• Dogs
  • How can I give my dog insulin shots without upsetting us both?

    If there were a way to treat diabetes other than with insulin injections, it would be much easier for a lot of people. Unfortunately, there is no other effective treatment.

    Do not give up! This is usually the most difficult time for pet owners. The dog is getting irritable and you are getting a little frustrated.

    First, relax. Often when giving injections, we get nervous or agitated and the dog picks up on those emotions. Then, the pet gets edgy and we both get jumpy. So, it helps to start the process by taking a deep breath and thinking positive thoughts.

    Second, you need to reward your pet during all of this. For example, putting a dish of the dog's favorite food down while you are administering the insulin injection often helps. Once you get good at the injections, with practice you should be able to give the injection with no more disturbance to your pet than petting it while it's eating. In the meantime, if you must use a muzzle, be sure to give your dog a special treat and breakfast right after administering the shot.

    A few other tips: Teach "sit and stay." If your dog can do this, you can teach him to sit still for the injections. If you have not done this yet, it will take longer, but if you're strong and persistent, you may literally save your dog's life. Also, practice "sit and stay" and putting the muzzle on without giving shots. Eventually, your dog will not immediately assume that sitting, eating or wearing a muzzle means he's getting a shot.

    If you continue to have problems, consult your veterinarian for advice. Most diabetic pets and their owners become able to deal with the inconvenience of insulin injections, thus adding years more of enjoyable pet-owner companionship.

  • How far should I walk my dog?

    There is not one single right answer to this question. Some dogs will do fine with a two-block walk, while others can go two miles. A good rule of thumb is that the shorter the dog's legs, the less distance he can go. Smaller dogs, like pugs or toys, won't be able to go as far as large dogs, like golden retrievers. A dog's breed is important as well. Short-legged breeds, like bulldogs and daschunds, won't be able to walk as far as breeds with longer-legged builds. The walking environment is also a factor. Hot weather will not only make a dog more prone to overheating, but it can heat cement up enough that it could be painful for your dog's paws. Dogs can also walk farther on dirt trails than on sidewalks or asphalt, because rough concrete can be hard on the pads of their feet.

    Your dog's age and general health are important as well. If your dog doesn't usually get much exercise, you won't want to start him off with a three-mile jog. Gradually extend the length of your walks to build his endurance. Arthritis, heart disease, and a number of other health concerns could also affect the length of your walks. If your dog has health problems, discuss how far he can walk and how much exercise he should get with your veterinarian.

    In the long run, your best bet is to observe your dog while you're walking. When he starts panting excessively and acts tired, then he's walked far enough. This is also a good way to keep an eye on your dog's health. If he used to go three miles with you and now only walks a few blocks, you should consult your veterinarian. It could be a sign of a health problem.

  • Should I shave my thick-furred dog in the summer?

    You're right to be concerned about your dog's comfort during hot weather. Northern breeds with thick fur like Malamutes and Huskies were developed for cold climates, not the 90 and even 100 degree weather some areas experience in the summer. However, some hair can be beneficial in hot weather, working to insulate dogs from the heat and shield their skin from the sun. Remember, dogs don't use sweat to cool themselves the way people do, so they don't need to have exposed skin in order to stay cool.

    That being said, if a dog has too much hair, the hair can stop being beneficial in hot weather and start retaining too much heat. You may be able to thin the coat out enough by brushing your dog thoroughly and consistently with a wire or "rake" type brush designed for heavy-coated breeds. These brushes can remove some of the fuzzy undercoat layer of fur, sometimes enough to make dogs comfortable in warm weather. If she still seems too hot, shaving won't hurt her a bit. Just be careful to leave an inch or so of fur so that she still has some insulation and protection from sunburn.

    Even if your dog is shaved, you'll want to be careful with her when temperatures get really high. Don't leave her in a parked car or leave her outside unsupervised for long periods of time. When she's outdoors, she needs shade and plenty of water. Some people buy the drip-system "mister" hoses used to water plants and set them out for their dogs on hot days. You can even freeze water bottles full of water and put them where she lies to keep her cool. And, as with any dog, watch for signs of heatstroke. If your dog is panting, has a staring or anxious expression, does not obey commands, has warm, dry skin, a high fever, and a rapid heartbeat or is vomiting, lower her body temperature quickly with cool water--either by immersion or by spraying thoroughly with a garden hose--and call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Can short haired dogs handle cold temperatures?

    Short haired dogs such as Beagles, Dalmatians, and Dobermans (to name a few), are not designed for extended outdoor exposures when the temperature dips below freezing.

  • How often should I bathe my dog?

    The simplest answer to this question is, whenever he needs it. Dogs who spend the most of their time indoors will not need much bathing, while dogs who are outside a lot, romping in the mud and trees (and possibly other smelly things) will need to be bathed more often. Also, some dogs' coats will accumulate grease and oil more quickly than others. Breeds prone to oily skin and other skin conditions, such as Cocker Spaniels, benefit from regular bathing about every four weeks. Breeds with a thick, double coat, like huskies and chows, only need bathing about 3 or 4 times a year. Washing a dog with an undercoat more often than this can make the coat softer and less waterproof and insulating.

    In general, you can use your common sense to judge when your dog needs bathing. If you're concerned about causing dry skin, there are moisturizing treatments available at most pet stores, which you rub into your dog's skin after you shampoo him. If your dog seems uncomfortable or shows signs of skin problems, consult your veterinarian.

  • I am housetraining my puppy, and I have tried just about everything to get the smell out of the spots where she's had "accidents." What can I do?

    This is a common problem for pet owners, and it can cause a lot of frustration. Urine smells can be very difficult to eliminate inside the house. To make things worse, dogs will tend to return to an area they've already soiled, so the smells in your house may be making housetraining even harder than it already is. The good news is, there are products that can help reduce dog odors, depending on what kind of surface you are dealing with.

    If you are trying to clean unsealed concrete floors, like those you might find in the garage or an unfinished basement, the urine may have seeped in and absorbed. You will need to clean with a disinfectant and allow the disinfectant to sit and seep into the floor. Once you've rinsed with water and allowed the floor to dry completely, you'll want to seal it so that liquids won't be absorbed in the future. Concrete sealant is widely available at hardware stores. Linoleum and sealed concrete floors can be cleaned with disinfectants that you can purchase from your veterinarian. Carpet can be a little more difficult–to remove the smell completely, you will probably have to pull up the carpet and replace the padding. You can then clean the carpet with an enzymatic cleaner, available from professional carpet cleaners.

    Once you've cleaned the odors out of your floor, your best option is prevention. You may want to consider crate training for your puppy. Crate training gives you control over where and when he is eliminating, and it often housetrains dogs quickly and effectively.

  • What should I do if ticks keep recurring on my pup?

    First off, if you're not already treating your little guy with a flea-and-tick preventative, you should start. There are a number of collars, pills, chemical baths, and topical applications (gels or liquids that are put directly on the skin) that protect against fleas and ticks. You can talk to your veterinarian about which of these would be best for you and your pet. Also, be sure to check your dog for ticks every time you return from a walk through tick-heavy areas, such as woods or tall grass.

    If you're using an anti-tick medication and you're still finding ticks, talk to your veterinarian about a stronger treatment. Veterinarians have stronger tick medications than you can buy over the counter. Additionally, they can check your pooch's ears, toes, and other hidden areas for sneaky ticks. Depending on where you live, you veterinarian may also recommend a vaccination against Lyme disease, which is transmitted by a species of tick

  • At what age can my puppy go to the groomer for a trim?

    The only problem with taking a puppy to the groomer is that he's exposed to a lot of other dogs, both while being groomed and while in the waiting room. To avoid the possibility of infection, you should wait to have your puppy groomed until he's completed all of his puppy vaccinations. These are usually finished when a puppy is around six months old. If you have any questions about how to groom your pup or clip his nails on your own until he's old enough to visit a professional groomer, your veterinarian can advise you.

  • How do I crate train my dog?

    Crate training is a great way to help your dog feel comfortable and secure while you are away and will protect your house from damage caused by anxious pups. When you are gone dogs can either sleep or get in trouble. If you limit their options by providing a site where all they can do is sleep, you will save your house and protect your pet from harm.

    Here are some ideas to help your dog make the adjustment to their crate:

    Get a crate of adequate size (large enough to allow your dog to stand and move comfortably) to accommodate your dog.
    Place a towel in the bottom of the crate to keep him warm.
    Give your dog appropriate toys (chew toys, kong, etc) to play with in the crate.
    Always feed your dog in his crate.
    At first, just get him used to going in the crate without closing the door or leaving him.
    Start by leaving him alone in the crate with the door closed for a few minutes and gradually build up to leaving him for several hours at a time.
    Don’t make a big deal of coming home. Don’t rush to let your dog out of the crate or he will look forward to the event too much. Let him out of the crate only after he has been quiet and calm for a few minutes.

  • How can I stop my dog from drooling so much?

    Though it may not be the most attractive thing your dog does, a little drooling is perfectly healthy and there's no need to stop it. Dogs drool for a lot of reasons, including nervousness, excitement, and the anticipation of mealtime. Certain breeds, like St. Bernards and Newfoundlands, are naturally more prone to drooling than others. To save your carpet and furniture from your drooly dog, you can wipe his mouth periodically. Chew toys may also encourage your dog to work his mouth and swallow more, or they can at least concentrate the drool on a couple of objects instead of allowing it to spread.

    If you're worried that your dog's salivation is excessive, you can take him to your veterinarian for an examination. Some health problems can cause drooling, including nausea, anxiety, and painful teeth; your veterinarian can rule these out.

  • Why does my dog lick me?

    Dogs lick for a lot of reasons. Licking is a submissive social signal, first of all, allowing dogs to show deference to dominant "pack members." Puppies lick to solicit solid food from their mothers when they're weaned, so a young dog may lick to request its dinner. Some dogs lick as a substitute for puppy mouthing behavior. They've been trained not to put their teeth on people, so they lick to occupy their mouths. Licking may be a sign of affection, your dog's way of showing you that he's enjoying spending time cuddled on the couch with you. Or, he may just like the taste of your soap!

    Though it's usually harmless, licking can be a problem if carried to an extreme. Sometimes dogs can lick compulsively or as a response to stress or boredom. Obsessive dogs that lick themselves non-stop can lick their fur off and even injure their skin. This is a behavioral problem that may require veterinary intervention. If you're worried that your dog's licking is unusual, consult your veterinarian.

  • Why does my dog eat poop? What can I do?

    The technical, more polite name for what you are describing in your dog's behavior is coprophagia. It is a very common problem. Actually in most canines it is a normal behavior. Of course, mothers consume their pups' droppings until they are old enough to get away from the nest to eliminate, but dogs will eat other dogs' feces and even that of other species. It is a little more unusual for them to eat their own, but it still happens.

    Assuming other health concerns such as vaccinations and parasite elimination have been taken care of by your veterinarian, and your dog is on a well-balanced diet, then the idea that it comes from a vitamin deficiency can be ruled out.

    At this point, your dog's habit of eating feces should be approached from a behavioral perspective. The more a behavior occurs the more likely it will be repeated. That means physically preventing it from happening helps your dog forget about it. Whatever you do, it will take some time to modify the behavior.

    That means letting your dog know that it is bad through a loud, firm, scolding voice. You can use this method when your pet sniffs or shows interest in feces. It helps to have your pet on a leash when outside to give you some physical control over movement as well.

    Products such as monosodium glutamate (seasoning salt) added to a pet's food makes the feces less desirable. A more direct approach includes putting tobasco or bitter lemon on the feces itself. Some pet owners simply clean the yard every day to remove any temptation.

  • My female dog was in heat when she was spayed. Now she is collecting her toys and treating them like puppies. Is she having a false pregnancy?

    What you describe is a classic case of false pregnancy. Because of the way a female dog's reproductive cycle works, it is very common for a false pregnancy to follow spaying during a heat period. Basically, the pituitary gland in the brain assumes the dog is pregnant causing the changes in behavior. The good news is that is will subside without treatment soon, usually within a week. Be careful of her behavior because some female dogs become very protective of their imaginary puppies.

  • My puppy likes to bite me when we play. How can I teach him to play without biting or scratching?

    You can work at solving your puppy's biting problem by doing several things simultaneously. First, you need to divert your pet's play activities away from your body. You can do this by encouraging fetch games and discouraging wrestling or tug-of-war games. Second, you can remove any positive reinforcement when biting occurs. This means that you walk away and ignore your puppy for five minutes each time it performs a behavior that you don't find acceptable. You're not even allowed to talk to the dog during this time. Third, you provide a negative reinforcement for the objectionable behavior. You can do this by painting your skin with vinegar in the vulnerable places you know the puppy will bite. You can also make a shaker can from an empty pop can containing a dozen pennies that you shake vigorously when the biting occurs. Then you can also use a firm and loud "NO!" Finally, you can offer positive reinforcement and praise when the dog plays nice. The most important point is that everyone in the family has the same game plan and follows through consistently.

  • At what point should a veterinarian recommend medication for separation anxiety?

    There are volumes of information on separation anxiety. Even "experts" do not agree on causes and treatments. This is probably because the abnormal behavior is considered one problem when actually there are probably many causes.

    The fact that your other two dogs are normal, and one pet is doing the damage seems to indicate that she is the one with the problem. However, that does not mean that your actions haven't or don't inadvertently encourage it. All dogs have different personalities and do not end up exactly the same just because they have the same owner, just like children with the same parents.

    Your specific question is regarding anxiety relieving medications. Antidepressants, anxiety relieving, or mood altering drugs are seldom the definitive treatment for behavioral problems. Most of the time they are used as part of an overall behavioral modification program. Separation anxiety is a problem that is commonly treated with medications at least on a temporary basis.

  • Why does my dog scratch himself silly?

    The most common cause of constant itching is pollen allergy (such as mold, dust, etc.). Realize that allergies in pets, as in people, is genetic. Your pet may experience seasonal allergies. Your dog also may have parasites, like scabies or cheyletiella, or even a skin infection. If your dog is persistently scratching, visit your veterinarian. There are many treatments your veterinarian can administer to ease your pet

  • Why does my dog scratch himself silly?

    The most common cause of constant itching is pollen allergy (such as mold, dust, etc.). Realize that allergies in pets, as in people, is genetic. Your pet may experience seasonal allergies. Your dog also may have parasites, like scabies or cheyletiella, or even a skin infection. If your dog is persistently scratching, visit your veterinarian. There are many treatments your veterinarian can administer to ease your pet.

  • Our dog constantly chases his tail and then chews on it. What can we do?

    Dogs chase their tails for several reasons. If your veterinarian examined your dog and didn't find any fleas or problems with your dog's anal glands, then you could be dealing with a behavior problem. It may have started when he was bored and now tail-chasing has become a habit. In some dogs, tail-chasing can be an obsessive-compulsive disorder. In others, it's a source of attention. Your veterinarian may be able to suggest a good animal behaviorist that can help diagnose and treat the problem.

    In the meantime, try not to react when he chases his tail. Laughing or scolding him are forms of attention and this could be what he wants. If there are any incidences that seem to trigger the behavior, try to get him into a down-stay before he can chase his tail.

    These suggestions may help, but some dogs, if they are causing harm to themselves, may need drug therapy in addition to behavior modification to solve the problem.

  • Recently, my dog's been keeping his tail tucked under. It used to curl up. What's wrong?

    There are a few reasons dogs will keep their tails tucked between their legs, but most commonly the behavior is a response to pain or discomfort. Many dogs are prone to back or hip pain, for example. Raising the tail can place pressure against these sore areas, so the dog keeps it tucked under.

    Dogs will also keep their tails tucked because of emotional distress. When they are depressed, frustrated, stressed, or afraid, they may tuck their tails to demonstrate their emotions. Stressful changes in a dog's home environment could cause these emotional responses.

    Talk to your veterinarian about the change in your dog's behavior. He or she can check for physical problems that may be causing your dog discomfort, as well as investigating emotional and other causes.

  • Can I train my dog to use a litter box?

    Dogs can be trained to use a certain area set aside for elimination. They're less fussy than cats about what materials you use to absorb the waste, so you could put old newspapers, paper litter, clay, or another absorbent material in the bottom of the pan. No matter what material you decide to use, use it consistently. At first, you may want to leave the litter a little dirty, because dogs tend to go back to a place where they have gone before. For the same reason, clean the carpet whenever your dog has an accident, to be sure she doesn't return to the same spot.

    Most of all, be patient and consistent. Develop a schedule of feeding, playing, walking, and sleeping, which will keep your dog on an elimination schedule as well. Learn the times when she will generally have to go: after eating, after waking up and, for puppies, about every 20-30 minutes when they are awake and playing. Watch for the cues your dog gives before urinating, like sniffing and circling, and place her in the pan when you see her getting ready to go. Praise her when she uses the pan.

    Different dogs learn at different rates, so it may take a few days of accidents before your pet learns to use the pan. Eventually, though, with gentle persistence, she can learn to use the litter box consistently. Remember, though, the pan is not meant to replace trips outside, but to supplement them. Your dog still needs to go outside for exercise and fresh air every day.

  • How do I stop my puppy from chewing on everything?

    Chewing is always a difficult problem with puppies, and it's one that needs to be resolved for your pet to be a part of your household. The good news is that most dogs do grow out of their chewing behavior as they get older. The bad news is that they can do quite a lot of damage before they do. There are ways to train your puppy to direct his very normal chewing energy at the right kind of objects, but like any other training, they take patience and persistence.

    The first thing you can do to stop your puppy from chewing on your furniture, wallet, remote control, and everything else in sight is not giving him the opportunity. This means you may want to confine him when you're not around, in a crate, kennel, run, or puppy-safe room. Crate-training is the most feasible option for many people, and it can keep your puppy feeling safe and secure when you're away. Whatever space you chose, fill it with safe and appropriate chew toys, as well as lots of comfortable bedding. As your pup spends a lot of time chewing on these toys, he'll start to learn what objects are "his" for gnawing and which are not.

    When you are around, watch him like a hawk. When you see him grabbing onto your leather loafers or a chair leg, distract him with some other, more attractive option. When he takes the rawhide chew or nylon bone or whatever "good" toy you want him to chew, give him lots of praise and petting. The idea here is not to punish your dog for the "bad" chewing, but to encourage him for the good behavior. By the same token, whenever you see him chewing away on one of his toys, give him lots of "good boys" and other positive attention. Pretty soon he'll get the idea that the toys are what you want him to use.

    You may have to switch his toys around to keep him interested--a rubber ball may do the trick one day, while the next day nothing will do but a sock tied up in a knot. Some household materials can make very good chew toys, but make sure that they can't be chewed into bits and swallowed. An excellent option that will keep almost any dog's attention is the hollow rubber balls sold at pet stores. You can fill them with food or your dog's favorite treat, and he will spend hours gnawing at it, trying to get the goodies out.

    Also, if he tends to chew on a surface that is color safe and won't be damaged (like your fingers), you can coat the surface in white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. The smell and taste will make the object much less tempting.

    Finally, and most importantly, don't give up on your puppy. It can be hard to retrain an instinctive behavior like chewing, but it's well worth it to have a happy, well-adjusted dog. If your dog seems to resist all efforts to retrain him, consult your veterinarian. He or she can refer you to a behavior specialist or even discuss anti-anxiety medication.

  • How do I keep my dog from rolling in stinky things?

    First, you should congratulate yourself on having a very normal, well-adjusted pooch. For some reason, things like dead animals, manure, and garbage are magnets to dogs, and there is nothing in the world they'd rather smell like. Some people theorize that dogs' instinct tells them that the terrible smells will cover up their scent and make it easier for them to sneak up on prey. Maybe so, or maybe they just like to smell awful!

    Regardless of why they do it, the best way for you to stop your doggy from diving into the garbage pile is never giving him the chance. Keep him fenced in your yard, pick up any manure in the area, and keep the garbage in trash cans that won't pop open if he knocks them over. Keep him on a leash when you go on walks, and keep a sharp eye out for any smelly things that may strike his fancy. Working on the "come" command may help as well. Practice it over and over again in your yard, and give her a reward every time she comes. Repeat it until she comes consistently, so that the next time you see her start rolling, you can call her back. And, of course, you should invest in some very good doggie shampoo. Just in case.

  • What can I do about my dog's "panic attacks?"

    The first question you need to answer is whether your dog has any physical problems. She could be having mild seizures, muscle cramps, or stomach or intestinal pains. Your veterinarian can investigate with a physical exam, blood test, and urinalysis.

    If she checks out physically, you should look at whether she is receiving any reward for her "scaredy-cat" behavior. When she has an "attack," do you pet her, cuddle her, and talk soothingly to her? Though it seems like the right thing to do, you're actually praising her behavior and teaching her that being afraid will bring her love and affection. Instead, when she behaves this way, make sure she's in a safe place and can't hurt herself, then ignore her. When she calms down and comes back out, give her lots of praise and affection. Do this for several months consistently. If you still see no change in her behavior, you may want to consult with a behavior specialist.

  • One of my dogs died, and now the other one is depressed and won't eat. Should I get a new puppy to keep him company?

    First off, you should make sure your dog's lack of eating isn't related to (or causing) a serious physical problem. Please make an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination and some bloodwork, to rule out any other potential causes of your dog's anorexia.

    You should only get a puppy if you want a puppy. Your bereaved dog may very well not like the noise and chaos that a new puppy will bring to the household. If you want to adopt a new dog, you might want to consider getting an older, adult animal. A quieter, more mature companion might be more reassuring to your dog. But remember, regardless of the new dog's age, it won't be an instant replacement for your pet's lost companion. In fact, for some dogs, a stranger in the house will only make the situation worse. Your dog may or may not adjust to and bond to a new friend; it depends on his personality.

    Whether or not you get a new companion for your dog, he's probably going to need some time to adjust to life without his old friend. You can help him by keeping as many things the same as possible. Give him routine walks and feedings and keep his old, familiar toys and blankets around. And be sure to give him a little extra attention and love. If he's still not eating, you can get him started by tempting him with some extra-yummy canned food or treats, but don't let him eat them for too long. If days go by and he continues to resist even the tempting treats, it's time to enlist your veterinarian's help.

  • How do I stop my dog from pulling on the leash when I walk her?

    It is pretty common for dogs to yank on their leashes when they're walked--they're out in the big, exciting world, after all, and they want to see and smell everything they can. It can become quite a problem, though, particularly if you're walking a dog that weighs almost as much as you do. It can be hard on your dog, too--she's putting a lot of pressure on her neck and her trachea (windpipe) by pulling against her collar.

    A Gentle Leader may be the simplest solution to this problem. Gentle Leaders hook onto a leash just like collars, but instead of wrapping around the dog's neck, they attach with one nylon strap above her muzzle and one behind her ears. They look something like muzzles, but they don't keep dogs' mouths from opening unless the person holding the leash applies pressure. When your dog is wearing a Gentle Leader and tugs against her leash, the force turns her head back toward you. Tugging harder will only make her turn her head more sharply; she'll learn pretty quickly that it won't get her anywhere. You can find Gentle Leaders at almost any pet store.

    Another option that works well with smaller dogs is taking away all the positive reinforcement they get from pulling on the leash. Your dog is tugging on the leash because she wants to go faster, so whenever she tugs, you can stop in your tracks and refuse to move. When she calms down and stops pulling, you can start walking again. If you're patient and do this consistently, your dog can learn that the only way she's going to get to walk around and sniff all the wonderful things she wants to sniff is by walking calmly and politely beside you.

  • My dog suddenly doesn't want to lie down. He even sleeps sitting up. What's going on?

    Any time you see a sudden change in your pet's behavior, you should take him to your veterinarian. A behavioral change like this can be caused by something as simple as arthritis; aching joints may make it painful for your dog to lie on the floor. With an older dog, cognitive dysfunction could cause him to forget how to lie down. Dangerous lung problems could be making it difficult for him to breathe lying down. There are also serious, but less likely, neurological conditions that could cause this problem as well. Your veterinarian can help you understand what caused the sudden change and how best to treat it.

  • My dog gets along great with everybody except my brother, who's never mistreated her. What's wrong?

    Just like with people, dog behavior doesn't always have a logical explanation. Dogs can sometimes simply dislike a person for no apparent reason. Maybe your brother has a deep voice that makes your pup nervous; maybe he has the scent of another animal on his clothes. Most likely, you'll never know what it is about him that sets your dog on edge.

    But don't lose hope; you can make your dog happier to see your brother by making sure his visits are associated with something pleasant. First off, you can ask your brother not to stand directly over your dog in a dominant position; this can be threatening to some dogs. Ask him to approach her from a sitting or kneeling position.

    Supply your brother with a special treat that your dog particularly loves, and have no one but him give her that treat. He shouldn't make a fuss over giving her the treats; the commotion might make her more nervous around him. Instead, he can just place the treats in front of her whenever she is calm and behaving well. Once she comes to associate him with getting an extra yummy treat, he can start giving her simple commands and giving her the treats as rewards. Over time, she should come to accept him. Who knows? She may even start to like him.

  • We've made the decision to euthanize one of our two dogs. How can we help the other one through the grieving process?

    It's very common for our pets to go through a grieving process a lot like our own when they lose a person or animal they know well. This process may have begun with your dog when his canine companion became ill and perhaps was hospitalized. You may have seen signs of sadness, depression, searching the house, a reduced appetite, or other unusual behaviors.

    Some pet owners choose to allow the remaining pet a chance to view the body of the deceased pet after euthanasia. They believe that it helps the pet that's left behind to understand what's happened and to process the loss. You may want to discuss this option with your veterinarian before euthanizing the household pet that is ill.

  • How can I stop my puppy from eating everything in sight when we're outside?

    You’re facing a pretty common problem. Puppies use their mouths the way children use their hands—to pick things up, feel textures, and generally understand their world. So on a walk, puppies may try to eat sticks, pebbles, bugs, grass, and even the occasional snake or frog. While swallowing a mouthful of grass or dirt every once in a while won’t hurt Fluffy, foreign objects like rocks, sharp twigs, or rotten food could do some damage.

    At least for a while, you’ll need to keep a close eye on her whenever she’s outside and reprimand her when she picks up something inappropriate. If she’s not trained enough yet to heel or pay attention to you when she’s outside, you may want to try taking her to puppy school, where she can learn to follow basic commands. One of the most important commands for her to learn will be "drop it," which will teach her to immediately spit out whatever is in her mouth. Your veterinarian will be able to help you find a good puppy school.

  • My dog's teeth chatter when he gets excited. Should I be worried?

    Teeth chattering isn’t all that unusual in dogs. It’s most likely just a nervous habit, particularly since your dog only does it when he’s excited. You and your veterinarian should check his mouth for any signs of oral disease (swollen or bleeding gums, broken teeth, etc.), but if you don’t see any signs of it, the teeth chattering shouldn’t be a problem. Just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t happen more frequently or become more severe.

  • How can I stop my dog from burying his toys in the yard?

    It’s perfectly normal for dogs to bury their "treasure"—this can include everything from bones to rawhides, new chew toys, treats, and tennis balls. They usually do go back and dig up their private stash, but it may be months later, and you’re probably tired of buying new chew toys!

    You can avoid the problem by making sure your dog’s toys and treats always stay inside. Only give him toys when you’re in the house, and make sure he doesn’t smuggle any in his mouth when you take him outside. Some determined pooches will carry on their digging behavior inside, "burying" toys and bones under pillows and behind the couch, where you can find and reuse them.

  • My dog constantly chews on her feet and hind legs. What can I do?

    Chewing on the feet and hind legs is a classic sign of allergies in dogs, much like itchy eyes and a runny nose in humans. Dogs have the same allergy-sensitive cells people have in their eyes and nose, but they are located in dogs' skin and ears. Therefore, dogs with allergies show signs of itchy feet, itchy skin, and ear infections.

    Finding out what your dog is allergic to can sometimes be challenging. Dogs can be allergic to all kinds of things in their environments or diets. The most common allergy dogs experience is a reaction to flea bites, called flea allergy dermatitis. Even if your dog is protected against flea by a collar or treatment, one flea can secrete enough saliva in a bite to cause itching and discomfort. Dogs can also be allergic to ingredients in their food or the shampoo they're bathed with. They can even have reactions to some of the same things that cause human hayfever: pollen, dust, mold, and grasses.

    Your veterinarian can help you determine which of these allergies is bothering your dog. If it is a food allergy, you may be able to simply change your dog's diet. Other allergies can be treated with an antihistamine or steroid prescription. Consult your veterinarian about the best way to make your dog more comfortable.

  • My dog is very aggressive—what can I do?

    Aggressive dogs can cause serious injury and even death. In addition to the tragedy sometimes caused by canine attacks, owners can be subject to civil and criminal liability for their pet's behavior. If your dog shows signs of aggression such as growling, snarling or snapping, call your veterinarian immediately for a behavior evaluation and counseling to help you train your dog.

    Most behavior problems can be successfully treated with a strict training regimen. In addition to your veterinarian’s advice, follow these tips to reduce aggression in your dog:

    Socialize your dog so she feels at ease around people and other animals.
    Don't put your dog in situations where she may feel threatened or teased.
    Obey leash laws—don't let your dog roam free.
    Train your dog to obey basic commands such as "stay," "sit" and "come."

  • Why doesn’t my dog bark as much as other dogs?

    Some dogs just don’t need to talk as much as others. As long as your dog barks normally when he does bark, you probably don’t have a problem. If he tries to bark and it doesn’t sound right (weak, raspy or harsh), then you should have your veterinarian look at his throat and vocal cords.

  • My young dog pokes at his food and sometimes cries during mealtimes-what can I do to help him eat normally?

    It may just be your dog's personality. Assuming that your dog is healthy and your veterinarian has examined him and not found any medical reasons for his behavior, try changing things. For instance, put the dog dish up at his chin level; he may not like to lower his head. Change the bowl (different color, higher or lower sides, etc.), or try a different kind of food.

    The most important thing is whether or not he is eating enough to maintain a healthy weight in spite of the behavior. If he is, then you need to decide if his behavior is upsetting enough to warrant trying to change it.

  • Should I have my dog spayed?

    There are no predictable behavior changes in the female dog or cat after ovariohysterectomy. Male dogs, however, often become less dominant and aggressive with other dogs and roam less after neutering. Male cats generally do less territorial fighting and roam less, which dramatically increases their life span.

    There are many solid health reasons for spaying and neutering our pets. Early spaying prevents mammary cancer and a uterine disease called pyometra. Both of these conditions can be fatal in the female dog. Neutering male dogs reduces the incidence of prostate and testicular disease.

    Preventing unwanted litters is another common reason veterinarians recommend spaying both cats and dogs at six to 12 months of age, preferably before the first heat.

    Keeping our pets at home and healthy will provide longer and more pleasurable companionship!

  • Is my dog's hearing loss normal?

    Unfortunately hearing loss is quite common in older aged dogs. It is neurologic in nature, and there is no treatment for the loss. Hearing aids have been tried in dogs but are not tolerated.

  • How can I stop my puppy from urinating when she gets excited?

    The problem of submissive urination is a combination of a physical condition and a behavioral one. The physical component is a lack of tone in the sphincter of her bladder that holds the urine in. It's more common in females due to the shortness of their urethra (the connection between their bladder and the outside). This may improve with age.

    The behavioral factor is a contraction of the muscles that empty the bladder when she is placed in a very submissive situation or is very excited. She is probably naturally submissive, which makes these experiences stronger stimulants to her.

    There is little we can do about the physical part. There are medications which can increase the tone, but I would not recommend them for a puppy. The best control is dealing with the behavioral aspect. Maturity will lessen her submissiveness, but you must work to ensure she becomes more confident in herself.

    Avoid situations where the urination occurs. When you come home, instead of greeting her at the door and making a big deal about the reunion, try to diffuse the situation by ignoring her. Just walk right by her, and let her outside before you acknowledge her. Eventually, she will learn not to become too excited about your returns.

    Other situations can be dealt with the same way. When strangers approach her, give her a treat or get her attention some other way to diffuse the excitement or threat of the approach. Consult with your veterinarian on this topic as well.

  • What do I do about a dog that constantly urinates?

    The problem could be either medical or behavioral. Urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, Cushing's disease, and other medical conditions will certainly cause frequent urination. Intact male dogs also mark their territory by urinating on it. Any urination problems in your pet should not be taken lightly. A visit to your veterinarian will help determine the cause of the problem.

  • What food can I fix for my dog that needs a salt free diet?

    You can make your dog a low salt diet by combining 1 pound of lean beef, 1 cup cooked rice, 1 cup frozen corn, 1 tablespoon corn oil, and 2 teaspoons dicalcium phosphate, which you can get from a pharmacist. Cook the beef in a skillet until brown, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. A dog should eat approximately ý pound of the mixture per 10 pounds of body weight daily. Keep leftovers covered tightly in the refrigerator. Along with a balance vitamin-mineral supplement made for dogs, this will provide good nutrition that is pretty tasty.

  • Is it okay to give my dog milk?

    This is a very good question! Few dog owners know that most dogs tend to be lactose intolerant. This means that they lack the enzyme beta lactamase, which allows the digestive system to break down the kind of sugar contained in milk. Dogs that lack this enzyme end up with a lot of undigested sugar in their intestinal tract, which creates a wonderful breeding environment for bacteria. When a lot of bacteria grows in the intestinal tract it can irritate the stomach and intestine and cause vomiting and diarrhea. These are the same problems that occur in lactose-intolerant people.

    That being said, while many dogs are lactose intolerant, some are not. Some dogs love the taste of milk and other dairy products and won't have any stomach or intestinal problems when they get some as a treat. The bottom line is, it may be okay to give your dog a small amount of milk if it doesn't cause her any vomiting, diarrhea, or other discomfort. Check with your veterinarian first to be sure it won't cause your pooch any health problems or interfere with his diet.

  • My dogs like to sneak drinks out of our swimming pool. Will this hurt them?

    The occasional drink of swimming pool water won't hurt most dogs. The concentration of chlorine and other chemicals in the water is low enough that your dogs would have to drink quite a lot for it to be dangerous. People sometimes swallow pool water on accident too, with no serious consequences, so there's no need to worry.

    You can keep your pups' trips to the pool to a minimum by making sure they have lots of fresh water both inside and outside and by keeping the pool fenced off or covered when you aren't swimming. You can also watch your dogs for diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, or other signs of stomach problems. If their health and behavior seem fine, then their little chlorine habit is probably not a problem.

  • Will salmon poison my dog?

    Well-cleaned, thoroughly cooked, deboned fish of any kind probably wouldn’t hurt your dog. Salmon isn’t poisonous in and of itself. You’re most likely thinking of a serious, potentially fatal disease called "salmon poisoning," which is actually caused by a tiny, parasitic organism carried by a fluke (a small, flat worm) that fish can pick up. Cooking fish kills the organism, so "salmon poisoning" can only be passed along by raw or undercooked fish.

    Still, even cooked fish can be dangerous to your pup, particularly because it contains a lot of small bones, which are hard for even the most careful cook to remove. These sharp little bones can choke your dog or even damage his esophagus or the rest of his digestive tract. So it’s probably best that you not get your dog into the habit of eating fish. He’ll be best off sticking with a high-quality commercial dog food.

  • Will eating cat food hurt my dog?

    Eating cat food probably won’t hurt your dog, though it’s best that he doesn’t eat it all the time. Cats and dogs require different diets. Cats are pure carnivores, meaning they typically eat nothing but meat, while dogs are omnivorous, meaning that they eat some plant materials along with their meat. Cat diets are made primarily of meat and meat products, so in the long run they can be too rich for dogs and can cause digestive problems. They are also denser in calories than dog diets, so they can lead to obesity in dogs. Because of the additional fat and calories, cat food often tastes better to dogs than dog food does, so you may have to keep an eye on your dog to make sure he doesn’t indulge in the kitty kibbles.

    By the way, while cat food is generally okay for dogs, dog diets lack essential nutrients that cats need to stay healthy, so cats can’t live on dog food. Overall, it’s safest to feed your pets the kind of food formulated to be healthiest for their specific species. (Ferrets may be the exception. They are the only pets other than cats that are entirely carnivorous, which is why ferrets can live on cat food.)

  • My dogs love carrots. Is there any reason why I shouldn't give carrots to them?

    Carrots are fine, but you need to keep them to less than 10 percent of the total diet. If you give your dogs too many, you could unbalance the diet. Be sure to give them in small pieces or that they are chewed thoroughly to prevent blockages as well.

  • How much water should I give my puppy at one time?

    The answer to this one is easy—as much as she wants! You don’t have to limit dogs’ intake of water, the way you sometimes do with food. You also shouldn’t worry about only setting out water during scheduled mealtimes. In fact, it’s important to your puppy’s health that you have fresh, clean water out for her all the time. Dogs of any age need lots of water to help run body processes like circulation, digestion, eliminating waste from the body, and more.

    The one case where you might worry about too much water is if your pooch suddenly starts to drink much more than usual, or if she seems constantly thirsty. This could be a sign of a serious health problem, so let your veterinarian know if your pet’s drinking habits seem unusual or have changed.

  • My veterinarian told me the lumps under my dog's skin are fatty deposits. What should I do?

    Actually, you don't need to do much of anything. These fatty lumps, called lipomas, are very common, painless, and nearly always benign (that is, not cancerous and not life-or health-threatening). They are simply a clump of fat cells that have become concentrated in one location and formed a bump under the skin. They are most common in older dogs, though they can appear on young dogs or even puppies on occasion. There is no need to treat lipomas, though they can be surgically removed if they interfere with your dog's ability to move, sit, or lie comfortable.

    If your dog has already been diagnosed with fatty tumors, it's very possible that she will develop more over time. If new lumps develop, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure that they are also lipomas. This can be done through a relatively simple process called a fine-needle aspirate. Your veterinarian will insert a very thin needle into the lump and withdraw a small amount of materialämuch like giving an injection in reverse. The material can then be checked to make sure it is benign fatty tissue.

  • My dog got cut on her leg last month and she's still limping. What's wrong?

    There are a few things that could make a wound to cause pain and lameness in a dog for weeks or months. First, the injury could have damaged soft tissue, such as ligaments or tendons, which would lead to chronic pain. Second, the cut may have become infected. Third, a joint may be damaged, either by the initial injury or by infection. Finally, there could be some damage to the boneäcalled a microfractureäthat may not have shown up on an X ray. It could also be that your dog is limping due to a condition unrelated to the cut, such as arthritis or a sprain or other injury. The limp may just have happened to occur soon after the cut.

    All of these problems need veterinary attention, as they can all become chronic, painful conditions. Your veterinarian can perform a physical exam, take X rays, and perform other diagnostic procedures to find out what's causing your dog's pain. He may also prescribe pain medication to help your dog walk.

  • What causes a dog's nose to turn pink?

    There are numerous conditions that can cause loss of pigment in a dog's nose. Allergies, infections, and immune mediated diseases are the three big groups that could commonly be involved. The best thing to do is to have a thorough physical exam to find out what's behind the change.

  • My dog has a temperature of 101.5 degrees. Should I call the veterinarian?

    Lucky for you. Your dog has an absolutely normal temperature. As long as he is happy and eating OK. I would forget the call to your veterinarian.

  • What is the normal blood pressure range for dogs?

    Mean arterial blood pressure in the dog is 90-110.

  • How do I get rid of my dog's bad body odor?

    Some dogs are afflicted with seborrhea, which is a skin condition producing excessive oil and odor. The ears can also be affected, adding to the smell. Seborrhea can be primary, or secondary to such conditions as hypothyroidism. A complete physical examination will be helpful in your diagnosis and management plan that may include tar shampoos on a regular basis, as well as other medications. Please consult with your veterinarian as soon as you can. There are effective therapies available, which will make her a more appreciated member of the family.

  • What causes a dog to have seizures?

    A seizure is the result of excessive stimulation to parts of the brain that control muscle activity. All people and animals have the potential to seizure. We all have a threshold of stimulation over which we would experience a seizure. For healthy people and animals, it might take trauma to the head to induce this activity. For others, like epileptics (who have lower "thresholds"), it may be sudden noises, the stress of company, or other mild stimulations. Pressures from brain tumors, hemorrhage or infection can also contribute to a jump over the normal threshold, resulting in seizure activity. So can being deprived of oxygen, as can happen with heart conditions where there is sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain. Exposure to toxic chemicals can also result in seizures.

    Any dog that has a seizure should have a complete examination. Your veterinarian will evaluate heart function and general body condition. A complete history is also taken to rule out trauma and toxic exposure. If the physical examination is normal, blood profiles are generally administered to rule out diseases of the kidneys and liver. If the profile and exam are normal and the dog is under four years of age, epilepsy is generally the diagnosis. Epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in dogs. Medications may be prescribed for these cases.

    Older dogs that have normal lab and exam findings may be referred to a neurologist for a second opinion, as these dogs can have brain tumors and other conditions.

    If your dog has a seizure, make sure to schedule an examination with your veterinarian to keep your pet in good health.

  • Why are my dog's eyes cloudy?

    Your dog's cloudy eyes could be cataracts or it could be a normal aging process of the lens of the eye known as nuclear sclerosis. Nuclear sclerosis causes the lens to refract light. It's like looking into a dirty fish tankäyou can see, but not clearly. It is best to schedule a veterinary exam to determine the problem.

  • What can we do about our dog's anal gland problems?

    Anal glands are two paired glands located within and below the external anal sphincter muscle and can often be a problem in dogs. They produce a thick substance that may have at one time been used to mark territory when dogs were wild. They serve very little purpose in the modern domestic dog.

    When the anal glands become full or impacted, the dog may experience some discomfort. The glands become VERY itchy and irritated. Actual pain is difficult to assess, but some believe that they can be painful in some cases. When the dog licks, chews or scoots on its bottom, it is attempting to express the glands on its own.

    To express anal glands does not require a veterinarian. Many groomers will do this as part of their service, and some pet owners will do it themselves. However, expressing anal glands is not a very pleasant task to perform, and many pet owners will give up after one try. Before trying this on your own, ask your veterinarian for a demonstration.

    If anal glands become a common problem, they can be surgically removed. The glands serve no real purpose and, like a human appendix, the dog may do much better without them. Many veterinarians are uncomfortable performing this surgery; however, many others do the procedure with a great deal of success and minimal complications.

  • My dog drinks an excessive amount of water and urinates a lot. What's going on?

    It is important that you take your dog to the veterinarian for a complete physical examination as soon as possible. The symptoms you describe could indicate one of a number of problems, from something very treatable, such as a bacterial infection of the urinary tract, to something more serious like diabetes or kidney failure. Some of these conditions can be life-threatening if not treated in a timely fashion. Your veterinarian can run routine laboratory tests to determine your dog's condition and the best way to treat him.

  • My dog keeps getting pneumonia, and we just found out her internal organs are on the wrong side. Help?

    The condition is called Ciliary Dyskinesia or Immotile Cilia Syndrome. There are many forms of the disease and one in which the organs of the chest and abdomen are on the wrong side. In people it is called Kartagener's Syndrome. The disease cannot be directly treated. Most cases develop multiple bouts of bacterial pneumonia, which are treated with appropriate antibiotics when they develop. The long-term prognosis for pets with this condition is guarded. Some animals have been maintained for more than five years, with intermittent therapy. Most of these dogs are infertile, but breeders should strongly consider not breeding relatives of affected dogs.

  • What should I do about the calluses on my dog's elbows and back legs?

    Callused skin is actually fairly common in dogs. Calluses, thick pads of tough, often hairless skin, are formed when skin repeatedly rubs against rough surfaces, such as concrete in a dog run or scratchy indoor-outdoor carpeting. Calluses don't pose a serious health risk; they mostly just look unsightly and bother some pet owners.

    The best treatment for calluses is to protect your dog from abrasive surfaces. Monitor where he sits and lies; put padding down in his favorite sleeping places. If he is confined to an area such as a dog run or a basement for periods during the day, make sure he has a soft, clean, comfortable area to lie down, so he won't lie on the concrete or the hard floor.

    Aloe lotion can also soften the calluses and improve the appearance of your dog's skin, but be careful when softening calluses. They develop as a way for the skin to protect itself against damage. If you soften your dog's skin and it keeps coming into contact with rough surfaces, the skin could develop scrapes, sores, or other problems.

  • How can I cure my dog's itchy, flaky skin?

    Unfortunately, asking this question is a little like asking why the sky is blue. The question is complicated, and it would take all day to list all the possible answers. To give your dog some immediate relief, you can give her a bath with some gentle dandruff shampoos and conditioners, but they aren't a long-term solution to the problem. The best way to help your pet is to see your veterinarian. A veterinarian can help you determine whether the problem is caused by external parasites, a hormonal disease, an infection, a nutritional disorder, environmental factors, allergies, or one of many other things.

  • My six-year-old dog has bumps which look like moles. What are they?

    The most common raised bumps in middle-aged to older dogs seem to papillomas, which are caused by a virus. They grow in multiple places on the body as the dog ages and can be a nuisance as they enlarge and stick out, getting caught in combs, clippers, etc. With any mass, it is most important that you get an accurate diagnosis before any treatment is started, as there are some more harmful tumors that can mimic others. If the masses on your pet are papillomas, they are best removed surgically, as they have a deep stalk that will grow back again if not removed properly.

  • Why is my dog's skin rash back?

    Skin diseases in dogs can be frustrating and can take a bit of detective work to both diagnose accurately and treat successfully. In addition to a thorough physical examination it is common to have blood work, skin scrapings, fungal cultures, allergy testing, and skin biopsies done before treatment can be started. Some skin conditions require four to six weeks of treatment while others need life long management. It is not unusual to find combinations of problems acting together, such as allergies and infection. Getting an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible is the best help you can offer your pet. If a problem clears up and then reoccurs, let your veterinarian know as soon as possible so that there can be appropriate follow-up.

  • Our dog was diagnosed with whip worm. What is it, and what caused it?

    The simple answer is that whip worms are contracted by your pet ingesting the fecal matter of other pets that have been infected and passed the worm eggs. Usually this occurs when they are digging in the dirt because the eggs can remain viable in the soil for years after the stool dissolves. There is much more that you need to know, and your veterinarian will be your solid ally as you battle this persistent condition. Your pet will need to be checked for parasites often because these worms are hard to get rid of, and they suck blood through the intestinal wall.

  • What is canine distemper?

    Canine distemper virus can cause a variety of symptoms related to the central nervous system.

    Canine distemper is a member of the parymyxovirus class. It is spread from dog to dog in secretions like saliva, urine and tears. It affects a variety of systems within the dog, such as the immune system (by suppressing the ability to make white blood cells and fight off infection), the central nervous system (resulting in seizures and erratic behavior), the gastrointestinal system (resulting in vomiting and diarrhea), and the respiratory system (resulting in coughing). In short, canine distemper is a very nasty little virus.

    Classically, however, canine distemper affects puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated against it. Most dogs are presented to the veterinarian for depression, lethargy and thick green eye discharge. Some dogs will come in for seizures. Dogs that recover initially from the disease may have seizures or other central nervous system disorders later in their old age.

  • What is parvovirus?

    Parvovirus is a dangerous virus that attacks dogs' intestinal tracts. It can cause severe bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and electrolyte imbalances and can lead to severe dehydration, a buildup of toxins or poisons in the bloodstream, and eventually death. When puppies under 12 weeks old are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems. Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal, or object that comes in contact with a infected dog's feces. The virus can survive extreme heat and cold for long periods of time, and may remain alive on a surface long after the feces has been removed.

    There are many ways you can protect your dog from parvovirus. Most veterinarians recommend multiple vaccinations for growing puppies. As dogs get older, their immunity is maintained with annual booster shots. Use a solution of one part bleach to thirty parts water to clean areas frequented by other dogs, and use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you've walked through an infected area. If your dog experiences vomiting, severe diarrhea, depression, or loss of appetite, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Though there are presently no drugs to kill the virus, there are treatments proven to control its symptoms.

  • What is mange?

    Mange is a year-round skin disease caused by an infestation of Sarcoptic mange mites. These little pests burrow into your dog's skin and secrete substances (allergens) that cause allergic reactions and intense itching and irritation, which may lead to a lot of hair loss and skin infections. Mange is highly contagious: dogs can easily catch it from other dogs they come in contact with in shelters, in kennels, at the groomer, or in other situations.

    The good news is that mange is treatable. There is a topical product on the market approved by the FDA, as well as a regimen of medicated shampoo baths followed by body dips that may take care of the problem. Unfortunately, getting rid of the mites entirely can be difficult and costly, and the medication can have side effects. If one dog in a multi-dog household is diagnosed for mites, the other dogs will generally have to be treated as well. The best solution to mange is to catch the condition early, while it's still easy to treat. If you notice your dog scratching or losing hair, consult your veterinarian right away to decide on the best course of action for your pet.

    One word of cautionähumans can develop an itchy rash from contact with a mange-infected dog. The rash will result in small raised bumps on the surface of the body. Usually this condition is only temporary and will go away once the affected dog has been treated. Consult a physician if the problem persists

  • Can my dog be neutered without actually being castrated?

    Well, if your one and only purpose in having your dog neutered is preventing him from fathering puppies, you could choose a vasectomy. Some veterinarians will perform this procedure, which will sterilize a dog but leave the genitals intact. It's a more difficult and time-consuming procedure than castration, and also more expensive.

    A vasectomy doesn't provide all of the benefits of a full castration, however, which is why some veterinarians won't perform it. It doesn't protect against testicular tumors, which are common in older, intact males. It also doesn't protect against testosterone-influenced diseases, such as perianal hernia and perianal adenomas.

    Also, because testosterone is still present in a dog's system after a vasectomy, your dog would still exhibit the behavior of a dog that hasn't been neutered. He would still try to go through the motions of mating with female dogs, for example. He would probably fight with other dogs to defend his territory and breeding rights, and he would mark his territory (inside and outside) with urine. He would also have the urge to roam to find mating partners.

    If your main concern is having your dog look intact after surgery, you can have him castrated and have testicle implants placed in his scrotum. These are surgically placed inside your dog's tissue, much like breast implants. With these implants, your dog can be castrated without changing in appearance.

  • For how long is a dog pregnant?

    The duration of pregnancy from conception to birth is called gestation. The length of gestation in dogs is normally 61 to 63 days.

    While most dogs will have an uneventful pregnancy, sometimes problems occur that may necessitate early birth or a veterinarian-assisted birth (such as a caesarian section). For instance, toy breeds that are bred with larger dogs may have puppies that are too big to pass through the mother's birth canal; bulldogs may have complications because they have large heads relative to the size of the birth canal; and death of one or more fetuses can cause complications warranting early removal of the puppies.

    If your dog is pregnant, or if you're planning to breed her, be sure to talk with your veterinarian so you know what to expect and what changes you may need to make in your dog's care and feeding.

  • Is there any problem with spaying a dog that's several years old?

    While spaying or neutering pets before they reach adulthood is best for them, you can certainly have them spayed as adults. They’ll still experience the benefits of being altered, including lower chances of reproductive tract diseases, less behavioral problems and no unwanted puppies and kittens.

    As with any surgery, your dog should have some basic bloodwork performed beforehand to rule out any conditions that could make anesthesia dangerous. With these tests, the risks associated with routine surgeries like spays and neuters are small, even in older pets.

  • What should I do when my dog is in heat?

    A dog's heat cycle is made up of two basic phases. The first, proestrus, is when she is bleeding but hasn't yet ovulated. That usually lasts anywhere from 7-14 days. The second phase is estrus, when the bleeding slows down or even stops. This is when the dog is ovulating and is fertile. This is important to understand, because many owners will keep their dog inside until the bleeding stops and then let her outside. Soon after, they have a pregnant dog. To be on the safe side, keep your dog indoors for at least two weeks after she stops bleeding. When she has to go out to eliminate, keep her in your yard and watch her very closely.

    To protect your carpet and furniture from the blood, you can buy "doggie diapers" at most pet stores. They come in range of sizes, and most dogs adjust to them fairly quickly.

    Unless you are planning on breeding your dog, you may want to consider having her spayed. There are several health advantages to spaying female dogs and cats.

  • How soon can I tell if my dog is pregnant?

    Luckily for your pooch, you don't have to wait for her to gain weight to tell if she's pregnant. There are a lot of nutritional and other health precautions that you should take with a pregnant dog to keep her and her puppies healthy, so it's best if you learn whether she's pregnant as soon as possible. A veterinarian can determine whether she's pregnant at about three weeks after breeding, either through blood testing, ultrasound, or a physical examination. Unless a breeder needs to know the specific number of puppies or the dog's health is in danger, a physical examination of the abdomen is generally all that is necessary.

  • Is there such a thing as birth control for female dogs without having to have them spayed?

    There are oral products on the market that your veterinarian can prescribe for birth control in your dog. The down side is that the drug's literature says that it shouldn't be used in animals intended for later breeding. That seems curious, since most dogs that are going to be kept intact are generally kept that way for breeding purposes. If you are not going to breed your dog, there is medical benefit in spaying before the first heat additional to lifetime reproductive control. It has been well-documented that females that are spayed before their first heat have almost no chance of ever developing mammary cancer. Please discuss these options with your attending veterinarian as both options have their benefits and risks.

  • Can I have my dog spayed while she's in heat?

    It's possible to spay a dog during estrus, or heat, but it's not the best time. Most veterinarians prefer not to spay a dog in estrus because the uterine tissue can be swollen, fragile, and more prone to damage. Dogs also have a tendency to bleed more when they're in heat. Because of this, estrus makes surgery more risky for dogs, as well as for cats.

    Most veterinarians prefer to delay spaying a dog until she has been out of estrus for a month or so. And, since a recently spayed dog may still be attractive to males, performing the surgery during heat won't do anything to keep the neighbors' dogs out of your yard. The best thing for your dog's health is to keep her safe inside for now and to have your veterinarian perform surgery in a month or so.

  • Is there anything I can do to keep my yard from turning brown where my dog urinates?

    Unfortunately, the ammonia that occurs naturally and normally in dog urine is what is killing your grass. Other than following your dog with a hose and rinsing the areas where he urinates, there's not much you can do. And chasing your dog with a hose may cause a whole new set of problems. It could make your dog nervous about going to the bathroom outdoors, which can cause house soiling, or it could make him think that he's playing a game with you every time he goes outäwhich could make his trips to the back yard last a long time. You could also try watering your lawn more frequently with sprinklers; this may dilute the urine a bit.

    There are some medications and home remedies available for dogs that users claim will keep the grass green. These treatments have never been scientifically proven to work, however.

    The best thing you can do for your lawn is to pick one area that you're willing to sacrifice and train him to use that area exclusively. Just go out with him for a while and stand by the area you want him to use. Reward him every time he uses the spot for a few weeks, until you're confident he's gotten the idea.

  • Is there anything I can do to keep my yard from turning brown where my dog urinates?

    Unfortunately, the ammonia that occurs naturally and normally in dog urine is what is killing your grass. Other than following your dog with a hose and rinsing the areas where he urinates, there's not much you can do. And chasing your dog with a hose may cause a whole new set of problems. It could make your dog nervous about going to the bathroom outdoors, which can cause house soiling, or it could make him think that he's playing a game with you every time he goes outäwhich could make his trips to the back yard last a long time. You could also try watering your lawn more frequently with sprinklers; this may dilute the urine a bit.

    There are some medications and home remedies available for dogs that users claim will keep the grass green. These treatments have never been scientifically proven to work, however.

    The best thing you can do for your lawn is to pick one area that you're willing to sacrifice and train him to use that area exclusively. Just go out with him for a while and stand by the area you want him to use. Reward him every time he uses the spot for a few weeks, until you're confident he's gotten the idea.

  • What dog breed is best for my family and our allergies?

    While the allergy issue is certainly a big consideration when choosing a breed, you also need to consider temperament and physical traits when looking at different breeds.

    Poodles and Bichons and some of the terriers do rank high on the list of "hypo-allergenic" dogs, but allergies can be very individualized. A breed that may trigger life-threatening reactions in one person may only cause a few sniffles in another individual. If your kids are allergic to dander and not hair, a poodle may not work at all. Allergies are not only determined by the type of dog and the person's tolerance, but can be moderated by exposure (keeping the dog out of the children's bedrooms), frequency of bathing and grooming, etc. Discuss control measures with your children's physician. Then make a list of breeds that you might be interested in owning. You would probably want to avoid long, heavy-coated breeds that require a lot of grooming unless you are willing to do the grooming yourself or have it done professionally.

    Visit a dog show and talk to breeders and people that own the breeds that you are interested in. If possible, have the children pet or play with one breed per show and see how their allergies are. If you can narrow it down to a few different breeds, you may be able to "borrow" a dog from a breeder for a few days to see how your children react to it in the home. This may take a while, but will be worth it in the long run to your children and a new dog

  • Is it okay for my dog to lick my son's face?

    Yes, it probably is. The only disease that dogs and humans can pass back and forth through saliva is beta strep throat, which is relatively rare. You may want to take your pup to the veterinarian if strep throat has been passed among the members of your family, though. And if your son has a weakened immune system, you may want to be careful about exposing him to the normal bacteria that's present in the saliva of healthy dogs.

    Just a reminderäsince you have a child in the house, you should be careful to make sure your dog doesn't become infected with worms. These parasites are not passed by saliva, but children can pick them up by playing on the ground and the floor. A good rule of thumb is, if children are in the house, have your dog dewormed regularly! And even if you don't have children at home, regular deworming will help your dog stay healthy and will help protect any children or adults who come to visit.

  • How can I protect myself from loose dogs when I'm out running?

    Despite the fact that it’s usually against the law and it’s dangerous both for their dogs and for other people, it’s unfortunately true that some pet owners let their dogs run loose. If you meet a strange dog when you’re out for a walk or a jog, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

    Don’t look the dog directly in the eyes, as dogs can interpret this as a sign of aggression.
    Stand up straight and look confident.
    Watch the dog for signs of aggression, like growling, staring you straight in the eyes, or having stiff legs and a stiff tail. If the dog looks aggressive, back away slowly. Don’t turn around and run.
    If loose dogs are often a problem in your neighborhood, consider carrying citronella spray. Dogs hate the smell of citronella, but it doesn’t harm them, so it makes a good deterrent. You can find the spray at some pet stores and sports/running equipment stores.
    Once you are safely away from the loose dog, call your local humane society or the non-emergency number for your local police and tell them where to find the loose dog. Not only will you save the other walkers and joggers in your neighborhood from encountering the dog, but you may well save him from being hit by a car.

  • What can be done about a cat urinating all over the house?

    If you've not done so already, have him thoroughly examined by your veterinarian to make sure he has no underlying problems causing him to urinate excessively. Many diseases or infections will cause excessive urination. If there are no medical problems, then the urination is likely a behavioral problem. Your cat may be marking his territory, or he may have some problem with the litterbox you're using: the type, amount, or cleanliness of the litter; the location of the box, etc. Sudden changes or stress such as introducing a new cat or dog to the household, moving, or the addition of a new family member can cause a cat to stop using his litterbox, as well. If your cat is not neutered, then it is highly recommend that that be done.

    How many litterboxes do you have? What kind of litter are you using? The litterbox should be cleaned at least once daily. If you've recently changed litter brands, change back! Cats can be very particular about the kind of litter they use. If you haven't changed litter, try adding another box with a completely different type of litter in it. Most cats prefer scoopable (clumping), unscented litter in uncovered boxes. Stay away from litters with lots of fragrance. As an experiment, try putting three (at least) litterboxes in your house. Place them right at or near the exact spots where he's urinating inappropriately, and scoop all boxes daily. This is just one example of things you can try.

    If your cat is still urinating outside the box, consult with your veterinarian or a pet behaviorist. Another option is medical therapy. Discuss medications with your veterinarian. You may need to give your cat a pill once a day or once a week, depending on the medication. Some of the medications have side effects and some don't work very well. It really depends on the cat, and it may take some experimentation to solve the problem.

    Litterbox problems can be very difficult to correct, especially if they have been going on for awhile. In most cases, however, they CAN be solved, so don't give up too easily!

  • Cats
  • What should I do about my cat's heartworm prevention?

    Heartworm disease is a serious but preventable condition. Whether or not your cat belongs on preventive medication depends a lot on the incidence in your area. We're not presently aware of any literature that notes serious risks or side effects of the preventive medicine. However, your veterinarian will take into account any other problems your cat has before prescribing the drug for your cat. Healthy kidneys and normal liver functions are essential in metabolizing most medications. For both dogs and cats, a heartworm blood test must be done before any preventive medications are given.

  • My cat won't let me brush her teeth. Is it true that tartar and gum disease can cause other problems?

    Tartar management is cats can be challenging, as you have found. If you have seen that there is significant tartar on your cat's molars and premolars, you are already at a stage where you will need your local veterinarian to perform a complete dental prophylaxis under anesthesia. This tartar is probably causing the gingivitis that you are seeing. Dry kibble diets help in tartar prevention, however, even cats who eat nothing but dry food occasionally need dental prophylaxis. The most important thing is to have the tartar taken care of because leaving it in the mouth can cause kidney infections and heart valve disease.

  • What's the best way to deal with a scared cat?

    Cats that have severe fears of human strangers can take some time to warm up. The most important thing is that you keep yourself from getting bitten or scratched while the two of you are getting to know each other.

    If the cat is hiding in your house somewhere, you might want to make sure that you deliver small meals to her several times daily to get her used to you and your voice being associated with food. Keep a litter pan there for her, and clean it daily. A large bowl of water should also be available at all times. It may take a while for her to trust you enough to approach you. Try not to pick her up or even touch her until you are sure she is comfortable with it.

    For health reasons, get a list of vaccinations or worming treatments that have been done in the past and have your veterinarian review the medical history. There may be things that need to brought up to date to make your cat a safe and healthy member of your family. Live traps are sometimes necessary to confine cats that are not safe to handle. If the cat has not been vaccinated for rabies, it should be strictly confined with no physical exposure to anyone for 10 days.

    With some time and attention, your new cat may very well warm up to you, but expect it to take some time.

  • How can I introduce a new cat to my household if I already have a cat?

    First, be sure that your new kitty is tested for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). If she is negative for both of these diseases, then she should be pretty safe around your cat. Still, quarantine her for 1 week (2-3 weeks is even better); then put her in her own room in your house to start the introduction process.

    The key to introducing a new pet is to GO SLOW! Give the new cat about 1-2 weeks in her own room where the two cats can sniff each other under the door. Once they are doing this with minimal hissing, switch the situation. Put your cat in the room for a few hours and let the new kitty roam the house. This allows the resident cat to smell the new cat's scent and explore without worrying about having to fight the newcomer. It also allows the new cat to explore the new house and become familiar with hiding areas.

    The next step is to let them see each other from across a room or through a tall baby gate you put across the doorway of the room where the new kitty is. Then, when they're used to this, let the cats out together SUPERVISED, and put down a treat (canned cat food, tuna, etc.). Use two dishes on opposite sides of the room so that both cats are in the same room eating their special treat. Do this at roughly the same time every day, and soon the cats will be running to be in the same place at the same time. When hissing and growling subsides, then start moving the dishes closer together. If they start growling at each other, you have moved the dishes too close, too quickly and need to back off. Soon they will associate a good thing with seeing each other.

    Do not let them together unsupervised, as they could fight and hurt each other. The entire process will probably take about 6 weeks, and even then they may not be buddies but can be in the same room without hissing at each other. Good luck, and remember -- patience!

  • How can I get my kitten to stop chewing on electrical cords?

    It sounds like you have a normal, inquisitive kitten. But chewing on electrical cords is quite dangerous. The good news is that he should start outgrowing this behavior soon.

    Have you tried putting something distasteful on the cords? Cayenne pepper spray or bitter apple spray can deter some cats from chewing. You can also cover the cords with paper towel tubing or PVC pipe. Your kitty should lose house privileges unless someone is home to supervise him. When you're not at home, put him in a room with no cords.

    Also, make sure that your kitten has plenty of appropriate toys to play with. One way you can make his toys go further is to put a few out for him to play with, and put the rest away. A few days later, hide the toys that were left out, and leave out some new toys that had been put away. Even old toys will look new to your cat after they've been hidden for a few days.

    With a bit of persistence, your kitten will start to leave the cords alone. If, in spite of all these precautions, you catch him chewing on the cords, chase him away with a squirt of water from a spray bottle. Don't yell at him or spank him; just calmly squirt him until he leaves the cords alone. Good luck with your kitten!

  • How can we make the move to a new home easier on our cat?

    It's a good idea to plan ahead for your cat's move. The less trauma associated with the move, the better for the cat.

    Try keeping her confined to one room in your new place when you aren't home. As much as possible, keep your daily routine the same, since dogs and cats live for routine and changes can upset them. If your cat doesn't want to explore her new home, don't force the issue. She'll explore on her own as she becomes more comfortable. Keeping her in one room with familiar furniture will help her become more relaxed.

    Most cats adjust pretty quickly to new surroundings as long as their family remains intact. Some skittish cats may take a little longer, but they will eventually come around.

  • Why does my cat "talk" so much?

    Vocalizing is a very normal part of being a cat, and some cats naturally make more noise than others. Some breeds are more prone to "talking." The oriental breeds, particularly Siamese cats, tend to do a lot of vocalizing. So, to some extent, the noisemaking is just part of your cat's personality. Unless your cat seems to be distressed or in pain, you can consider her chattiness quite normal.

    Normal or not, you may still want to stop her late-night meowing so you can get some sleep! She is most likely looking for attention, and she has learned that if she cries long enough, you will get up and let her in the bedroom. The most effective step toward changing her undesired behavior is not to reward it. If you consistently refuse to respond to her crying, she may eventually stop. It may take a lot of patience and persistence to retrain her, but she can eventually learn to entertain herself at night.

    It may also help to tire her out before bedtime. Let her chase a string or a feather toy for twenty minutes before bedtime, and she may sleep later the next morning. It may also satisfy her need for attention enough to last her through the night. Another idea is to place some of her favorite toys near your bedroom door, to distract her when she comes looking for a playmate. You may even want to consider getting another cat. A second pet could keep her from feeling bored or lonely at night, and make her feel more secure. Introducing a new cat to the household can be challenging, however. Depending on your cat's age and personality, she may be hostile to the "intruder." Older and fussier cats can have a hard time adjusting to new family members. Consider your cat's personality before you adopt a new pet, or you could have fighting cats waking you up instead of meowing.

    If none of these solutions are effective, you may have to shut your cat in a room far enough away from yours that you can get some sleep. You may want to take her to a veterinarian to discuss whether she should be treated for an anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. In extreme cases, veterinarians can prescribe antianxiety medication to stop compulsive behavior.

  • Why does my cat hide her food?

    Actually, it's not unusual for pets to hide their food. They can do it for several reasons, the most common one being that they find the scent of it offensive. This happens sometimes when pets are ill and don't feel like eating or when their diet is suddenly changed. If you cat is eating well and keeps returning to her food, however, an offensive odor is probably not the problem.

    Hiding food can be an instinctive behavior. If she were in the wild, your cat would eat what she needed and hide the rest of her food until she was hungry again. So this may be her way of hiding from predators and scavengers. Also, she could just be doing it to play. Cats are experts at finding endless ways to entertain themselves; this may be something she does to make eating more of an adventure, much like children who draw smiley faces in their mashed potatoes.

    At any rate, your cat's food hiding is nothing to worry about. You can think of it as a cute little personality quirk--one that's probably a lot of fun to watch.

  • How can I stop my cat from eating my plants?

    The good news is that your cat is behaving like a perfectly normal, well-adjusted feline. Cats have a natural instinct to eat grass and other plants; they provide fiber that soothes kitty stomachs, aids in digestion, promotes vomiting if it's needed, and simply gives cats something pleasant to nibble on.

    The bad news is that it's nearly impossible-not to mention possibly unhealthy-to teach an animal to ignore her instincts. It's much, much easier to let your cat be a cat by growing her some plants it's okay to eat. You can buy seeds for cat-friendly plant mixes in many pet stores. Wheat grass, bird seed sprouts, and catnip are also good alternatives. You can make your kitty her own private garden by growing any of these plants, or a combination of them, in a window box or large pot away from your other plants. Hopefully, these greens will be so tempting that she'll have no desire to go after your other, more decorative plants. If she still needs a little extra nudge to keep her away from the philodendron, you can dab the leaves with something that has a bitter taste, such as white vinegar or one of the animal deterrent sprays available from some pet stores and plant nurseries. You may want to do some research first, however. Some sprays can be harmful to some plants.

    Finally, don't dismiss the power of keeping kitty distracted. You'll do your plants a great service by making sure your cat has plenty of toy mice, plastic balls, bells, and scratching posts to keep her busy. When you see her going for a plant, try waving a chase toy at her or rolling a ball in her direction. Most likely, she'll see it as a much more fun alternative.

  • My kitten can't seem to learn to use the litter box. What should I do?

    Most kittens are born with the instinct to use the litter box and will do it without training, but there is the occasional exception. If your kitten just won't use the box, maybe it's his way of telling you about a medical problem like a urinary tract infection. A trip to the veterinarian will ensure that your little guy is healthy and that he's resisting the litter box for some other reason.

    If your kitten has a clean bill of health, you can check to see if the box is appropriate for him. Young kittens may be too small to climb over the sides of a full-sized litter box easily. Using an old cake pan as a box may help. Also, since it's harder for kittens to move around, make sure there is at least one box on every floor of your house--ideally, you should have one in every room your kitty spends time in, until he gets a little older. Make a point of showing the kitten where the boxes are; set him right inside them so he can dig around in the litter. Often the texture of the litter itself will stimulate cats to relieve themselves in it. If you have the opportunity, you also could have your kitty spend some time with a (kitten-friendly) older cat in your home. Kittens can learn well from example.

  • Can a new kitten share a litter box with my cat?

    Yes, cats will usually adapt quite well to using the same litter box. That being said, it's still a good idea to have more than one litter box in the house, though both cats will most likely use both boxes. Cats often like to defecate in one box and urinate in another, so multiple boxes will make your cats less likely to eliminate someplace else.

    A good rule of thumb for litter boxes is that you should have one more box than you do cats.

  • Why has my older cat become so lazy about grooming?

    As cats age they do not keep up with their grooming. Some get "stiff" and have trouble reaching some areas. You will need to take up the slack. That means brushing more often. You might also try a fine toothed comb over a brush to remove those dead, dull hairs that need to be shed. Bathing with a coat conditioner will help make combing easier. Consult with your veterinarian about coat care products.

  • My male cat is straining in the litterbox, is something wrong?

    Get Help Quickly if Your Male Cat is Straining in the Litterbox! Male cats are prone to blockages that can be leathal. Call your veterinarian immediately.

  • Is hunting and eating his prey bad for our cat's health?

    Hunting is certainly the most natural way for a cat to eat, and in general, eating the prey is not that dangerous, with a few exceptions.

    Make absolutely sure your cat stays current on all his vaccinations, particularly his rabies vaccination. Species that are at risk for carrying rabies include skunks, raccoons, foxes and occasionally coyotes. Although your cat does not prey on these animals, he could come into contact with them if he spends a lot of time outdoors.

    If anyone in your household is pregnant or planning pregnancy, she should avoid contact with the cat's feces (have someone else do the litterbox cleaning and the gardening), and wash her hands after petting him.

    Other things your kitty could contract are mostly minor, such as bacterial and fungal infections and some parasites. Check your cat often for fleas and ticks, and have a stool sample checked by a veterinarian every six to 12 months to determine the presence of intestinal parasites.

    As long as your cat goes outdoors, he will always hunt, and not much you do will change that. A bell collar may help a bit to alert prey to the cat's presence, but plenty of cats hunt quite effectively with such collars.

  • Sometimes, when she's eating quickly, my cat will gag. Is this dangerous?

    It’s not uncommon for cats to eat too fast and for the food to irritate their throats, causing them to gag. This is partly because cat food isn’t the same as the diet of wild cats. Cats are naturally predators and carnivores—their teeth are designed to cut and tear meat, not necessarily to break down pellet-shaped cat food. This means that they’ll sometimes swallow their food whole instead of chewing it. To help prevent the problem, you could try slowing down your cat’s eating by spreading his food out—on a cookie sheet or a large plate, for example, instead of in a bowl.

    It’s possible, however, that your cat’s gagging is a sign of a more serious problem. There are some disorders that can affect the muscles of cats’ throats, making it harder for them to swallow correctly. These disorders aren’t common, but if your cat is gagging or vomiting frequently you should definitely bring him to the veterinarian for a checkup.

  • My cat hasn't eaten for four days. What should I do?

    Anorexia is a serious symptom, particularly in older animals. It can be caused by a number of things: depression, anxiety, pancreatitis, an intestinal obstruction, or even a sore tooth. Some of these conditions are very treatable, particularly if you see your veterinarian right away. Your veterinarian can perform blood and urine tests and a physical exam to determine what illness is keeping your cat from eating. He or she can also check whether your cat is dehydrated and whether she needs to be given fluids or nutrients through an IV (intravenous) or NG (nasogastric, passing through the nose into the stomach) tube. Again, this is a very serious problem. Be sure to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • I have an older cat that has lost a lot of weight in just a few weeks, what's wrong?

    Any cat that shows a sudden and severe weight loss should be tested for abnormalities of the thyroid gland, for diabetes, and for kidney disease. If your veterinarian has not yet performed a geriatric blood profile and urinalysis on your cat recently, then you should request that it be done immediately. There are many conditions that are very treatable in older cats if they are diagnosed in time and treated aggressively.

  • Why is my cat’s urine red?

    Most likely, your cat has a urinary infection, inflamed bladder or urinary tract, or bladder stones. These problems are relatively common in cats: their bladders can become inflamed from bladder stones or for other various reasons, and the inflammation can lead to a secondary infection. Your cat should be examined by a veterinarian, as urinary inflammation and infections can cause crystals to form in the urinary tract, which can be lethal. Your veterinarian can also examine her for signs of other problems that could cause her to have blood in his urine, such as kidney disease.

    Get Help Quickly if Your Male Cat is Straining in the Litterbox! Male cats are prone to blockages, which can be a life threatening situation.

  • Our cat constantly sheds. Is there something wrong with him?

    Hair shedding is considered a sign of health in the cat - sick cats don't shed. Although the excessive hair around the house can be a nuisance, consider it a sign of your cat's good health. To reduce the amount of hair shed on furniture and your household surroundings, comb your cat daily with an appropriate comb or brush. Your veterinarian can recommend one of the many types that is suitable for your cat.

  • What causes my cat's foot pads to swell up and bleed? He doesn't have any cuts

    A cat's feet can swell for many reasons, from walking across hot asphalt, to trauma from climbing fences in a hurry. Sometimes things like allergic reactions to bugs, medications, etc. can also cause swelling. I would get her examined by a veterinarian because some of these problems need medications to get better.

  • Why does my cat have a fat lip?

    A swollen lip in a cat may be caused by such things as chin acne, tooth root infections, tumors, insect bites, etc. For an accurate diagnosis, it's best to visit your veterinarian for a good look at your cat's lip. After a complete exam, treatment can be started to target the underlying cause

  • What can I do about my cat that vomits regularly?

    Cats, as you're witnessing, have a much more sensitive vomiting reflex than we do, so it isn't unusual for cats to vomit when they don't appear sick. I assume your cat has a healthy, but not excessive, appetite; isn't losing weight or acting lethargic; doesn't have diarrhea; and that parasites have been ruled out. If any of these symptoms are present, or if he's vomiting green or orange liquid (bile), a medical problem is likely and should be investigated.

    The two most common scenarios in which well cats vomit are (1) from eating too much or too fast, which results in vomiting undigested food very soon after eating, and (2) hairballs, which usually cause vomiting of the hairball itself. Hairballs have no sure-fire remedy, but the most popular thing to try is a hairball lubricant (make sure you give this on an empty stomach, not with food); also frequent combing, brushing, or even a "lion clip" (for a long-haired cat) will be helpful. Any hair you can remove is hair that your cat will not end up swallowing. There is also a new hairball formula cat food on the market that may help. Ask your veterinarian about this.

    As for eating too much or too fast, this problem is usually worse in cases where cats have their food taken away and are only permitted to eat at certain times of the day, causing them to gorge when food is available. Trials of different brands of food may help. Anything else you can do (portioning the food out gradually, for example) to encourage eating smaller amounts frequently might also be helpful. If the vomiting is daily, you might want to try medication. However, most people don't want to medicate their cats daily if vomiting only occurs once a week or less.

    If these ideas don't help you, the only way to get a certain answer as far as any medical cause, such as inflammatory bowel disease, would be to have biopsies of the stomach and intestinal tract done. Your veterinarian can tell you more about this.

  • What is causing my cat's "weepy" eye?

    Watery, dripping eyes are a relatively common problem in cats, particularly kittens. They can be a sign of an upper respiratory infection, specifically a viral infection. One sore eye could also be a sign of a foreign body, something that's irritating your cat's eye. There's also the possibility that an upper respiratory infection earlier in your cat's life left his tear ducts clogged or scarred shut.

    The best thing you can do for your cat is to seek veterinary care right away. Viral infections can cause corneal ulcers or progress to more serious disease if left untreated, and foreign bodies in the eye can cause damage or disease of the eye. All of these problems are preventable if you see your veterinarian. A veterinarian can treat a viral infection, remove a foreign body from the eye, or flush out clogged tear ducts. In some cases, occular problems can be a sign of more serious systemic conditions (problems that affect many systems in an animal's body), so it's very important that you seek veterinary care.

  • My cat cut open one of her foot pads, and it's healing very slowly. What should I do?
  • My elderly cat has hyperthyroidism. Is this rare?

    Hyperthyroidism, the overproduction and overabundance of thyroid hormones, is relatively common in older cats, both male and female. In fact, it's the most common hormonal abnormality there is. In a cat with hyperthyroidism, the elevated levels of thyroid hormones, which normally work to regulate the metabolic processes, speed up the metabolism and cause many of the body's functions to run much faster than normal. This can lead to a number of complications, including enlargement of the heart muscle, high blood pressure, kidney function impairment, and intestinal problems. Hyperthyroidism can be caused by thyroid cancer, but it is generally caused by benign nodules of tissue in the thyroid that hyperproduce—work too hard and produce too much hormone.

    There is no way to prevent hyperthyroidism, but you can catch it early by bringing your cat to the veterinarian for regular checkups and keeping a close eye on his health. As your cat gets older, watch him for the symptoms of overactive thyroid: weight loss, hyperactivity, and an increased appetite. Other common symptoms include vomiting, unkempt fur, patches of hair loss, and increased water intake and urination.

    The good new is that hyperthyroidism is usually not difficult to diagnose or treat. Veterinarians can generally diagnose the disorder through a physical exam and routine blood test. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medication, by surgically removing thyroid tissue, or by destroying thyroid tissue through radioactive iodine therapy. Treatment is often very successful.

  • How can I remove the smell of cat urine from my carpet?

    Cat urine should be cleaned from a carpet with a special enzyme cleaner that you might have to purchase at a janitorial supply shop if you can't find it elsewhere. Ask your veterinarian. Many keep it on hand for clients to use at home. Because urine usually soaks through to the padding, you might have to consider rolling back the carpet and cutting out and replacing a patch of the padding to do a really good job.

    Whenever cats are having unusual toilet habits, it's also important to check for physical problems that may be causing it. Infections, diabetes, and other diseases can change the behavior of a normally litterbox trained cat. Check with your veterinarian on these issues so that you don't just clean the carpet and overlook a possible physical problem.

  • Can you give me a remedy for my cat's constipation?

    Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to what seems like a very straightforward and simple question. Constipation in cats is not a disease in and of itself. Rather, it is a sign or symptom of another problem. Causes of constipation will vary depending on the age and overall health of your cat. Sometimes the problem is as simple as a food intolerance or a diet that is insufficient in fiber. Most often, however, constipation can be indicative of something else that is going on.

    In older cats, a common cause is a difficulty in maintaining adequate levels of hydration. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but usually low hydration levels are due to problems with the kidneys-they can no longer properly concentrate the urine, and an overall loss of fluid occurs.

    Another possible cause of constipation in cats is a disease called "megacolon." Megacolon is a muscular disease of the large intestine in which the intestine cannot contract properly, leading to a backup of feces and thus, constipation.

    So you see, there is no simple remedy for constipation without finding out specifically why the cat is having trouble with its bowel movements. Your cat should be taken to a veterinarian for a complete physical. The doctor may recommend some tests based on what he or she finds. Reasonable tests include bloodwork to check liver and kidney functions, and perhaps X-rays to look for megacolon. In the meantime, a high fiber diet can be fed to help promote intestinal (colon) motility.

  • Birds
  • My female parakeet has a lump under her tail and sits on the floor of her cage a lot. Is this normal?

    You should seek veterinary care for your bird immediately. Sitting on the floor of the cage is never normal, and it sounds like your little parakeet is "egg-bound." If this is the case, then her life is in danger.

    Female birds (most commonly budgerigars/parakeets, cockatiels, finches and some other species) can become stimulated to lay eggs without breeding. This can happen in response to the presence of a male, hormonal imbalances, exposure to constant periods of light and dark that mimic springtime, or actual breeding with a male bird. The eggs are often sterile; i.e. they contain no viable chick.

    This egg laying will often continue if the egg is sterile, or if the egg is removed immediately, but the stimulus to lay still exists. Such chronic egg laying can deplete the female bird's stores of calcium and other nutrients. Calcium is necessary for muscle contractions, which push the egg through the birth canal. Therefore, lack of calcium from chronic egg laying can potentially result in the egg becoming lodged in the birth canal because the muscles no longer work well enough to push the egg out. The final result: a bird in dire need of immediate veterinary care!

  • I found a baby dove in my yard. What should I feed it until it is ready to fly?

    Try some crushed dry cat or dog food. If the bird pecks for the food, you can also use a mixed millet seed diet, much like what people feed parakeets. In the event the bird doesn't peck for the food, try watering down the cat or dog food. If the dove still doesn't eat, further moisten this mixture and feed the bird with a dropper. Because doves are seed eaters, these two food items will be very adequate in getting the bird to the feathered stage, where it is ready for a life of its own outdoors.

    It's also a smart move to contact wildlife rescue. To locate a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator, contact your veterinarian or Audubon Society office. Also, make sure to carefully look over the bird and call the veterinarian immediately if you spot any obvious physical wounds.

  • How can I tell if my parakeet is male or female?

    Luckily for us, most parakeets come color-coded. The boys usually have ceres (the patches of skin over their beaks) that are blue, and girls generally have pink or white ceres. There are some exceptions, but the rule is usually very reliable. If your parakeet doesn’t fit the pattern, your veterinarian can do a gender check for you.

  • What should I do about my cockatiel's egg?

    Cockatiels are proficient egg layers and generally start in early spring. They are stimulated to begin laying by the lengthening daylight hours. Taking away the eggs will most likely stimulated them to lay more. It's probably best to leave the eggs in the cage in a quiet box that they can use as a nest box. Whether the eggs are fertile or not, I'd let them "play house" with them as a means of keeping them focused and busy.

    One very important consideration is nutrition. Birds that are heavy egg layers, like cockatiels, need diets that are adequate in calcium and other nutrients. Half or less of their food each day should be seed. The other half should be all of the table foods that you eat everyday with the exception of chocolate and avocados. Emphasize high calcium foods like cheese, tofu, kale, bok choy. A separate tray of crushed oyster shells should always be available. With a well-balanced diet, you can help to avoid problems such as egg binding. Don't be surprised if you see more eggs this spring and summer. The only way to prevent egg laying is to have your female birds surgically spayed. Another alternative that decreases egg production is to cover the cage early each evening to decrease the total daylight hours available.

  • Reptiles
  • Should I feed my snake live rodents?

    No. It's best to feed snakes dead food. Snakes can go long periods of time without eating (several months in some cases) and if your snake isn't hungry or is starting to shed, it won't eat. A live rodent might bite your snake, causing it damage.

  • What do I do about an older iguana that is shedding all the time?

    Iguanas generally only shed as they grow. The skin comes off in response to them growing their own skin. If you feel that you have seen excessive changes in the skin molting pattern, have a veterinarian examine your iguana.

  • Exotics
  • Does it hurt mice to pick them up by the tail?

    No, it doesn't hurt mice to be held up by their tails for short periods of time, such as when they're taken out of their cage. They don't weigh much, and their tails are relatively strong. They shouldn't be held by their tails for long periods, and they should never be swung by their tails, but picking them up that way is fine.

  • My guinea pig bites at the sipper tube of her water bottle--instead of licking it or nibbling on it--and I don't think she's getting enough water. What should I do?

    Animals all have personality quirks, and your guinea pig simply may not be comfortable with the kind of water bottle she has. It's important that she gets plenty of water, though, so you should try giving her a few options to see what she likes best. First, you can try putting her water bottle down a little lower; she simply may not be able to reach it. If that doesn't work, try using a smaller water bottle with a smaller tube, such as a tube designed for hamsters and gerbils. You could also try using a large tube, like the tubes used for rabbits. It may just be that you need to find the right sized tube for her mouth.

    If none of those ideas work, you could try a heavy, hard-to-tip ceramic water bowl. These bowls make a lot more mess than water bottles, so you'll need to clean her cage more often to make sure her feet stay dry and clean.

    If you try all these options and your guinea pig still doesn't seem to be drinking, you can take her to your veterinarian for an examination.

  • What's wrong with my hedgehog?

    Hedgehogs can suffer from tooth infections, eye problems, skin mites, and many other physical problems. It's very important that yours be examined by a veterinarian that has a background in exotic pets. At Creature Comforts we have experience with a wide range of exotic animals.

  • My rabbit's urine is very dark. Is something wrong?

    Actually, rabbits normally have very dark urine, which can be cloudy or have crystals in it. It can also be a bit lighter and still be perfectly normal. A better sign of your rabbit's health than color is how much or how often she urinates. If you see changes in the volume or frequency of urination, you should take your rabbit to your veterinarian for an exam and urinalysis.

  • What is wet tail in a hamster?

    Wet tail is caused by a bacterial infection of the intestine and can often be fatal. Symptoms include diarrhea accompanied by a strong, unpleasant smell. The hamster often walks hunched up, is weak and lethargic and may squeal in pain. If your hamster is showing signs of this disease, it is very important to take him to a veterinarian immediately. Treatment includes antibiotics as well as electrolyte and fluid replacement. Some hamsters that survive the initial infection will later experience intestinal or rectal problems.

  • Can a male guinea pig be neutered?

    Male guinea pigs (boars) can and should be neutered to decrease unwanted guinea pig pregnancies. You should seek a veterinarian who is familiar and comfortable with the special scrotal anatomy of the guinea pig boar and has already performed several successful guinea pig neuters.

    Neutering can be performed at any age. It's a good idea, however, to wait until the guinea pig has reached his mature weight. This way his organs will be developed enough to process the anesthesia well. The guinea pig will feel some discomfort at the surgery site for about a day or so, but these pets, like most other animals, usually don't let a little pain stop them from taking part in all of their normal daily activities. Talk to your veterinarian about providing post-surgical pain relief so that your guinea pig is as comfortable as possible.

  • What can I do to stop my hamster's chewing?

    Hamsters are nocturnal (they sleep during the day and are awake at night). The difficult part to deal with is the fact that you, as a human, are not nocturnal. So the two of you will have to do a bit of adjusting to live together in harmony.

    First, you might consider putting your hamster's cage somewhere other than in your bedroom. Remember, though, that because she's nocturnal, putting her cage in a room that is busy or noisy during daylight hours will make her stressed and could negatively affect her health. Second, your hamster needs healthy things to chew on (besides her cage!), such as soft woods that are designed for chewing and that can be purchased at larger pet supply stores for hamsters and other rodents. Even the fruit-flavored softwood chews for parrots may work. If her cage is chewable (made of plastic, for instance), you should seriously think about replacing it with a hamster-proof cage designed for her species.

  • I've found injured or abandoned wildlife, what should I do?

    While Creature Comforts can help a wide variety of species, we do not focus on wildlife. Please give us a call at the number listed at the bottom of this page to see if we can help, but we may refer you to another care giver

  • My pet rabbit likes to chew wires around the house-what can I do?

    Try applying a spray called Bitter Apple, which is found at most pet stores, to the wires. This may deter him from chewing the wires, but you need to provide him with something else to chew.

    Rabbits' front teeth grow throughout their lives and chewing helps prevent the teeth from getting too long. If they don't have anything to chew, their long teeth will eventually make it difficult for them to eat. Give your rabbit a piece of wood, such as a 2 x 4, or a chew toy for rabbits to help keep his teeth at a healthy length.