D.R., Virginia Beach, Va
Aug 29, 2011
I was told that dogs see everything only in black and white. I was very sad to hear that, considering all the beautiful colors that God has created. Could you please comment on whether dogs see in color or black and white? I'm sure others will like to know.
D.R., Virginia Beach, Va Aug 30, 2011
To put your mind at rest: Dogs do not see monochromatically, i.e., in black and white. They can see two primary colors: blue-violet and yellowish-green. But they cannot distinguish red from orange or orange from yellow.
Their night vision is far superior to ours, as is their sense of hearing. But it is their sense of smell that sets them far apart from us, their natural endowment being demonstrated in their ability to track scent trails often several days old. Their sense of smell may also help them detect hormonal and emotional changes in humans that affect our pheromones and body chemistry. So although they might not have the same visual experience as humans, dogs certainly outmatch us in other realms of the senses. It is also evident from the time they take to sniff various spots and from their apparent olfactory rapture during a walk that they are deriving considerable pleasure just like us, enjoying spring blossoms and autumn leaves.
-- Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food Recalled Due to Potential Health Risk: Nestle Purina PetCare posted a notice on its website on July 29 that it is voluntarily recalling a limited number of 3.5- and 7-pound bags of its Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food from a single production run that was shipped to 12 states in December 2010. Some bags of the product have been found to be contaminated with salmonella.
The product was distributed to customers in California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin and may have been further distributed to other states. For more information: visit NestlePurina.com; or the Nestle Purina PetCare Office of Consumer Affairs, (800) 982-6559.
A.W., Seattle, Wash
Aug 29, 2011
Can you help settle an argument I am having with my wife? She insists that our cat's litter box should be scooped and raked clean twice a day. It seems fine to me to clean it out every other day, adding new litter as needed to keep it about 2 inches deep. What is your opinion?
A.W., Seattle, Wash Aug 30, 2011
This is a good question, because I get the impression from some of the letters I receive that cats are refusing to use their litter boxes because the litter is not sufficiently clean. No cat wants to have to poke around where it has already urinated and defecated several times to find a clean, dry spot to evacuate, then have to turn around to cover it up and avoid stepping on soiled litter in the process.
I see no reason why you should not clean out the cat's litter box twice daily. I clean out the litter four times a day on average for our two cats, who share the same box.
A dirty box can not only turn cats into house-soilers by triggering litter-box aversion, it also may play a role in cystitis and chronic constipation, common problems for many unfortunate felines.
B.M., Houston, TX
Tags: cat Houston TX
Aug 28, 2011
I have a sweet 4-year-old tabby cat called Mitts. My problem is that she is very shy and always hides under furniture, especially when we have visitors --then she never comes out. Any suggestions to build her trust?
B.M., Houston, TX Aug 29, 2011
Most cats like to get up on things, the higher the better so they can look down on the world. Get your cat a tall, non-wobbly cat condo and also secure some carpeted shelves on the walls so she can be off the ground and not feel so small and vulnerable.
Coax her to play with various cat toys, one of the best being a cane and string like a fishing pole with a bit of fur or feather tied on the end.
Her self-confidence might also be boosted by letting her explore outdoors (provided the neighborhood is quiet). Put her in a harness attached to a leash, so she can't run off if she spooks. Remember, you walk a dog as the leader, but you follow the cat on a leash.
M.A., Springfield, Mo
Aug 28, 2011
We adopted a small terrier mix that no one claimed. She was found wandering around the devastation in Joplin, Mo., after a recent intense tornado. My husband and I went there to help relatives for a few days. We named her Joppy. Perhaps her owners were killed.
At any rate, she took to us quickly. The only problems are that she hates to be left alone and really gets upset with stormy weather and thunder. How can we help her get over this?
M.A., Springfield, Mo Aug 29, 2011
Good for you and your husband for giving assistance in Joplin (a tragedy, indeed) and for adopting Joppy.
She is most probably suffering separation anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Give her an open dog crate with a pillow or blanket to serve as a secure den. Put treats inside it when you leave the house so she associates being left with a reward. Leave on the TV so she can have the possible comfort of human voices. Don't make a big fuss over her when you return. Once she feels more secure, her separation anxiety should be resolved.
The post-traumatic stress can be helped by closing the curtains during a storm and turning up the radio or CD player with loud but soothing music. Try the CD "Through a Dog's Ear," available online. Wrapping her in a light towel or T-shirt, secured with duct tape, should have a profound calming effect. Giving 1 milligram to 3 milligrams of melatonin about half an hour before a storm arrives has helped many dogs, along with a couple of drops of lavender oil on a bandanna wrapped around the dog's neck.
If these measures do not help, ask your veterinarian for a prescription of alprazolam (Xanax), a short-acting psychotropic medication that can benefit dogs with post-traumatic stress, "thunderphobia" and fireworks fears.
C.D., Norfolk, Va
Tags: cat Norfolk VA thyroid
Aug 28, 2011
I am writing because my otherwise very healthy 13-year-old male cat has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
He has been seen by my vet and went to the emergency vet and spent last night in an oxygen cage. He seems to be doing better now. His breathing is still somewhat rapid, and his heartbeat is around 150. They have him on 5 milligrams of thyroid medicine and have recommended that he be seen by a feline cardiologist for possible heart damage. Both vets found that he has a heart murmur.
I am so distressed about this, as I should have recognized the signs a long time ago: increased water consumption, loss of muscle mass and change in behavior. I even mentioned to my vet that he was feeling "bonier," and she said it probably was just his getting older. I also mentioned to her that he was drinking more water, so we were keeping an eye on his kidney functions. This diagnosis threw me for a loop.
Regardless, what is the best course of action to maintain his health? I am not ready for him to leave me. Does the thyroid medication work? What if he does have heart disease?
He eats Fancy Feast wet, grilled variety, with occasional raw chicken livers as a treat. What supplements would you recommend? Also, he is neutered.
C.D., Norfolk, Va Aug 29, 2011
Whenever an older cat develops symptoms like your cat, the possibility of thyroid disease and diabetes should be considered.
Cats, dogs and humans are exposed to environmental chemicals, from bromide-based flame retardants in carpets and other household materials to fluorides in drinking water and chemicals in plastic and canned food containers. These are endocrine disruptors, and they can play a significant role in thyroid disease, diabetes and even abnormal sexual development in boy babies.
Now that your cat's condition has been diagnosed, there are various treatments your veterinarian will decide on to put the brakes on his hyperactive thyroid. Whatever heart condition is diagnosed (such as cardiomyopathy), supplements such as fish oil, magnesium, potassium, CoQ10 and l-carnitine, as well as a low-salt diet, will help. Gradually transitioning your cat back to a raw food diet would be worthwhile. I am surprised that the veterinarian adopted a "keep an eye" approach, guessing at a possible kidney problem, and did not do any blood tests to help determine what might be going on.
S.D., Boynton Beach, FL
Aug 22, 2011
I just had to sign my toy Chihuahua's death warrant, as I refer to it, at the vet's hospital -- to put my best friend down after 13 1/2 years of always being together as much as possible.
On Friday, he was fine; on Saturday he started vomiting a little. On Sunday, I took him to the PetPB hospital in Boynton Beach, Fla. They did tests that showed his kidneys were shutting down. They did everything from IVs to flushing his kidneys to try to help. On Monday, I had to do it.
It happened so fast and I feel so helpless in not understanding what signs I could have missed, as I've always tried to be very watchful of all my critters. I feel like I did something wrong, that it's my fault. He came into this world alone and picked me to be his best friend at six weeks old. But he didn't leave this world alone, as he will always be in my heart forever.
Please advise. I guess I'm writing to you in the hope that you can help me cope. I just don't understand what I did wrong and what signs I missed.
S.D., Boynton Beach, FL Aug 23, 2011
Many people who have never experienced the bond of love with an animal cannot comprehend the depth of grief and frequent feelings of guilt that come with the death of a companion animal.
In many communities, often facilitated by local humane societies or by veterinary referral, there are support groups to help grieving souls like yourself.
I am sure that if your dog had shown earlier signs of kidney failure (such as excessive drinking, nausea and disinterest in food), you would have taken your little dog for a veterinary appointment.
Dogs with kidney disease often seem to cope well and appear to be healthy, then suddenly they go into acute renal failure. Do not blame yourself. You and the veterinary hospital did their best to save his life. The one blessing is that he passed away quickly and his suffering was not protracted, as is so often the case with chronic degenerative diseases. This past July 19, we euthanized our 15-year-old dog, Batman, and I can understand fully what you are going through -- especially wondering what you did wrong and what signs you missed. This is only natural. Some people blame the veterinarians instead, all such recrimination being part of the anger, frustration, helplessness and despair associated with this emotionally challenging event. Give the process time and focus on the love shared and special moments over your years together.
V.W.M., Palm Beach, FL
Tags: cat Palm Beach FL dental
Aug 21, 2011
My 6-year-old cat needed extensive dental work. The bill was $400. This came as a shock and there is no guarantee that he will not have to go back for more attention in the future.
I was given a brush and pet toothpaste and told to only feed him dry food to help keep his teeth clean. I'm supposed to get him used to having his teeth brushed every evening. Help!
V.W.M., Palm Beach, FL Aug 22, 2011
Dental problems for dogs and cats are expensive and often risky because a general anesthetic is needed and because there is frequently tooth and gum infection requiring extractions and protective antibiotics.
Without annual checkups, at which time dental problems may be diagnosed and nipped in the bud, many cats and dogs suffer and sicken because their oral cavities are diseased. Halitosis is a common sign of oral health issues. Difficulty eating, heart and kidney disease, and possibly diabetes and pancreatitis may develop when professional veterinary dental care is not sought.
A diet of only dry food, especially those high in cereal starches, may make things worse, not better, for your cat.
For details, visit Feline Nutrition Education Society website. Giving the cat thin strips of scalded (to sterilize) beef shank meat, beef heart and chicken wing tips to masticate will help keep his teeth clean. A half-teaspoon of fish oil in his food daily (start with 1 drop to get him used to it) will help keep his gums healthy because of its anti-inflammatory properties. PetzLife Oral Care products, such as their dental sprays, may be an easier alternative to brushing your cat's teeth.
J.S., Neptune, NJ
Tags: dog Neptune NJ
Aug 21, 2011
I have an 8-year-old Lhasa apso. She has a chronic ear infection. I am using Zymox Otic, but it doesn't seem to solve the problem. Is there anything else I can use? I don't have a computer.
J.S., Neptune, NJ Aug 22, 2011
Chronic ear infections can be difficult to cure, often recurring when an animal is stressed or with a change of season, as with one of my old dogs.
Ruling out ear mites (often contracted from infected cats), many cases of otitis externa (inflammation of the ear canal) have an underlying food allergy. Bacterial and fungal infections develop subsequently.
Try changing the dog's diet to a known single protein (turkey, lamb, etc.), or making your own dog food. Visit my homemade dog food recipe or www.dogcathomeprepareddiet.com for free recipes by veterinarian D.R. Strombeck. (Ask a friend or family member for assistance, since you don't have a computer.)
One excellent, soothing ear cleaner I use is called Micellar Solution from Sogeval. Bacterial and fungal infections are often present and sometimes cultures need to be taken when bacterial resistance to antibiotics is suspected. I have found MalOtic from Vedco to be very effective for mixed fungal (yeast) and bacterial infections.
C.B., Beltsville, Md
Tags: dog MD Beltsville
Aug 15, 2011
We have a miniature poodle who will be 3 years old soon. When she sees her reflection in the mirror, she gets all excited and barks at her reflection and runs around.
We have new sliding mirror doors in our basement, and every time she goes down there she does this activity. We also have a standup mirror in our bedroom that we often have to tilt or cover with clothing so she does not see her reflection from the bed. One would think that after multiple times she would figure out there is no other dog.
We have had two dogs in the past: a border collie and a corgi mix. Neither one seemed aware of, or at least did not care about, their reflection. Does this poodle's behavior necessarily mean our dog is either smart or stupid? Is it characteristic of particular breeds?
C.B., Beltsville, Md Aug 16, 2011
Mirror tests have been done with various animal species. Some, such as elephants and chimpanzees, show reactions when they see that a mark has been put on their foreheads. This may reflect a higher degree of self-awareness, if not narcissism, compared with other species that do not react to a change in their familiar mirror image. Parakeets will bill, coo and court their mirror image, while Siamese fighting fish will go into attack mode.
Most dogs and cats quickly habituate to seeing themselves reflected in a mirror, but some, like your dog, will make a game out of it. One simple test of awareness is to stand behind the animal while looking into a mirror. The animal will often turn around, knowing that you are standing behind him/her, and look at you. A common reaction among cats and dogs is to go behind the mirror to see if there actually is another animal there. I wonder how often your dog sees other dogs and has the opportunity to interact with his own kind. He may benefit from a doggy play group.
Readers may wish to experiment with their animals and share their observations with me. Get your animal used to seeing his mirror image, then stick a half-inch square of red or blue masking tape on his forehead. Get him used to wearing the tape for a few days, then put him in front of the mirror and see if he notices the tape and tries to remove it.
N. & M.S., Boca Raton, FL
Tags: dog FL Boca Raton
Aug 15, 2011
My wife and I adopted Lucky, a neutered male Boston terrier, five years ago. At that time, the educated guess of his age was 8, making him about 13 now.
We couldn't have gotten a more lovable or sweeter dog than him. He loves people but is not fond of other animals.
He always has slept between my wife and me with his head on a pillow. I have only one problem with this -- Lucky suffers from "restless paw syndrome." Consequently, we suffer right along with him. Because of this, we cannot get a full night's sleep. He is constantly moving around and jabbing us with his paws.
Do you have any possible suggestion, aside from getting rid of him (something we won't do -- Lucky is here to stay)?
N. & M.S., Boca Raton, FL Aug 16, 2011
Sleeping with a restless dog is the price you pay for not training him to sleep at the end of the bed or in his own bed beside yours. Boston terriers are also known to snore, so I can't imagine sleeping with his head on a pillow next to mine.
Some tough love is called for. Be prepared for a few sleepless nights while you train him, with praise and treats, to stay on his own pillow at the far end of the bed or in a soft dog bed beside you.
Ingrained comfort-seeking habits are hard to break in man and beast alike. Good luck with Lucky and with changing his creature comforts.