Q: I'm doing a lot of extra baking these days since the pandemic keeps me at home more. My family loves my fresh bread, but making it gave rise to a near-catastrophe involving our dog, Bandit.
When my back was turned, Bandit stole some freshly made bread dough right off the kitchen counter. I didn't realize it was a problem until he started ...Read more
Q: I caught the end of a news report about pets and the plague. I thought the plague was eradicated ages ago, at least from the U.S. Do I need to worry about my indoor-outdoor cats getting infected? Is this the next pandemic?
A: The deadliest pandemic in history was caused by the plague in the mid-1300s. While I doubt that will be repeated, the...Read more
Q: I'm confused about why my dog Sam's nose is occasionally warm and dry, even though he seems fine. I thought a dog in good health always had a cold, wet nose.
A: Sam's nose is usually cold and wet for two reasons.
First, nasal glands inside his nose produce a watery liquid that cools and dampens the lining of his nasal passages and the ...Read more
Q: My cat BarB -- so named because I found her as a kitten hiding under my barbecue grill -- now lives in my house and doesn't venture outdoors. Her veterinarian insists she needs rabies vaccination. Why is this necessary, if she's a committed homebody?
A: BarB should be vaccinated for rabies to protect herself and you from the deadly disease. ...Read more
Q: Our veterinarian has always been wonderful with our cats, so we want to give her a gift on Valentine's Day. Chocolate seems wrong since it's toxic to pets. Do you have better suggestions?
A: What a lovely thought! I'm sure your veterinarian will enjoy whatever gift you choose.
My first suggestions recognize that everyone at the practice has...Read more
Q: My sister, who lives in the South, turns her air conditioning up from 75 to 90 degrees when she leaves for work. She reasons that she's saving money while still cooling her home enough for her 10-year-old pug, Fiona.
Please explain what happens to overheated dogs so I can convince my sister that 90 degrees is too warm for Fiona.
A: Any dog ...Read more
Q: I was driving behind a pickup truck that swerved to avoid a deer. A dog in the bed of the pickup was thrown out and badly injured.
Thank goodness he didn't strike my windshield and I didn't hit him. Still, the experience taught me that it's dangerous to transport a dog in the bed of a pickup. Is it also illegal?
A: Regrettably, it's illegal...Read more
Q: My cat Myrtle sometimes drools. Should I be concerned?
A: It depends. Many cats drool while purring. I can't tell you the number of times I've stood up, after one of my cats lay purring on my lap while I pet her, to find my slacks soaked with cat saliva.
Conversely, some cats drool when they're stressed.
Drooling often results from chewing...Read more
Q: My elderly cat Tater Tot is losing his appetite for dry cat food, but he loves the tuna I eat. Now that he's eating only tuna, I guess I should ask if that's OK for him.
A: It seems you have two concerns: Tater Tot's recent disinterest in dry food and his all-tuna diet.
I'm suspicious that Tater Tot may be experiencing mouth pain that makes...Read more
Q: Our dog Hunter is terrified of loud noises, so I'm concerned he'll panic during Fourth of July fireworks and summer thunderstorms. How can we help Hunter remain calm?
A: I'm sorry Hunter has a noise phobia. It's understandable, considering a dog's acute hearing.
When fireworks are expected or a thunderstorm is predicted, modify Hunter's ...Read more
Q: I want to brighten my home with some new houseplants, but they need to be safe for my cats, who explore everything. Are philodendron and spider plants harmless if cats eat them? If not, can you suggest some cat-safe houseplants?
A: Philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals that burn a cat's mouth and throat, cause drooling and ...Read more
Q: When Dobby, my roommate's family dog, visits us, he sometimes gets into the trash. My roommate says scolding him after I find trash on the floor is not effective. Is this true?
Yesterday, I found Dobby knee-deep in trash on the kitchen floor. Even though I didn't yell, Dobby rolled over and showed his belly, so I'm sure he knew what he'd ...Read more
Q: I was recently diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I live with two normal cats, but I've been wondering whether cats can have OCD, too.
A: Yes, though veterinarians who specialize in behavior refer to the abnormal repetitive behaviors as "compulsive disorder," or CD, since the word "obsessive" refers to thought patterns we can't ...Read more