The North American Veterinary Conference may be the largest veterinary conference on the planet with more than 8,000 veterinary professionals receiving continuing education, teaching and learning about new products. The experts, who attended Jan. 16-20 in Orlando, Fla., answered your reader questions.
Q: We took in a 2-year-old Beagle/Dachshund looking dog who was dumped in the country. He obviously had a tough life, and he was filled with fleas, suffered an injured tail, and was very fearful. He’s now more confident and free-flea, and his tail is better.
Recently, we noticed he began to drink excessively, often throwing up after drinking, and is urinating often. He’s neutered. Our dog understands going outside, but he urinates large amounts of urine in the house. He urinates in the crate, too. He wants water constantly, as we have limited his water intake. He acts likes he dying of thirst. What could be wrong? — R.B.,Trivoli, IL
A: So sad, this guy has gone through so much and now this.
“Definitely this dog requires detailed blood work, including kidney and liver values, and electrolytes,” says American Animal Hospital Association veterinary advisor Dr. Heather Loenser, who is based in Lebanon, N.J.
The most concentrated urine is first thing in the morning, so try to catch your dog’s first urine and then deliver the sample to the clinic, or bring the dog into the clinic before he urinates.
“I definitely would not limit his water,” Loenser adds. “You’ll just need to take him out more often, until this is figured out, as your dog is attempting to keep himself hydrated. Perhaps, you can hire a dog walker. As for what’s wrong, there are many possibilities. If your veterinarian can’t figure it out, consider an internal medicine specialist.”
Q: My almost 17-year-old cat had a failing heart and kidneys and was under geriatric care, and died after eating grass. She died six weeks after eating the grass. Though, she was ailing and I admit if it wasn’t for eating the grass she wouldn’t have lived that long anyway. The grief of losing a pet for so many years is bad enough, but I feel I poisoned my cat by allowing her to eat the grass. The feeling is unbearable. — J. E., Henderson, NV
A: I am sorry for your loss.
“Many cats routinely enjoy eating grass, and when you purchase cat grass, there typically isn’t a danger,” says Dr. Lauren Demos, incoming president American Association of Feline Practitioners.
Did this cat eat grass outside? “Sometimes cats that are not feeling well will attempt to self-medicate by eating grass,” adds Demos. “Therefore, it’s likely there was an underlying issue — which perhaps you do know about.”
Demos, who is in Waterford, Mich., says, “People make associations, which may be perfectly naturally to do, but not very accurate.” So, if you offer a new treat to a cat and your cat throws up — it might be the treat, but it doesn’t mean it is.
“You have no reason to feel guilty,” adds Demos. “You did not kill your cat. Clearly, you are a very caring cat owner — just the type of person to get another cat when you are ready.”
Q: My 8-year-old Papillon/Yorkshire Terrier mix shakes whenever my wife uses our electric oven or indoor grill. There’s no sound and she still shakes. What can we do? — A. L., Boca Raton, FL
A: “For starters, understand a dog’s hearing is much more acute than ours, especially higher treble and lower bass,” says veterinary behaviorist Dr. Debra Horwitz of St. Louis, MO. “It could be the dog is hearing something that makes her uncomfortable or anxious.”
Horwitz, who is a contributing editor of “Decoding Your Dog” with Dr. John Ciribassi and myself (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY; $27) – authored by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists – says to try to distract your dog with a treat dispensing toy, food puzzle, stuff low fat peanut butter into a toy or offer something to chew on in another part of the house before you turn on the appliance.
Not only may the dog be distracted, but also your dog may — over time — associate the electric oven or indoor grill with the treats.
Also, play music as you use the appliances — which may drown out any worrisome sound the dog may be hearing.
Horwitz adds that an Adaptil (pheromone) collar might cut any associated anxiety.