We asked pet owners to submit questions via our Facebook page. Here is the second batch of questions and answers
Kim Norskog Stetson I believe my cat has a UTI...is there over the counter or home remedies that can help him....instead of an expensive visit to vet?
Dr. Waterhouse: Best not to waste time, money, and suffering of your cat with quick fixes and guessing at the cause of the problem – cats can show signs that look like a urinary ‘infection’ for several reasons. If left untreated, male cats are prone to urinary obstruction (blockage of the urethra) – a medical emergency that is life threatening. The only way to really know what is going on is to look at a urine sample, something your veterinarian should be able to do.
Susan Davis We have brown spots on our lawn from our dog peeing on it. I bought some "vitamins" that promise to make your dogs pee harmless to your grass. I have held off on giving it to her because of the scary warning labels about acidosis it can cause. Is it safe to give this "vitamin" to my dog?
Dr. Waterhouse: I do not recommend those products either – something about changing the biology of your dog for a cosmetic issue bugs me. Changing the pH and chemical profile of the urine can lead to other medical problems as well, like bladder stones. Best to train your dog to use a specific area of the yard (to minimize overall impact), and bring a watering can with you outside whe n she urinates – dilution of the urine right away will prevent the burning.
Karyn Sandstrom I took in a stray cat 13 years ago who jumped in my kitchen window. lol Anyway, even though he has had a good home he continues to kill and eat birds, mice, ect so I figured that was the reason he vomits a lot. He does not seem sick at all but vomits all the time. Any ideas?
Dr. Waterhouse: Many possibilities – some as simple as stomach upset (prey items could do this, as could hairballs, plant material, etc.), possibly a food sensitivity (allergy), or more serious conditions like kidney disease, high thyroid, or some sort of GI growth. Would be best to get him checked out by a veterinarian.
Anne Numrich Murray I have a dog with allergies, and I do not want to give him anymore steroids or antibiotics. He is 8 years old and I am afraid this will only shorten his life. Do you think I can get away with Benadryl and Neem oil for his ears and feet?
Dr. Waterhouse Steroids suppress an allergic reaction, and antibiotics help cure an infection that develops as a result of the allergy (and the licking/chewing/scratching that usually comes with it) – neither fix the problem (diagnose the allergy), so I agree – using these medications relentlessly is not a great idea. BUT both have a place, and can be necessary to get the allergy (and accompanying infection) under control. If you are frustrated with how tough a problem like this is to get under control (we ALL are frustrated with cases like this), I would suggest a consultation with a local veterinary dermatologist – once the cause of the allergy is identified, it can more safely be treated – which will be easier on you and your dog!
Jan Crafton-Osenbrock Would like to know why my 9 year old cat sometimes starts flicking his tail and his skin twitches all over. He gets very upset and runs and hides. The only way he will calm down is if I catch him and hold him on my lap while scratching his back and shoulders and talking in a soothing voice. He will stay that way for hours. By the way, he doesn't have fleas or dry skin.
Dr. Waterhouse: This sounds like something called ‘Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome’ – something is causing some significant irritation at the hind end, and your cat is responding. Flea allergy, food allergy, muscle/neurologic pain, seizure activity, and anxiety can all play a role in this. Not seeing fleas is a good sign, but to an allergic cat even ONE bite from a flea can cause signs like this – first step would be to start a flea preventative (avoid the toxic over the counter preparations – talk to your vet). A novel protein or hypoallergenic diet can help with problems caused by food allergy. Sometimes anti seizure medications and anti-anxiety drugs will also be used to treat this problem. Let us know what your veterinarian has to say.
Ann-Marie Heschle Hello! Have a question on my kitty. Took him to the vet on Friday due to excessive vomiting. They felt it was related to reflux diseaas. We started him on sucrualfate and pepcid. I was told to give them a half hour apart. What I neglected to ask is if I should give them before eating and can it be more than a half hour apart? He seemed better yesterday but a back to about the same today. Thanks
Dr. Waterhouse: Best to ask your veterinarian what their plan was – best of luck!
Jen Swift My 16.5 year old cat has early stage kidney disease . Can you let me know what I can expect with his progression?
Dr. Waterhouse: That’s a great question – some cats do really well for a long time (months, years), while others quickly become sick and deteriorate. It all depends on how early the disease is caught, and what treatments are started. Make sure you have discussed things like diet and nutrition with your veterinarian – these can go a long way in preserving remaining kidney function. Water is a HUGE factor in how a cat does – even though they may seem like they are drinking plenty, because the kidneys cannot retain it more is often better. Canned/wet foods work well to help with water intake – especially if your cat will allow you to mix in water (or other liquids, like low sodium broth). Follow up with your veterinarian regularly – blood work and a urinalysis give valuable information about the progression of the condition (and also help to detect infections and other issues that can make your cat feel bad).
Mike Nobach My golden retriever who is one and a half has a bad smell every now and then her ears are fine her skin looks fine and we take her to groomer were I assume the to the anal gland thing, could this be caused by cheap dog food and should I consider another higher quality food
Dr. Waterhouse: Certainly sounds like this could be a problem with her anal sacs. Dogs who are obese/overweight will sometimes have difficulty expressing their sacs normally, so maintaining an optimal weight is key (you should be able to feel individual ribs under your dog’s fur/skin). Sometimes, allergies and skin irritation will cause the ducts of these sacs to swell closed, making it difficult to express them normally – your veterinarian can help diagnose an allergic condition. Food may also play a role – many of the ‘high quality’ foods on the market today are low in fiber, causing the stools to be very small. Adding a bit of bulk (with a spoon or 2 of canned pumpkin daily) can sometimes bulk things up enough to allow for normal expressing. Talk with your groomer about the material they express from your dog – if it is not normal, a trip to the vet might be in order.
Deb Wilson If your pet has a cyst on his skin does he need to be put out for removal?
Ddr. Waterhouse: Depends on the type of cyst (or mass) being removed, the size, the location, and the pet. Some skin lesions can easily be removed with a light sedative and a numbing agent, while others are very complex, and will require general anesthesia.