He usually coughs only once or twice per day. Is there anything else we can try? We are retired and on a fixed income. I was told that prednisone could lead to diabetes, hence the prescribing of Flovent.
E.H., Virginia Beach
DF: Asthmatic conditions in cats call for some detective work, provided that a viral or bacterial infection of the respiratory system has been ruled out. First, every effort should be made to identify environmental sources of allergy-inducing materials. You must also rule out fur balls, which often cause cats to cough and gag when fur is swallowed after grooming and for which most cats need no treatment.
Prescribing prednisone might alleviate symptoms but, as you said, can have harmful consequences from long-term use. Putting a mask on cats is for emergencies only and takes expert handling.
Feline veterinary specialists now associate many cases of asthma with a food allergy. Corn, soy, beef and fish can be asthma triggers.
Try your cat on my home-prepared diet on my Web site (www.twobitdog.com/drfox) or put him on one of the better brands of cat food, such as Wellness, Evo or Castor & Pollux Organix. Get rid of all artificially scented products in your cat’s environment, including cat litter, laundry detergents and room fresheners. Many cats are allergic to the volatile chemical fragrances.
MORE ON VACCINATIONS
Dear Dr. Fox:
We recently lost our beloved dog, Ginger, to immune mediated hemolytic anemia. We are heartbroken. She was only 8 years old.
We have had dogs all our lives and had never heard of this devastating disease. We researched it online, and it seems that it’s fairly common and is possibly brought on by excessive vaccination.
Ginger had no symptoms, except maybe panting, but it was more than 100 degrees here in Texas all summer, so that seemed normal. We lost her within 24 hours. After a large dose of steroids, she never made it as far as a transfusion. We now wonder whether we should bother with vaccinations if we decide to rescue another dog.
G. & T.C., Granbury, Tex.
DF: My condolences to you. I know how distressing it is to lose a beloved dog so suddenly and how helpless you feel, because IMHA is usually fatal. For details on the connection between vaccinations and autoimmune diseases in animals and humans, visit my Web site
An 8-year-old dog should not need booster vaccinations every year (or even every three years, in most instances), except for the mandatory anti-rabies vaccination. A blood titer test can be done to determine whether any core vaccinations (canine distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis) need to be repeated.
Vaccinations have their place in disease prevention. I would not hesitate to vaccinate any new dog or pup following the protocol set by veterinarians with expertise in vaccinology, immunology and the risks and benefits of vaccinations. These protocols are available on my Web site and in my books “Dog Body, Dog Mind” and “Cat Body, Cat Mind.”