DEAR DR. FOX: I adopted Juliet from the pound in 2011. She was 3 years old, and it was love at first sight for me.
In 2012, she fell in my backyard on the concrete patio and injured her back. She had a herniated disc pressing on her spinal cord. She had major surgery within days, and can now walk short distances (she has wheels for long-distance walks). She has all her bodily functions, but seems to be prone to urinary tract infections.
When she has a UTI, she urinates and defecates all over my house. My vet doesn't know why this is happening. Could it be her diet? I feed her Nutro. When she is on antibiotics, she is fine and goes back to normal, but when she goes off the medication, she seems to get the UTIs again. Any suggestions? -- G.S., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR G.S.: Good for you for adopting this little dog.
I'd suggest keeping her weight down; giving moderate exercise; avoiding jumping; providing a few drops of anti-inflammatory fish oil and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric in her food daily; and getting her used to massage therapy as per my book "The Healing Touch for Dogs."
A good-quality chondroitin and glucosamine supplement will also be of value and may help reduce her bladder infection problem. Recurrent cystitis is best treated with a short course of antibiotics after the antibiotic sensitivity of the bacteria in the urine has been determined, then with preventive probiotics in the food, a cereal-free diet -- cereals make dogs' urine too alkaline and prone to cystitis and formation of urinary stones -- and periodic addition of concentrated cranberry extract or d-mannose. Make sure Juliet always drinks plenty of water, even flavoring it with a little low-salt chicken or beef bullion. Her incontinence could be a consequence of being spayed, and your vet should consider short-term periodic hormone replacement therapy for it.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read your column all the time but have yet to find a solution for my cat, Hank. He is a 13-year-old neutered front-declawed housecat. I love him as if he were my son. I feed him both dry and moist food. The dry food is usually Friskies, and the wet food varies between Fancy Feast and Friskies.
He lost a sizeable amount of weight a year ago. Since he is hard to examine at the vet's office, I had a mobile vet come to the house. The vet had to sedate Hank to find out that he had bad teeth. I took him to my regular vet to do an extraction. Hank still did not seem to put on weight. He went from 14 pounds down to 7 pounds. He did not have any interest in food. The vet suggested I take him to a specialist.
We took Hank to a veterinary hospital in July. The vet examined him externally and did not find anything except that he was constipated and impacted. He expressed his anal glands and suggested that I mix Miralax with his moist food. We did that, but Hank still wasn't eating, so we stopped that. When we took him back, the vet told us that an endoscopy might yield some results. We let Hank stay overnight and picked him up the next day. They said that there was no cancer (thank God), but that his intestinal track seemed inflamed. Hank got a prescription for prednisone for 60 days. His vitamin B-12 was also low, so I have to give him injections once a month for life. After 60 days, Hank did gain some weight back. He was up to 10 pounds, and the vet told me to cut back to half a prednisone pill every other day for the rest of his life.
Today Hank weighs around 12 pounds. He is pooping out of his box most of the time (he has been doing that since he got sick). His stool is still hard. My questions are:
1. Can he take prednisone for life as the vet suggested?
2. Is a B-12 shot also necessary for life?
3. Should I start the Miralax again?
4. Do you think I should take him back to the vet for more testing?
I know you mentioned that some cat foods do create intestinal problems. Are Friskies and Fancy Feast some of them? Can you suggest which brands other than the above I might try? -- H.G., Manchester, New Jersey
DEAR H.G.: Your cat is going through what many cats are experiencing that I attribute, in part, to the kinds of manufactured foods they are given to eat. This happens especially in those containing soy, corn (or other various grains) and the additive carrageenan, along with Red Dye No. 3.
For more details on this problem, visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, and search "inflammatory bowel disease." Check some of the better cat foods available on my site and feline-nutrition.org. Serious health issues can also arise from neglected chronic dental problems, and you may find some of the PetzLife oral care products helpful in maintaining your cat's oral health.
Supplements to help the gut problem include probiotics, a few drops of fish oil or a canned sardine daily, digestive enzymes, glutamine and calcium aluminosilicate, which you should discuss first with your veterinarian.
The prednisone will have to be tapered off soon. A B-12 shot is not necessary for life. Many cats have hard stools, and abdominal massage, the oral paste called Laxatone and more canned food with a few white beans mashed in for extra fiber can all help. Miralax contains polyethylene glycol that draws fluids out of the intestines to soften the stools, and is not advisable for long-term use in cats since it might interfere with nutrient uptake and fluid balance.
(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.
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