Q: Our 12-year-old cat, Chia, is matted over her low back, just above her tail. What is causing the mats, and how can we remove them? She nips at us when we try to brush or comb them out.
A: Cats groom themselves to clean their coats and remove loose fur. When they don't groom, their fur mats. Mats cause discomfort and block air to the skin, ...Read more
Q: Jasper, my 2-year-old Labrador retriever, often jumps on me. His feet sometimes muddy my clothes, but I'm more concerned that he might jump on someone else, knock them down and injure them.
A friend advised me to step on his toes or knee him in the chest when he jumps, but that advice isn't working. What do you recommend?
A: Jasper is ...Read more
Q: Can cats develop diabetes? Our cat, Fred, is drinking and urinating more than usual, very much like our son did before he was diagnosed with diabetes.
A: Yes, cats and dogs can develop diabetes mellitus, sometimes called sugar diabetes because the disease is marked by increases in blood sugar levels. Diabetes is most often seen in older cats...Read more
Q: Harley, my 3-year-old bulldog mix, doesn't go to the veterinarian often because he gets aggressive whenever he does. During his most recent visit, the vet recommended we consult a veterinarian who specializes in behavior problems to help Harley feel less anxious at the animal hospital. My question is why bother, since the vet was able to give...Read more
Q: Monty, our indoor cat, often tries to escape from the house. We know he's safer inside, where he won't be attacked by another animal or hit by a car, but he's determined to explore outside. Is there some way we can let him venture outdoors safely?
A: One way is to take him for a stroll with you. Fit him with a cat harness and a thin leash, ...Read more
Q: Hercules, the dog I recently adopted, needs to take medicine that isn't available as a chewable tablet. May I hide his pills in peanut butter and give them that way?
A: Yes, provided you use peanut butter that is free of xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in many products.
Xylitol poisons dogs two ways: It induces liver failure, and it ...Read more
Q: My neighbor has more cats than I can count, so I assume she's a hoarder. Should I intervene? If so, how?
A: Just having many cats doesn't make your neighbor a hoarder. What would make her a hoarder is having more cats than she can properly care for.
Hoarders fail to provide even minimal standards of shelter, sanitation, nutrition or ...Read more
Q: I'm training my dog Roger for search and rescue, which requires him to use his nose. I noticed while I was taking a particular medication that my sense of smell worsened. Can the same thing happen to dogs? If so, what drugs affect their sense of smell?
A: A dog's nose has more than 300 million olfactory receptors that detect scent, while ...Read more
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