DEAR DR. FOX: As an avid fan and weekly reader of yours, I am in desperate need of some clarification on what possibly could be done for my sweet 8-year-old little Maltese girl.
She needed knee surgery almost a year ago, and the blood test showed that there was too much cortisol being produced by her body. I waited for her knee to heal and then had more tests done, including an ultrasound. Her kidneys are more than half calcified, and she has two types of stones in her bladder. My vet suggested a parathyroid test and possible operation. I am undecided about proceeding with that. Even if we could stop the reproduction of cortisol, it would not reverse the damage already done to her body. Her diet has been Hill's Prescription w/d with added fruit and vegetables.
Every day I dread the possible dislodging of one of the stones, which most likely could mean putting her out of her misery.
My previous Maltese had Cushing's disease and developed diabetes, but with daily insulin shots, I was able to keep her until she was 13 years old. I am devastated by my second Maltese possibly having it, too.
I would appreciate any advice you may have. -- M.H., Hendersonville, N.C.
DEAR M.H.: Your poor little dog is one of several small breeds prone to a variety of chronic ailments, which is one reason why I advise purchasing comprehensive pet health insurance that covers disease of hereditary origin. When people purchase such animals, many come from puppy mills and online breeders. It's better to adopt a mixed breed from your local shelter.
But all of this is too late for you and your little Maltese. I urge you to continue with her prescription diet or have your veterinarian peruse secure.balanceit.com for more palatable home-prepared prescription diets to help your dog.
I would balance her quality of life with the costs and possibly harmful consequences of more drugs and proposed additional surgery. Her best option may well be lots of love, good food and a shorter life, but one with less anguish for you and potential suffering for her frail body and soul.
DEAR DR. FOX: I respect your love of animals so evident in your columns, and appreciate your advice to readers when they have wildlife issues on their property. We have a big problem with deer and ticks, and I don't want my dogs or myself to get Lyme disease.
Please advise on controlling both infestations! -- K.L., Front Royal, Va.
DEAR K.L: For tick repellants and control, check my website, DrFoxVet.com. Clear brush and get some guinea fowl who will feast on any ticks and reduce their numbers.
White-tailed deer are a problem in many states. There are millions more now than a century ago. The extermination of the wolf and other predators is part of the reason, which is why I oppose state and federal government endorsement of wolf hunting and trapping. An estimated 1 million people have filed opposition to the Obama administration's proposal to strip endangered species protection from the gray wolf and turn management over to the states.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, some 1.5 million vehicles collided with deer in 2003, causing nearly 14,000 injuries and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. But deer population management, which focuses on more killing, especially of does, is as controversial as feral and free-roaming domestic cat control, where humane killing is opposed by many with the best intentions but not always the best outcomes.
An overabundance of deer threatens forests as they consume saplings and other wild plants, preventing forest regeneration and harming other wildlife across the country. Here are some humane methods to keep deer away from your property:
-- Install an 8- to 10-foot tall vertical woven-wire fence.
-- Hang bars of deodorant soap (with wrappers intact) near the problem area.
-- Hang excrement from dogs or cats in cloth bags near the area.
-- Install scare devices, particularly those that are motion activated and, when activated, play a loud noise, spray water or turn on a bright light.
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