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.
T. & L.R., Manasquan, NJ
Tags: cat NJ diet food Manasquan
Apr 05, 2014
Ten months ago, my wife adopted a tiny 8-week-old kitten whom everyone had given up on, even the vet. He weighed only 10 ounces, had a wet face and was just plain miserable. But through vitamins, fortified food and love, Jack has surpassed his bad start in life.
Through my research online, we have determined that Jack is a Maine coon, as he possesses all the behavioral and physical characteristics of the breed. He''s big -- 26 inches in length (excluding his tail) and about 16 pounds. When he''s gentle, he''s very sweet; however, he loves to bite, and with his size and strength, he can draw blood. He''s extremely smart and will only nibble me, as he knows I don''t tolerate it, but he still bites my wife. He also can become arrogant and defiant, sitting upright on his haunches and spreading his paws. His vet says that he could put him on Prozac, but we''d hate to resort to that.
Jack is getting bigger every day and is not expected to be fully grown for three to five years. Do we have a monster here, and what can we do?
T. & L.R., Manasquan, NJ Apr 06, 2014
Please do not accept the Prozac or other psychotropic drug treatment for your cat''s particular condition. I think of all the poor children on these various drugs for behavioral, emotional and cognitive or attentiveness "disorders" in this insane society that manufactures new diseases by creating new names -- all very profitable indeed. No, I am not wholly opposed to the appropriate use of such pharmaceutical products in humans and other animals, but the now wholesale prescribing does need to be questioned.
First, do not get in to situations with your big cat where these potentially injurious love-bites and play-bites may be evoked. You should be able to tell from his body language when this is about to occur. Stop petting or grooming just before it happens. Try remotivating and redirecting his attention with a fluffy lure on a fishing pole or putting him up against a scratch post or high upon a cat condo ledge.
Visit feline-nutrition.org and learn how a raw food diet could improve your cat''s health and temperament. Consider adopting another big, easygoing cat so he has company and will learn to play gently with his own kind. Part of the problem could be overattachment to you and your wife because he is lacking in the full stimulation and social enrichment that contact with his own kind can provide.
As I say in my book "Supercat: How to Raise the Perfect Feline Companion," two cats living together are generally healthier and happier than one living alone. Check my website, DrFoxVet.com, for the essential steps to follow when introducing a second cat. Good luck!
M.T., Lexington Park, Md
Tags: cat MD diet food Lexington Park
Mar 30, 2014
My 2-year-old cat, Purrlie, who, along with her brother was orphaned at five days old and raised by a foster mom, decides every once in a while to stand up in the cat box and pee over the edge in a spraying position.
Lately, she has been doing this more often, and I''m worried about the area around the box becoming permanently "perfumed." I can''t figure out what might be triggering this behavior. How clean I keep the box seems to have no impact. There doesn''t seem to be an obvious motivating factor. She does not regularly go out, but was outside a little in good weather last summer. I never saw her spray on those outings.
M.T., Lexington Park, Md Mar 31, 2014
Spraying, a deliberate territorial marking behavior, is unusual in neutered cats. They do, however, quite often start to spray as a territorial marker when upset by the presence of a prowling cat around the house or having met or scented one while outdoors. But she may actually be having difficulty in urinating or be in pain, indicative of bladder inflammation or cystitis and possibly urinary calculi. Corn in the diet can be a contributing factor. A veterinary checkup may be useful to rule out a physical or medical cause. Older cats sometimes miss the box because they are in pain from arthritis and cannot assume the normal posture to evacuate.
In the interim, get a second, larger tray with high sides to help contain her sprayed urine. Feliway is an effective cat pheromone product (available in spray or plug-in dispenser) that may have a calming effect on your cat''s psyche when used in the area you have the litter box. A couple of drops of essential oil of lavender on the edge of the box may also help.
Mar 30, 2014
We have a year-old female yorkie, she is a petite little furball. She eats and eliminates fine but just does not gain any weight. We have tried mixing a little water with her dry kibble, but she still will not eat it. All of her extensive and expensive blood work has come back fine and checks out fine at her physical. (which is a total relief for us)
I went online to look for food and supplements and let me just say, I have never been so overwhelmed! (in a good way) :) was lucky to have come across a few excellent resource websites including yours https://drfoxvet.com/library/info/drfoxlinks.aspx w/c I found handy (& have bookmarked it). :) Now we have more options and will try other kibbles hoping to find something that will entice her tastebuds.
Now, we''re worried that her diet and being picky might affect her skin and coat. I’m wondering if the fish oil is a suitable long term solution to keeping her skin and coat silky. Any suggestions of a supplement I can use instead of fish oil?
P.S. I also hope to pass the goodwill down by recommending another page which I reckon would be a nice addition to your list:http://www.startlocal.com.au/retailrec/petfoods
I hope you''d find my suggestion useful and i look forward to hearing from you. Keep up the great work! :)
Mar 31, 2014
With toy breeds like yours one must be on the lookout for possible hypoglycemia episodes. I advise feeding adult toys three to four small meals daily, keeping the carbs ( grains) very low or not at all, and no soy protein. Check some of the brands on my website and also my home-prepared diet. Cut the grain content by two-thirds in the recipe.
A few drops of fish oil or more expensive algae-derived Omega 3 fatty acids in one of the meals will be good for your little dog on a daily basis.
Good luck and try some of the supplements on my website.
C.R.M., Washington, DC
Tags: cat Washington DC diet food
Mar 30, 2014
Your recent column about weighing a dog on the bathroom scale will only work if you can lift the dog. The 2-year-old chocolate Lab is most likely way too heavy for 99 percent of people to lift. Most people would find it impossible once a dog weighs 25 to 30 pounds or more. Do you think your regular vet would let you weigh the dog for free? Since an office visit could cost $50 or more, most people will wait until their dog''s next visit. Also, most dogs are never enthusiastic about a vet visit. Given the probable cost and the dog''s lack of enthusiasm, most of us would decide not to make a monthly weigh-in visit.
C.R.M., Washington, DC Mar 31, 2014
I appreciate your point of correction! Yes, indeed -- dogs over 40 pounds would be a challenge for many people to lift and stay still on the scales. However, I cannot imagine any veterinarian or animal clinic staff not allowing a regular client to stop by for a free weigh-in. But I would advise telephoning first to set the day and time, because just dropping by anytime could be problematic when they are very busy or have an emergency. Any "regular vet" who doesn''t let a client weigh his animals at no charge and any that does demand a fee, I would happily tar and feather and deliver to the Better Business Bureau.
As for putting any dog on a diet, that should begin only after a veterinary appointment and appropriate evaluation and guidance.