The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Possible Veterinary Malpractice Issue

DEAR DR. FOX: I just wanted to see if there is a place to turn in bad vets, like you can for regular doctors.

My cat had crystals in his urine. I had taken him to this same vet before for this problem. I called, and they said to bring him in right away. I took him at 9 in the morning, and by noon I had not heard anything, so I called and was told that the doc hadn’t had time to see him yet. So I waited, and at 4:40, the vet called and said he was going to give him a pill and check on him in the morning.

By morning, he had died in his little carrier. He had been left to suffer.

This vet should have stayed and taken care of him, knowing what crystals will do to a cat. If he had really looked at my cat, he would have known how bad off he was. He called the next morning and said he was going to do surgery, but that my cat had died before he could. It has made me sick knowing he could have been saved, but this vet did not care. -- D.N., Eagle Point, Oregon

DEAR D.N.: From what details you have shared, I am deeply disturbed by the obvious suffering that your cat must have experienced.

Cats unable to urinate go into agony, then shock, and finally collapse when the bladder becomes fully distended with retained urine.

This is an emergency condition for all cats, and many do get this problem. Owners must be on the alert for it at all times, checking the litter box daily during cleaning and noting if their cats begin to strain, sometimes in front of them, as though to display that they are having problems urinating. Sometimes there is evident blood-spotting.

You should write a full account with times and dates and file a complaint to your state’s board of veterinary examiners, which licenses practicing veterinarians, as well as to the Better Business Bureau. This is very important action to take in order to help other animals who may come to this veterinarian, who could already have a record of other instances of malpractice.

There is surely no legitimate defense in this instance -- there could be no error in diagnosis of your cat’s condition, and no reason to delay passing a catheter and flushing out the crystals and mucous plugs to relieve the distended urinary bladder.

DEAR DR. FOX: My 9-year-old beagle mix is usually easygoing. But for the past week, when he sleeps next to my 13-year-old beagle mix, he growls -- despite the fact that the elder isn’t doing anything or touching him.

What could be causing this growling? -- L.H., Cleveland, Ohio

DEAR L.H.: The easy answer is Grumpy Old Dogs.

Like most of us as we get older, our dogs can get irritable, not wanting to be touched in certain places or struggling when getting up or lying down, especially due to arthritis in the back and joints. Osteoarthritis is very prevalent in dogs and cats today, as discussed in a recent column. I would have this possibility checked out by his veterinarian at his next wellness appointment.

In the interim, try a few drops of fish oil in his food daily (ideally from wild salmon, and certainly not krill, for reasons spelled out on my website) for its anti-inflammatory qualities. Also add up to a teaspoon of chopped fresh turmeric and ginger, or half a teaspoon twice daily of each, if powdered. Start with a small quantity so he gets accustomed to it.

My massage book “The Healing Touch for Dogs” has helped a lot of older dogs, and those who like water benefit from regular swims in safe waters. Look out for toxic blue-green algae this summer!

I doubt that he has early onset dementia, but this is a possibility. If so, the above supplements, plus 1,000 international units (IUs) twice daily of vitamin D3 may help. Increase the dose by 500 IUs each week until you reach 2,500 IUs twice daily, then do the reverse, lowering the dose down weekly to 1,000 IUs.


Regarding my article about wolves being protected (or not) under the Endangered Species Act -- which reflects the nation’s political and ethical divisions -- I am happy to report that of those who responded to the Trump administration’s proposal to allow renewed hunting and trapping of the gray wolf, the numbers opposing the move came to a staggering majority! More details can be found at


In an effort to reduce the number of wolf conflicts with livestock, and the number of wolves killed in response, the organization Howling For Wolves has recently partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

For details, see the full press release at:

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