Your questions are answered by experts attending the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Conference here, March 12-15, and a meeting of the Winn Feline Foundation Board of Directors directly following the conference, both in Tampa, FL.
AAHA is the only organization that accredits veterinary practices in the U.S. and Canada. To be AAHA-accredited, hospitals must pass on approximately 900 standards of veterinary excellence. AAHA-accredited hospitals are recognized as among the finest in the industry, consistently at the forefront of advanced veterinary medicine. Learn more at www.aaha.org.
The Winn Feline Foundation is a non-profit funder of cat health studies. Learn more at www.winnfelinefoundation.org.
Q: Barney, my Bengal cat, was diagnosed with FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) in May. We ordered the drug LTCI (Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator), and it seemed to work at first, but then the cat did poorly. We subsequently ordered another drug called Polyprenyl Immunostimulant (PI). Barney is still quite thin, but alive, and doing very well. Any further advice? — Y.F., Switzerland
A: “LTCI is a drug licensed for feline leukemia and the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV),” says feline veterinarian Dr. Susan Little, a past president of the Winn Feline Foundation and editor of “The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management” (Saunders/Elsevier, St. Louis, MO; $141). “There’s anecdotal evidence of the drug helping some cats with FIP, but there’s no published research to support its use for that purpose. PI does have a conditional license for use in one of the two forms of FIP (the dry form). And there has been research, including a soon-to-be published paper.”
Little, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, adds that sometimes dry FIP is difficult to diagnose. It was once considered fatal, so if your cat truly has FIP, he’s among a group of cats doing well on this reasonably new drug.
“It’s wonderful, and demonstrates what funding cat health studies can do,” says Little, referring to the Winn Feline Foundation’s dedicated fund to support FIP studies, called the Bria Fund.
“Still, keep a close eye on your cat, and be proactive about even the most subtle changes in behavior, since cats are so adept at hiding when they’re not feeling well,” Little advises. “Hopefully, Barney will be around for a very long time to come.”
Q: Our three dogs love car rides — well, at least the idea of a car ride. When I put their collars on, they know they’re going for a ride and they bark and bark. The problem is that the older dog, Patty, a Beagle-mix, just keeps barking. Eventually, she settles down and sits quietly, enjoying the ride. Any advice? — C.H., Finlayson, MN
A: “You have a Beagle-mix, so step No. 1 is to adjust your expectations. Beagles just like to bark,” says Dr. Mark Russak, past president of the American Animal Hospital Association.
Try putting your dogs in the car without their collars on, or putting the collars on many hours before the car ride — even the night before, Russak suggests. The collars cue excitement for your dogs, and removing the cue might be helpful.
While it seems that Patty is merely excited, there may be some anxiety intermingled. A pheromone collar, called Adaptil, emits pheromones which can help calm your pet.
“Assuming the dogs don’t fight over valued resources, you can also give each pup something to chew on, Russak, of Berlin, CT, suggests. “It’s challenging to chew and bark at the same time.”
Q: My long-haired cat throws up hairballs every week. Could this affect the long-term health of the cat? We brush daily and have tried various diets and Laxatone paste. The cat is now 5-years old, and this behavior has been going on for two years. Is this normal? — D.L., via cyberspace
A: “If the problem is only seasonal, this implies the coat is shedding out, and though people don’t like to have their cats shaved, the solution could be that easy,” says Dr. Jessica Quimby, an assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. “However, chronic vomiting otherwise is not normal.”
Quimby suggests you deliver a sample of the vomit to your veterinarian, or at least take some photos. At this point, seeing an internal medicine specialist might be the best plan.
Q: Our Shepherd/Collie mix has a good-sized tumor under her tail, and it’s getting worse. It looks nasty. At least she’s licking it clean, so it’s not infected. I know I should take her to the veterinarian, but the arthritis in her hind legs is so bad that she’s crippled. I feel so sorry for her because she’s suffering. Do you think she’s in a lot of pain? — R.M.B., via cyberspace
A: Perhaps you could enlist some help to get your dog to the veterinarian. And yes, it sounds like she is suffering. “We can alleviate pain, or at least we can have a good shot at it, but not if we don’t see the pet,” says Dr. Pam Nichols, of Salt Lake City, UT.
“The tumor sounds like a perianal fistula, which is particularly common in German Shepherds,” adds Nichols, a member of the American Animal Hospital Association Board of Directors. “Usually, these are infected. The dog is licking mostly because of discomfort.”
It’s impossible to discern your dog’s condition via a column, but based on your description, her quality of life doesn’t sound good. You clearly care about your dog. Your veterinarian needs to see her — and soon!
©Steve Dale Pet World, LLC; Tribune Content Agency