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Q&A with Dr. Cary Waterhouse

Q&A with Dr. Cary Waterhouse

Posted on June 19, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 19 at 11:55 AM

Dr. Cary Waterhouse of Lake Union Veterinary Clinic, answers questions submitted via the KING 5 Facebook page.

Norma Franco: My boxer is losing his hair in spots from the waist down and the areas are dry and rough.... No one seems to know what's wrong....please help

Dr. Waterhouse: Hi Norma.  Difficult to say from this end too – without knowing what has been done/tried, and without knowing a little more about your boxer (age, general health, etc).  Skin can be really frustrating, and sometimes takes a bit of time / work to diagnose properly.  If you and your veterinarian are not having any luck, I would recommend consulting a veterinary dermatologist (there are a couple great ones in the Seattle area).  Sometimes the experience and expertise of a specialist can catch things a general practitioner might miss.

Scott Owen Johnson: Are those lasers that are used as Pet "exercise/playtime" aides safe? The reason I ask is I used one for 1 of my cats for not even that long, and she has gotten Manic about anything in the house that "flashes". Headlights going by, sun shining on ceilings, etc. Her eyes get big and she "freaks" out. Haven't used it in over 4 years, but she still does it. They don't seem like good ideas to me at all. Thank You, and I hope you answer this for me and Sitka. Callie,Zatarra,Cha-Kwe-Na, and Ewok, are also curious. TYVM 

Dr. Waterhouse: The ‘laser pointer’ type toys are completely safe if used properly (they can cause damage to the eye, I suppose, if one should stare into them).  It sounds like your cat really enjoys chasing beams of light.

Ann Stenbak Cole: We would like to buy an RV in a year or it possible to travel in an RV with a cat? If so, are there tips we can do in advance to prepare her? She is a cat that loves to go outdoors so cooping her up for several hours either in an RV or home alone may not be the best idea for can we train her to stay indoors and enjoy it? She's 3 years old and we adopted her when she was about 1 years old...we think she had an extremely rough life before us b/c she is skittish around men (esp older ones and we do know she lived with an older male before coming to us)....along with training her to be indoors, what are ways for her to be accepting of men - esp older ones? Oh - she'll meow at the top of her lungs all over the house if we don't give into her demand to go outside...

Dr. Waterhouse:
I know several people who travel with their cat via RV.  All up to the cat though – some are up for the change, others do not care for it at all.  I would start by getting her used to the RV itself (spending time inside while NOT moving), and then trying out shorter trips (or even sitting in the driveway with the motor running).  Gradual introduction/desensitization is the key, so you really cannot go too slowly.  Be prepared though – some cats just won’t do well in certain situations.

Shauna Jennings: Dear esteemed Dr.Waterhouse, Why do pet owners considered themselves "pet parents" ? When does owning a animal make you a animal? What type of treatment is available to pet parents ?

Dr. Waterhouse: Interesting question – just read a blog about the same thing.  See this link:

Julie Grote:
Hi, I have a 19 yr old manx and she sneezes alot and has discharge coming from her eyes. Her sneezes are so powerful shes almost falls over. Is this an infection or allergies and what can I do to help her?

Dr. Waterhouse: Hi Julie-  Could be either (or both).  Best to have her checked out so a veterinarian can prescribe something (if needed), or help you figure out a plan to solve the problem.

Amy Sparks: Specht My cousins dog has heart congestion and an enlarged heart ..he is on medication but when he breaths its like s raspy day he drank a ton of water n threw up a bunch of water n seemed after he did that he wasn't raspy for like 2 days...question is will the raspiness go away ever and is his condition painful or uncomfortable

Dr. Waterhouse: Congestive heart failure is not a reversible problem (unfortunately), but can be managed quite successfully in the early/less severe stages.  Many veterinarians will work with veterinary cardiologists to formulate a plan using medications, diet, and exercise to manage the signs (just like in people!)

Vicky Merrifield: I worry, worry, worry, when it's time for my dog to get shots. He is a 6 year old, 9-pound Maltese and I lost my last Maltese at 6 years old to a mysterious illness. He woke up limp one morning, died two days later. The vet questioned Addison's but there wasn't time get test done. Since then I've heard of small dogs being over-vaccinated and dying from it, so I question if that is what happened. What are your thought?

Dr. Waterhouse: Thanks for the question Vicky.  Talk with your veterinarian about what vaccines are due, and which are recommended for your pet’s lifestyle.  Options for some of the vaccine include increasing the interval between shots (instead of once per year, only vaccinating once every 3 years) or checking blood levels of antibody (called titer testing).  Many ‘reactions’ we see in small pets can be avoided by spacing out multiple vaccines over 3-4 week intervals (minimizing the stimulation to the immune system).  Thanks to better vaccine formulations, reactions (especially severe ones) are VERY rare.

Marilyn Williams: My 17-1/2 year old "yowls" at night constantly, and in spells during the day; it doesn't sound like pain, more like confusion or anger. what is causing this? I haven't had a full night's sleep in over 6 months.

Dr. Waterhouse: Aging cats can experience some ‘dementia’ which may lead to vocalizing excessively, but they can also do this if they are sick/uncomfortable for some other reason.  I would recommend starting with a thorough physical exam, and evaluation of overall health with a blood panel, blood pressure check, and thyroid screen.  Some cats with failing eyesight will become ‘lost’ at night – try turning on a night light.

Becky Joy Burris: My 4 year old cat is constantly beating up on my increasingly fragile 14 year old cat, who yells when it happens. Both females. I break them up and 'discipline' the younger one when I can, but it doesn't discourage her at all. Any tips?

Dr. Waterhouse: Rivalry in a multiple-cat home can be difficult – especially if the ‘victim’ is old or frail.  Cats can be very territorial, and the younger cat could feel like she needs more space than she already has.  It’s often necessary to confine both cats to different rooms in the home (this may indeed have to be a permanent solution) – you can let them roam the home at different times so they can have social interaction with you.  Without knowing how long this has been a problem, it is tough to say if these cats will eventually start getting along.

Corrina Medina Billett:
We are moving from WA to CA next month. What is the least traumatic way to get our two cats down there? For both us and them? :)

Dr. Waterhouse: Some cats do really well in carriers, and can be flown down with a person in the cabin of an airplane – the flight is relatively short, and most airlines will let you bring a small pet as a carry-on.  Driving would be another option, but I would recommend taking several rest stops/spending the night (or 2, depending on the length of the trip) in a hotel to allow your cats a chance to move, eat/drink, and relax.

Kimmberly Prosise Lewis: My Boston terrier licks at her paws too much..could this be allergies? Her food is a salmon dry food. Her paws just get red, but not raw.

Dr. Waterhouse: Allergies could be a source of the licking, as could skin irritation/inflammation.  Allergies to food are possible, as are allergies to inhaled particles (dust, mold/mildew, pollen).  Treatment for problems like this need to focus on taking down the irritation that is causing your dog to lick AND figuring out the source of the problem so it does not return (a diet trial may be in order).  A referral to a veterinary dermatologist could also be considered.

Sue Herrera: Please help me with my 2 year old male Yorkie. Buddy barks at everything and everyone. He even barks at my brother that lives with me and he's known him since birth.

Dr. Waterhouse:  Many behavioral problems cannot be corrected until the root cause of the behavior is identified (and corrected).  Barking can be a sign of many issues (fear, aggression, defense...), and correcting it depends on the cause.  Many trainers and behaviorists will make visits to your home to analyze the situation, and work with you on a solution.  Ask your veterinarian if s/he can make a recommendation.

Julie Gillespie: How do you unconstipate a small dog??

Dr. Waterhouse: A bigger question would be ‘why is this dog constipated’ – If your dog is having problems passing stools, it likely indicates a more serious issue.  I recommend discussing your pet’s general health with a  veterinarian (soon).

Erika Valberg: I have a 20 year old cat. What's the best thing I can do for him to make him comfortable in the last years of his life...other than spending lots of money taking him to the vet when it probably won't do anything to extend his life much longer?

Dr. Waterhouse:  The best thing you can do for a geriatric pet is to make sure any underlying medical conditions are identified and managed in a way that is acceptable to you and your veterinarian.  It’s impossible to say what may or may not be going on in ANY pet without gathering a little information.  Start with a complete physical exam, then discuss your situation with your veterinarian and put together a plan.

Lake Union Veterinary Clinic is located at 1222 Republican St. in Seattle. Phone (206)467-LUVC (5882) or visit