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Published January 20, 2012, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Urinary tract problems in cats

Dear Dr. Fox: My male Persian cat (a rescue cat) was neutered when he was over 2 years old. He has had oxalate stones removed twice in the past two years. He was thoroughly examined by a veterinarian internist/specialist.

Dear Dr. Fox: My male Persian cat (a rescue cat) was neutered when he was over 2 years old. He has had oxalate stones removed twice in the past two years. He was thoroughly examined by a veterinarian internist/specialist. My cat’s vet did both surgeries. What seems to be working to keep the stones away, so far, is a daily dose (0.5 cc) of liquid hydrochlorothiazide. I use a syringe and squirt it into his mouth.

His dry food is Royal Canin Feline Nutrition PRO Persian 30, which is formulated to help with his urinary tract – he likes it. He drinks plenty of water but is a bit finicky about moist food. I’ve offered him Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d, minced turkey in gravy, chicken pate and homegrown grass (he likes that), but he prefers his kibble. He’s an indoor cat. He loves being groomed several times a day. I monitor his litter boxes and clean them several times a day.

So far, the prescription is keeping the bladder stone problem in check. I hope this helps others with this awful problem. – A.G., Norfolk, Va.

Dear A.G.: Cats and dogs develop calcium oxalate crystals, or sand, and larger calculi, or stones, in their lower urinary tract for a variety of reasons. The acidification of manufactured pet foods – to help lower the incidence of struvite crystals – is believed to be one factor. Not drinking enough water, being given only dry food and too much sodium in the diet may also play a role in this all-too-common malady.

Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic, making the recipient produce more urine. This essentially keeps the urinary tract regularly flushed, preventing the accumulation of oxalate crystals that might grow into larger stones or calculi. A moist diet and ensuring the cat drinks plenty of water (even seasoned with salt-free chicken gravy or a little milk) or getting the cat used to 5 to 10 cc of water given orally in a syringe if the cat does not drink much – these are the best preventive measures. I do not advise giving cats more salt (sodium chloride) to get them to drink more. Starting kittens out on a moist, home-prepared or raw food diet will do much to stop urinary tract problems from developing.

Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 10-year-old yellow Labrador who recently had several warts develop on her head and leg. The one on her face became infected and, consequently, was removed surgically. It looks like a few more are starting to show.

The vet told me not to worry about them. I heard that a virus causes these types of warts. Is there anything I can do to prevent more of them from breaking out on her body? I felt disappointed with the vet’s diagnosis and would appreciate your comments regarding this matter. – A.K., Colts Neck, N.J.

Dear A.K.: There are two types of warts usually seen in dogs. Young dogs often develop warts caused by canine papilloma virus, which is not transmissible to humans. Older dogs are prone to developing warts because of a compromised immune system; the skin-invading virus makes the cells in the skin proliferate. Some breeds, such as toy poodles, are especially prone. Older dogs can also develop wart-like growths that are not triggered by a skin virus, but may be related to other skin conditions such as greasy seborrhea or hormonal dysfunction, especially of the thyroid gland.

If the attending veterinarian suspected possible skin cancer, a biopsy would have been taken. Large benign warts that become infected are best removed surgically. Smaller warts can be painted with cider vinegar three to four times a day or with over-the-counter wart removal ointment for humans. The dog, of course, should not be able to lick this medication or rub it and get it in the eyes. However, when folk remedies fail, periodic surgical removal is the only option.

Dog food recalled

Procter & Gamble and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Dec. 6 that one lot of P&G’s Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy dry dog food is being recalled due to high levels of the extremely toxic mold aflatoxin.

According to the FDA, the recalled Iams dog food was distributed to retailers in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. Specific retailers are not named, and it is not clear how many bags are contaminated, but the FDA states that it is a limited number. It is also unclear how many bags of Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy dog food are included in one lot. The recalled dog food has a use-by or expiration date of either Feb. 5 or Feb. 6, 2013. Consumers who purchased the recalled Iams dry dog food should stop using it and return it to the store. They can also call P&G at 866-908-1569.

Cargill Inc. reported that corn containing higher- than-acceptable levels of aflatoxin was delivered to its plant in Lecompte, La. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, after routine testing by Louisiana state regulators found that some of Cargill’s own tests had been underestimating aflatoxin levels, Cargill reported the problem to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cargill is recalling all River Run and Marksman dry dog food manufactured at the Louisiana plant between Dec. 1, 2010, and Dec. 1, 2011, now on the market in Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Guam and the Virgin Islands. If you have questions, call Cargill’s hotline at 855-460-1532.

Aflatoxin is a byproduct of the growth of the corn mold Aspergillus flavus, which is now especially prevalent in herbicide-resistant, genetically engineered corn (documentation reviewed on my website), which should be carefully tested for contamination ideally soon after harvesting and after storage just prior to inclusion in pet foods and livestock feed.

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