DEAR DR. FOX: My cousin has a 7-year-old poodle, Norman, who weighs about 20 pounds. She got him from a shelter, and he suffers from an enlarged heart, collapsed trachea and chronic cough. Her vet prescribes Vetmedin, hydrocodone and a diuretic. Norman will not take the medicine unless he is quite hungry, so he is not being given as many snacks as he is used to.
The vet says that Norman is not in pain, and he has been coughing all of his life. But he does cough a lot, and it is hard to believe that his throat is not raw. What do you think?
Also, the vet says that if Norman goes to a specialist, the specialist will merely tell my cousin the same thing that she tells her. -- P.K., House Springs, Missouri
DEAR P.K.: Sorry, I have nothing to add. This is a fragile breed with inherited anomalies, human-created through selective breeding. In my professional opinion, the attending veterinarian is on the right track.
Note: Never put a leash on the dog's collar; only walk outside with a harness so there are no more traumas to the weak trachea.
DEAR DR. FOX: My husband and I are responsible for approximately 20 cats, most of whom are strays we have fixed, fed and sheltered for 8 years. One female, Charlotte, is 2 1/2 years old. She was spayed when she was a kitten by the same spay and neuter clinic that has taken care of all our cats.
A year ago, she started to exhibit signs that she was going into heat. She yowls, rolls around and urinates all over the house, which is something she never does at other times. This has happened two more times, months apart. We took her to the vet, where they did almost $300 worth of tests to rule out other problems, but never found anything. We were told that when she was spayed, they must have missed a cell and that she would need another surgery to find it. I have never heard of an animal not being completely fixed. Can this really be what is going on, and can it be corrected? We worry about another surgery. -- A.O., Jackson, New Jersey
DEAR A.O.: It is very rare, fortunately, but it does happen that after a cat's ovaries have been removed, the surge of stimulating hormones from the pituitary gland in the brain can awaken possibly embryonic, aberrant ovarian cells, sometimes located around the kidneys or around the tissues supporting where the ovaries were situated.
In some instances, these aggregations of cells can be located and removed, but that calls for major surgery. The alternative is to seize your cat by the scruff of the neck and gently stimulate her genital area with an ear swab. This may put her into a hormonally more quiescent state of false pregnancy. The alternative is to have her given progesterone, but no hormonal treatment is without health risks.
ANOTHER DOG REMOTE-SENSING IN THE "EMPATHOSPHERE"
Sissy, an 11-year-old miniature schnauzer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ended up at Mercy Medical Center, 20 blocks from her home where her co-owner, Nancy Frank, was recovering from cancer surgery. A surveillance camera in the hospital lobby caught the dog entering through the automatic doors and wandering around.
Husband Dale Frank finally got a call at 5:30 a.m. from a security officer who found his phone number and house address from the tag on Sissy's collar. Frank's daughter went over and got permission to take Sissy up to Nancy Frank for a few minutes, he said. His theory about how Sissy might have navigated 20 blocks to his wife was that Sissy used to ride with him to pick up his wife from work next door to the hospital, though they'd never walked that route before. I disagree with this theory, because Sissy's story is like that of the 7-year-old Samoyed-husky mix, Dolan, who made a hazardous 2-mile journey from his home to the hospital in Islip, New York, to be with his ailing human companion, and he had never been near that hospital before. These canine feats support my "empathosphere" theory that animals can enter this realm of feeling-seeing or remote sensing consciousness and navigate on the basis of their emotional connectedness. Many such instances are documented on my website, DrFoxVet.com, and in my book "Animals & Nature First."
(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.)