to have been lost in the commercial haze and celebrity daze of these vacuous times.
R.W., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: dog Winston-Salem NC diet food ear
Jun 04, 2012
I have a 4-year-old female shih tzu who has chronic ear infections. She weighs 15 pounds. Her problem is pretty much controlled with Royal Canin Hypoallergenic dry and moist dog food.
I would like to prepare moist food myself. I printed a copy of your recommended food recipe from the Internet, and I would like to know how much of my home-prepared food I should give her daily? How much dry food? She eats twice daily.
She is active and healthy, except for the chronic ear problem.
R.W., Winston-Salem, NC Jun 05, 2012
Please visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, and search the column archives to find answers to questions concerning ear problems in dogs and effective treatments.
Changing the diet is not the only answer, but not addressing diet as a possible cause amounts to veterinary negligence, since so many dogs with chronic ear -- and anal gland -- problems have an underlying food allergy or intolerance. The proof is in the "evidence-based medicine," documenting improvement after changing to a basic, whole-food diet with known ingredients. It is often only then that treatments applied to the ears help the healing process.
After weighing your dog, feed her 1/2-cup home-prepared food plus 1/2-cup dry food twice daily. Weigh again after two to three weeks, and adjust the amount to maintain normal weight. If your dog is overweight, have the veterinarian help determine the optimal weight for her breed.
J.L.C., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: dog Winston-Salem NC crating
Mar 18, 2012
I work all day and get home soon after 5. (I live fairly close to where I work.) I think I want a puppy. The cockapoo breeder I've chosen says it would be best to keep the puppy in a crate while I am gone. That would help house-training, too, and stop the pup from messing and chewing things while I am gone.
So should I keep the pup in the cage for the night? And will she need to stay in the crate when she is older?
J.L.C., Winston-Salem, NC Mar 19, 2012
Please think twice about getting a puppy. Instead, consider adopting two littermate kittens.
I would like to know how many poor puppies and dogs suffer the kind of fate you are contemplating. This cruel practice of crating is widespread, as I have learned while visiting friends in an apartment complex where small dogs are allowed. Most of the dogs, apparently, are crated while their owners are at work. This is disgusting. Dogs are pack animals who need social stimulation and will suffer separation anxiety, boredom and loneliness while caged.
Having to hold urine and feces for the long hours of confinement, especially for active, growing young dogs or older dogs with kidney problems, is animal cruelty and neglect.
I have seen the results of long-term crating -- poor muscle tone, deformed limbs, splayed feet, neurotic obsessive-compulsive self-grooming, paw chewing and nervous tics like repetitive movement behaviors.
A crate should be used only for house-training pups. Leave the crate open to serve as a secure den once the dog is house-trained. Anyone working long hours should leave his or her dogs in a safe, open room -- ideally with a window -- and have a dog walker come over at least once per day. Leaving a TV or radio on can help alleviate separation anxiety and, hopefully, associated barking and destructive behavior. Stuffing hollow rubber dog toys with treats or frozen peanut butter can make time alone a little less stressful, as can the company of another dog or compatible cat.
J.B., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: cat Winston-Salem NC diet food
Jan 23, 2012
I have an ndoor/outdoor male cat, 9 years old. He has been eating the Hill's Science Diet cat food as recommended by our vet when he was little. The label shows that the main ingredient is chicken byproduct meal, followed by grains. This does not seem healthy.
Could you please recommend a food for a healthy adult cat? I have a bad feeling we followed advice that may be harmful to our cat. He is healthy except for a cyst on his back.
J.B., Winston-Salem, NC Jan 24, 2012
You are right to be concerned about what the veterinarian sold you to feed to your cat.
Even though your cat's health seems OK, I would transition him gradually over a five- to seven-day period to a healthier diet containing whole foods and, ideally, organically certified, fresh ingredients. For my preferred list of dog and cat foods, please visit my website. There, you can access the archives, which have my syndicated newspaper answers to many pet health and behavioral questions like yours.
Some cats, dogs and humans adapt to certain diets that cause no health problems, while others don't do so well, succumbing to various diet-linked illnesses such as diabetes and arthritis. Genetics plays a significant role, which should mean that good breeding and good nutrition go hand in hand. Some pet food "experts" contend that it's simply a process of natural selection -- those cats who do OK on a manufactured non-carnivorous, high-cereal or even vegetarian diet will eventually become the majority in the population through survival of the fittest.
But it's not that simple now that there is a majority population of neutered animals being fed manufactured pet foods that may not provide optimal nutrition. Some will do fine and others, sooner or later, won't. But those who happen to do fine will not pass on their genetic attributes, however, because they have been neutered. So the natural selection process argument for adaptation is null and void!
J.V.S., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: dog Winston-Salem NC chewing
Nov 13, 2011
Our 16-year-old dog, Mandy, a terrier mix, has suddenly started to chew things that she never did before -- the edge of a pillow, her blanket, an extension cord (fortunately unplugged) and the leg of a chair.
It seems to happen while we are gone from the home for a while. Any suggestions to stop this behavior will be appreciated.
J.V.S., Winston-Salem, NC Nov 14, 2011
Your dog's chewing behavior may be purely psychological, stemming from a combination of age-related insecurity (often brought on by loss of hearing and/or vision), separation anxiety or senile dementia.
Take her with you whenever you can, but first have her thoroughly examined by a veterinarian for a possible underlying physical cause, such as chronic pain arising from arthritis, dental problems or cancer. One of the cardinal signs of chronic discomfort in old dogs is obsessive chewing that can be aggravated when they are left alone. A full health checkup to help identify what is troubling your dog should provide the answer as to the best course of treatment.
Regrettably, old dogs behaving like yours are too often punished, put up for adoption or euthanized. Adult dogs younger than yours can become compulsive chewers because they must endure unstimulating lives of solitary indoor confinement while the human family members are away all day at work and school. Far too many are kept in a crate or cage and develop abnormal obsessive behaviors such as compulsively licking and chewing their paws or bedding in their enclosure.
At about 10 years of age, one of our dogs periodically sought out any small object she could find -- such as a ballpoint pen or notepad paper, or leaves and twigs when outdoors -- to chew and swallow. She would do this to induce vomiting, which can be an indication of mild stomach irritation or nausea associated with more serious conditions such as chronic liver disease. Blood tests revealed the latter, which was corrected with appropriate supplements (including the miraculous milk thistle) and a special diet. Her seemingly obsessive behavior, termed "pica," quickly subsided as she returned to good health.
V.W.S., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: dog Winston-Salem NC
Oct 23, 2011
I am thinking about getting a schnauzer puppy. A friend of mine has one with a natural tail. Should I get one with a docked tail like in the dog breed books? I can't make up my mind.
We are at our wits' end and are considering euthanizing him because he seems miserable and smells horrible. Our grandkids can't even pet him anymore. Thank you for any advice you may have.
V.W.S., Winston-Salem, NC Oct 22, 2011
Regular readers of my column know that I am opposed to docking dogs' tails (except for valid medical reasons) and cropping their ears. I spell out the many reasons in my new book, "Healing Animals & the Vision of One Health" (available on Amazon.com).
Briefly, docking can have serious medical and possibly behavioral consequences, because dogs use their tails to communicate. There is also the ethical question of mutilating an animal for purely aesthetic or breed-fashion reasons. In some countries, including the U.K., routine tail docking and ear cropping are prohibited.
I also advocate adoption from shelters, which you may wish to consider rather than purchasing a purpose-bred companion puppy. If you go through a breeder, you will have to choose the pup you want and ask that his or her tail be left intact, because docking is usually done within the first few days of life.
R.E.O., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: cat Winston-Salem NC
Oct 16, 2011
My cat has developed a worrying habit. She is 12 years old and is very fit -- she catches at least two animals a week. But recently, she has been panting heavily after any small amount of exercise.
Is she getting old and fat, or is it the heat outside? A friend suggested she might have diabetes. She weighs 12 pounds. What is your opinion?
R.E.O., Winston-Salem, NC Oct 17, 2011
It disturbs me that you allow your cat outdoors to kill wild creatures on a regular basis. Cats like yours have a collective negative impact on wildlife in many areas, killing ground-nesting birds, fledgling songbirds and small mammals. They can bring home harmful diseases -- notably toxoplasmosis, rabies, plague and tularemia -- and, most commonly, fleas and ticks that transmit various diseases to humans. Free-roaming cats can also pick up serious diseases from other cats infected with various viruses such as feline immunodeficiency disease (cat AIDS), for which there is no protective vaccination.
Your overweight, panting cat should have an immediate veterinary examination. Diabetes is one possibility, but other reasons for the declining exercise tolerance, such as cardiomyopathy (a common feline heart disease), need to be checked for and appropriate treatment initiated.
Please consider keeping your cat indoors and taking her out for walks around her usual haunts wearing a comfortable harness and leash.
W.F.P., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: cat Winston-Salem NC fleas
Oct 02, 2011
My sweet new kitten has me puzzled. She's been wormed and vaccinated, but sometimes when she's lying down, I've seen some white things. They are about the size of a grain of rice, and they seem to move. Is it my imagination or is my cat infested with maggots or something?
W.F.P., Winston-Salem, NC Oct 03, 2011
You are probably seeing segments of a tapeworm, which look like grains of rice and can actually wriggle out of an animal's rear end. These segments contain eggs that are eaten by flea larvae on the ground. When the infected larvae mature into adult fleas that hop onto your cat, the tapeworm cysts inside the fleas complete their life cycle. The cat catches and swallows the fleas, and once inside, the parasites attach themselves with hooks and suckers to the inner lining of the cat's intestines.
Getting rid of the tapeworms will take two things:
- Worming medication to rid the cat of the parasite;
- Thorough flea eradication, which means using safe chemicals and other treatments on your cats and in your home. For details, check my website.
R.D.R., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: cat Winston-Salem NC diet food constipation
Sep 12, 2011
We have a female 12-year-old, dark-gray cat with white boots and the darkest green eyes I've ever seen. She weighs about 8 pounds and seems in general good health. However, for the last two to three years, she has become chronically constipated. Her vet has prescribed 2 to 2 1/2 milligrams of Lactulose that she takes every other day to get a bowel movement. She will not have a bowel movement without it.
Lately, her dosage has increased to 2 1/2 milligrams, and even then it may not work and another dosage is given the next day. This usually does the trick. She hates the medication and we must hold her paws to give it to her.
She is not a heavy eater, but she will eat a little Friskies Chicken/Tuna and a little dry EVO -- just a little of both. We did try to feed her the natural diet from your website about two years ago, but she turned up her nose at all efforts to ease her into it. Do you have any other suggestions?
R.D.R., Winston-Salem, NC Sep 13, 2011
Cats can be finicky. One of my own refuses to eat my home-prepared diet (as detailed on my website) and prefers dry food over canned or raw -- and he was a feral cat, so go figure! He at least drinks plenty of water. (If he did not I would, of course, moisten his dry food.)
Chronic constipation and megacolon (where feces pile up in an enlarged colon and require periodic enemas to remove) are common feline afflictions. These conditions are aggravated, if not caused, by high starch and fiber in dry cat foods and by a lack of physical activity.
An exercise program for your cat is called for. Purchase various interactive toys such as a wand, fishing pole, dangling lures and laser lights to get your cat to play, especially early in the evening before her last meal.
Feed her three or four small meals a day, adding a drop of fish oil or olive oil and gradually working up to 1 teaspoon daily. Get her used to a daily abdominal massage -- several readers have told me this helps cats who are constipated or suffer megacolon. Another cat to play with is probably the best medicine for a variety of maladies.