26 May 2011

7 really weird questions

Cats addicted to elastic bands and shopaholic husbands - the Experts are here to help, no matter how strange your dilemma may be.


Life can be stranger than fiction, as illustrated by some of the questions sent in to Health24's Experts.

An average day in the life of CyberDoc:

Q: Please help: steroid gel for horses, what does it do?

For the past 3 weeks my girlfriend has been using a steroid gel meant for horses to lose weight. But in that time she has undergone a complete change: moodiness, shaking, can't eat and she forgets stuff. This has turned our whole household around and we're at a point where we aren't even talking to each other. She takes more every week and only rests for 1 day in the week.

I would like to get medical advice on the side effects of this steriod and what it does. I have to show her that it's not good for her.

A:  This veterinary medicationcontains Clenbuterol, which is a steroid used as a bronchodilator and expectorant for horses.

Noticeable side effects of Clenbuterol are tremors and excessive sweating.  As this steroid affects the sympathetic nervous system, the shaking of the hands and muscular tremors are a sign of a more severe effect: nervousness.

She may also experience muscular cramps.  Clenbuterol targets smooth muscles such as the cardiovascular muscles which in turn could cause palpitations, possible cardiac hypertrophy.  It has caused heart muscle necrosis (tissue death) in animals, but could affect humans as well. As a weight loss drug, Clenbuterol can be addictive and increased dosages of Clenbuterol will cause increased side effects.  Like all steroids, it is dangerous.

A concerned wife asked the Family Law expert this question:

Q: Shopaholic husband

We are married in community of property and he earns a huge salary.  He buys cars and things without me having to co-sign because the bank does not see him as a risk.

My husband is accumulating all this debt and I have no say in it.

If something happens to him then will his debt be my responsibility? I had to beg him last year to co-sign because I wanted to buy a car. I feel, regardless of his salary, that the same rules should apply to him when married in community of property.

If 50% of his debt could one day be my responsibility, then I should have a legal say in what debts are incurred.  Please advise.

A: You assume half of all the debt that he makes. 'In community of property' means that everything the couple own, and their debts, from before their marriage are put together in a joint estate. And everything they earn or buy after their marriage is also part of this joint estate.  You therefore can be held liable for the debts of your husband, because in a marriage in community of property the assets and debts are merged into a joint estate. In the event of a divorce your husband’s creditors can proceed against you for the payment of his debts.

Here are some questions handled by Cybervet:

Q: Could this be pug depression?

We are simply stumped with the behaviour of our 9-year-old female pug.  From last week she's started to act strangely. She sits in a corner shaking and breathing very heavily. Her ears, eyes and face droop.

When she does walk she walks very stiffly and tucks her tail in between her legs.  But, when you take her for a walk, she runs around like normal and she still eats all her food (and her sister's if she can get to it!)

She's been doing this on and off for the last 4 days, and we are wondering whether she isn't just trying to manipulate us as she and her sister are masters at it. She also barks a lot normally, but now has virtually stopped barking and has largely lost interest in what goes on outside our gate (even when she is not having a "shaking fit").

We've tried to get a correlation between temperature, time of day, etc but the shaking can start at any time.  I doubt taking her to the vet will help as we really can't describe her symptoms at all and the car ride will probably perk her up anyway.  We are taking them for their annual innoculations at the end of the maybe I'll just mention it then.

A: Dogs can certainly be manipulative, but the kind of behaviour you describe falls way outside that description.  I would take her to the vet. Vets don't always have to observe the behaviour to have a good idea what's going on, and you''d be amazed at what a blood test or two can reveal.  There may well be nothing going on, but frankly I doubt that a dog would suddenly shake and breathe heavily just for fun. It's not what a ''depressed'' dog would do, anyway.

Q:  Cat addicted to elastic bands

My 3-year-old female cat loves to eat elastic bands, so we cleared out all the elastic bands and are keeping them in a cupboard out of her reach. But now she breaks into my chest of drawers and steels my elastic hair-bands. She literally forces her paw into the tiniest crack just to fish out a band. The outer part is covered in nylon or something, but she bites through this and eats, yes – eats - the elastic inside. We know this because my hubby sees it in her poop when he cleans her litter-box. What can we do to stop this behaviour? We live in a flat – could it be because she doesn't get to eat grass? We feed her Friskies and she is a happy, loving and healthy cat.  Please help.

A:  It surely sounds like your cat has a strange fascination with elastic bands. You are definitely doing the right thing by trying to keep them out of her reach! If she ingests 1 or 2 bands they will most likely pass through, but if she constantly ingests them it can cause constipation and intestinal blockage! I would recommend that you get her different kinds of good quality chews for cats and see if she doesn't like these more than the elastic bands.

Q:  2-yr-old male daschund humping everything.

Please help me, my son's daschund is humping everything, moving or not. Including my 6 week old puppies, my 3 cats, my daughters friends, my labbie, EVERYTHING!

He is not neutered and I was wondering if that would help.

A:  Annoying and embarrassing behaviour! Yes, neuter him as soon as you can. This normally reduces the amount of humping by at least 70%. You don't say how old he is, but in an older dog it can take between 6 weeks to 3 months for the testosterone levels to drop all the way down, so may not be an overnight thing. Do speak to your vet about it, but unless you are a professional breeder all dogs and bitches really should be sterilised.

CyberShrink deals with everything and then some:

Q:  Stepson shock

Help me, please. I was married to a man for over 10 years, he has a son from a previous marriage. We have been apart for more than 5 years but ex's son still visits me now and then. Just lately he (now 20) came to my house and confessed that he is in love with me and he can't function anymore as the only thing he thinks of all day is me.

As if that isn't enough:  back then when his dad and I were together, his dad took some pictures of me in lingerie.  Now his son tells me that when the marriage split up, he went through my underwear and found those pics. He tells me that he fantasises about it, and cannot stop looking at them - I nearly had a heart attack and he refuses to give them back to me. I feel so angry as he betrayed my trust, went through my private things and stole something that was very intimate to me. He says the only way I'll get those pics back is by marrying him.

He needs help as I am nothing more than a mother to him and I think its sick that he feels this way. I feel that he has damaged our relationship beyond repair, I don't think i want to face him ever again. What can I do to get my property back?  Please give me advice on what to do in this situation. If his father confronts him, who knows what he'll try and do to me. He is with the wrong crowd, drinks excessively and may even be using drugs.  Please help!

A:  This sounds like an episode from one of the more lurid soap operas. The son should be advised to see a psychiatrist or psychologist as soon as possible, to deal with his problems, and not to trouble you with them. 

Remind him that going through your wardrobe and possessions was in itself a criminal act, and taking anything belonging to you was theft. If he refuses to give them ALL back to you, tell him you will report this to the police and open a case of theft against him, and possibly of blackmail, when he says you will only get them back by marrying the pipsqueak. 

You should discuss this with his father, and warn both of them that any unpleasant response from either of them will also lead to criminal charges. You can go to court and get an interdict / restraining order, forbidding either of them from annoying you in any way, or from approaching you except indirectly to return your property.
Whether he's dabbling in drugs or alcohol, or bad friends, is irrelevant. What he has done and is doing to you is criminal and should be treated as such.

These questions posed no challenge for the Dental Expert:

Q: Son cutting third set of teeth

My son, aged 11, is losing some of his teeth again for the second time.  When they do grow back, it takes as long as 6 months to a year.  Is this normal? Please advise me.

A:  Yes, it is not uncommon.

Q:  Tender gums from eating salt & vinegar chips

What can I use to soothe my gums and heal them as soon as possible after hurting them from eating strong salt and vinegar chips?

A:  Try a warm water rinse.

If you have any health questions, send them in to the Experts

Visit the Pet Centre

(Joanne Hart, Health24, May 2011)


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Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

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