DEAR DR. FOX: I have a little shih tzu/Lhasa-mix. She is 4 years old. She's had an endoscopy of her stomach, an ultrasound and a check for colic disease performed.
She eats only every other day, and she spits up large amounts of yellow foam. She is very picky about eating. She won't eat dry food at all, and she doesn't drink much water. Sometimes she acts like she is choking and gags a lot. The woman I bought her from mated her mother every time she came into heat. I didn't know this at the time I bought her. She was very hard to train, but she is a good dog now -- except for the eating.
I give her pills to coat the stomach, but she spits them up as soon as they go down. I don't know what to do. Please help us. -- J.S., Virginia Beach, Va.
DEAR J.S.: You and your poor dog have been subjected to several costly diagnostic procedures. The cost may be justified if symptomatic treatments failed, such as giving the dog antacid tablets to correct gastroesophageal reflux disease or trying a single protein, grain-free diet.
If neither of these possible treatments were considered prior to subjecting your dog to these diagnostic procedures, you should seek a second opinion, ideally from a member of American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
I receive far too many letters like yours that indicate some veterinarians do not seem to appreciate that these are economically hard times for millions of Americans. Many pet owners cannot take their animals in for regular checkups because they are afraid of the possible costs that may be incurred.
Try my suggestions, and let me know how your poor dog does.
DEAR DR. FOX: I recently adopted a wonderful cat from animal control. I am 77 years old, and this is my first cat. The cat, Molly, is 8 years old and was in a home before being put up for adoption. She is obedient, eats well, uses the litter box and stays indoors.
She doesn't seem to know what a scratching post is. She has learned to keep her claws in; however, she scratches the furniture. She doesn't like catnip. The first scratching post was half rug, half sisal. She just sniffs at it. The second one is all rug with two round treelike supports and a platform on top. She loves to sit on the platform, but she won't use the post for scratching. I have pretended to scratch it myself, but she just watches. I sprayed it with Febreze to neutralize any scent. All she does is paw at it with claws withdrawn.
The vet says she is healthy. He says she will use the posts eventually, but she hasn't in the two months I've had her. -- S.W., Odenton, Md.
DEAR S.W.: I applaud you for adopting an older cat! It concerns me that elderly people so often get a kitten or puppy who will probably outlive them and can be more demanding.
Get some Velcro strips and stick some plastic sheets or strips of duct tape and cover those areas on your furniture where she scratches.
One very good sisal scratch post that is tall and sturdy is the PurrFect Post. Call 800-989-2542 or visit PurrFectPost.com for details. Some cats like horizontal scratchboards, some like scratching posts made of corrugated cardboard -- check these out at your local pet store.
Continue clawing the post with your fingernails while your cat watches, and then hold her up against it as far as she will reach upward. Push her front paws into the post, then stroke and massage up and down her back. My two cats love this. Get rid of the Febreze.
Your cat may also enjoy chasing a bunch of feathers or strip of fur tied to a long string on the end of a cane. I call it "going fishing for cats," and my cats love it, especially at night.
(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.)