DEAR DR. FOX: My 11-year-old male cat will eat only dry Kitten Chow. He will sometimes eat cantaloupe when we have it in the summer.
He is a house cat who scratches up furniture and is timid. He has never been ill until lately, and he now has a sore left eye. Forget about changing food -- he tries to bury anything besides Kitten Chow. Is it OK if he continues eating this? I have plenty of fresh water around.
What can I do for the eye? The last cat I took to the vet was so afraid, he died of a heart attack. -- V.T., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
DEAR V.T.: Considering your cat's age and evident addiction to dry food, try transitioning him onto a dry food that has no corn or soy ingredients. There are several improved brands on the market -- just read the labels. Visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, for names of brands that I recommend.
His eye condition does concern me. He may have an infection or a turned-in eyelash, which could lead to ulceration of the cornea or blindness.
There are veterinarians who make house calls, so check your local Yellow Pages to find one who will come to your home to examine your cat and provide appropriate treatment. Going to the veterinary hospital can be extremely stressful for some cats, and I sympathize with the loss of your other cat. Putting cats in a boarding facility can also be stressful and result in post-traumatic stress disorder. This is why I advise either an early-in-life boarding experience or in-home care for people going away on vacation without their cats.
DEAR DR. FOX: We are concerned about our 2-year-old female Maltese's diet. Last January, she started to vomit and have bloody diarrhea every day.
Our vet put her on Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Allergen Free dog food, and the problem stopped. I am a believer in holistic, healthy food for my Maltese and would like to get her off the Hill's and start a healthy diet for her, but every time I try to change her diet, she has the same problem. When I try to change her diet, it takes about 10 days before she starts the vomiting.
We adopted a Shih Tzu when she was 1 1/2 years old. She will be 3 years old in December, and she cannot digest grains. We think that is why people had to give her up. I have her on z/d as well. -- J.S., Bonita Springs, Fla.
DEAR J.S.: There are several dog food manufacturers such as Wellness, Merrick and Organix marketing grain-free dog foods, and you can try variations of my home-prepared diet posted on my website.
I agree with you that many prescription diets are far removed from organic, whole food dietary formulations, but some are better than others and have a place in holistic veterinary medicine. For special veterinary-formulated recipes for a variety of dog and cat health problems that you can prepare at home from known ingredients, visit balanceit.com.
Remember, when trying any dietary transition with your dog, take about 10 days, removing 10 percent of his regular food and replacing it with the same amount of the new food. Increase in 10 percent increments until it's all the new food. Give him digestive enzymes and probiotics with the food.
(Send all mail to email@example.com 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.)