Q: A houseguest watched me refill my dog's food and water bowls without washing them, my usual procedure unless there's obvious grime on them. She pointed out the slime covering the inside of the water bowl and told me it's dangerous because the slime harbors bacteria that can cause illness. Is she right? Should I do as she advises and scrub ...Read more
Q: I notice that many cats have white bellies and some also have white paws, even when the rest of the coat is another color. Are white bellies as prevalent among cats as they seem? If so, why?
A: White bellies are indeed common among cats, dogs and other species. Each of my tuxedo cats is black with a white underside and paws, as though the ...Read more
Q: How do we find a nice hamster for our daughter? A friend of hers has a hamster that bites, and we don't want that. Also, do hamsters need vaccinations?
A: Veterinarians often refer to hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats and guinea pigs as "pocket pets." Because hamsters are nocturnal -- they're active at night and sleep during the day -- and many ...Read more
Q: Our new cat, Lily, has an upper respiratory infection and goopy eyes. Her veterinarian said these problems are probably caused by a herpes virus that often infects cats. Is this virus contagious to us humans?
A: No, herpes viruses are species-specific. That means humans and dogs don't catch the cat herpes virus, called feline herpesvirus-1 ...Read more
Q: At my Yorkshire terrier's recent wellness visit, we saw a new veterinarian, a woman with surprisingly long fingernails. My Yorkie needed to have her anal sacs emptied, as she often does, and I was afraid the vet's long nails would hurt her, so I asked that someone else empty them. Was my request rude or out of place?
A: Not at all. Long ...Read more
Q: What's the difference between a tabby and a tiger cat? Is a tabby a purebred cat?
A: Tabby is not a breed, but a coat pattern common among purebreds as well as mixed-breed cats, usually referred to as domestic short- or long-haired cats.
The classic tabby has a blotched or swirled pattern of dark markings over a lighter coat color. This ...Read more
Q: Last fall, I planted hundreds of daffodil, hyacinth and tulip bulbs. A month ago, we adopted a puppy, Paisley, who is fascinated by all the spring flowers popping up now. Do I need to watch her to be sure she doesn't eat them, or is it safe for her to nibble on them?
A: Many spring flowers are poisonous, so Paisley should not partake.
Even ...Read more
Q: Bradley, our young indoor-outdoor cat, recently experienced a bout of vomiting, lethargy and seizures. By the time we got him to the veterinarian, he seemed normal and the vet could find nothing wrong. Two days later, however, Bradley suffered a repeat episode.
I just now remembered that our neighbor had scattered mothballs in her garden to ...Read more
Q: My two young grandchildren are visiting this Easter, and I'd like to get them a special gift. Do you recommend a bunny or a couple of chicks or ducklings?
A: I have a better suggestion: baskets full of marshmallow Peeps, chocolate bunnies and plush toy animals with synthetic fur. Depending on their ages, your grandchildren may also enjoy ...Read more
Q: Elmo, my elderly cat, is losing his appetite and getting thinner. A friend told me about a drug her veterinarian prescribed when her cat lost his appetite that helped him regain weight. What is the drug?
A: If Elmo is losing his appetite, it's important to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a physical examination, lab work and ...Read more
Q: My dog Clyde takes medication for his separation anxiety, but it's getting worse as I transition from working at home during the pandemic to spending more time away at the office. Would it help if I found him a canine buddy?
A: A second dog usually doesn't help in situations like this. In fact, Clyde may even teach the new dog to be ...Read more
Q: I live in the country, and my cat sometimes ventures off my deck on nice days. I am planning a garden and want to choose plants that won't poison my cat if he nibbles them. What do you suggest?
A: I'm sure your cat will thank you if you plant some catnip, cat mint, cat thyme or cat grass.
Other pet-safe plants are begonias, bachelor buttons...Read more
Q: I have a compromised immune system, and I want to adopt a cat. What do I need to know about protecting my health?
A: Many people are immunocompromised because of physiologic factors like pregnancy or extremes of age, metabolic conditions such as diabetes, infectious diseases like HIV, or treatment with immunosuppressant drugs for autoimmune ...Read more