DEAR DR. FOX: I am very concerned about my daughter's female Shih Tzu, who will be 2 years old soon. For the past few months, when we go to visit, she will greet us and then go to her bed in the kitchen or on the landing of the steps. When we get ready to leave, she will come and allow us to pet her and say goodbye.
Yesterday, she came to our home and was obviously stressed the whole time she was here. She was panting and insisted that our daughter take her outside or home. As soon as she arrived home, she was back to her normal self.
She has always been a licker, especially of hands, feet or the kitchen floor. She is being fed dry dog food (a half-cup a day) and water, but she acts as if she is hungry all the time.
Before she was born, I had a failed surgery and I have two stomata. The upper one has an ostomy bag that allows me to eat small amounts of food and then empty it. The other stoma has two tubes for formula feeding and meds. We are very careful to keep everything clean and sanitary so there is no odor. There was a time when the dog was more playful, and my daughter would warn me to make sure the dog didn't accidentally puncture the bag.
We cannot figure out why she doesn't want to be around me in particular, other than to greet me and let me tell her goodbye. I am the only person she acts this way with. -- J.H., Woodbridge, Virginia
DEAR J.H.: Your daughter's dog may well be reading your body language, which may include protective/guarding movements and posturing to stop the dog from damaging your ostomy bag. As for odor, you don't have the nose of a dog; most likely, from the dog's perspective, you smell and behave differently from other people.
My real concern is that the poor dog may be starving -- not for affection, but for food. A half-cup of dry dog food once a day is ridiculous. Small, active dogs need three meals a day of a half-cup of good-quality dry and canned dog food. Check my website for some good brands and varieties.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 14-year-old male tuxedo cat who has had the perineal urethrostomy surgery. He is prone to struvite crystals.
I feed him canned Royal Canin Urinary SO and switch off with Iam's Urinary-S canned. With the dry food, I switch between Urinary SO and Purina One SMARTBlend Urinary. When I used to leave dry food down for him, he developed a urinary tract infection, so I am cautious about too much dry. I used to cook chicken for him, but then he wouldn't eat anything else.
I also have another female cat who is 2 years old. I feed her canned Fancy Feast (she loves it) and either Purina or Taste the Wild dry. She doesn't like Blue Buffalo.
All of this food is expensive. I try to feed them separately, but they, of course, wind up eating each other's food when they get the chance.
Is there a food I can feed them both? If not, what is your recommendation for the individual food? I heard Fancy Feast is rather like McDonald's, and that has me concerned. I want to feed and keep them healthy, but there are so many choices nowadays. -- N.C., Salt Point, New York
DEAR N.C.: I see no reason why you shouldn't feed both cats the canned special diets to control the struvite crystals in the one cat if it is difficult to separate them for feeding -- expense notwithstanding.
Alternatively, feed both cats a grain- and soy-free recipe posted on my website (DrFoxVet.com), or try some of the alternative cat foods also posted there.
Cats fed mainly dry foods high in cereals and who don't drink much water are especially prone to develop cystitis and struvite crystals that can lead to urinary tract blockage, especially in male cats -- a most painful emergency situation easily diagnosed when the poor cat repeatedly squats and tries to urinate, often crying and even passing some blood.
(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.)