Dear Dr. Fox:

We have a 10-month-old Pomeranian, weighing 10 pounds, that becomes very anxious in the car. She starts to hyper-salivate before we even start moving, and she vomits about a mile into the ride.

Our vet gave her Cerenia, which didn’t work. We tried a Thundershirt for anxiety — not good. The vet gave us Xanax and told us to give her Dramamine, but that didn’t work, either. He upped the dose of Xanax, with no new results. I have tried Benadryl and ginger. We do not feed her the day of travel.

We are at a loss. We have tried short trips to the mailbox or around the block, but nothing seems to work. Any ideas? I am thinking of changing vets because he does not know what to do for her.

C.R., Arlington County

DF: First, stop all medications and simply sit in the car with your dog for short periods, about 10 to 15 minutes, several times a day for as many days as you can until she is more settled. This will desensitize her to the now-conditioned anxiety and associated nausea of being in the vehicle while it is in motion.

Read a book, have the radio on (try some CDs from “Through a Dog’s Ear”) and give her a few treats. Keep her in a safety harness at all times.

Once she stops drooling and showing signs of fear and anxiety, switch on the engine and let it run for short periods while you are in the car with her. Next step is to slowly drive a few blocks so that she gets used to the motion of the car.

Before you start this, get some organic essential oil of lavender and make an emulsion in warm water. Spritz it inside the car or put a few drops on a strip of gauze and hang it inside the car. Also, put a few drops of this calming oil on a bandanna around her neck. PetzLife dog-calming natural product,
@-Eaze, might help you at this stage and at the very beginning of the desensitization process, if she really hates getting into the car.

Cat behaving badly

Dear Dr. Fox:

I have an 8-year-old spayed cat. All of a sudden, she is defecating on the living room carpet.

She still goes in her litter box, but at random intervals, she will defecate (but not urinate) in the living room in the middle of the night. We haven’t changed her litter box or location, and she has plenty of room in the box. It is also cleaned every time she goes.

It seems to happen when she sleeps in the living room in the night. Could she be doing this while sleepwalking, as a human might? She has a sister that we have no problems with, and she is in no way preventing her sister from going into the box.

D.F., Bethel, Conn.

DF: Your cat is young to be showing signs of feline dementia, which can, as with humans, lead to incontinence. But I would not rule that out if there is no other evident physical cause, for which your veterinarian can check. These include painful impaction of the anal glands and constipation, which is very common in cats being fed conventional manufactured kibble.

Getting your cat used to a few drops of fish oil and some mashed green or lima beans for soft bulk fiber in her food might prove to be the best solution. You can also try feeding her a good-quality canned cat food, as posted on my Web site, www.
drfoxvet.com
.

High cost of meds

Dear Dr. Fox:

Last year, our golden retriever had ehrlichiosis diagnosed. We were prescribed a pretty expensive routine of drugs and monthly vet visits, and we are not really getting any results. We cannot afford to give her all of the meds the doctor has prescribed. She is currently getting prednisone, Denamarin and Renavast.

We are supposed to be giving her more of the Denamarin and Renavast than we are, but it’s already adding up to $300 a month. Are there any less costly alternatives, or do you think we are fighting a losing battle? We have to force-feed her most days, but once in a while she will eat on her own.

I don’t know what to do anymore. We don’t want to lose her, but things are getting financially problematic for us.

DF: This disease, transmitted by ticks such as the brown dog tick, can be treated when an early diagnosis is made. But treatment is a challenge when this tick-transmitted infectious organism that enters and multiplies in certain blood cells has proliferated too invasively into the dog’s tissues and organs.

Fever, lameness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, enlarged spleen and lymph glands, bleeding from the nose, eye discharge and swelling of the extremities are early signs of infection, which can be confirmed by blood serum tests.

Regrettably, your dog is in the chronic stage of this disease, which could lead to blindness, kidney failure or collapse from internal bleeding.

Have you had a frank discussion with the attending veterinarian about your financial concerns? Some equitable solution might be forthcoming. A less costly treatment trial with one of the tetracycline drugs might be worth consideration. Above all, your dog’s comfort and quality of life need to be considered when there is no relief from the chronic, complex consequences of this disease.

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.

2014 United Feature Syndicate