She also has an ulcer on her back that doesn’t heal. She does not act as though she is in pain. She still jumps up on the bed and climbs stairs, albeit slowly.
When do I decide it’s time to put her down? Her appetite is good, her excretory functions are regular and consistent and she purrs and interacts with me. She sleeps a lot and frequently sits with her eyes closed but is not sleeping.
The tumors have been around for several years, but only within the past six months have they changed in size.
DF: Have a visiting veterinarian examine your old cat, and express your reservations about surgery. This is your call, but I would support a decision against surgery, considering the advanced age of your cat.
Comfort and quality of life are paramount, as is good nutrition, including high-quality protein that is easily digestible (such as Gerber’s chicken and turkey baby food). These might help improve your cat’s overall condition, along with a few drops of fish oil in her food, which will also help alleviate arthritis and kidney problems and might help fight certain cancers.
A veterinarian can treat the ulcer and evaluate the tumor. It is possible the cancer has already spread to the lungs and other internal organs. The vet will advise you on what to look for as her condition worsens or other age-related health problems develop.
The stress of surgery on older animals, even with modern anesthetics and the best pre- and post-operative care, often delays the recovery.
Dear Dr. Fox:
I recently acquired a female Chihuahua from Canine Castaways. She is 5 years old. She can be very timid, but she gets quite vocal and aggravated when my husband gives me something or touches me. She doesn’t snap but she looks as though she will. She has not nipped him, but she will not go with him unless I give the okay. Other times, she will sit with him and play.
How can I lessen her aggression with him? When going for walks, she will go only if I am with them. We have had Chihuahuas before, but they have always treated us equally. We would like her to be a two-person dog.
M.W., Naples, Fla.
DF: As long as your husband doesn’t feel rejected (some spouses actually become jealous in such situations), half the problem is solved.
Acceptance of your dog’s immediate bonding and preference toward you is a first step. She could have been teased or abused by a male, and it will take time for her to trust your husband.
Have your husband take her for walks along with you, using a harness rather than a neck collar, and, after a few days, send them off without you going along. Have him take over grooming, passing him the brush as you are grooming the dog.
Ditto with the food bowl: Bend down with it in your hand, call the dog over to you and then give the bowl to your husband to put down. This way, she should learn to trust him.