Q.C.C., Central Point, OR
Tags: dog OR Central Point
May 13, 2013
I have been wondering if it''s bad for dogs to sleep under a blanket and comforter at night? It seems to me that the oxygen supply would get pretty low after a couple of hours.
What is your outlook on this?
Q.C.C., Central Point, OR May 14, 2013
Many dogs, and cats too, enjoy having their own blanket to snuggle under. While an animal who begins to experience oxygen deprivation will eventually get out from under the covers, I consider it unhealthy for an animal to keep breathing the same air in a limited space for any length of time. Dogs with pushed-in (or brachycephalic) muzzles, windpipe/tracheal weakness and those with incipient respiratory and heart conditions are particularly at risk.
Encourage your dog to sleep on the top cover of your bed under his own light cotton blanket or bath towel.
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.
L.B.S., Fort Myers, FL
Tags: dog Fort Myers FL
Apr 29, 2013
Please tell me something about staph infection in puppies. We have been fostering some pups, and a few got little pustules on their tummies the vet said was Staphylococcus.
L.B.S., Fort Myers, FL Apr 30, 2013
Staphylococcus bacteria, of which there are various strains, is arguably a normal "commensal" organism. Along with other kinds of bacteria, it helps keep the skin healthy and resistant to invasive bacterial and fungal infections. But in puppies with poorly developed immunity and animals with impaired immune systems, Staphylococcus intermedius can cause follicular dermatitis -- pustules with a hair shaft protruding from the center. Shampooing with benzoyl peroxide, chlorhexidine or human Selsun Blue medicated shampoo may resolve the problem. Applying essential oils with antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties -- such as frankincense, lavender and tea tree -- diluted in 10 parts almond oil to one part of these oils, applied twice daily may prove effective.
More resistant cases call for oral antibiotics such as erythromycin. Penicillins are not generally effective because of bacterial resistance. Be sure to get the dogs tested and treated for other concurrent disease.
P.B., Stephens City, Va
Tags: dog VA Stephens City
Apr 29, 2013
We have a 2-year-old Lhasa apso who will not walk on a leash. She''s a nice little dog, but all suggestions have failed.
We let her drag the leash around the house when we are home -- it doesn''t work. We''ve tried offering treats -- no, she doesn''t like any kind of treats.
She came from a wonderful shelter, but we think she had been kept in a cage before her arrival there. She was bred before she was a year old. During our six months with her, she has learned to play, enjoys a huge yard and seems happy. But we''d like to be able to enjoy walking her.
P.B., Stephens City, Va Apr 30, 2013
It is good to know that you adopted this sweet little victim of a puppy mill.
She may have a phobia about going into open spaces and strange places, not of being led on the leash. Patience is called for -- a virtue that you are clearly not lacking after helping her recover from life in a cage.
Be sure she is not wearing a collar attached to the leash. Instead, keep the collar, but fit her with a comfortable, snug harness and attach that to the leash. The pressure on her neck when you try to walk her with the leash attached to her collar could trigger fear and, if she struggles, cause serious damage to her windpipe.
Just yesterday I was driving my car and saw a young woman walking what looked like a longhaired Chihuahua. She suddenly jerked the dog backwards, and all four of the dog''s feet left the ground. The pressure of the collar on the dog''s trachea could cause permanent damage, especially when repeated as a "no pull" training method.
N.H., Middleburg, Va
Apr 28, 2013
I'm writing in response to a letter by F.A.V. of Honolulu, who had a 13-pound, 6-year-old Brussels griffon with oxalate crystals in his bladder and urethra. The dog had to have surgery every two years.
Three years ago, our 9-year-old female Jack Russell terrier had the same problem, but only one surgery. After surgery, our vet prescribed Royal Canin Urinary SO dog food. This has solved the problem and keeps her urine clear. She has not had any problems since going on this prescription food. I give her both dry and canned servings of it.
This prescribed dog food might be something that F.A.V. may want to explore as an option.
N.H., Middleburg, Va Apr 29, 2013
There is a confounding combination of genetics affecting dogs' metabolism and kidney function. The artificial acidification of some manufactured dog foods, done to help prevent struvite crystal formation, may make dogs prone to developing oxalate crystals in their lower urinary tracts. High dietary calcium and low fluid intake when a dog is fed dry food only may also be contributing factors.
The best prevention is a home-prepared diet, as I offer on my website, DrFoxVet.com. Alternatives to the costly, and for some dogs, unpalatable, prescribed diet foods are available at secure.balanceit.com.
D.D., Naples, FL
Tags: dog Naples FL allergies
Apr 28, 2013
What is your opinion on clumping litter and cat eye problems? Thank you.
D.D., Naples, FL Apr 29, 2013
I have received several letters questioning the safety of clumping litter for cats. The most common concern is about them swallowing small particles of the litter that may adhere to their paws or fur and the risk of intestinal blockage. I have found no clinical evidence to support this concern, and I regard its perpetuation as an unfounded fear.
I use World''s Best Cat Litter for my two cats, and I believe that it is one of the best. It has very little dust compared to the various clay-based cat litters. Your cat should have no problems with this brand, unless it is allergic to corn.
Any cat with eye issues may experience eye irritation and develop litter box aversion if his box has an odor-trapping cover. Covered cat boxes create an ammoniated and dusty interior space for cats, and I advise against using them.
Apr 28, 2013
For years, St. Louis has displayed dogs in the dreadful Beggin'' Barkus Pet Parade, an annual February fundraiser for the Open Door Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter.
I see no humor in humiliating our furry friends and spraying them with harmful chemicals (paint, etc.). In my opinion, this is animal abuse.
Could you please address this in your column? I find it very upsetting that it seems to become more extreme every year.
Apr 29, 2013
Having walked our dogs in fundraising and July 4 celebration parades, I can attest to the fact that most temperamentally stable dogs really enjoy the experience. Many seem to enjoy wearing various costumes (like children, they appreciate the extra attention they receive). But I do not like the idea of sprayed-on dyes to color their coats.
The most important considerations are noise and weather. People blowing antique car horns or playing instruments in marching bands should be separated from the dog part of any community parade. I would like to see an end to all fireworks.
In hot, sunny weather, very hot pavements must be avoided and dogs should wear protective boots -- the same goes for very cold weather. Drinking water and evaporative-cooling wet coats can provide comfort for dogs in summer, and umbrellas give shade. Where there is flexibility in terms of setting a fundraising walk, the mild months of spring and fall are wise, humane choices.
Speaking of St. Louis -- a city where I was a psychology professor at Washington University during the 1970s -- I will be giving a fundraising talk for Stray Rescue on May 5, titled "The Great Healing: Animal Feelings and Feeling for Animals." For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For tickets, visit strayrescue.org/UrbanWanderersTailEnd2013.
Apr 14, 2013
I recently wrote in about our two cats. The first cat had a bowel problem, and you asked us to write back with the type of food we switched to that fixed it.
We were feeding him Friskies, but after reading your book on why cats have trouble processing many dry cat foods, we switched him to Dick Van Patten''s Natural Balance. We used the green pea and chicken variety. There is no recurrence of the bowel issues with either the canned or dry food.
Our other cat developed a problem of urinating in our basement. We lived in this house for four years before the problem started. The concrete floor was painted when we first moved in. We took the cat to the vet to have him checked for any urinary tract issues. We cleaned the entire floor with a safe, homemade cleaning solution that we read about in your book. We used a black light to try to detect and clean up after the urinating, but this did not help. We also used a pheromone room diffuser, which made the problem worse. We tried a pheromone spray, added extra litter boxes, tuck-pointed the walls (we were afraid that the slight crumbling of mortar was confusing and might be seen as cat litter) and repainted the floor.
We would welcome any suggestions or ideas you might have to stop this behavior.
Apr 15, 2013
I always appreciate feedback from readers who have found my advice helpful (or not) in dealing with health or behavioral problem in their dogs and cats. You have really done all that you can to solve your cat''s unwanted behavior, and I commend you for your endurance!
Many cats develop a habitual place-fixation of evacuating outside their litter boxes on the basement floor. I interpret this behavior as being triggered by the earthy and sometimes moldy scent of the cement floor. Most cats will stop soiling the floor when it is sealed with a few coats of epoxy resin-type paint. Temporarily, after cleaning or treating the floor with a sealant, I would cover it with thick plastic sheeting. You can drag this outside, hose it down and let dry as needed. Relocating the litter box and whatever else is in the basement for the cats to one of the upper floors is another option.
C.B., Bethesda, Md
Tags: dog Bethesda MD
Apr 14, 2013
My new poodle, a rescue, is sweet, shy and adjusting to her surroundings. Her only problem is that she chews newspapers! She had been neglected in her previous home. What can I do to stop this, and is she trying to tell me there''s something wrong?
C.B., Bethesda, Md Apr 15, 2013
The set response to your common complaint is to keep newspapers away from your dog, but one should always wonder why dogs sometimes do odd things like yours chewing the newspaper.
Is she playing and needs more suitable and safe chew toys? Perhaps she developed this behavior out of boredom or having been confined in a crate/cage with newspapers on the bottom?
I would have a veterinary checkup done soon because such behavior (abnormal appetite, called pica) can be associated with inflammation in the mouth (tonsillitis, gingivitis, etc.). Chewing and swallowing things may help relieve discomfort in the mouth or a stomachache because of worms. If your dog is a toy rather than standard poodle, her teeth and gums may need immediate veterinary attention.
J.F., Kensington, Md
Tags: dog Kensington MD
Apr 13, 2013
We have had a cat for almost seven years now, and he is not declawed. When Jasper was a kitten, I went to the store and brought home an inexpensive ottoman for the living room. Jasper started to claw it immediately. I figured that if he was going to scratch at that and nothing else in the house, it was OK by me.
To this day, he still runs to that ottoman and nothing else.
J.F., Kensington, Md Apr 14, 2013
I wish that more cat owners (and pet owners in general) had your philosophical attitude of "live and let live."
Too many cat owners declaw their cats rather than giving them their own scratching posts, boards or selected furniture. Many pet owners do not accommodate their animals'' behavioral needs sufficiently to optimize their pets'' well-being. The end result can be frustration, stress, distress and the genesis of abnormal behaviors.
It is everyone''s duty to learn about, appreciate and provide for their animals'' basic needs. This is the right of all creatures great and small.