DEAR DR. FOX: Our 8-year-old female cat has been diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The vet has her on prednisone. She also had a shot of a longer-lasting antibiotic to treat bronchitis.
Is there anything we can do to help with the congestion/coughing? -- F.P., Stratford, Conn.
DEAR F.P.: I am concerned about this standardized treatment that proves effective most often on a one-shot, hit-and-miss basis and can have some harmful consequences from steroid and antibiotic side effects.
Many cats with symptoms like yours actually have food allergy-related asthma, and they get better when triggering ingredients -- such as corn or fish -- are removed from their diets.
I would follow a holistic and alternative approach. In addition, provide your cat with daily probiotics that have been shown to significantly help children suffering from asthma. Also check the archives on my website, DrFoxVet.com, for more suggestions.
Cats who are allowed outdoors and who kill and eat birds and small mammals should be checked for lungworm parasites, since some wild prey can carry these worms and infest cats, causing respiratory problems. Slugs and snails also carry a parasitic worm species that has been implicated in lung disease in dogs and foxes.
DEAR DR. FOX: I enjoyed your article "Handling poodle's eye tear stains" that appeared in our newspaper.
I used to be a Pet Nutrition Specialist for a popular pet food company and learned another valuable tip for getting rid of some dog tearstains: Try feeding the tearstained pet filtered water instead of tap water. Many times the stains will lessen or disappear if the pet is hypersensitive or allergic to the chemicals in tap water, such as chlorine and fluoride. I've passed along that tip to hundreds of pet parents, and most have come back to me thanking me because it solved the problem. -- D.T., St. Louis
DEAR DR. FOX: A reader wrote to you recently about his poodle's eye tearstains. I have a suggestion that worked for my white shih tzu-poodle mix.
While I was walking my dog about 4 1/2 years ago, a woman stopped to admire my little Danny Boy. Unfortunately, he had those horrible tearstains. While we were chatting, the woman told me she worked for a pet food company and suggested I not give my dog tap water, but bottled water. Immediately I started using what I had in the house (Iron Mountain). It took a couple of months, but it worked! No more stains!
Thanks for your dedication to all God's creatures. --M.B.S., St. Louis
DEAR D.T. and M.B.S.: Many thanks for your mutually supporting letters sharing your evidently effective remedy for tearstained faces in your dogs. This is a common problem and is yet another reason why dogs (and cats, too) should not be given municipal tap water to drink, the hazards of which are detailed in "Dr. Fox's Library" on my website.
(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.)