ASK DR. CHIP - FEBRUARY EDITION

Want to be featured in next month’s newsletter? Email our very own Dr. Chip at info@petsplusus.com and make sure you reference ‘Ask Dr. Chip’ in the subject line.

About Dr. Chip

Dr. Chip Coombs is Pets Plus Us’ Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), and has practiced veterinary medicine since 1976, initially in the United Kingdom, then in Western Canada and, finally, in Toronto, where he owned a multi-veterinarian practice for 33 years.

Please note: This forum is not intended for life saving medical advice. If your pet is having a medical emergency, please contact your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic.


Question:

Dear Dr. Chip,

I have a beautiful 18year old cat called Aspen and is a champagne color, who up to the start of last week is not eating. He has turned his nose up at cooked chicken which I cut up into small pieces, and his IAMS kibble which he has always had. I noticed when brushing him he had been doing his back nails and had made them sore. I washed them gently with makeup pads dipped in warm water, but he was really objecting first thing, he has a problem standing on them for long and is sleeping a great deal. I take him to bed with me and hopefully, he realizes that I care for him.

He will drink milk but that is about it. I noticed he had been in his box this morning and peed and did a little pooh about the size of a Looney.

I am an 83- year old Senior Citizen and unable to get to a Vet as I do not have a car, too expensive for me to take a cab. Is there anything I could get for him to try eating as he has dropped a little weight and he is a big one. or something I could put on his paws. I would appreciate your input,

Elizabeth and Aspen

Answer:

Dear Elizabeth,

Having Aspen as your companion for 18 years is very special and it is very clear from your note how close you both are to each other. No doubt you appreciate that at 18 years of age, Aspen is well into being a senior citizen and there could be a number of different issues causing him to be off his food. In fact, without seeing him or knowing more history, the list is quite long. If I have interpreted your description accurately, he is on the heavy side and if that is the case, not eating properly can trigger a whole cascade of internal issues involving his liver. 

The best advice I could offer, you have already addressed, and that is to have him checked over by a nearby veterinarian. Hopefully, family, friends or a neighbour could recommend one to you. My worry is that even something simple could end up being very serious in a heavy cat who stops eating. There are some excellent drugs to act as appetite stimulants, but they are only available from a veterinarian. If he is drinking milk you could very slowly start adding pure egg white to the milk (up to two teaspoons/ day) to help counteract the weight loss. Egg white is considered the perfect protein. However, that isn't really addressing the underlying issue (whatever that might be) and if you put something on his feet, he will likely just lick it off. 

There are veterinarians who do house calls and, if you started calling, surely you would find a veterinary practice who would do some very selective testing for minimal cost for someone in your circumstance. I don't know where you live, but cities like Toronto have humane societies who will provide care for pet owners of very limited means. My hope is that you act sooner rather than later, for my worry is that Aspen's condition could deteriorate to a point of no return, if you delay. 

Yours truly,

Dr. Chip


Question:

Dear Dr. Chip, I have an 11-month old kitten who is overly vocal and the only way I can get him to be quiet is to pick him up, but the non-vocalization is short lived as soon as I put him down he starts vocalizing again and jumping up on counters or high furniture and pushing everything off to the floor! He was a rescue kitten that I got when he was 9 months old so have only had him for 2 months and he is a very sweet lovable kitten except when he goes through this crazy time usually in the late evening.  Perhaps he is bored or perhaps I am not feeding him enough, currently he is eating 1.5 - 2 cans (5.5 oz cans) wet food a day and 1/4 cup dry food.  I play with him when he gets in this crazy mood and feed him more and it seems to help sometimes but not always .... is this just normal kitten behavior?  I have had cats all my life but they either had another cat sibling or were outdoor cats ...this new kitten is a totally indoor cat.

Jean

Answer:

Hi Jean,

It sounds like you have a very normal kitten! I suspect you work during the day, come home and look forward to relaxing. Your new companion, however, who likely has been spinning his wheels all day, is ready to...party! Playing with him much as you have the energy for would undoubtedly be helpful. Laser pointers are particularly handy when you're exhausted.

Although your employer may not be impressed, you could get a Petcube. This unit has a camera, microphone and laser pointer built in and can be controlled from your phone through Wi-Fi and allows you to interact with your kitten while away from home. There is also the possibility of getting him a playmate, but that can be a double-edged sword and should involve a lot of discussion before taking the plunge. Because he is young, he is more likely to accept a new kitten, but each cat is different and if he were not accepting, a whole new list of challenges for you may arise.

As they age, most cats start to mellow and "slow down", but in the meantime in addition to the more playtime and possible companion options above, I would strongly suggest you NOT feed him as a distraction. At least 40% of all cats are overweight (likely more) and although I can't be specific without seeing him (his physical stature and body weight score) or knowing the caloric density of the food you are feeding, my concern is that he is already getting plenty of calories in the day, especially for an indoor cat. For an 8 lb cat, the average caloric density of commercial cat foods is approximately 250 cals. per 5.5 oz. can and that alone is all he needs in a day. You should ask your veterinarian for more specific guidance as to what is appropriate for him and the canned vs dry perspectives.

Enjoy :)

Dr. Chip


Question:

Dear Dr. Chip,

My cocker has trouble with her anal glands. I’ve noticed it seems to be more prevalent when she is getting marrow treats. Can it be associated to diet, or is it just coincidence? I’d love your opinion.

Thanks, Deb

Answer:

Hi Deb,

One of the challenges when evaluating the rear end of your furry friend is discerning whether the problem is, in fact, the anal glands vs another rear end issue. As you know, the classic manifestation of an anal gland problem is either dragging her bottom along the ground or licking her anal region. However, if your assessment is correct and she is, indeed, dragging more after eating marrow bones, it might possibly be due to the marrow bones causing some mild “colitis” (inflammation of the colon), because she doesn’t digest them very well. If the large bowel or rectum is mildly inflamed, there may be no diarrhea, just a sense of itchiness which could cause her to drag her back end, just as she would with an anal gland problem.

No doubt your veterinarian has you well versed in anal gland problems, including how to deal with them at home, but if there is a direct correlation with the marrow bones, the simplest solution is to find her another treat (for example a Kong or other working toy) to entertain her. In general, a higher fibre diet is beneficial for dogs that have a tendency to have their anal glands fill too often. Every time a dog has a bowel movement, as the stool passes it pushes against the anal opening and partially expresses the anal glands. The bulkier the stool, the more likely the glands are expressed. In this case, though, I would be more inclined to wonder if the marrow bones aren’t causing a mild inflammation of the rectum and the consequential dragging of the rear end.


For more information on anal glands feel free to check out our article on scooting: 

https://www.petsplusus.com/pet-information/health/scooting-or-why-your-dog-drags-its-rear-end

All the best,

Dr. Chip