DEAR DR. FOX: I hope you can help me. My miniature poodle, an 11-year-old rescue dog, has developed episodes of coughing and sneezing, from which some matter emerges from her nose. My regular vet had me try allergy medication and then Dramamine, which was slightly more effective.
I took her to two more vets. The first put her on Temaril P tablets and an antibiotic. The second X-rayed her and ordered more Temaril P. Each time I gave her a pill, I added 1/4 of a 500 mg vitamin C tablet. As the Temaril P gained momentum, I gave her Neosynephrine spray in her nostrils.
After going through that routine for two months, I decided to stop all medicine except for an occasional multivitamin. The coughing and sneezing episodes have lessened but still happen occasionally.
What do you suggest? I've had dogs all my life, and I've never experienced anything like this. -- B.J.C., St. Charles, Mo.
DEAR B.J.C.: Since your dog's problem has not yet cleared up after seeing three veterinarians, more sleuthing is warranted.
First, chronic bronchitis and periodontal disease, both common in older breeds, need to be ruled out. Then she should be tested for a possible food allergy or some allergen in your home. The volatile organic compounds in synthetic fragrances in many household products can cause havoc to the immune system. But some natural essential oils can, when inhaled, fight infection and inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses.
Put your dog in a carrying cage and cover it with a sheet to make a tent. To a bowl of boiled water, add three to four drops each of thyme, eucalyptus and lavender essential oils. Place the bowl close to the front of the crate under the tent, and let your dog inhale the oils for five to 10 minutes. Do this three times daily for a week, increasing the inhalation time to 15 minutes. Use fewer drops if your dog shows discomfort. Most likely, she will get used to this inhalation therapy and experience considerable relief.
DEAR DR. FOX: I sincerely hope that you can help us with a difficulty we've been perplexed by for almost a year now. It concerns our dear old cat Maddie.
A few months ago, we adopted a very nice cat named Maggie. We thought it might be beneficial for Maddie to have a little sister for companionship and stimulation. But Maddie was not impressed. She was under the assumption that she was an only child, and she liked it that way. She hid under low chairs for weeks, coming out only to eat and drink. We finally got that situation under control, but there's another problem:
Maddie was always a very proud lady; she cleaned and preened herself meticulously. But when she spent that time under the low-lying furniture, she matted up terribly. It looks awful, and she won't let us help her at all. I believe if we were able to rid her of the mats, she would go back to her hygienic ways.
We've thought about taking her to a groomer or even a vet, but a letter we read in your column scared us. It was about someone with a similar dilemma, and when the reader took the cat to be groomed, she was traumatized, had a heart attack and died!
Is there anything at all that we can try? My only guess is to have her sedated and then groomed. -- L.Y., Cumberland, Md.
DEAR L.Y.: The trauma of having uncomfortable mats of fur removed (which is essential for Maddie's physical health) and then coming home to face the intruder Maggie could be very harmful to your old cat.
I would put Maggie in a boarding facility for a few days. Coax Maddie out of her hiding place, and have a groomer, veterinarian or veterinary technician come to your home and, while you restrain Maddie, have her carefully clipped to remove the fur mats. If you're not confident about effectively restraining her, arrange for a helper to come and hold her. I have single-handedly cut off terrible mats from the back of our feral cat. There is rarely any justification for anesthetizing a cat for such a procedure.
Give Maddie full freedom of the house for two or three days, then go through the steps detailed on my website, DrFoxVet.com, on how to introduce a new cat, essentially starting from scratch -- no pun intended -- with Maggie.
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