I.M., Galesburg, IL
Tags: dog IL Galesburg
Apr 21, 2014
Why do some dogs chase cars and others howl when they hear the tornado test siren? I live in a rural area, and these dogs drive me mad. I have a dog who does none of these things, and I am the only person around who walks him on a leash. Most are chained up or let out to roam.
I.M., Galesburg, IL Apr 22, 2014
The answer to both questions is instinct. Dogs chase vehicles and kids on bicycles, which can be a hazard, as a displaced prey-chasing activity. I know of some vehicle-chasing country dogs, along with turtles and any creature on the road, being deliberately run over by some drivers.
People in rural areas should take responsible and appropriate care of their dogs, which means not letting them roam free or live most of their lives on a chain. There is a disturbing undercurrent in rural America of animal, child and spousal abuse -- all connected -- which calls for the ethical revival of a civilization in decline. Living in Minnesota, I am shocked that thousands of mainly rural people apply for permits to shoot wolves and other "trophy" species as a recreational sport.
C.C., Fallon, Mo
Tags: dog MO diet food Fallon
Apr 21, 2014
A close friend has a police dog (a German shepherd, bred in Germany for that purpose) with severe health issues.
The major problem is pancreatic enzyme deficiency. His vet has him on pancreatic tabs, but he still has loose stools, is very thin and his coat is dry and lackluster. He also has recurrent ear infections, but I think that is a separate issue.
Is there a natural diet or any type of supplements that could help this wonderful dog?
C.C., Fallon, Mo Apr 22, 2014
This is a very prevalent issue for German shepherds, which used to be confused with chronic colitis associated with stress and sensitive temperaments. Chronic disease of the pancreas, producing insufficient digestive enzymes, is a problem more common in certain breeds like your friend''s dog and is thought to be a kind of exhaustion due to having to digest a high-carbohydrate diet.
I would advise that the dog be gradually transitioned -- over five to seven days -- onto a grain- and soy-free diet, digestive enzymes (a few pieces of canned pineapple will provide these), plus a twice-daily human dose of good-quality probiotics and a few drops of fish oil to provide essential fatty acids to help improve the dog''s coat and overall condition.
Check my website for more details. Let me know how the poor dog progresses.
J.H., Winston-Salem, NC
Tags: cat Winston-Salem NC diet food
Apr 20, 2014
My 10-year-old cat''s appetite has diminished. I tried some dry food, but that helps only for a short time. He seems OK, but I worry. Normally, I feed him a small can of Friskies in various flavors. I have been throwing so much food out, but I am afraid of switching brands at his age. Thank you.
J.H., Winston-Salem, NC Apr 21, 2014
One of the basic rules of knowing when an animal needs to see a veterinarian is when there is any significant change in appetite without any change in what the animal is normally being fed, and in thirst. These behaviors can be easily monitored and quantified. It is advisable to know the weight of the animal, which will help determine, over time, if weight is being lost or gained. This is why an annual physical with the veterinarian is advisable, and for cats, many veterinarians now do in-home visits that are far less stressful.
There are some better-quality and probably more palatable manufactured cat foods that I endorse, posted on my website, DrFoxVet.com. Note that the quality and kinds of ingredients in pet foods from batch to batch can change when companies get different ingredients from different sources and share manufacturing facilities with other companies rather than having their own facility.
Gerber''s meaty baby foods often perk up a cat''s appetite, but may not be best if proper treatment for some underlying ailment is delayed simply because the cat starts eating again.
Considering your cat''s age, the problem could be chronic kidney disease, so I would waste no time and make a veterinary appointment.
E.P., Roeland Park, Kan
Tags: cat Roeland Park KAN
Apr 20, 2014
My boyfriend and I are getting ready to move in together into a new-to-us home. We each have a pet: I have a 7-year-old formerly feral cat, and he has a 2-year-old golden retriever mix from the pound. Both pets are extremely important to us.
My cat can be grumpy. She loves me and she loves my boyfriend, but it takes awhile for her to warm up to most people -- and forget about dogs. She''s met a few in her life, but it usually ends up with her hiding in various places and not showing her face for hours.
The dog is wonderful. She''s sweet and well-trained, but she has no experience with cats, and she''s very energetic.
I''m nervous about how to introduce them. I''d really like these soon-to-be sisters to get along. My worst nightmare would be that the cat ends up spending her whole life in the basement, trying to keep away from the dog. (We are designating the basement as a cat-only zone, complete with a cat-sized entrance, to ensure that she feels safe.)
Is there anything we can do to make sure our pets like each other? Thank you so much!
E.P., Roeland Park, Kan Apr 21, 2014
First, I trust that your cat is a good judge of character. That she gets on with your significant other is an important test!
Several days before the interspecies co-habitation commences:
-- Have your boyfriend bring over a blanket or towel that his dog has been sleeping on for a week, and switch it for one your cat has been sleeping on. This way the animals will get to know each other''s scent.
-- Have a tape recording of the dog''s barks and play it occasionally at low volume for the cat.
-- Keep the dog on a leash when she first comes in to your home. The cat will probably hiss and run away. Putting a couple of drops of essential oil of lavender on your cat''s neck prior to this first introduction may have some calming effect.
-- It is debatable if one should allow the cat to run away and hide rather than facing up to the dog while being held in your arms (protected by a padded coat) or in a harness and leash. This is called "total immersion."
My choice would be to take a weekend before dog and boyfriend move in, ideally the next long weekend, and keep the pets in the same room, one way or another. Leash the dog, but allow her to sniff around and settle down. Groom and pet the dog, and give her treats. Ditto for your cat if she is not too out of her mind. Maybe put on some music or watch TV. Then your boyfriend should leave with the dog and come back after two to three hours for another session and more through the weekend.
Your cat-only basement safe zone may work, but she may hide there forever. If you don''t want that to happen, be sure there is no place down there where she may get trapped between wall and pipes because you will have to bring her up to spend time with the dog and overcome her fear. Set up a baby gate with sufficient space beneath it for your cat to slip under so she can get to her litter box. Otherwise, the dog may start cleaning it out.
You may want to set up a separate feeding and drinking area temporarily for your cat with a similar gate set-up to keep the dog out if you are not using the basement for this purpose.
If your cat is not too spooked, leave her drinking water in the usual place (presumably upstairs) and with the dog''s water bowl next to it. Eventually, they may share the same bowl.
Initially, after the dog has been fed (and let the cat see this), restrain the dog when it is time to feed the cat in her usual place upstairs. If you opt for basement feeding and litter box for the cat, she may prefer to start living down there.
Best wishes to all of you. Cats and dogs do not have an innate animosity so much as cats have an instinctual, self-protective fear of larger animals, and their flight response triggers the dog''s chase reaction. Once these innate reactions are diffused, cats and dogs can be buddies for life. One cat I know of became a seeing-eye guide for her blind canine companion!
C.B., Fort Myers, FL
Apr 14, 2014
My Lhasa apso is 9 years old. She has been scratching so much that she bleeds. The problem is all over her body -- there''s no specific place. She scratches her ears, belly, sides, etc.
My vet thought she might be allergic to chicken, so I changed her food to Pinnacle Grain-Free Salmon and Potato, yet she is still itching. I am giving her medicine almost every day for a bacterial yeast skin infection, and she has special shampoo to help with this issue -- Selsun Blue does not give her enough relief. She is still scratching everywhere.
I have been to five vets, and they do not know what she is allergic to or what is causing this issue. Any advice?
C.B., Fort Myers, FL Apr 15, 2014
You have certainly had the run-around with this poor dog. What you have learned is a fact, not of veterinary incompetence, but of the difficulty in diagnosing and curing your dog''s dermatological disease.
I am sure that treatment with long-acting prednisone and with a non-drowsy antihistamine has been tried. If not, I would be in shock. There are skin tests for specific allergies and a number of possible treatments that I have mentioned repeatedly and are archived on my website, drfoxvet.com.
You may even try experimenting with a hydrosol of essential oils, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, such as lavender and tea tree, applying over affected areas twice daily for seven to 10 days, not allowing the dog to lick treated areas, of course. Natural herbal skin treatments such as PetzLife Scratch Eaze anti-itch gel may be worth a try.
Tags: cat diet food
Apr 14, 2014
Four days ago, I returned home to find one of my cats dead. His third birthday would have been two days later. He was never sick, and he seemed fine when I left for work that morning. My cleaning lady happened to be there that day; she left at 1 and said he seemed fine other than vomiting up a hairball.
The night before, my beagle attacked the cat when he walked by the dog''s treats. I couldn''t find any bite marks or signs that she hurt him, and he sat with me for the better part of the rest of the evening purring and letting me pet him. He was very affectionate, so that was normal. He ate his treats before bed and even ate a good breakfast the day of his death.
I have three other cats, one of whom is his sister, and they gave no sign anything was wrong.
I have been completely devastated by this. The suddenness and not knowing, especially because he was so young, are making me inconsolable. I had him cremated and will be scattering his ashes. My vet said necropsies aren''t done at any facilities in the area and would be prohibitively expensive for me. I really need help or guidance in coping with this. I''ve had to euthanize two older cats in the past due to illness, but this feels worse, given the circumstances. I could use a pet bereavement group but haven''t been able to find one. Please give me some advice. I''m in terrible pain. Thank you for your attention.
Apr 15, 2014
My condolences. This must have been a terrible shock. First, don''t punish the dog. It could have been a threat-snap and growl as a get-away warning to the cat with no actual physical contact. Only an autopsy would reveal if there was a bite injury, and most surely your cat would have shown some signs of pain.
My educated guess is that your poor cat had a vascular reaction to the beagle''s attack, which triggered the flight response and sudden change in the diameter of blood vessels after release of the fear hormone, adrenaline. This in turn could have affected blood flow and coagulation, leading to a blood clot or embolism forming. In some cats, this can lead to paralysis of one or both hind legs when the blood clot moves and blocks a major blood vessel in the lower half of the body, or to a heart attack when the clot or clots occlude the coronary blood vessels of the heart. Giving your cat half of a baby aspirin may have helped prevent this, but if there was internal bleeding, such medication could have made things worse. Either way, you did not and could not have known this was happening. It is not your fault.
In the future, stay by your dog when she is eating and having treats because of her food-protective aggressive potential.
Apr 13, 2014
My puppy really likes to chew on my hand when I pet him. I am afraid he might get more aggressive when he gets older. His sharp teeth hurt, and sometimes he runs at me and jumps up to paw me. I push him away, but he comes back to jump on me again.
What do you advise?
Apr 14, 2014
Take your puppy to a puppy playgroup or to the dog park and see how the dogs interact with one another. You need to learn about dog body language, which you can read about in my e-book "Understanding Your Dog," available on my website, DrFoxVet.com.
Your puppy wants to play with you, and you need to learn how to play like a puppy. Many pups are punished for wanting to play because too many people do not know anything about canine behavior and communication. This can ruin dogs for the rest of their lives, making some aggressive and others emotionally unstable, shy and unpredictable. The opposite is overindulgence and not setting any boundaries with an animal (or child), which can result in a delinquent, socially maladjusted narcissist.
Puppies learn quickly to bite gently and to respect when you do not want to play. But playtime is important for social bonding, and you must learn to enjoy this activity with your dog. Those who play together, stay together. Their sharp milk teeth can hurt, but by six months, the not-so-sharp permanent teeth will replace them. In the interim, provide safe chew toys to help with teething.
Apr 13, 2014
Why does one of my cats lie down and pull like mad on each of his claws? He does this regularly, and I worry he has a nail infection or an allergy, maybe from his litter box material.
Apr 14, 2014
One of my cats fastidiously grooms his claws at least once a day. He uses a scratch post regularly but likes to keep his claws clear of the quick, or soft tissue encircling the base of each claw.
Some cats do develop nail-bed infections, which need veterinary attention. Squeeze your cat''s paws to extrude the claws and look at the base of each claw. If you see any excessive redness or discharge, set up a veterinary appointment. Otherwise, your cat is simply giving himself a manicure. It is a good idea to get cats used to having their paws massaged, which helps develop trust and makes examination when needed much easier.
L.B., Arlington, Va
Tags: dog Arlington VA diet food
Apr 07, 2014
We recently adopted an adorable old cocker spaniel, whose estimated age is around 8 or 9. The veterinarian has tried various ear ointments to clear up her smelly and uncomfortable external otitis. Do you have any suggestions we may try?
L.B., Arlington, Va Apr 08, 2014
Good for you for taking in an old dog and for helping make her life more comfortable for whatever time she has left.
As you know, chronic ear problems are the bane of this breed. There may be an underlying food allergy, but most often the issue is one of poor aeration of the external ear canal with the development of bacterial and yeast infection and inflammation. The inflammation may be reduced by giving her a teaspoon daily of good-quality fish oil in her food, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Cocker spaniels may need additional vitamin A supplementation when they have an oily, smelly coat, which Nordic Naturals cod liver oil for dogs contains. This skin condition is often associated with hypothyroidism. Up to a tablespoon daily of coconut oil may also help her coat and improve her brain function as well!
Get her used to having her ears tied up with a ribbon for part of the day so they can get a good airing. Flushing and irrigating her ear canal with equal parts warm water and apple cider vinegar every day for seven to 10 days is the first step to healing. Be sure to do it outdoors since she will shake her head, and have someone hold her as you administer it. Use a large syringe. Never poke around with a Q-tip. After this treatment, dry her ear well with a soft cotton pad or cloth, and keep her ears tied up over her head afterwards since thorough dryness is advisable. If her infected ear is generally more dry than moist, work a few drops of olive oil into the ear canal after drying it following the flushing.
The ear treatment for this condition of external chronic otitis, called Zymox, can be very effective. Also, try PetzLife''s Bath-Eaze (petzlife.com), a soothing and refreshing spray shampoo and conditioner you can mist her coat with, then gently rub into her fur -- no bath required. Old dogs tend to get stinky, and this kind of product can certainly make them and those around them feel better, especially when a full shampoo is too stressful.
Apr 07, 2014
Hello. How do I get information about pet insurance? We have a dog who is almost 4 years old. We would like to get another, but would like to have some sort of way to offset the cost of vet bills for a new puppy.
Do you have any recommendations?
Apr 08, 2014
I have no recommendations since I feel it best to set up a savings account for each animal in the household -- for instance, you can set aside the $10 to $20 a week you might spend at the local coffeehouse if you switch to brewing at home. Discuss your concerns with your veterinarian, who may help you identify the exclusions and conditions, some of which may mandate overvaccination and questionable annual tests.
It would be good to have a reserve fund of at least $2,000 for each cat and dog in case of some health emergency so that you are not cut short and have to pay interest on your credit card. Some veterinary hospitals will arrange for fees to be paid by installment, but having some funds at hand can save a lot of uncertainty and anguish.