My Pet World: Don't Go Overboard Sharing Beers With Your Dog
Q: Our dog, Molson, likes beer, especially the foam. I don't see a thing wrong with that. He'll sit in my lap and share a cold one. My wife thinks I'm sick. What do you think? -- S.H., Cyberspace
A: As a guy, I'm in your camp. We share beers with our best buddies, at least according to TV beer commercials. Keep in mind, though, that two or three slurps is enough for most dogs, even less for a small dog. Not that you're encouraging canine alcoholism, but truly a weekly tasting, or a couple of samples a month, is plenty. Better yet, check this out: Chicago veterinarian Dr. Sheldon Rubin told me about the Branding Villa Pub in the U.K. serving "Fido-friendly beer," a non-alcoholic beverage made of malt, hops and meat extract. Yum.
There's also Bowser Beer, a non-alcoholic drink (chicken or beef) with malt barley and "glucosamine for joint health." Dogs can drink from the bottle, but many prefer it poured over their nightly meal. You can even put custom labels on the bottles with your dog's picture (bowserbeer.com).
Q: Our Boxer, Brewski, quickly goes through his toys, chewing them up and even swallowing some of the pieces. What toys would you suggest for him? He's always chewing, and especially likes having objects in his mouth when he gets excited. -- C.P, Cyberspace
A: Chicago dog trainer Laura Monaco Torelli says to first visit your veterinarian. "Rule out the possibility that your dog isn't chewing excessively in an effort to relieve some sort of oral discomfort," she says.
Having a Rhodesian Ridgeback at home with a similar problem, Monaco Torelli can relate. She's found that elk antlers (available at some specialty pet stores and online) take time for her dog to chew through. You might also try the co-called Super Kong toys (which are made of a harder rubber and might be seen on an X-ray should Brewski swallow any pieces). A simple, inexpensive sterilized bone (available at most pet stores and online) might be a good choice. Also, you could stuff low-fat peanut butter or another treat inside these bones, so the focus isn't on chewing as much as getting the yummy out.
Many more heavy duty toys are available at specialty pet stores and online. In any case, whenever you offer Brewski a new toy, please supervise.
One goal might be to curb your dog's chewing habit, since dogs can break their teeth when they overdo it.
Monaco Torelli, a certified Karen Pryor Academy instructor, says young Boxers can be busy dogs, always in need of something to do. Try hiding treats around the house with Brewski on a "sit/stay" many rooms away. When you release him, teach him to find the treats, or a hidden toy. Games which focus on thinking as well as physical activity tend to tire dogs. If Brewski is sleeping, he's not chewing.