Dear Dr. Fox:
Esperanza is a 16-year-young Spanish water dog. She was born and raised in Spain.
Esperanza is completely deaf. I believe she can still sense the vibrations in my voice as I continue to talk to her. Does she know she is deaf and that she can no longer hear my voice? Has this affected her psychologically? My vet says that as long as she is healthy, her other senses will help her compensate.
My second concern is that Esperanza has developed dementia. This is so painful. Her main symptoms are confusion and disorientation. It seems especially severe in the evening. She will stare out a window, run around in circles and bark for no reason.
Our vet started her on Selegiline, an antidepressant. She eats one can of Hills Prescription Diet a day. She gets two or three walks a day. I would say she is not in any pain or suffering, but do we know exactly what that means from her perspective?
A.O., Clifton Forge, Va.
DF: Your geriatric canine certainly knows that she cannot hear, which increases her anxiety. Communicate with hand signals. Her increased agitation at night might be a symptom of night blindness.
The Selegiline is what I would prescribe for the dementia. Adding two tablespoons of coconut oil and a teaspoon of fish oil to her daily diet might help neurologically. A soothing and relaxing massage morning, afternoon and evening may help improve your dog’s quality of life.
Esperanza may soon be a candidate for in-home hospice veterinary care. Check in your community for veterinarians who provide this service.
Dear Dr. Fox:
We have two wonderful, loving little silky terriers.
The 3-year-old is very laid-back, shy around people and is generally the perfect pet. The 2-year-old is an acquired taste. She is very hyper and recently has become aggressive to anyone coming too close to my husband or me. She is a major jumper as well; from a standing position on the floor, she can jump bar height! She is also a chewer.
Because of all of this, we have put an Invisible Fence inside and out. We now have her confined to one room while inside. She is the alpha dog of the two and can be a bully to our other dog. We love her very much despite all this, and she is very affectionate to both of us.
The major problem is submissive urinating. We thought she would outgrow this like our older dog, but this is not the case, even two years later. She is perfectly housebroken and was very easy to train. This is not just occasional, but happens several times a day.
E.B., Naples, Fla.
DF: Your younger terrier is acting like a terrier and should not be confined to one room.
You should consult with a behavior therapist to enable you to better communicate and control this dog who must learn self-control. Another term is “internal inhibition.” Check my Web site, www.drfoxvet.com, for details about the procedure called cradling: gentle restraint that can help dogs develop internal inhibition. This can be challenging.
As for the submissive urination, you may be confusing this (because it is a frequent event) with urinary incontinence. This often develops in dogs after spaying, and periodic hormone replacement medication with DES (diethylstilbestrol) can often solve the problem.
Dear Dr. Fox:
My cat, Andy, has AIDS. He has vomited a few times.
He eats well, both canned and dry food. I feed him four or five times a day. The problem is that he won’t drink water, so I mix his canned food with water.
I worry about him not drinking water or milk. There is always a cup of water by his food bowls. I’m afraid he will develop a kidney problem.
B.L.N., West Springfield, Mass.
DF: Some cats are not good drinkers of water, and this can create problems, especially when they eat little or no canned, raw or home-prepared moist food.
Mash up and stew some canned clams or cooked chicken wings for a few minutes. Cool, strain and offer this flavored, watery gravy for your cat to drink. Offer a few tablespoons daily, and store the rest in the fridge. You might also want to soak some of the dry food in this gravy to increase your cat’s water intake.
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.