Montreal, Canada. These questions were answered by expert veterinary specialists attending the ACVIM Forum/Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Convention, June 3 to 6 at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal. The latest in cutting edge medicine is typically revealed at this conference. 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: Dundee was diagnosed with HCM (feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) five years ago, and he’s been doing great until his most recent ultrasound which showed deterioration. I’m freaking out! Our vet has changed medications, and now I have almost $50 worth of a medication I can’t use. I really don’t want to throw it away.
Our vet says he can’t legally re-sell medication. Do you have any ideas, aside from throwing it down the toilet? And what about my cat? A. C., Cyberspace
A: I love your question, and your concern. Indeed flushing medications isn’t a good idea. Reports in the popular press have revealed all sorts of drug compounds have been found in drinking water. Dr. Teresa DeFrancesco, board certified in both cardiology and emergency critical care suggests you contact a local shelter, perhaps they can use the meds.
In HCM cats, the muscle walls in the chambers of the heart become thickened, and as a result pumping becomes inefficient. Ultimately some cats with HCM succumb after heart failure or numerous stroke-like events.
While DeFrancesco, an associate professor at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine – Raleigh, agrees that HCM is likely the number one cause of death among adult indoor cats under the nine years, she’s about to release the results of her long-term study on HCM diagnosed cats. Her research indicates out about half of cats with no symptoms have a median survival of seven years. That means half will like past seven years, though half will not. This means many cats with HCM do make it into their teens, ultimately succumbing to old age diseases such as kidney disease or cancer.
I know all too much about HCM, having lost my cat Ricky to the disease in 2002. There is no real treatment, so to encourage further research I set up the Ricky Fund through the Winn Feline Foundation. You can learn more about HCM and the fund at www.winnfelinehealth.org.
Q: Ozzy is contantly straining as he attempts bowel movements. And he has frequent diarrhea Vets have put him on a couple of different medications, but nothing has worked. We’ve changed to a gastric sensitive diet, and give him pasta, pumpkin and/or rice when the problem gets bad. Can you help? S. S., Cyberspace
A: Internal medicine specialist Dr. Kevin Gulikers of Dallas, TX says there are many possibilities to explain your dog’s problems, including food allergies. If your veterinarian has yet to suggest a food trial, that may be a first step. If you’ve already gone that route, Gulikers says it really is important to distinguish whether your dog has an upper bowel or colon issue. You will offer clues by answering questions about your dog’s stool. I won’t repeat the questions here – but your general practitioner or an internal medicine specialist will know what to ask. However, more may be required for a diagnosis, an endoscopic exam perhaps, including biopsies.
Q: My 9-year old dog has an enlarged prostate. My vet wants to neuter him, I don’t. I’d like to explore homeopathic options. Do you have any recommendations? C. J., Peoria, IL
A: “Neuter the dog, why not?” wonders internal medicine specialist Dr. Kevin Gulikers of Dallas, TX. He explains just as older men sometimes have enlarged prostates, so do many dogs.
“People take drugs that block testosterone with a goal to help shrink the prostrate, the same drugs can be given to dogs. But for dogs we have another option, and it’s curative, that’s to neuter. Also, in a 9-year old dog an ultrasound to rule out cancer may be good idea. I have no issue with homeopathic remedies, but I simply don’t know of any for this problem.”
Contact, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, www.ahvma.org if your feel compelled to pursue a homeopathic solution.
Q: I’m stressed out about what to do about Henry, my 2 ½-year old Maine Coon-mix. My vet suggested adding wet food to his dry food diet. But he’s not fond of the wet food. And he’s now continually becoming constipated. It’s to the point where he’s had two massive enemas. Now he’s home with a prescription for two drugs and on a high fiber diet. I need to wean him off the drugs because one is $40 per bottle, and I simply can’t afford it with three kids in college. I’m already $800 up to my nose in vet bills and I don’t know what to do. C. D., Fairport, NY
A: “I hear your frustration, and I understand” sympathizes internal medicine specialist Dr. Sandy Willis of Seattle, WA. “It’s not only the expense – but if it is possible, avoiding those enemas would be very much appreciated by your cat, I can assure you. I am concerned since constipation may only get worse because the colon will continue to enlarge. I wonder if the diet change caused the problem. You can ask your veterinarian if it’s possible to go back to dry food. However, it’s important to increase Henry’s hydration.”
One trick is to add some tuna juice and also water to your cat’s dry food.
You can ask your veterinarian about using Lactulose (a drug to help move stool) and/or pumpkin (available at supermarkets).
“If you don’t succeed, an internal medicine specialist may come up with the solution,” she says.
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services