My Pet World: Dog shadows owner everywhere she goes
I have two Coton du Tulear’s, a 12-year-old brother and sister from the same litter. They are such great pets and I love that they have hugely different personalities. Over the past year, way before the pandemic, Desi, the male, had been shadowing me wherever I go. When I leave the room, he follows. If he’s sleeping and I walk away, he searches the house until he finds me. If he knows I’m outside, he cries until I get him. His sister, Lucy, could care less. She’s sweet and very affectionate but not attached like Desi. And it’s not like we’re alone in the house; there are four other attentive adults. It’s become a family joke that Desi is my personal bodyguard because he is always no further than two feet from me. I’ve had two surgeries in the past two years, the most recent in November, and was hospitalized for a few days. I’m wondering if this has anything to do with this behavior. What do you make of this?
–Joan, Valley Stream, New York
Dogs have different personalities and certainly can be more devoted to one person than another for many reasons. For whatever reason, Desi is clearly attached to you. While there is nothing wrong with that, he also may suffer from a little separation anxiety. Do the other people in your home say he cries for you when you leave the house? If he doesn’t cry when you leave, then things are good. You are just his favorite person and there is nothing to be concerned about. If he is crying when you’re gone though, then he has separation anxiety, which explains his clinginess with you. If that is the case, you may need to work with Desi to help him overcome this behavior. Part of that involves not making a huge fuss over him before you leave the house or upon your return. Walk in the house and put things away before greeting him. This will help reduce anxiousness around your comings and goings. Also, if he is sleeping somewhere in the house, don’t call him to you before you leave, after you get home or in general. Letting him sleep in another room builds his confidence and helps him learn he is fine in another room without you.
A reader asked recently about what to do about a dog terrified of thunderstorms. When my three poodles were puppies and frightened of storms, I began giving them rolled rawhide chewies (their very favorite treat) at the first rumble. They no longer mind storms. They can hear them coming before I do and come demanding their treats. They don't usually get rawhide at any other time. By the time they've demolished their chewies, the storms are usually over. Rawhide chewies also are useful during New Year's Eve and Fourth of July fireworks.
–Bettie, Bristol, Tennessee
This probably works well because you started training them as puppies before their fears got too severe. That’s great that you recognized what was happening. Some dogs, however, freak out so badly over storms that you can’t get them to even take a small treat out of your hand. But, creating distractions is a great way to help dogs get through thunderstorms. Thanks for sharing.
I read the article about the 10-year-old male cat who was unable to poop in the litter box. We had a similar issue with our aging orange cat a couple of years ago. An X-ray showed some spinal degeneration and there was some muscle wasting in his rear legs, which made it difficult for him to use the litter box. The vet suggested a laxative and we added the contents of a Metamucil capsule to his food for fiber. He was eating canned food, but I couldn’t figure out how to get him to drink more water, which I knew that he needed. My son suggested adding the water to his food. It’s such a simple solution for a common problem, but I’ve never seen it suggested anywhere. A generous tablespoon of water added to each meal helped with the problem.
–Susan, Hauppauge, NY
Thanks for writing and sharing the advice you received regarding your cat’s health problem. Cats often don’t drink enough water, so feeding them wet food or dry food with a little water in it can help increase their daily water intake. It’s one approach to helping constipated cats.
(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)(c) 2020 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.