J.D.F., Springfield, MA
Tags: dog Springfield MA
Apr 29, 2013
My daughter has a 2-year-old bull terrier who has developed car sickness over the past year. He was always happy to ride in the car on trips that generally did not exceed 1 1/2 hours. However, he now vomits several times after each ride, and it can take up to two days before he recovers.
He is in good health otherwise. Is there a remedy available that you may recommend?
J.D.F., Springfield, MA Apr 30, 2013
That your daughter's dog enjoyed car rides rules out any anxiety issues. Hanging a cloth strip soaked in essential oil of lavender or placing a few drops on a bandanna around the dog's neck can produce a small miracle of relaxation for dogs who are anxious in the car.
The vomiting is more a motion sickness issue. Give the dog 1/2 teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger root buried in a couple of balls of cream cheese or peanut butter 30 minutes before going on a long journey. Then make hourly stops to exercise the dog and allow him to relieve himself. Giving a second dose of ginger after two hours in the car should keep his stomach calm and make him one happy puppy.
S.K.L., Springfield, Mo
Tags: small pet Springfield MO ferret halitosis
Apr 22, 2012
My ferret, Sparky, is 6 years old, and he has halitosis. When I am playing with him, my hands sometimes smell bad from his saliva. Sometimes he drools a lot.
He won't chew bones to keep his teeth clean. What do you advise?
S.K.L., Springfield, Mo Apr 23, 2012
Ferrets, especially older ones like yours, are prone to developing gingivitis, an inflammation and infection of the gums; tartar, especially on the upper back teeth; and periodontal disease.
Have your ferret examined by a veterinarian, especially because any of these dental problems can lead to complications, including heart, kidney and pancreatic diseases due to bacteria, toxins and inflammatory substances that build up in the ferret's diseased oral cavity.
After professional dental care, maintain oral hygiene by providing your ferret with thin strips of raw beef or slices of raw turkey gizzard to chew. Applying PetzLife Oral Care gel or spray will help keep the teeth free of tartar and maintain healthy gums.
C.B., Springfield, Va
Tags: dog Springfield VA
Apr 08, 2012
In late August, we adopted a very handsome, neutered, longhaired German shepherd, Bear. He is about 5 years old and as sweet and gentle as can be.
A month or so after we got Bear, he began to whine loudly whenever we went anywhere in the truck. He willingly jumps into the truck when we are ready to go, but the whining starts before we've left the driveway. There appears to be nothing in particular that causes Bear to do this.
Since we were driving to see my mother on Christmas Eve, we got a prescription of alprazolam from his vet to try to calm him while on the road.
At 7:30 that morning, we gave him a half tablet. We left at 9. We had not gone a block before he started howling. It continued to get worse and worse until we stopped 10 minutes later and gave him the other half. We opened the window and let him hang his head outside for a few minutes -- when his head is out the window, he is 90 percent better -- but it was cold. After our experience with his behavior while under the influence of the prescription drug, we probably will not drug him again.
Today we took him to the dog park about 25 minutes away. Loud howling started immediately. For the few minutes I allowed him to have his head out the window, he was OK; when the window was closed he howled until I filled his Kong toy with treats to keep him quiet and occupied. Sometimes even when the window is open, he whines.
It appears to be an anxiety attack, but what would have brought on such behavior? Do you have any suggestions as to how we can change it? His Bark Buster trainer has no ideas. At his suggestion, we tried the Thundershirt, but it made no difference.
C.B., Springfield, Va Apr 09, 2012
Your dog is probably suffering from a combination of anxiety and excitement.
Alprazolam is a potent anti-anxiety drug, effective for many dogs who are afraid of fireworks or have developed specific phobias. But the effective dose for many dogs can make them groggy and uncoordinated, which can have the effect of making the dog more fearful, possibly because they feel more vulnerable.
Many dogs benefit from wearing a bandanna imbued with a few drops of lavender oil around the neck. Since getting treats out of his Kong works briefly, fill it with peanut butter and freeze it so it will last longer. Get two or three for a longer drive, and store them in a cooler. Try giving him a Nylabone. For motion sickness, a big piece of ginger candy can provide relief.
Y.S., Springfield, IL
Sep 25, 2011
Whenever my husband and I have a salad, our sheltie goes crazy for carrots. She also likes broccoli, peanut butter and the plain yogurt we put on our cereal.
I know these are "people foods" and wonder if they are safe for dogs. I know onions, chocolate and raisins are not.
Y.S., Springfield, IL Sep 26, 2011
Let's dispel the myth of "people foods" versus "dog foods." This is an old ploy of pet food companies bent on selling their processed, manufactured products and discouraging people from feeding their dogs anything else. Many companies have changed their tunes somewhat and are including carrots and other vegetables and fruits such as blueberries in their formulas. However, heat processing destroys many nutrients.
I see no problem with giving your dog these healthy raw treats -- food is food, after all. Carrots help keep teeth and gums healthy. Plain organic yogurt, rich in probiotics, is good for the digestive system, and peanut butter is an excellent vehicle to hide pills when dogs need to be medicated.
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.
N.P., Springfield, Mo
Tags: dog Springfield MO vaccinations
May 01, 2011
I received a call from our groomer (also a boarding facility and clinic), saying it would not groom our dogs unless they were vaccinated for canine influenza at an expense of $50 per dog. I contacted another boarding facility that I occasionally use, and it said this shot was not required. In your opinion, is this a necessary vaccination?
N.P., Springfield, Mo May 01, 2011
It concerns me deeply that many uninformed people, usually with the best intentions (including healthcare professionals), erroneously believe that vaccinations are some kind of risk-free panacea. They are a big moneymaker for manufacturers and providers. Their unnecessary overuse is to be deplored. Many autoimmune and other vaccine-associated diseases have been reported in humans and animals. For details, see my review in my new book, "Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health," now available at www.Createspace.com ($29.95).
Certainly, an unhygienic, poorly ventilated dog-grooming facility that has no restrictions on taking in sick animals is a canine- and public-health risk. Go to another groomer.
There are many groomers who do not fear liability or who insist on vaccinations as some kind of professional business practice.
D.B., Springfield, Mo
Tags: dog Springfield MO
Apr 11, 2011
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 Apr 11, 2011
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.
J.P., Springfield, Mo
Tags: dog Springfield MO fleas
Dec 20, 2010
I have been using neem oil on my 80-pound dog and three cats for two years to protect against fleas and ticks. What is your opinion of neem oil? It has worked great, with seemingly no side effects.
J.P., Springfield, Mo Dec 20, 2010
Neem oil (and also the leaf) is widely used in India as an insect repellent. It is also used as medication for various skin, internal parasitic and other medical problems. It is now gaining recognition in the West.
Depending on the source (as with many imported products for medical and veterinary use), quality, safety and effectiveness go hand in hand. Many imports are contaminated, adulterated or diluted. So look for international organic certification and other recognized quality assurance. The book "Neem: India's Miraculous Healing Plant" by Ellen Norten (Healing Arts Press, 2000) is a good review of the benefits of this herb.
Neem and other essential oils are generally not safe for cats, so I wouldn't advise using this product on your cats until more research is published. There is also the risk to consider of cats grooming dogs in a shared household after any anti-flea preparation (herbal and non-herbal) is put on the dog's coat. Also, cats groom themselves more than dogs do, so there is always the risk of poisoning when they ingest such products off their own fur or from other animals they may live with.
M.L., Springfield, Va
Nov 29, 2010
One of your recent articles discussed a small dog with a collapsed trachea and its breathing problems. I think our experience may be of interest.
Buddy, our tiny Yorkie, had a serious coughing problem from the first day we brought him home. Sadly, even with many visits to several vets and many ineffective medications, we resigned ourselves (and him) to living with it. More than 10 years later, I realized the coughing was at its worst when in the house and when on his pillow on our bed. Yes, we did tell the vets these details. Finally, I realized he might be allergic to our laundry soap. We changed it to Ivory Snow, and I shampooed the carpet with plain water.
Immediately, his coughing subsided to an occasional chuff. Unfortunately, by this time he had less than a year to live. A combination of things, including an enlarged heart and a collapsed trachea, took him from us. I deeply regret all the years he suffered because none of us realized that allergies were his problem. Should not at least one of the vets have considered this?
M.L., Springfield, Va Nov 29, 2010
Many readers will appreciate your insight, and your story may help many dogs (cats and humans) who develop asthmatic symptoms following repeated exposure to laundry and other household products, especially room fresheners and scented cat litter. Synthetic fragrances and other volatile chemicals are to blame. Buddy had other health issues, owing in part to hereditary factors; but you were at least able to improve his quality of life, even though it was close to his end.
Those in-house chemical pollutants can also cause allergic skin reactions and lead to other health problems by impairing the animal's immune system, the standard treatment with steroids causing further complications. The Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org, 202-667-6982) has some excellent materials on these and other house and garden chemicals that we are best advised not to use for our own health's sake, as well as for pets' sake.
L.R., Springfield, Va
Tags: dog Springfield VA fleas
Oct 04, 2010
I'm writing in response to your discussions about flea/tick preventives. I have been in the rescue business for 17 years, and we have had as many as 31 dogs in our home at one time. I decided years ago that I would stop using the chemical products of any kind for fleas and ticks. Instead, I use an all-natural product called Natural Defense by Sentry. Its ingredients are peppermint, cinnamon, lemongrass, clove and thyme oils -- no synthetic chemicals at all. We have never had any problems with fleas, and get only three or four ticks a season. This product has a pleasant smell and is safe for use on puppies and around children -- much safer than chemical products. We also keep our underbrush well trimmed and cleared. I hope that you find this information useful.
L.R., Springfield, Va Oct 04, 2010
Any tips that help keep fleas and ticks away, and are pet-safe and environmentally friendly, are always welcome in this column. The natural product you describe can frighten some dogs because of the novel scent of the various essential oils, so I advise just a dab to begin with. However, this should not be used on cats, as they could become ill ingesting the oils when they groom themselves. Like malnourished plants that attract insect pests, dogs and cats fed manufactured "junk" pet foods seem to attract more fleas than those fed more wholesome diets and given nutritional supplements like brewer's yeast.