PHOENIX, AZ -- These reader questions were answered by veterinary experts attending the annual American Animal Hospital Association Conference March 14-17. AAHA is the only organization that accredits small animal hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada. AAHA-accredited hospitals are evaluated regularly on approximately 900 quality-of-care standards defining excellence in veterinary medicine.
Q: I recently added a 7-month-old kitten to our home of two other cats and two dogs. I rescued the kitten from up in a tree. When I took the new arrival for a checkup, the veterinarian said, "You already have two cats; this is going to have to stop." He recommended I get rid of the kitten, calling her neurotic. Well, things soon calmed down, and now everyone is fine -- except for me. I thought the kitten would benefit from being in our home, receiving her shots and being spayed. But now the vet says I'm a "cat hoarder." What do you think? -- R.R., Naples, FL
A: "If you're a cat hoarder, what am I?" asks Dr. Kate Knutson, president of AAHA. "I have six cats and two dogs, and I am not a hoarder. And I very much doubt you are, either. 'Hoarding' means that you continue to take in animals and can't stop. What's more, hoarders don't offer medical care for the animals, which clearly you are doing."
Knutson, of Bloomington, MN, adds, "You did the right thing to take in this kitten, though when introducing cats or kittens to one another, a very gradual introduction is best." She adds that if what you say is true, you might consider interviewing a new veterinarian, especially one certified as having a Cat-Friendly Practice.
Q: Could my cat have laryngitis? And could he be resentful and despondent about losing his voice? -- C.S, Asheville, NC
A: "Yes, cats can get laryngitis," says Dr. Ilona Rodan, of Madison, WI, a past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. "It can be that just as we sometimes talk too much and stress our vocal cords, this cat meows too often, and just has a lot to say. But a veterinary checkup is important to insure there's no paralysis of the vocal cords or another medical explanation."
"Cats don't get resentful about things, but the vocal cords may be painful," Rodan added. "And being in pain may cause anxiety. Maybe not having her voice can make your cat anxious, though I'm not certain I'd say 'despondent.'"
Q: Our 4-year-old Pug has a severe problem with bladder infections and bladder stones. She had surgery to remove a bladder stone. About that time, she was put on a special diet (Hills Prescription C/D for urinary health) and receives a cranberry pill. Her infections have continued on and off, and each time she's put on the (antibiotic) Zeniquin. She's better and then she's not, again. We think our veterinarian is terrific but are frustrated. We've had Pugs for years, but never had this problem. Any advice? -- P.C., St. Petersburg, FL
A: "Some dogs are just frustratingly prone to produce stones and prone to urinary tract infections," says Dr. Mark Russak, immediate past president of AAHA. "First, I'd strongly suggest a urine culture. Zeniquin is absolutely right in most cases, but some antibiotics may respond differently to different types of infections and to different individuals."
It's possible you've thought the Zeniquin has worked, when in fact, the urinary tract infection merely has improved on its own; these infections sometimes wax and wane. Also, Just as some people become antibiotic resistant, the same can be true for pets.
Russak, of Starkville, MS, says to ask your veterinarian about PULSE low-dose antibiotic therapy. You'll offer a lower dose of the antibiotic of choice and dispense before bedtime, which may be the most effective time.
In addition, he says to encourage your dog to drink, and that means more trips outside to piddle. Also, knowing what type of stone your dog has had is key. For example, Hill's C/D acidifies urine and is fine for struvite stones but not oxalate stones. Also, one special diet may not be as effective as another in individual animals. Ask your veterinarian about the Royal Canin prescription diet, or another choice.
Q: My 8-year-old Rat Terrier as a fatty tumor on the inside of her left back leg about as big as a golf ball. My veterinarian said if it were his dog, he'd just leave it be. What do you think? -- N.V., Burlington, WI
A: "In the vast majority of cases, lipomas, or fatty tumors, are benign," says AAHA board member Dr. Aman Sukhija, of Ormond Beach, FL. "These are a congregation of fat cells. Like your veterinarian, I tend to also want to leave these growths alone."
Still, doing a needle biopsy to insure the stone is benign makes some sense. Surgery could be done, and might be best if the lipoma continues growing and hinders the dog's walking. And owners sometimes want surgery because they don't like the way the growths look. But surgery may not be so simple if muscle fibers are involved.
Another consideration is that some lipomas come back. Also, of course, the dog's overall health is an important factor. If surgery is suggested, it might be best to do this while your dog is undergoing a dental procedure (when he's already under anesthesia).
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services
Tags: AAHA, American Animal Hospital Association, bladder infection in dog, bladder stones in dog, cat hoarding, cat loses voice, cat with laryngitis, cat with sore throat, despondent cat, Dr Ilona Rodan, Dr. Aman Sukhija, Dr. Kate Knutson, Dr. Mark Russak, fatty tumor in dog, lipoma in dog, Steve Dale archives