DEAR DR. FOX: I recently took my cat, Mr. Puss, to the vet. He's having a problem with peeing. He's not blocked, but will empty his bladder and then go to the litter box, squat and do a little bit. I thought it might be a urinary tract infection.
Three years ago, Mr. Puss had some crystals, but no stones. The vet kept him overnight and did a urinalysis on him and found struvite crystals and a possible infection. He was put on Simplicef, on which he did not do well. He was running around the house like crazy. He was then put on Baytril, but that did not go well, either. He kept shaking his head and rubbing his eyes, he was restless, he would not eat and had diarrhea. I stopped that medication also.
The vet wanted to put him on the Royal Canin Urinary SO diet food. Mr. Puss was on it for about two years, but because it has all the corn and other undesirable ingredients in it, I took him off it about a year ago. I believe he was allergic to it because he would bite and scratch. I give him UT Strength Everyday chews that are supposed to keep his pH balanced, but he won't eat them.
He eats Innova Evo canned food and Natural Balance dry food. He also eats some canned Wellness. I think he drinks enough water. He is an indoor cat who has been with us for five years. He could be 7 to 10 years old. He weighs about 20 pounds, but he's a big boy, not overweight.
Is there anything I should be doing differently to keep Mr. Puss healthy? -- J.V., Gainesville, Va.
DEAR J.V.: I cannot understand why the veterinarian had to hospitalize your cat overnight to do a urine test. This is a stressful experience for cats. It would be far better to take the cat in first thing in the morning with a full bladder after keeping his litter box out of reach after 8 p.m. the night before.
Please visit feline-nutrition.org for information about transitioning your cat onto a grain-free, raw food or lightly cooked diet. Try flavoring his drinking water with some salt-free chicken stock. The more fluids he drinks, the better, since this is the best preventive of blockage by urine crystals or stones. Try feeding him plain organic yogurt or kefir or a probiotic supplement that may help him fight infection and heal from the antibiotic side effects.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have adopted a rescue dog who is about 15 months old. One vet said it's possible he has irritable bowel syndrome. I am not committed to supporting a sickly dog, so I hope to get this problem corrected if possible. Two vets have suggested canned pumpkin. This works if the dog eats his entire bowl of food; however, if he doesn't, the problem is assured to manifest immediately.
The first bowel movement of the day is normal. The second -- if the pumpkin has not been eaten, and often even if it has -- is characterized by straining (which include yelping that I assume indicates discomfort/pain), a mucus texture and concludes with further straining, resulting in wet droplets. This is frowned upon at the dog park because I think it is interpreted as evidence of an owner who is lax in providing medical attention for her dog.
Note: Regardless of the number of walking/dog park opportunities he is presented per day (usually four), the dog's bowels move on average only twice a day. Is there some kind of fix for this condition? -- A.R., Washington, D.C.
DEAR A.R.: If your veterinarian ran no fecal tests to rule out parasites and did not try a short course of treatment with metronidazole or Tylosin and only suggested you give your dog canned pumpkin, I would take your dog to another animal doctor, especially if what kind of food you are giving him was not discussed.
Check my website, DrFoxVet.com, for details on the various factors that can trigger this common canine and feline condition, as well as treatments. These can range from a diet free of grain/cereal and GMOs to giving psyllium husks in the food along with digestive enzymes and probiotics. Peppermint tea, mixed with his food if he won't drink it or accept it syringed into his mouth, can be beneficial for dogs and humans alike.
(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.)