Albuquerque Journal Articles

Media – At-Home with the Feline Herd

By drjeffnichol | November 29, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – At-Home with the Feline Herd
cat crowd

Part 2 in a series At-Home with the Feline Herd Crowded Eccentricity Cattle, pigs, and sheep, rubbing shoulders in large groups, risk spreading infectious diseases, leading veterinary medicine to the concept of herd immunity. A crowd of 26 cats with discharges from their 52 eyes and nostrils presented a serious herd health debacle. No loses were acceptable. In the exam room and in their home I noticed Brianna and Nettie handling each of their kitties in its own special way. They delighted in sharing stories about their antics. At the outset of the upper respiratory outbreak I needed to figure…

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Media – Idiosyncratic Cat Parenting

By drjeffnichol | November 22, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Idiosyncratic Cat Parenting
hearse image

Morbid Fascination? Cats are interesting and entertaining creatures; their people maybe even more so. I’m rather fond of these folks, being part of this societal subset myself. The 1959 Cadillac hearse that rolled up in front of my veterinary clinic drove home the point. Brianna Peabody and her mom Nettie shared a house, and a decent sized yard in Albuquerque’s North valley, with no fewer than 26 cats. Hoarders? No. Doting pet parents of a generous sized family – yes. Some people with innumerable pets can’t or don’t care for them. The Peabodys did everything necessary for Melody, Malady, Milhous…

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Media – Porgy, Tirebiter, & Papoon

By drjeffnichol | November 15, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Porgy, Tirebiter, & Papoon
dog tire biting photo

What’s in a Name? Most veterinarians don’t make house calls much anymore but I’ve done my fair share. I’ve learned interesting things about behavior that I never expected. Harry and Sally Eastham lived on a few acres in Corrales. They had 3 dogs – big ones: Porgy, Tirebiter, and Papoon. Rounding out the herd were 3 cats, a handful of hens, and a half dozen ducks. They had called me out for annual exams, vaccinations, and heartworm tests. All of this in the dark ages that preceded smart phones and GPS. You couldn’t simply input an address and drive. Sally…

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Media – Barking: Normal Canine Communication

By drjeffnichol | November 8, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Barking: Normal Canine Communication

Question: Do you do debarking or bark softening? I have about a 20# sheltie. Dr. Nichol: I would debark a few people (politicians, mostly) but for noisy dogs, there are better ways. Barking is normal canine communication. Punishments, like verbal reprimands and electric shock or citronella collars seem simple but they create worse behaviors because they fail to address the cause of all that racket. Surgery would be just another symptomatic treatment. Naturalizing your dog’s life will be the best route to peace and quiet. Your sheltie has stressors that his free-living brethren never have to contend with. He’s stuck…

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Media – Kipper’s Boy Kept his Dog

By drjeffnichol | November 1, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Kipper’s Boy Kept his Dog
boy and puppy

Find Out How I was just 8 years old when I made my first trip to the animal hospital with my new puppy. I felt inspired by Dr. Tuck; he was kind to me and my new dog “Scott”. I was fascinated and I was struck by this gentle doctor’s professionalism. I knew right then that I wanted be a veterinarian. Scott was this boy’s best friend but my parents got fed up with his indoor urination mistakes and took him to the shelter. Kindness had no place in the discussion. I missed that little guy but I stuck with…

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Media – Fear & Protective Aggression

By drjeffnichol | October 25, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Fear & Protective Aggression

Who’s to Blame? Fear is often the in-the-moment reason for canine aggression. Adrenalin-driven reactions aren’t always bad; it’s actually a survival mechanism that’s built into all of us. But if it gets out of control it can lead to defensive aggression, injuries, and more fear. As I gathered the history on Kipper, the Catahoula mix, I came to learn that he endured frequent emotional outbursts from his female owner. The whole family was on edge. Mom unloaded often, triggering Kipper to react. This waiting for the other shoe to drop, for humans and other species, causes a problem called anxiety.…

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Media – Snapping at Mom

By drjeffnichol | October 18, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Snapping at Mom

Whose Fault? Rehome? Worse? Dogs are man’s and woman’s best friends but there are species differences. They walk on all 4s and they’re a bit hairier but like us, dogs are genetically programmed to look after their comrades. They’re always on duty; it’s our job to set them up for success. Kipper was brought to me because of aggression toward the mother of his human family. He was a 2 year old Catahoula mix, a robust 65#. He was well-loved but he was not well-adjusted. He had lunged and growled and snapped at his female owner in the presence of…

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Media – Kitten Selection

By drjeffnichol | October 11, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Kitten Selection

Choose your Friends Carefully Question: I never had a cat and I decided to have my first one now. I wanna get it in adoption and I know it’s difficult to choose a breed but just in case; is it true that some breeds like Bengal and Siamese have not a good character? I also heard and read that it is much better to have a female than a male. Dr. Nichol: Well, now, let’s not be feline racists. Some of my best friends are Bengals and Siamese. Heck, I’ve been to their houses for dinner and attended their weddings.…

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Media – Blanket Pacifier

By drjeffnichol | October 4, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Blanket Pacifier

Holy Moly Question: I have a 4 year old dachshund mix who insists on chewing our blankets to soothe herself for few minutes before she goes to sleep. I have tried giving her toys or chewies but she prefers the blankets. Our blankets are full of holes. Dr. Nichol: I’m glad you haven’t used moth balls. They’ve been recommended (not by veterinarians) as a deterrent for indoor pets and in landscaping to discourage visits from stray cats but the risk of poisoning is just too great. Instead of trying to discourage this behavior let’s understand it and manage it. Many…

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Media – Unhealthy neighbor relations lead to loss of limb

By drjeffnichol | September 27, 2021 | Comments Off on Media – Unhealthy neighbor relations lead to loss of limb
photo of a dog behind a fence

A Feud Gone Wrong “Blue’s” backyard was separated from the neighbor’s by your average chain link fence. Some dogs ignore this contrivance but for others it’s a formula for disaster. Think about Blue if your dog engages in through-the-fence displays of aggressive madness, aka fence fighting. If these dogs were actually fencing, I’d be less concerned. Dogs communicate almost continually. They’re genetically programmed to protect territory as well as to connect socially. Fences get in the way and often lead to trouble. The natural response to the approach of another dog is body signaling that conveys their intentions. These greeting…

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