DEAR DR. FOX: In May, my dog, a dachshund, became very hungry and thirsty. We've had her tested for thyroid issues, diabetes and Cushing's disease, along with other blood and urine tests; everything is normal. We feed her 1/4 cup dog food morning and night, plus a handful of green beans for lunch. She gets one Teeny Greenie and a few small treats during the day.
Her behavior has also changed. She does not chase her squeaky toys now. She just brings them to us and squeaks them when she wants to be fed. She used to jump on the couch when we asked her to come up, but she now refuses and just lies flat, even though we know she can jump. When we pick her up and put her on the sofa, she jumps down.
She used to weigh 20 pounds, and now she weighs 24 pounds. Even 20 is too much for her. I know she doesn't get enough exercise. When we walk her, all she wants to do is smell. She has never walked at a consistent pace, and I don't want to pull and drag her. My vet doesn't know what to do and suggested that I see a specialist. I don't know what else to do. I don't believe that she is just begging for food, but is really hungry. We always tell her no, but it is such a constant thing. Any ideas, comments or suggestions? -- D.B.
DEAR D.B.: You don't say how old your dog is. I would advise repeating blood tests for possible diabetes and kidney disease. With this breed, it is not wise to encourage jumping up onto furniture because their backs are prone to injury and degenerative disease, conditions aggravated by becoming overweight.
Check some of the better brands of dog food on my website, DrFoxVet.com, and also my home-prepared recipe. Give her three small meals daily, and weigh her as soon as you begin the transition onto a new diet. Then weigh her every two weeks and reduce the amount fed if she is putting on weight.
My educated guess is that she may be developing arthritis or spondylosis of the back. Cosequin or other good supplements containing chondroitin, MSM and glucosamine may help.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have two cats, and we're having a problem with one of them. To give a quick background, we got a brother and sister from the same litter, and they were a happy pair.
After a year, the male got sick and passed away. We got another female kitten, and the older female didn't like her, so she preferred to be in the basement. Not a big deal; we kept a litter box, food and water down there for her and for a few months she was good there. She would come up daily to visit us and go outside, then back to the basement.
We noticed that she started getting lethargic and drinking a lot of water. She stopped using the litter box, totally ruined the basement carpet, and continued to slow down to the point that we took her to the vet. He said that she seems to have been poisoned, and she might not make it. That was two years ago, and since then she has continued to urinate on the floor beside the box, or on top of the box (there are two boxes, both covered because of the dogs) or outside. She defecates in the box, or outside, so that isn't a problem.
We don't know what to do. Punishment or coaxing doesn't seem to help, and we don't know what else to do. Please help! -- B.C.
DEAR B.C.: This is a very sad story. This poor cat, banished by her own fear of the newcomer to spend most of her time in your basement. It could well have been this emotional stress that brought on her illness, which could be diabetes or cystitis, diseases that make cats want to drink more water. You might have avoided all of this if you had followed my advice of never letting a cat outdoors to roam free, which could result in exposure to disease or poison, and if you had known the steps to be taken to introduce a new cat, which you can find on my website, DrFoxVet.com.
I would take her for a full veterinary checkup to rule out any stress-induced chronic health issue. Use enzyme cleaners on soiled areas on the basement floor and take the covers off the litter boxes. Many cats detest them because the covers trap excrement odors. Keep the dogs out of the basement with a barrier gate set with enough space for the cat to crawl under.
(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.)