With this routine, the Labradoodle’s stools are now healthy, and the other male dog has stopped marking inside, although that might be the result of less stimulation from other dogs walking past the house.
I just want to reinforce to your readers the importance of brisk and routinely scheduled walks.
G.W., Topanga, Calif.
DF: Brisk, routinely scheduled walks and off-leash romps in safe and dog-sanctioned open space are all part of holistic canine health care.
Experienced veterinarians always determine such lifestyle factors in making a diagnosis and in recommending appropriate treatment for a variety of health problems.
A strict activity routine before meals helps prime the dog’s appetite and digestive system before going home and anticipating food. This mimics the dog’s natural hunting and gathering behavior — physical activity to various degrees of strenuousness before eating two or three small meals daily. One big meal can mean bloating, vomiting and indigestion.
Two dogs with OCD
Dear Dr. Fox:
Recently, I adopted a stray dog from the Humane Society. He is 8 years old and is part Lhasa apso and part poodle. He’s very sweet and bright.
He has the strange habit of licking the sofa cushion and barking constantly. I’m sure this isn’t healthy, but according to the veterinarian, it’s just a habit. I don’t agree. Is there something that can be done to cure him?
D.M.W., Naples, Fla.
Dear Dr. Fox:
Two months ago, I took in a 12-year-old female shih tzu. She had a yeast infection. I changed her dog food, and she seems to be over the infection. But she is constantly licking her face, dog bed and the rugs.
Why is she doing this?
G.S., Mount Airy, N.C.
DF: Excessive licking is an obsessive-compulsive behavior and is quite common in toy and miniature breeds.
I caution against jumping to a psychological diagnosis before ruling out possible physical causes.
A thorough veterinary evaluation is called for to check for a possible source of chronic inflammation: conjunctivitis, gingivitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, contact dermatitis, a possible food allergy or hypersensitivity, and even impacted anal glands.
You should also consider boredom, lack of physical and mental activities and anxiety as a cause for this behavior.
When physical and rectifiable psychological causes are ruled out, a trial with a psychotropic medication such as Prozac might prove beneficial.
But the best cure might lie in adopting another dog of similar size and friendly temperament.
Don’t blame yourself
Dear Dr. Fox:
I lost my diabetic cat some time ago. He had a stroke and became blind and confused. I took him to the vet, who had to put my cat down. I was in such a state that I failed to ask what caused the stroke.
For more than 12 years, I kept my cat alive by giving him insulin shots and taking him to the vet for blood tests. Is there something I didn’t do right? Did I do something to cause the stroke? I have not gotten over this feeling that I might have. I still miss him very much.
P.D., Washington, Mo.
DF: Many diabetic cats develop various complications, just as humans with this disease do. These complications are often compounded by liver and kidney problems.
Blood clots and burst blood vessels from high blood pressure can cause strokes, partial paralysis and blindness. These complications are no fault of yours, and you could have done nothing to prevent them.
One consolation is that your cat did not suffer long, and he enjoyed the security and pleasure of your loving care.
Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior.
Write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.
2013 United Feature Syndicate