DEAR DR. FOX: I need some advice about our aging cat's health care: We adopted her when she was 4 years old, and she had dental problems. She had three teeth extracted, and the vet suggested Hill's Prescription t/d Feline Dental Health to prevent further tooth loss. She has always had a nasal wheeze but has not seemed bothered by it. In the last two or three years, she has developed more heavy breathing, particularly when she sleeps -- in other words, she snores. Sometimes she sits just staring into space like she is in a trance.
The vet has not found lung or cardiac problems. She has some arthritis, and the vet suggested glucosamine injections instead of steroids/cortisone. We have not proceeded with the injections.
Can I change her diet to help with the breathing/snoring problem and the arthritis? I have read a little about raw diets, but I've not attempted one. Would it be a good idea to get some raw meat from the grocery store?
We would welcome any advice you may have, despite the fact that we can't bring her to see you. -- F. & R.G., Leesburg, Va.
DEAR F. & R.G.: The tooth loss problem, so prevalent in cats, may be due to excessive amounts of vitamin D3, added by pet food manufacturers to cat foods. I will be writing more about this in a future column.
Your cat's breathing problems could be caused by several factors, considering her age. Her trancelike staring could be associated with age-related dementia and Alzheimer's disease. What may really help her, even at this late stage in life, is a grain- and soy-free diet, especially avoiding corn meal, corn gluten and other corn ingredients. Good-quality fish oil, canned sardines and organic butter are sources of omega-3 fatty acids that should benefit your cat significantly. Give her just a drop or two of fish oil initially, working up to 1/2 teaspoon daily, along with the same amount of either sardines or butter.
DEAR DR. FOX: This is an update to a question I sent you about my "granddog." She was about to have a biopsy because she was thought to have osteosarcoma in one of her hind legs. As it turned out, her biopsy showed that she has chondrosarcoma rather than osteosarcoma. Apparently, there was no evidence of metastasis. Her amputation is scheduled for tomorrow.
My question remains the same, but I wanted you to be able to take the new diagnosis into account: Are there supplements or treatments to suppress any possible metastatic tumors if there are undetected ones and increase her chances of survival? I guess I should also ask if you have any special dietary recommendations for a cancer patient. I know you recommend home-cooked food in general. My son and his wife have two children and very demanding jobs, so I don't see this happening, but maybe you could still make some suggestions. -- J.S., Rockville, Md.
DEAR J.S.: With no evident spread of the cancer to other parts of the body, the dog's cancer prognosis is not without some degree of hope. But there could still be one or more undetected metastases, so I share your concerns.
There are some special diets (including grain-free, raw food and fruit and vegetable formulations) that do seem to make a difference and which I have detailed in earlier columns. These are archived on my website, DrFoxVet.com, and can be accessed by entering appropriate words like "dog, cancer, diet" in the Question Box.
I am impressed by some reports about the cancer-fighting benefits of various mushrooms and herbs, such as turmeric. One of our beloved dogs had the same hind leg amputation for chondrosarcoma. She was only 6 years old and with our post-surgical assistance and devotion, coupled with daily massage therapy, quickly adapted to enjoying life on three legs.
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