Dear Dr. Fox:
My son and his family have a great, mild-mannered border terrier, about 6 years old. My son works out of their home, so, for the most part, he is with the dog most of the time.
During the day, the dog is fine. But in the evening, he becomes anxious and hyper. They try playing with him as a distraction, but it takes a while for him to settle down.
Is this something common in this breed? This behavior began just recently.
J.H., Silver Spring
DF: The dog’s evening anxiety could have a physical or psychological cause.
He might have retinal degeneration or some similar eye problem. The first symptom is night blindness, which could be causing his behavioral change. A veterinary examination is called for if you suspect this.
Possible psychological causes include the fear of being abandoned when the family goes out for the evening, some element of post-traumatic stress disorder after an upsetting event one evening during a walk or a family argument, or high-frequency sound from the television or other entertainment source upsetting the dog.
Some detective work and a change in the dog’s evening routine may help.
Dear Dr. Fox:
I adopted two cats from a shelter in July. The vet there gave them a clean bill of health. Later, I took them to my own vet and was told the same.
Over time, I noticed that Jay’s “third eyelid” showed more frequently than on any of my previous cats. I went to the Internet and saw that it was a sign of all kinds of problems.
I e-mailed the vet’s office and was told to bring her in. I have not done so yet because I don’t see it as frequently and she shows no other symptoms.
My concern is that she has only one good eye, so I would hate for her to lose the other. Can I safely wait to take her in?
S.M.Z., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
DF: If I read your letter correctly, you adopted a one-eyed cat from the shelter. I applaud your choice, because most people are repulsed at the sight of “defective” animals. Those who have suffered and had to have a leg amputated or eye removed surely deserve to experience the affection and security of a loving home.
It might be less traumatic for your cat to have a veterinarian who makes house calls examine her in your home.
The good eye should be examined, and your cat should be given a full physical. The eye could be affected by a condition called sympathetic opthalmia, triggered by the optic nerve stump in the empty eye socket. This might not be harmful, but an eye examination is advisable because, as you found on the Internet, extrusion of the third eyelid (or nictitating membrane) could be a signal of possible ocular disease.
Dear Dr. Fox:
I got two beautiful 4-month-old kittens (from different litters) in August 2011 from a Humane Society foster home. About two months later, one of the cats, Brody, developed sores on the back of his legs and a swollen lower lip.
Our vet diagnosed the problem as eosinophilic granuloma. Brody was given a steroid shot to suppress the outbreak.
The vet then prescribed five milligrams of prednisolone twice a day for two weeks, with instructions to wean Brody off it slowly. Because this is an autoimmune disorder, I was instructed to take him off store-bought food. I switched him to Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d canned and dry food.
Research I have done on the Internet indicates that a majority of kittens outgrow this condition, but the prognosis is poor for cats who don’t outgrow it. Unfortunately, every time I try to wean Brody down to a lower dosage, the condition reappears. I know that being on a steady dose of steroids, even a low dosage, can cause other problems down the line.
L.S., Kansas City, Mo.
DF: My first concern is that there might be another underlying health problem, such as round worms or herpes, impairing your cat’s immune system.
Prednisolone suppresses the symptoms but won’t cure the condition. Explore with your veterinarian putting your cat on a course of doxycycline oral antibiotics, which can be of benefit in treating cats’ suffering from eosinophilic granulomatosis. Your cat should be weaned off the prednisolone and given no further vaccinations.
Local applications of hydrosols of frankincense, myrrh and lavender might prove beneficial. These plant extracts have anti-inflammatory, soothing properties. A few drops of fish oil in his food might reduce inflammation and aid healing.
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.