S. & B.M., Ellicott City, Md
Tags: small pet Ellicott City MD
Apr 29, 2006
My husband and I look forward to your column. We do animal-rescue work and pick up valuable information from you. I wanted to pass on some advice regarding K.W. from New York''s letter about the kitten constantly chasing the older cat.We do many cat adoptions, and this is a recurring problem because kittens are very high-energy and relentless in their playing. The long-range problem here is that if the older cat does not get a break from this constant barrage and is basically at the mercy of the younger cat, it can make the older cat permanently nervous, high-strung, fearful and really detest the kitten. In some cases, the kitten is returned to the adoption center because the other cat simply can''t take the constant pestering.We have found the best solution is to adopt another kitten of a similar age. They play together and leave the older cat alone. This solves the problem immediately, but some people don''t want or can''t have a third cat.The second-best solution is to give either the kitten or the older cat
S. & B.M., Ellicott City, Md Apr 30, 2006
Thank you for confirming what I have long advocated in this column. Older, solitary cats often get a new lease on life (improving in overall health, losing weight and becoming more lively) when given a younger feline companion. But they can get too stressed. The ideal situation would be to bring home two kittens that are litter-mates so they can rough-play with each other and give the older cat a break.Before adopting a new kitten, have the animal examined by a veterinarian -- especially for contagious viral infections, notably calici virus, feline panleukopenia, viral leukemia and immunodeficiency virus (feline AIDS).
M.S., Silver Spring, Md
Apr 29, 2006
We are the challenged owners of an Irish terrier, our second. She is a spayed female, kennel-bred, now 4 years old. We have survived years of excessive chewing, possessiveness and aggressiveness to enjoy her humor, love and energy.Just one issue: territory! For quite some time she slept under one of our beds, barking and growling when anyone approached. In the middle of the night, she would hop onto one bed or the other to sleep.Now she has settled on my wife''s bed, starting in mid-evening. When I enter the room later, she growls and barks at me as if I were a burglar. She does the same when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, destroying my wife''s sleep. In the morning, she''s as fun as ever, anxious to get me up for a morning walk.Any ideas on getting this protective streak under control?.
M.S., Silver Spring, Md Apr 30, 2006
You are not alone with this problem. It is amusing when a dog plays musical beds and never growls at the person whose bed she has chosen to lie on and protect.One remedy is to spend a few sleepless nights training your dog to sleep in her own bed. This should be in one corner of the bedroom, away from where you walk. Coax her with treats, and both you and your wife must be consistent in keeping her off both beds.Alternatively, take your dog to boot camp -- basic obedience school -- so she learns that you are the boss and you learn how to get her to show you more respect as the top dog. A third option is for you and your wife to switch beds. That will totally confuse your dog, and she won''t know which one of you to growl at. When she growls, simply ignore her.Many dogs like to switch beds in the middle of the night, and some wake up their human companions by shaking their ears to make a clapping sound, as though to announce, "I''m coming." Such ear clapping is a clear signal in dog language that has yet to be
L.L.C., Stratford, CT
Tags: small pet Stratford CT
Apr 22, 2006
About six months ago, I adopted a 2-year-old Lab. She''s a wonderful dog, and, although she hadn''t been housebroken, she didn''t take long to catch on. I''d take her outside in my backyard (surrounded by woods), and she would do her business. Then we would play fetch, when time allowed, and all was well -- until fall approached and she spotted her first deer in the woods. She immediately darted after the deer until I could no longer see her, and she completely ignored my calls. She''s done this several times, even though I''ve shown my extreme displeasure each time. I cannot take that chance again, so I purchased a retractable 16-foot leash. But now we can no longer play fetch, and she doesn''t get the exercise she needs.How can I break her of the deer-chasing habit, other than fencing in my yard, which I cannot afford?.
L.L.C., Stratford, CT Apr 23, 2006
It takes time and expertise to train a dog not to chase deer. My advice is to not take your dog out to play off-leash when the deer are most likely to be close, which is generally during the early morning and evening. Second, purchase a whistle or compressed-air noise alarm that emits a high-pitched sound. Then make plenty of noise to scare away any deer before letting your dog off the leash to play with you. Keep her undivided attention with occasional treats, and train her to sit and stay before being rewarded. An occasional shrill whistle or noise blast while you are playing should further deter any curious deer.
V.R., St. Louis, Mo
Tags: small pet MO diet food
Apr 22, 2006
I have been reading your column for several years and have clipped and filed 10 years'' worth! I take my hat off to you for taking unpopular stands on controversial issues, like how often pets should be vaccinated. (You''ve been proven right.) Thanks for being a champion for animals. What are some of your biggest concerns now?.
V.R., St. Louis, Mo Apr 23, 2006
I appreciate your observations as a longtime reader of my column. It reminds me of the advice a veterinarian friend gave to me years ago: "Don''t get too far ahead of your troops, or they will mistake you for the enemy and shoot you in the back."There are many animal-related issues that continue to concern me, and I wrote about them recently on my Web site (http://DrFoxVet.com/info/index.aspx). I would like to see more organic farming and organically certified pet foods, and the abolition of commercial puppy mills, trapping animals for their fur and the marketing of exotic pets. I also would like to see an end to factory farms and fur ranches, and more alternatives to the use of animals in research and product testing.I am also concerned about the widespread mutilations of cats and dogs that are still being done, and which are cruel and generally unwarranted -- namely, the declawing of cats and cropping of dogs'' tails and ears, which are standard practices for some pure breeds and should be abolished from
C.C., Willis, TX
Tags: small pet Willis TX
Apr 15, 2006
How do I stop my cat from walking between my legs or getting in front of me when I walk? Sometimes I think she''s trying to kill me.
C.C., Willis, TX Apr 16, 2006
Cats (and some dogs) have this infuriating and potentially dangerous habit that could result in a bad fall or the animal being injured.Animals do this to get attention. So stop in your tracks, pet your cat and see what she wants. She may be greeting you (especially in the morning) and wanting to anoint your legs with scent from her head and tail. She may want to lead you to the kitchen to feed her. Give her time to be close to you only at those times that are acceptable to you. At other times, simply shout, "Go away!" and give her a firm push (not a kick) with your foot; or clap your hands loudly before giving her the foot push. This way she will learn quickly to keep her distance and respect your personal space.
S.K., St. Paul, MN
Apr 15, 2006
There has been a lot of publicity about how the avian flu could become a serious epidemic. Could this also harm my cats? The TV clips of how infected poultry are cruelly disposed of are really sickening. What precautions do you suggest?.
S.K., St. Paul, MN Apr 16, 2006
While infected migratory birds are helping spread this disease, the primary cause is the inhumane and unsanitary conditions under which poultry are being raised in China and other countries from the Far East across Europe to the Americas.Pigs are raised similarly in overcrowded factory farms around the world. They could become the next source of this virus if it mutates and infects them.The impact on wild birds is tragic. Zoo tigers have died in Thailand from eating raw infected chickens. This means domestic cats in the United States could become contaminated by eating infected wild birds if the cats roam free.Progress in public health and in veterinary medicine calls for more humane treatment of farmed animals, abolition of factory farms and enlightened changes in our own dietary habits and choices. For many consumers, this means vegetarianism (but I do not advocate this for your cats). For more details, see my book "Eating With Conscience: The Bioethics of Food" (NewSage, 1997).
A.R., Poughkeepsie, NY
Tags: dog Poughkeepsie NY
Apr 08, 2006
I read your article in our local newspaper about not letting one pet see you bury another.After my beloved 12-year-old poodle went into her crate and went to "sleep," I was totally shocked. My husband died at the end of August, and she was at his side every day until he died. I let her say goodbye to him. Then, about two months to the day, she was vomiting green bile and seemed out of sorts. She was at our vet about six weeks prior, and all seemed well. But then she just went into her crate, and when I checked on her about 10 minutes later, she was gone.My daughter''s Shih Tzu was here, and we made a wooden box and buried my dog way up on the hill out back. Now, every time the Shih Tzu is here, she looks up on the hill. She said goodbye, but your article said to not let her see the burial. Could she be looking for my poodle?.
A.R., Poughkeepsie, NY Apr 09, 2006
It is possible that your daughter''s dog saw you burying your poodle, but many animals know where their loved ones are buried (human or nonhuman), with some going to the correct grave site even though they never witnessed the actual burial.This is part of the great mystery of conscious life that too many people, for various reasons, ignore or avoid considering. There is evidence of after-death communication between people and their deceased animals, which certainly supports the belief in an afterlife and that animals are, like us, ensouled beings.
R & A.K., Pasadena, TX
Tags: small pet Pasadena TX
Apr 08, 2006
My wife and I have been trying to decide for two years whether to have our little Maltese neutered. Many sources say the advantages are that he''ll be less likely to get testicular or prostate cancer, that he''ll be less likely to roam and that he will be less likely to "hump" objects.We haven''t had a significant problem with him "humping," and he''s never outside unless he''s on a leash, so it seems our decision should be based solely on how much less likely he is to contract cancer if he is neutered. None of the sources we''ve seen give any indication as to how much neutering would decrease the odds. Do you think the benefits to his health alone justify neutering?.
R & A.K., Pasadena, TX Apr 09, 2006
You raise an important issue. Small dogs are not invariably going to be more aggressive if they are not neutered, nor are they likely to contribute to the canine overpopulation problem because they are not usually allowed to roam free. And if they did find a receptive female, larger males would probably keep them away.Prostate enlargement, prostate cancer and hernias are a risk later in life. A non-neutered small breed may well enjoy a more active life and be less prone to obesity than one who is castrated early in life. Castration later in life would be indicated if prostate problems were to develop.In my opinion, castration is a toss-up decision for small dogs, with the caution that, if they are not castrated, they are more likely to get into fights with other dogs and be "humped" by neutered males who find noncastrated dogs attractive or a stimulus over which to assert dominance. This is a controversial issue, and some veterinarians are now questioning the health benefits of castrating smaller dogs in par
R.W., Minneapolis, MN
Tags: small pet
Apr 01, 2006
I am 12 years old and have an albino rat, about 1 year old. I have bought her an exercise ball and wheel, but, for some reason, she will not use them. My science teacher told me that she is too young, but I wish to know your hypothesis on this matter.
R.W., Minneapolis, MN Apr 02, 2006
Unlike hamsters and mice, rats don''t like to whiz around on plastic balls, in wheels or on treadmills. But they do love to explore, so make your rat''s playroom safe and free of escape holes and electrical cords.Consider getting another young rat of the same sex (or a neutered male) for company. They will be happy together, and you''ll have great fun observing how they play, groom each other and socialize.As you are no doubt discovering, rats are intelligent, affectionate creatures. They emit a high-pitched sound that we can''t hear when they are playing with each other or being tickled by a human they trust. Behavioral scientists believe this sound is the equivalent of human laughter.Keeping highly social animals like mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits and parakeets for their entire lives with no contact with their own species is an overlooked form of animal cruelty through social deprivation. Animals kept in compatible pairs and groups, with appropriate steps taken to prevent breeding, can mean happier and heal
S.U., Winthrop, MN
Tags: cat Winthrop MN
Apr 01, 2006
I often wonder why it is necessary to give cats several annual shots, especially in cats such as mine, which were obtained as young kittens and have never been outside. They are strictly indoor animals.Then I read in Consumer Reports for July 2003 that the American Veterinary Medical Association no longer recommends annual booster shots, either. I also read in your column that you do not favor annual boosters. When I questioned my vet about the annual boosters, he said that had not definitely been decided yet.The clinic I take my cats to has a sign saying, "All animals brought here for boarding, grooming or services must be up-to-date on vaccinations."I live in a rural area, so finding another clinic where the vets advise against annual boosters is not an option. What choices do I have?.
S.U., Winthrop, MN Apr 02, 2006
I receive many letters like yours, and I have been waging a war against overvaccination of dogs and cats for years, which is why several newspapers may have dropped my column, following complaints from those vested in maintaining the status quo.My advice to all of you is to have your veterinarians contact the American Association of Feline Practitioners to learn that vaccine injections should not be given between cats'' shoulders; and annual booster shots are not necessary except for rabies. If the vet is in doubt, he or she should run a blood titer.Cat specialists advise giving injections as far down cats'' legs as possible, because if an injection-site cancer develops, it is easier to treat, with a better prognosis than if it were to develop at the back of the neck or between the shoulder blades.Cats that have adverse reactions to rabies vaccinations (mandated by law in many states) may do better on the canary pox vectored antirabies vaccine. Dogs and cats at risk from any type of rabies vaccination should h