DEAR DR. FOX: When he was 2 years old, my now 7-year-old Persian cat, Bootsie, had urethral bypass surgery after a month of overnight visits to the vet, catheter insertions and lots of pain. He came out of the surgery very well and was put on Royal Canin SO Urinary Diet, both dry and canned, which he devours. He is a large cat and weighs just under 15 pounds, with at least a pound of fur coat. (I count calories on his behalf.)
For the last two years or so, I have noticed that he scoots his bottom across the floor after leaving the litter box. I routinely check his anal glands and depress them when necessary, and he goes to the groomer and/or vet for sanitary clips. However, the hairs around his surgery-created opening for urination attract fecal matter and get stuck inside that opening. I try to keep that area clean, and clip and remove the hairs using a cotton swab and Vaseline, but it is an ongoing problem. The vet did tell me that when doing the surgery, the skin in that area was folded inward, and this probably is causing the problem.
Bootsie has survived five years since that surgery, and he is frisky, happy, affectionate and very loved. I suppose I shouldn't worry about this, but I can't help wondering if there is something else I should be doing for him. -- B.T., Reston, Va.
DEAR B.T.: You and your Persian cat have indeed been through the proverbial medical mill, with veterinary care needed in large part because of his genetic background. This can increase susceptibility to such health issues as urinary tract blockage, which in turn can be aggravated by dry cat foods, in particular, and the failure of many cats to drink enough water.
I am impressed that you and your cat can deal with the recurring anal gland problem. I would encourage you to purchase some good clippers and have the veterinarian show you how to do the sanitary clips. This would eliminate the stress and expense of taking your cat out for such maintenance care.
Daily cleaning with moist baby wipes impregnated with soothing aloe vera may prove beneficial. Squeezing the anal glands too frequently can cause inflammation and increased secretion, so I would give that treatment a break for a while.
DEAR DR. FOX: A few months ago, I felt a lump in my dog Jackson's throat that was about the size of a pingpong ball.
Jackson is almost 14 years old and is a black Labrador retriever who weighs about 80 pounds. His vet aspirated some cells and determined the lump to be lymphoma. A second opinion from a lab determined it to be melanoma.
His vet has been wonderful in her care of Jackson. She has given him five to six months to live. He has already lost about 10 pounds. His appetite is still good, and we take long walks every day. He is on prednisone.
I feed him Blue Buffalo Senior dry dog food with 1/4 can of Merrick wet food mixed in. He also gets garlic and yeast tablets, along with glucosamine every day. He is also being treated for an ear infection.
My heart is breaking for him. What else can I do to make the time we still have together more comfortable for him? -- S.C., Charlottesville, Va.
DEAR S.C.: My sympathies go out to you and your old dog. You should check with the oncology department at the excellent veterinary college in Blacksburg, Va., or your vet can do so. The vets there may have some potentially promising and not too costly treatments for his common canine cancer. They may recruit you and your dog to evaluate new treatments, a worthwhile contribution for the future benefit of cancer victims and a more humane, if not scientifically sound, alternative to inducing cancer in dogs and other animals held captive in research laboratories.
Spend time with your veterinarian exploring some of the promising anti-cancer herbal supplements, ranging from local applications of frankincense to oral turmeric, various mushrooms and antioxidant nutraceuticals.
(Send all mail to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.)