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Published April 29, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Bloating cause unknown

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a 6-year-old female Yorkshire terrier who weighs approximately 3 pounds. Periodically, her abdomen gets bloated, which necessitates a trip to the vet to drain the fluid.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: We have a 6-year-old female Yorkshire terrier who weighs approximately 3 pounds. Periodically, her abdomen gets bloated, which necessitates a trip to the vet to drain the fluid. She is then put on prednisone and furosemide. One vet thought she had a kidney problem; another one thinks it is an immune-deficiency disorder. What could be causing this? Is this problem peculiar to this breed? – R.E., New York, N.Y.

Dear R.E.: There are many reasons why dogs, other animals and humans become afflicted with ascites, a fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity.

One can rule out alcoholism in pets, but not liver disease and heart problems that are common causes of this condition in our canine companions. Depending on what the withdrawn fluid contains (blood, serum, bacteria), cancer and chronic peritonitis may be tested for.

I would focus on your little dog’s cardiac function first and foremost and combine the diuretic (furosemide) treatment with a low-salt diet and various supplements, notably CoQ10, L-carnitine, selenium, vitamin E, zinc and potassium. You should discuss these supplements with your veterinarian.


Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 5-year-old male orange tabby who is fixed and de-clawed. I got him from a vet’s office, where he had been rescued at 8 months old. I live alone, and he was good companion – loving and playful.

The problem is that I have moved recently and could not take him with me, so I left him with my mother in her home; she has had cats all her life and loves them a lot. She has two fixed females living there – one is temperamental, and the other is a bit shy. My tabby gets along fine with the shy one, and he sort of stays away from the other one.

Now the tabby has started to spray on the wall next to the floor in different areas of the house. The vet in town says he thinks he is just marking his area. I think that because he is fixed and never did this before, he might have a urinary-tract problem. My mom says no, but I say we need another vet to check it out. What do you think? – D.B., Springfield, Mo.

Dear D.B.: Spraying on the wall or other vertical objects (furniture, doors) is a territorial-marking behavior, especially in male cats and occasionally in females. Non-neutered males do this most often and such behavior normally subsides, along with the pungent, musky, tomcat-pheromone stink in the urine.

I doubt your cat has a bladder problem, but to rule out that stress-related possibility, a veterinary checkup is advisable. More usually, cats with cystitis strain painfully while they urinate in a squatting posture, sometimes even at their caregivers’ feet (to communicate their distress).

Your mother should try the Feliway pheromone room diffuser to help your cat settle down, his spraying being a likely sign of anxiety. Giving him catnip may also help alleviate his anxiety.


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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