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Published November 05, 2010, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Disease claims Shih Tzu

Dear Dr. Fox: Recently, my 5½-year-old Shih Tzu, Molly, quit eating on a Wednesday and was dead on Sunday. The animal hospital said she died from IMHA (immune mediated hemolytic anemia). This was determined after a complete blood workup.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: Recently, my 5½-year-old Shih Tzu, Molly, quit eating on a Wednesday and was dead on Sunday. The animal hospital said she died from IMHA (immune mediated hemolytic anemia). This was determined after a complete blood workup.

I had never heard of this horrendous disease before. Is there anything I could have done to prevent this from happening? I am devastated. – P.L., Keller, Texas

Dear P.L.: My condolences to you over the sudden death of your dog. Emergency treatment with a blood transfusion, Prednisone and human gamma globulin might have provided some temporary relief from this disease. Immune mediated hemolytic anemia afflicts certain breeds and may be triggered by an adverse reaction to vaccination from various medications and by a generalized form of lupus erythematosus.

Female dogs are more susceptible than males, and Old English sheepdogs, American cocker spaniels and Irish setters are particularly more vulnerable than other breeds.


Dear Dr. Fox: I am concerned about the behavior of two of my cats: P.K. (a 6-year-old male) and Molly (a 16-year-old female).

Lately, they have been licking the tops of my end tables, doors of my entertainment center, baseboards and carpet. They do this several times a day. They have hairball problems, and I give them Purina Friskies Hairball Remedy Treats every day and that seems to help a little. They refuse to eat the Laxatone medicine.

Does this habit present potential health problems? How can I get them to stop? – M.M., Festus, Mo.

Dear M.M.: Obsessive-compulsive licking in cats (and also dogs) can be a sign of gastrointestinal discomfort, fur balls being a common reason.

The various manufactured and junk cat foods and treats marketed to help alleviate fur balls make money without always making cats feel better. Some cats even become more ill on these specially prescribed diets.

Give your cats a teaspoon each daily of olive oil and chopped wheat grass in their food, plus a teaspoon of chopped canned sardines or mackerel. Also, be sure to brush them thoroughly every day.

Their compulsive licking of various surfaces and materials may be related to compulsive grooming. Fur or hairball stomach problems are secondary to some underlying chronic digestive irritation not actually caused by the fur balls in the stomach. The most likely underlying cause is food allergy or hypersensitivity. See if your cats improve when transitioned gradually onto different cat-food formulas. I would begin with finding quality cat foods free of corn and other cereals, soy, eggs and dairy products.


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 website at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

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