DEAR DR. FOX: We adopted a darling yellow tiger kitten who weighs about 5 pounds. The shelter we adopted her from suggested she should have kitten food for a year. However, the food I selected for her -- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Chicken -- is for kittens and cats, and it gives the amount to feed by weight. The store employees said kittens should be free-fed to encourage weight gain, so I have given her more than the recommended 2/3 cup, seeing as she seems starving all the time. I really want to feed her right, but I need advice. I am not up to home-cooking her food, though.
When she was spayed, the price was supposed to be included in the adoption fee. When my husband went to pick her up, she'd had all sorts of additional shots and procedures. When I called Animal Medical Services -- where the spaying took place -- they said these things were presented to my husband as a matter of choice, but he says they were presented to him as imperative. When I called my husband to see how she was, my first reaction was, "I don't want her filled with all of those chemicals!" But when I saw the bill, I was even madder.
I know veterinarians have to make a living. I also know that a fairly new building and multitudinous employees must be paid for. But, Dr. Fox, I doubt this kitten's paws had ever touched the outside ground before we got her, and I can guarantee that they will not in the future. She is strictly an indoor cat. I believe North Carolina state law requires an annual rabies shot, but beyond that, what does an inside cat need? -- L.E., Mount. Airy, N.C.
DEAR L.E.: Active young cats need several (four to six) small meals a day, ideally canned or raw-frozen and a lesser amount of grain-free dry cat food. For readers who are interested in a home-prepared recipe and recommended commercial cat foods, go to DrFoxVet.com. Some pet food companies donate their cat and dog foods to shelters and provide free samples for people to take with them when they adopt an animal. This makes marketing sense, but does not mean that the animals would fare best when fed such foods for the rest of their lives.
Thank you for sending me your itemized veterinary bill. The charges seem reasonable to me. The spay operation was free, but charges were made for protective electrolytes and blood screening. The treatment for worms and fleas was also free. I would only question the need for a feline leukemia vaccination for an indoor cat. Surprisingly, you were not charged for the feline viral leukemia tests, which can cost more than the entire bill that your husband paid. The other vaccinations that were given (at a very reasonable charge) are necessary.
You should count your blessings in this regard and consider adopting another cat and take him/her to the same veterinary facility.
DEAR DR. FOX: My otherwise healthy 6-year-old beagle, Kady, has recently been diagnosed with glaucoma. I took her in due to her glowing greenish-looking eyes and the fact that she bumped into a few things. The vet said that Kady probably had this from a young age and that it was genetic. She is on latanoprost drops twice daily to stabilize the pressure in her eyes.
Have you found these drops to help the situation? I was told that when her pressure gets too high and when she becomes uncomfortable, I might need to have her eyes removed.
I am sick about this possible scenario. Any information you have on this problem will be appreciated. Thanks for your time and attention. -- S.G., St. Louis
DEAR S.G.: I am glad that this condition was diagnosed and that treatment was immediately instigated -- if it is not too late, that is, to save your dog's eyesight. Glaucoma -- increased fluid and pressure buildup inside the eye -- can lead to detachment of the lens, ulceration of the cornea and blindness.
It is common in some breeds such as the cocker spaniel, wirehaired fox terrier, Great Dane, poodle, miniature schnauzer and Alaskan malamute. Initial signs include excessive blinking and/or rubbing of eyes, reddening around the eyes and dilated pupils.
Your attending veterinarian may also consider treatment with a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor such as methazolamide, especially if one or both lenses are detached. So-called gonioimplants (aqueous humor shunts) to drain out the fluid inside the eye may be a surgical option, but I am afraid that the prognosis is poor, and your dog may well go blind. She may, indeed, need to have the eyeballs removed.
With patient and loving support, many dogs adapt surprisingly well to loss of vision, and your beagle still has her nose and ears on her side.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have been feeding our two large dogs Blue Buffalo chicken dog food because they have allergies and will chew their feet while eating regular food.
It was expensive to start with, and the company just cut the $58 bag from 30 to 24 pounds -- a 20 percent increase in price. We shop at Costco and saw its gluten-free dog food. We were afraid to try it, even though it would be about half the price. Are you familiar with Costco's brand for allergic dogs? -- L.P., Naples, Fla.
DEAR L.P.: So-called hypoallergenic dog and cat foods contain a single protein such as chicken, venison or rabbit. But recent findings reveal that some brands may contain other animal protein ingredients that are not indicated on the label. So you must take your chances if you do not make your own dog food or have confirmed assurance from the manufacturer.
Transition your dogs gradually over a five- to seven-day period onto the cheaper brand, give your dogs probiotics and see how they fare. If their food allergy/intolerance symptoms flare up, you may wish to shop around for another less-expensive brand after you put your dogs back onto the Blue Buffalo (an excellent brand).
(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.)