MONTREAL, CANADA — The following questions were answered by expert veterinary specialists attending the ACVIM Forum/Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Convention, June 3-6 at the Palais des Congres de Montreal. The ACVIM includes veterinary specialists in oncology, neurology, cardiology, and large- and small-animal internal medicine. Learn more and find a specialist near you at www.acvim.org.
Q: Flatulence is the problem for my 12-year old pug. It’s a heavy ammonia-like smell which he’s been giving off lately. He likes to sleep above my head, so you can understand why this is a problem. My husband just turns around and laughs. My dog eats wet food with a bit of cooked chicken breast. What can we do? K.U., Las Vegas, NV
A: Are you sure it’s the dog? Maybe there’s another explanation for your husband’s amusement. Also, ask any veterinarian about a Pug with flatulence, and the answer will be, ‘Well, he’s a Pug, isn’t he?”
However, Dr. Kenny Simpson, internal medicine specialist and a professor of small animal medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, is concerned about that ammonia smell. “Often that’s a signal that there may be kidney disease going on; please see your veterinarian,” he says.
If your Pug checks out, Simpson says a consideration may be to add soluble fiber to the diet. And remove any table snacks, with all family members participating in the program. Also, listen for tummy gurgling, which may signal your vet to what’s going on. If the overnight stink bombs don’t subside, it may simply be typical “pugitiude.” If that’s the case, the only prescription form your vet may be nose plugs.
Q: Our 14-year old cat was diagnosed with diabetes about a year ago. A few months ago, he began to vomit right after drinking water, eating a meal, or eating from the houseplant. He’s on a diabetic diet and his insulin is regulated. Could the problem be diabetes or our plants? What do you think of this perplexing problem? D. L., Las Vegas, NV
A: Assuming your cat’s diabetes is truly regulated, that illness is not likely to be related, according to internal medicine specialist Dr. Kevin Guilikers of Dallas, TX. Assuming he’s been on his diabetic diet for some time without incident, what he’s eating not likely a factor (not table snacks, which could be a factor) .
Gulikers recommends putting the plant away, totally out of reach from your cat. Lots of houseplants may be hazardous to cats, some seriously so. If your cat no longer vomits, you’ve discovered the culprit. You might consider purchasing ‘cat grass,’ a safer alternative for cats who enjoy grazing.
If the vomiting persists, take note how fast kitty is scarfing up food and water. Slowing that down might by feeding in smaller portions may solve the problem. If there’s increased appetite, this could be a sign of hyperthyroidism. Regardless, if the vomiting continues after you remove the plant, see your veterinarian. Certainly, it’s possible that this is a gastro-intestinal issue. In any case, it’s not “normal” for cats to vomit all the time.
If your veterinarian can’t find the solution, consider a referral to an internal medicine specialist.
Q: Paco is our 10-year old Doberman/Shepherd. About a year ago, he developed a large grapefruit-sized tumor on his right side, just ahead of his right leg. There are small tumor growths over his body, including one his lower lip and another on his upper eyelid – these don’t seem to bother him. He seems like he’s in good health otherwise. The problem is that I can’t afford surgery, which my veterinarian say may not solve the problem. We also have two rescued cats, one is 21-years old. H, M., Cyberspace
A: Clearly, you’re an animal lover – and with a 21-year old cat, you’re doing something right. Dr. Louis-Phillippe de Lorimier, veterinary oncologist in Brossard, Ontario Canada notes that your vet said surgery may not solve the problem – but what problem is that? A fine needle aspirate and cytology on those masses, particularly the large one is a good idea. Or even better perhaps a biopsy, though that may cost more.
“It’s really difficult to judge on a physical exam whether a mass is a lipoma (fatty mass) or a tumor to be concerned about,” says de Lorimier. “The large mass, in particular, may be nothing, but I am also concerned about soft tissue sarcoma. Is your dog bothered by the mass – or is it arthritis bothering him?” Of course, surgery is invasive and comes with a monetary cost, which could even include radiation. That’s always a difficult decision to make. Still knowing what you’re dealing is the only way to truly understand what your options are.
You can find a veterinary oncologist at www.acvim.org
Q: Do you have any information on organ transplants in cats? L. F., Cyberspace
A: Internal medicine specialist Dr. Sandy Willis of Seattle, WA says that kidney transplants are now done in cats. But this procedure is hardly routine, or inexpensive, costing approximately, $12,000 to $16,000. Donor cats are often at veterinary schools or shelters and then adopted by the family whose cat needed kidney.
In dogs, so far, no organ transplants – though sometimes there are bone marrow transplants for dogs with leukemia, for around $20,000. Tissue rejection is still a problem which hasn’t been solved for dogs.
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services