DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 10-year-old sheltie who was recently diagnosed with Cushing's disease. My vet put him on a 60-milligram Vetoryl capsule daily for the adrenal glands.
He growls at me when I try to put on his halter or touch his front legs, so I know his feet hurt. He doesn't want to walk and is constantly sitting or lying down. His fur is coming out in clumps. He used to love being brushed, but no longer. I originally thought he had a bladder infection because he urinates in the house.
His appetite is good. He gets a small handful of Purina's Beneful and 2 heaping teaspoons of canned Alpo in the morning. In the evening, he gets treats like Pup-Peroni, Beggin' Strips, Meaty Bone and DentaStix.
Can you give me any advice on how I can improve his quality of life? -- J.S., Albrightsville, Pa.
DEAR J.S.: I am sorry to hear about your poor dog's condition, which is all too prevalent in the canine population today.
With Cushing's disease, adrenal glands produce too much of the hormone cortisol. It can be complicated by diabetes and low thyroid activity. You should have him tested for these conditions.
Improving your dog's nutrition may help improve his physical and mental condition. Over 10 to 14 days, transition him onto a grain-free food such as Wellness, Orijen or Organix. Discuss the possibility of giving your dog digestive enzymes, probiotics and a source of omega-3 fatty acids in his food. He may enjoy my recipe for buckwheat treats, which you can find on my website, DrFoxVet.com. You can also buy freeze-dried meaty treats like Stella & Chewy's. Don't buy any imported from China!
DEAR DR. FOX: We have a 13-year-old male cat who has started vomiting up his food on a daily basis. He is an indoor cat, and he eats California Natural chicken and brown rice formula and the occasional treat from the vet to clean his teeth.
We take him for walks on a leash daily. If he happens to eat grass while outdoors or if he drinks water after eating his first meal of the day, it will cause the vomiting. We have asked our vet for a remedy, with no solution. We would like to get your take on this because the vomiting is almost constant, and we are concerned about his health. -- G.R., Norman, Okla.
DEAR G.R.: I wish more people would take your initiative and try habituating their cats to a daily walk in a harness. Many cats enjoy such outdoor stimulation.
Ruling out lymphatic cancer (considering your cat's age) and fur ball accumulation in the stomach, I would consider a possible food hypersensitivity or allergy as the cause of his vomiting. Try transitioning your cat onto a different diet of known, whole-food ingredients -- no generic "meat meal" or byproducts. Avoid corn and soy because they may be genetically modified.
Do not allow your cat to eat grass, which can irritate an inflamed stomach. Give your cat small meals four to six times daily, since eating a large meal quickly can make hungry cats vomit.
(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.
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