S.M.Z., Poughkeepsie, NY
Tags: cat Poughkeepsie NY
Apr 21, 2013
I adopted two cats from a shelter in July. The vet there gave them a clean bill of health. Later, I took them to my own vet and was told the same.
Over time, I noticed that Jay's "third eyelid" showed more frequently than on any of my previous cats. I went to the Internet and saw that it was a sign of all kinds of problems. I emailed the vet's office and was told to bring her in. I have not done so yet because I don't see it as frequently and she shows no other symptoms. My concern is that she has only one good eye, so I would hate for her to lose the other.
Can I safely wait to take her in?
S.M.Z., Poughkeepsie, NY Apr 22, 2013
If I read your letter correctly, you adopted a one-eyed cat from the shelter. I applaud your choice, since most people are repulsed at the sight of "defective" animals. Those who have suffered and had to have a leg amputated or eye removed surely deserve to experience the affection and security of a loving home.
It may be less traumatic for your cat to have a veterinarian come and examine her in your home. Many animal doctors do house calls.
The good eye should be examined, and your cat should be given a full physical. The eye could be affected by a condition called sympathetic opthalmia, triggered by the optic nerve stump in the empty eye socket. This may not be harmful, but an eye examination is advisable since, as you found on the Internet, extrusion of the third eyelid (or nictitating membrane) could be a signal of possible ocular disease.
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.
Apr 14, 2013
I recently wrote in about our two cats. The first cat had a bowel problem, and you asked us to write back with the type of food we switched to that fixed it.
We were feeding him Friskies, but after reading your book on why cats have trouble processing many dry cat foods, we switched him to Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance. We used the green pea and chicken variety. There is no recurrence of the bowel issues with either the canned or dry food.
Our other cat developed a problem of urinating in our basement. We lived in this house for four years before the problem started. The concrete floor was painted when we first moved in. We took the cat to the vet to have him checked for any urinary tract issues. We cleaned the entire floor with a safe, homemade cleaning solution that we read about in your book. We used a black light to try to detect and clean up after the urinating, but this did not help. We also used a pheromone room diffuser, which made the problem worse. We tried a pheromone spray, added extra litter boxes, tuck-pointed the walls (we were afraid that the slight crumbling of mortar was confusing and might be seen as cat litter) and repainted the floor.
We would welcome any suggestions or ideas you might have to stop this behavior.
Apr 15, 2013
I always appreciate feedback from readers who have found my advice helpful (or not) in dealing with health or behavioral problem in their dogs and cats. You have really done all that you can to solve your cat's unwanted behavior, and I commend you for your endurance!
Many cats develop a habitual place-fixation of evacuating outside their litter boxes on the basement floor. I interpret this behavior as being triggered by the earthy and sometimes moldy scent of the cement floor. Most cats will stop soiling the floor when it is sealed with a few coats of epoxy resin-type paint. Temporarily, after cleaning or treating the floor with a sealant, I would cover it with thick plastic sheeting. You can drag this outside, hose it down and let dry as needed. Relocating the litter box and whatever else is in the basement for the cats to one of the upper floors is another option.
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.
B.M., Hays, NC
Tags: dog NC diet food Hays
Apr 13, 2013
I have two female mixed-breed dogs. Both have been spayed. Sadie is almost 13 years old, and Pudge is almost 11 years old.
I have washed them in flea shampoo and they both wear flea collars, but they scratch and lick their hindquarters incessantly. Sadie's back legs are now bare; Pudge's hair is thinning.
The licking and hair loss really alarm me. They will often lick until a small puddle forms on the floor. They have all their shots.
Any help for getting to a happier place for my girls would be truly appreciated.
B.M., Hays, NC Apr 14, 2013
Your poor dogs must be suffering. Please understand that many -- probably millions -- of people believe that when a dog scratches a lot, it must have fleas. So they treat the dog with costly and hazardous chemicals in collars, dips, drops and pills. If there is only one flea, some dogs will scratch like mad because they are allergic to fleabites; others are less bothered by having fleas. But there are also other reasons why dogs scratch.
You should have a veterinarian examine your dogs to rule out fleas and consider other likely causes. At the top of my list is an allergy or hypersensitivity to some ingredient in their food. You should also consider something they may contact frequently, such as a chemically treated deck or lawn, new or recently cleaned carpet or floor, or possible inhalation of air freshener.
You must become a detective -- and buy a flea comb!
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.
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."