DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 6-year-old female beagle. She weighs 30 pounds, has underactive thyroid glands and is taking Thyro-Tab.
She had a problem with eating stool. I give her Nasty Habit Chewables. It helps.
My dog also has an anal gland problem. She has to have the glands expressed every three weeks. The vet has her on a reduced diet of dry dog food to control her weight. I have been adding psyllium to her dry food to give her more fiber for her gland problem. It doesn't seem to be helping. She is always hungry. I don't know what to do for her. I don't think she is getting enough nutritious food. -- J.O., Arlington, Va.
DEAR J.O.: I would say that your dog fits the profile of what I would call "American middle-aged dog syndrome." She's probably going to develop arthritis, skin problems and heart, liver and/or kidney disease next.
I don't mean to alarm you, just alert you and other dog owners about this health crisis, which is brought on by poor nutrition -- especially the high cereal and genetically modified content of dog foods -- lack of exercise and too-frequent administration of vaccinations and anti-flea and tick drugs. This combination creates a vicious cycle of weight gain, increased pain and anxiety and decreased interest in life, often with cognitive impairment and failing senses, notably hearing loss and cataracts.
Please visit the archives on my website, DrFoxVet.com, or get my book, "Dog Body, Dog Mind" (Lyons Press), to get your dog through this crisis and in better shape to face old age.
Dogs on many commercial weight-loss diets suffer from constant hunger and possibly malnutrition. This should not be: Feed your dog three or four small meals daily. Transition her onto my home-prepared diet, available on my website, gradually reducing the grain content down by 75 percent. Give her probiotics, but no iodine or seaweed supplements, which can make the thyroid problem worse. Ask your veterinarian to prescribe a multivitamin and multimineral supplement for her. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to her food every day.
Anal gland problems are often associated with a food allergy or intolerance. The psyllium may help her, but being more active could make a big difference. Get her outdoors for regular walks, and encourage physical activities. Try jogging, interactive games with a ball or Frisbee or playing with another friendly dog. But start this regimen gradually, otherwise torn cruciate ligaments in one or both knees could be the next issue for your poor dog!
DEAR DR. FOX: My cat is driving me crazy. I have three cats, and the "middle" cat is 3 years old.
About two years ago, she decided that my throw rugs were her personal urinals. She usually targets the ones in the bathroom, but if I remove those, she chooses the one in the kitchen. She still uses the litter box, and she never urinates on anything else in the house.
I love her dearly, but I am getting so tired of having to wash my rugs every week. I clean the litter box every day, I've given her extra attention and treats so she's happy and I've sprayed the rugs with everything under the sun hoping the smells will stop her. Nothing has worked!
I'm at my wit's end, and I don't know what to do with her. I'm afraid if I remove all throw rugs, she'll decide to start urinating on the furniture.
What is causing this bizarre fetish? Can you help me? -- N.C., Tulsa, Okla.
DEAR N.C.: Your provisional diagnosis is probably correct -- the texture of your throw rugs is like a fetish for your cat.
Certain materials, the old beanbags of the '70s being a prime example, can trigger a cat's toilet behavior. Other factors may be involved, such as her preferring a cleaner litter box. Try giving her an extra litter box placed on one of the throw rugs. That might help.
Many cats urinate outside of their litter boxes because they suffer from cystitis and bladder stones/calculi. Check this out with your veterinarian. When dealing with what seems like a behavioral/psychological issue, medical causes need to be ruled out first.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)