G.L., Naples, FL
Tags: cat Naples FL
May 14, 2012
In response to a recent letter asking guidance about removing clumped and matted fur on a cat, you suggested various methods, as it's a difficult problem and often requires shaving. I had an experience with this problem two years ago that still upsets me.
I was caring for my son's Himalayan cat while he was out of the country. When I arrived, the cat had quite a few large mats, and my son said it was OK to take her to the vet to be groomed. The vet's office wanted to bathe her first. She had been groomed before, but I was surprised to see the process myself. The groomer did some preliminary grooming, and it didn't look pleasant.
Within an hour and a half, I received a phone call from the vet saying the cat must have had a heart attack. She died! I can hardly believe that such a thing could happen.
After reading your response to the other grooming question, I think that the groomer hurt her terribly. Would grooming put her into shock and cause a fatal attack? The cat was 8 years old and in good physical condition.
I'm still having trouble understanding this, and I feel so terrible about it. Why would an animal care provider subject a little animal to such treatment? I realize that the cat should be groomed at home regularly, but when you seek help to resolve this matting problem, you don't expect your pet to die.
G.L., Naples, FL May 15, 2012
I am sorry for the shocking experience you had with your son's poor cat. All involved at the clinic must have been devastated.
Healthy cats can put up with considerable stress and physical discomfort associated with being groomed and carefully clipped to rid them of irritating and incapacitating clumps of matted fur. But cats with a pre-existing cardiac condition such as a congenital heart defect or enlarged and weak heart (cardiomyopathy) can have complications. This is why normally safe and routine procedures such as spaying and teeth cleaning performed under general anesthesia can prove fatal.
Prior to such procedures, a physical examination is normally done to evaluate and reduce the risk of cardiac arrest and other surgical complications. This is not usually done before grooming. Since the cat had been groomed before with no complications, an unexpected tragedy occurred. If she was frightened and struggled to free herself from being physically restrained, she could have gone into shock, which, in more sensitive and experienced hands, can be avoided.
L.M., Naples, FL
Tags: cat Naples FL
Mar 04, 2012
My fiance has a 10-year-old female tabby cat, Lynx, who lived with another cat until three years ago. This summer, my fiance and Lynx moved to a temporary apartment, and Lynx refused to sleep in her cat bed. Instead, she slept under my fiance's bed. A few months ago, we moved into our house, and Lynx slept in her bed again.
But when we introduced my cat, a docile 10-year-old male, to our home, Lynx became difficult, rejecting all of my fiance's approaches. She growls and will not allow my fiance to hold her. She hisses at my cat, but shows no further signs of aggression. My cat is very respectful of Lynx and has settled into our home very well. But we worry that Lynx may never come around.
L.M., Naples, FL Mar 05, 2012
Cats often have difficulty adapting to new environments and, as in your case, are challenged even more by the presence of an unfamiliar animal or person. What is unfamiliar is often perceived as threatening. Cats may react by hiding or hissing and even attacking defensively. Many cats quickly acclimate to new places once they feel secure and know that what they feared is not a threat.
Try Feliway spray or room diffuser -- the cat-calming pheromone should help. Your fiance should not force contact with his cat for a while, since he has your cat's scent on him. It is fortunate that your cat is so adaptable. Check my website, for steps to introduce two cats for the first time, since this may help.
J.S., Naples, FL
Jan 08, 2012
I am the owner of a beautiful yet stubborn male shih tzu named Gizmo who is 4 years old. I have had Gizzy since he was 6 weeks old. As a brief background, he would unlock his crate, do his business in the crate (large or small), chew pee pee pads, knock down the gate and roam around the house. He was potty trained at an early age, but he likes to pee on carpet, whether it's a throw rug or bedroom rug.
How can I prevent him from urinating on my rugs? We have used just about every spray available, and none seems to faze him. People have said that this is common behavior of a shih tzu, but I've never found evidence that this is true.
J.S., Naples, FL Jan 09, 2012
I share your frustration and wish I had an easy solution. In some instances of house soiling, cystitis can be at the root (especially in female dogs). Urinary tract stress and calculi should be ruled out with your dog.
Certain breeds, like shih tzus, are prone to develop bladder stones and are also prone to what seems to be cognitive impairment -- in this case, the inability to associate being outdoors as the place and time to evacuate. This impairment often arises when dogs are conditioned as pups to urinate indoors, especially in training or holding crates.
Ruling out any underlying medical condition, you must go back to Toilet Training 101. Scolding will only increase anxiety and possibly encourage urination and territorial marking. Go online or get a basic dog training book for housebreaking details.
M.W., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL
Jan 02, 2012
I recently acquired a female Chihuahua from Canine Castaways. She is 5 years old. She can be very timid, but gets quite vocal and aggravated when my husband gives me something or touches me. She doesn't snap but looks as if she will. She has not nipped him, but she will not go with him unless I give the OK. Other times, she will sit with him and play.
How can I lessen her aggression with him? When going for walks, she will go only if I am with them. We have had Chihuahuas before, but they have always treated us equally. We would like her to be a two-person dog.
M.W., Naples, FL Jan 03, 2012
As long as your husband doesn't feel rejected (some immature spouses actually become jealous in situations like yours), half the problem is solved. Acceptance of your dog's immediate bonding and preference toward you is a first step. She may have been teased or abused by a male, and it will take time for her to trust your husband.
Have your husband take her for walks along with you, using a harness rather than a neck collar, and after a few days send them off without you going along. Have him take over grooming, passing him the brush as you are grooming the dog. Ditto with the food bowl -- bend down with it in your hand, call the dog over to you, then give the bowl to your hubby to put down. This way, she should learn to trust him. When your husband gives you something or touches you and your dog acts protectively or seems jealous, you can teach her self-restraint by putting her on the floor and getting her to sit and stay. Then reward her for good behavior. A dog-training clicker to make a distracting sound is an alternative, as is a squeaky toy to redirect her attention.
F.P., Naples, FL
Tags: bird Naples FL grieving
Oct 17, 2011
I enjoy reading your column in our newspaper, and I would like to share with you a story about the appearance of a sweet little bird during a very emotional time for me.
My mother always loved nature, especially birds, and the little wren was her favorite. We lived on a small farm in northern Minnesota, so you could say Mother Nature was all around us.
My dear mom died in December 1979. On that very cold day, as we all gathered at the cemetery and the priest was reciting prayers, a little gray bird came from nowhere and flew right onto the coffin, fluttering and chirping away.
It has been 32 years since that event, and I am convinced that little gray bird was chirping "goodbye" to my mom.
F.P., Naples, FL Oct 18, 2011
Thank you for your moving account of the little bird alighting on your mother's coffin. Birds do seem to somehow "connect" when a person dies, especially with one who had a deep love and respect for all creatures great and small, and offer spiritual consolation for those in mourning.
S.P. of Syria, Va., wrote to me about a blue heron that stood on the site where her son was murdered the day before. Later that day, a blue heron circled repeatedly over a nursery her son used to visit, and the following day there was a blue heron in her front yard.
E.L.M. of Bloomfield, N.J., was visited every morning by a bird as she sat outdoors drinking her coffee and mourning the death of her husband.
L.C.V. of Bethesda, Md., related that she has two distinct memories of her mother's death nine years ago:
"One was just around the day she died. I was in her bedroom and heard a loud fluttering. Approaching the window, I found a bird on the outside flapping its wings to stay put, since there was no ledge to perch on. We looked each other square in the eye and it then flew away, leaving that vision in my memory forever.
"Sometime near the day of her remembrance party, a bird flew into the house. I've lived in that house on and off for 43 years now, and that is the only time a bird has ever been in the house. I left the door open and it returned to the outdoors, but left a comforting memory."
During times of grief, we may look for "signs" of consolation, which could be sheer coincidence, but perhaps not. Either way, creatures wild and tame can provide spiritual comfort and affirmation that we are all participants in the great mystery of existence and should treat all living beings with respect and loving kindness.
C.D., Naples, FL
Tags: cat Naples FL feral
Aug 07, 2011
I am moving soon with a very nervous feral cat and a very needy rescue cat, and they do not get along at all. The move is 1,200 miles, and I will be stopping at a motel for one night.
My main concern is my feral cat. She rarely comes out of my bedroom. She plays with me at night and is very loving, but only toward me. She "freaks out" at odd noises and other people and won't let me pick her up.
I'm not as concerned about my rescue cat. I think she'll be OK. But how do I keep my sweet little feral cat from totally stressing out and stressing me out while I'm trying to drive? I've had her for three years and she's been in a cage only once -- when I took her to be spayed and get shots.
Any help or advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
C.D., Naples, FL Aug 07, 2011
I see no easy solution for moving your feral cat with minimal stress to all concerned. There are companies that hire drivers (often students) to deliver cars, and that might be one option, depending on where you are going. I would find two drivers who could take turns napping and driving to avoid an overnight stopover.
Keep the poor cat in a large wire cage with perforated floor so she can relieve herself. Set the cage in the rear seat in a tray filled with cat litter. Get a dropper bottle so she can lick water as needed, and put her favorite dry food in a container secured inside the cage.
You might try this cage and litter box setup yourself, but keep the cat in the cage when you stop for the night. If the evening is cool and the cat is crying a lot, it might be best to leave her in the locked car with the windows cracked.
HOT DOG ALERT: Aside from dogs being left too long in hot cars, this summer I have seen far too many people taking their dogs to craft fairs, parades and other public events; making their dogs play in the water at lakes; and even jogging with their dogs.
It seems to me that many dog owners, young and old, have forgotten how hot and humid weather can severely stress and even kill their dogs. Dogs are closer to the hot pavement than we are, so they really feel the heat. Taking dogs to a lake or stream to cool off in humid weather can make things worse for dogs, while we feel refreshed. Dogs cannot cool off properly when both temperature and humidity are high because they cannot sweat like us. Instead, they rely on evaporative cooling while they pant. This mechanism does not work well when the dew point is high. To take dogs out in hot and humid weather for any extended period of time is both cruel and irresponsible. Heat stress can lead rapidly to heat stroke, which can be fatal.
A.G., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL
Jul 11, 2011
Last July, I was presented an adorable little female part-Pomeranian dog. She was (and is) a great companion, but no pets are allowed at my condo, so I left her in the capable hands of my son.
Last week he took her to the local vet because she was holding up her right rear leg and walking on three legs. The vet gave my son Rimadyl. My son looked it up and worried about side effects to the kidney and liver. At Wikipedia (a free online encyclopedia), he found a description of luxating patella and thinks this is what's happening to our dog, although the vet did not mention that.
Please tell us how to treat her so she won't have to limp. She is about 1 year old and weighs 8 pounds or less.
A.G., Naples, FL Jul 11, 2011
I have expressed concerns in this column repeatedly over the widespread prescribing of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as Rimadyl, especially to young, small breeds like yours. That is not to say that this class of drugs cannot give older animals much relief when safer alternative medications and therapies such as acupuncture, low-intensity laser and massage therapy do not help. A relatively new anti-inflammatory herbal product, resveratrol canine, is on the market, but I am not sure of published studies of safety and effectiveness.
I think your son may be right -- that your dog has a "trick knee," which is common in small breeds and should be surgically corrected. Seek a second opinion, and if this is the case, then the first veterinarian should be fully questioned and possibly reported to the state board of veterinary examiners and Better Business Bureau.
DIABETES IN PETS ON THE RISE
Over the past four years, diabetes rates in the United States increased roughly 33 percent among dogs and 16 percent among cats, according to a national analysis of pet health by the Banfield Pet Hospital complex. This is associated with obesity, as many pets are overweight. Smaller dog breeds are becoming more popular and are especially prone to develop dental problems and possibly associated diabetes. According to the report, outer ear inflammations are prevalent. In my opinion, these are often associated with food allergy since the best preventive is a change in diet.
D.W., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL diet food
May 01, 2011
We own a 9-year-old, 12-pound female schipperke. She eats Science Diet Adult Small Bites and has good, consistent healthcare with a qualified local vet. We think a great deal of this doctor, and he has given her the best of care over the years, which includes bringing her through a life-threatening bout of canine lupus two years ago, for which he still monitors her closely.
To all outward appearances, she seems like a normal healthy schipperke -- active, curious, stubborn, has a thick, shiny black coat and is sometimes friendly toward people. Her one obvious problem is extremely bad breath. We think it must come from her stomach and is caused by the illness because she has sparkling teeth regularly cleaned by our veterinarian. In addition, her teeth are brushed nightly with Virbac's CET toothpaste.
Are you familiar with this foul-smelling breath caused by dogs with canine lupus? If so, is there anything at all we can do for it? She has a good appetite, tolerates food and treats well (maybe a little too well), and is regular in her bowel behavior.
D.W., Naples, FL May 01, 2011
Considering that your dog has a clean and healthy mouth but still has nasty halitosis, I would first explore changing her diet to a non-processed, whole-food formula free of additives and food-and-beverage industry byproducts. Many readers have told me how, in just a few weeks, transitioning their dogs onto my home-prepared dog-food recipe got rid of halitosis, bad body odor, dull coats, poor appetite and lacking zest for life.
Providing her with a daily supplement of probiotics or a tablespoon or two of plain live yogurt or kefir between meals may prove beneficial, improving digestion and even immune-system function. The supplement SAM-e (S-Adenosylmethionine) may also prove beneficial when given daily; many veterinarians recommend it for older dogs with chronic liver, joint and other health problems.
Cut out all treats except natural, freeze-dried beef, chicken or wild salmon. You can also try my buckwheat-based cookie recipe found on my website, along with my basic home-prepared dog food at DrFoxVet.com/info/.
B.C., Naples, FL
Apr 18, 2011
We adopted a wonderful Maine coon cat. She came from terrible conditions at a cat breeder. She spent part of her early years in a cage with many other Maine coon cats. The Domestic Animals Service rescued the cats.
She was filthy, and her paws were burned from the urine in the cage. She has adapted beautifully to our home as our only pet and is our joy. The vet said that he thinks she is 3 or 4 years old.
When she has been sleeping, she wakes up crying. When I pick her up to comfort her, it stops. Could she be having bad dreams of her past? I have had several cats over my 64 years, and this is the first time I have seen this behavior.
B.C., Naples, FL Apr 18, 2011
Kudos to you for providing love and care for this poor cat rescued from such cruel conditions.
I trust the Maine coon cat breeder was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and was prohibited from ever keeping animals again. Many breeding facilities for cats and dog "puppy mills" are atrocious and should be more effectively policed for animal neglect and cruelty.
It is quite possible that your cat is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, after bad dreams and memories reliving her past life in a cage, wakes up crying in distress. She is fortunate to have you close by to comfort and reassure her, giving the security and affection she needs.
L.A., Naples, FL
Feb 13, 2011
My 2-year-old female toy fox terrier was diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). I've been feeding her your recommended recipe without the wheat germ, which seems to quell her symptoms. I also give her vitamins, probiotics and Viokase.
Is the diet enough for her, or does she need something more? Kibble reactivates her diarrhea. The meds are expensive. She went from 13 pounds to eight pounds in just four months.
L.A., Naples, FL Feb 13, 2011
This is one of the more common endocrine diseases in dogs. The jury is still out as to the specific causes of this important gland not producing digestive enzymes. Infection, diet and genetic background can all play a role, as well as autoimmune disease possibly associated with adverse reactions to vaccinations.
Keep your dog away from all fatty foods, treats and leftovers. In addition to the good nutrition you are already providing (using meats low in fat content), you can also give a little beef liver and beef heart, lightly boiled, and a daily dose of probiotics and digestive enzymes that your veterinarian or local health store can provide (giving about one-quarter the daily human dose).