Pet Care: Bladder stones linked to dietDear Dr. Fox: I adopted two purebred rag doll cats from the SPCA when they were a year old. I’ve had them for five years with no problems – until now.
By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM
Dear Dr. Fox: I adopted two purebred rag doll cats from the SPCA when they were a year old. I’ve had them for five years with no problems – until now.
A few months ago, my male cat started acting strange. He would walk very slowly and stare off into space. He stopped purring and playing. He stopped using the litter box, and he urinated on the floor. There was blood in his urine.
I took him to the vet. The vet took some X-rays and saw that he had multiple stones in his bladder. He had surgery the next day. The vet said there were a lot of stones, and some were embedded in the lining of his bladder. She had to scrape the lining to get them all out. She put both cats on a prescription cat food for urinary health.
After two weeks, we went back to have the stitches removed. That was a little over a month ago, and my cat is not any better. I thought I’d have my baby back after the surgery, but that’s not the case. He walks even slower now, as if he’s in great pain. He does not play, purr or clean himself. He will not use the litter box and urinates wherever he is at the moment. The urine is clear. He cries all day and night.
I took him back to the vet, explaining my concerns. She did blood work, and everything came back normal. The vet said if I had further problems, she could recommend a specialist. She said his bladder still felt “thick,” but other than that, she could not find anything wrong with him. Unfortunately, I am out of money. With all his care, I’ve spent over $1,000, and he’s still not right.
Can you recommend anything? Is it possible he might still have stones somewhere that the vet missed? I feel so bad for him. – T.M.Y, Virginia Beach, Va.
Dear T.M.Y.: This is one of the most common and painful afflictions of cats today. You have my sympathy.
While genetics can play a minor role, with some breeds being more prone to cystitis and bladder stones/calculi/uroliths, a proper cereal- and soy-free diet from kittenhood on is probably the best preventive measure.
The chronic inflammation of your cat’s bladder that is causing him so much discomfort must be addressed. In addition to ensuring that he’s drinking plenty of water (at least ½ cup daily – you can season it with chicken broth if that helps), there are herbal and other treatments that may help. These treatments include glucosamine, probiotics, corn silk, cranberry, parsley and dandelion. Fish oil is also a good general anti-inflammatory product that is helpful in treating and preventing a variety of conditions.
He may be having bladder muscle spasms; treatment with Valium may offer relief.
Dear Dr. Fox: I have a question about my two dogs. I have a Havanese and a Chihuahua. Both are very healthy, get regular exercise and have no abnormal bathroom issues. But I need to have their anal glands expressed often – at $22 each every time. I don’t have the stomach to express the glands myself.
I feed them an organic raw diet (usually chicken), and they get wheat-free treats (wheat treats appear to make them itch) and Bully Sticks.
Is there anything I should add to their diet? My neighbors don’t have this issue with their dogs. I haven’t had issues in the past with any of our other pets. – D.S., Naples, Fla.
Dear D.S.: Two dogs with anal gland problems is a handful! Normally, the anal sacs empty out when the dog defecates, leaving a scent mark on the feces. With low-density/low-fiber dog foods, you can get smaller stools that may not provide sufficient pressure to stimulate the anal gland sacs to contract.
Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of psyllium husks moistened with water and a teaspoon of olive oil to your dogs’ food every day; this should increase the bulk of the stools, which may help. Repeated manual emptying may cause more inflammation if not done gently.
If the anal glands are simply hyperactive, irrigation with antibiotics and steroids may help. But in many instances, there is an underlying food allergy or hypersensitivity. So you may need to experiment with different diets – canned, raw and dry.
Check the archives of this column on my website, DrFoxVet.com, for more details.
Animals are aware
An international group of behavioral and brain scientists attending a conference on consciousness in human and non-human animals in Cambridge, England, put together and signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. This document (available on the Internet as a PDF) asserts that animals – mammals, birds and even insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus) – possess states of attentiveness and sleep; have decision-making abilities; can experience emotional states much as humans do; and, like us, are conscious beings possessing awareness and exhibiting deliberate, intentional behaviors.
As a veterinarian with a doctoral degree in ethology/animal behavior who has long decried invasive research and advocated greater respect and equal consideration of animals’ rights and interests, I find the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness a testament to scientific progress in human consciousness. It raises moral sensibilities and advances ethical awareness, which could be a significant step for human civilization to take. I hope that this consensus of scientists will be widely appreciated, culturally assimilated and legally incorporated for the benefit of all creatures.
Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.