Q: I'm thinking about teaching Cameo, my newly adopted young calico cat, to use the toilet instead of a litter box. Are most people successful at toilet training their cats?
A: I don't recommend toilet training cats for three reasons.
First, my mom told me that when she visited her aunt, who had toilet trained her cat, the toilet seat was ...Read more
Q: My dog Hugo is the cutest, most lovable French bulldog I know. When I submitted a photo of him to a calendar contest, they refused to accept it because he is a brachycephalic dog, and they consider it inhumane to promote unhealthy dogs. I hope you can explain their discriminatory position, because I am mystified.
A: Brachycephalic dogs have ...Read more
Q: I have two ferrets, but the only information I can find about pets and COVID-19 involves dogs and cats. I know ferrets can get human influenza. Can they also catch the coronavirus that causes COVID-19?
A: Yes, people with COVID-19 can transmit the coronavirus to their ferrets. Most infected ferrets show mild clinical signs, including ...Read more
Q: We've had a lot of rain this year, and our yard is filled with a variety of mushrooms. How can we identify those that could poison our dogs, and how will we know if our dogs ate them?
A: Animal poison control specialists are receiving twice as many calls about mushroom poisoning this year as last. That's frightening because toxic mushrooms ...Read more
Q: Hobie, my middle-aged indoor-outdoor cat, awoke this morning with one very abnormal eye. His upper lid droops, and a white film covers the inside corner of the eye. What caused this? Will it resolve on its own, or should I take Hobie to his veterinarian?
A: I'd advise a trip to the vet. It sounds like Hobie has Horner's syndrome, which is ...Read more
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: 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: I have been working at home during the pandemic, and I expect to return to my regular workplace soon. My two dogs have become accustomed to having me home, and I'm concerned that their stress will increase when I'm again away 40 hours every week. What can I do to make the transition easier for them?
A: Your concern for your dogs' emotional ...Read more