DEAR DR. FOX: Our shih tzu acts like he's getting goosed regularly. He suddenly jumps and runs away.
What should we check for? He eats Wellness Weight Control and Merrick's canned dog food as a topper on his dry food. -- J.P., Winston-Salem, North Carolina
DEAR J.P.: I am glad that you did not simply laugh off your dog's behavior. It could be a blocked, infected or even cancerous anal gland. Another possibility that's not uncommon in dogs with docked tails -- a routine mutilation of many breeds, which I abhor, but is rarely done on shih tzus -- is pain in the stump of the tail. This is often diagnosed as "phantom tail," or an amputation neuroma. I advise a veterinary checkup. His tail could also have been trapped accidentally in a door or trodden on, resulting in chronic pain from bone and ligament injury.
In rare instances, dogs develop a conditioned response when they start to drink or eat, quickly spinning around and biting at their tails. This bizarre behavior may have a physical cause, or it may be purely psychotic, as though another dog was slinking up to steal the food.
DEAR DR. FOX: I keep hearing that it's not safe for a person to give his dog ice cubes. My family has had animals for more than 40 years, and most of them at one time or another has had an ice cube. -- A.S., St. Louis
DEAR A.S.: Ice cubes are great for dogs, but all in moderation. Gulping one down could cause accidental choking. Eating too many could possibly harm the stomach lining or cause problems for a dog with a damaged stomach or esophagus from acid reflux or esophageal abnormality.
I would offer a little crushed ice on occasion, especially in hot weather, and a bag of ice cubes on the back and tummy can help cool down an overheated dog.
DEAR DR.FOX: I am desperate for information. My cat has just been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease.
In May 2013, she started vomiting after eating. I have 13 cats, and it took some time to figure out who was vomiting. She weighed 14 pounds in 2013. She now weighs 9.5 pounds. My vet performed an endoscopy and colonoscopy last week and also took biopsies. The biopsy histopathology report indicated IBD. They now want to put her on prednisolone for 14 days. Approximately one month ago, I transitioned her onto PetGuard organic food from Wellness (per my local holistic vet). She is still vomiting, but not as much.
I am desperate for any information you can give me. I prefer to treat her with holistic or natural methods; however, she is wasting away, and my vet says she needs the prednisolone to stop the inflammation and calm down her immune system in order to stop the weight loss. I would appreciate any help you can give me. -- B.D., Springfield, Massachusetts
DEAR B.D.: This is an all-too-common condition in cats today, and I would bet that in her old food, there was corn, soy and carrageenan (a thickening agent widely used in canned cat and dog foods), which most likely contributed to this disorder. For details, check my website for information about this additive.
Inflammatory bowel disease is costly to owners (though highly profitable for veterinarians) and stressful on cats to accurately diagnose and differentiate from other similar conditions. There may be an autoimmune element. With inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel and leaky gut syndrome (an allergic or hypersensitivity to certain dietary ingredients) may develop. This is why a short course of prednisone therapy is advisable.
Supplements such as anti-inflammatory fish oils, probiotics and prebiotics may be helpful. Transition your cat onto a GMO-free organically certified grain- and soy-free diet, and consider fecal implants from healthy cats. For more details, check my website, DrFoxVet.com.
LIKE IT OR NOT, YOU SUPPORT THE PET FOOD INDUSTRY
Susan Thixton (truthaboutpetfood.com) reports: The Pet Food Institute (PFI), the trade association that represents the largest manufacturers of pet food in the U.S., received $1,361,288 in 2014 from a United States Department of Agriculture foreign agricultural service program. Your tax dollars are supporting PFI.
(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.)