First in a series Folks like you and I are tethered to our pets by an emotional commitment to their well-being. If they have symptoms from any body part, including their brains, we want them to get well fast. The Internet offers prodigious quantities of quack remedies, especially for behavior disorders. Think twice about quick and dirty corrections. People do dumb stuff. Mistakes are part of life but ‘first do no harm’ should apply to everybody. Stimpy was a 3 year old terrier mix I saw for his worsening aggression toward visitors. He wasn’t always that way. He had been…Read More
Question: I am worried that my inside Chihuahuas and my Pug/Pekingese dogs eat rocks and if the rocks will hurt them? How can I stop them from eating the rocks? Dr. Nichol: I worry about anybody who eats rocks. Rather than a You Tube challenge to boost their middle school cred (cq) or a display of inner toughness, your dogs are actually trying to feel better. But the risk of a bowel obstruction is serious business. I’ve removed rocks, toys, and other swallowed junk by endoscope and by surgery. We treat these as emergencies. Without speedy intervention the resulting loss…Read More
Question: As a 76 year old single woman I have adopted a wonderful sheltie/shepherd mix female, very active 15 week old puppy. Arthritis and age have begun to make 2 hour, twice a day walks detrimental for me. Would it be healthy for her if I replace exercise with tricks that she and I would do together? I work at Heart & Soul Animal Sanctuary. Dr. Nichol: Your shiny new puppy sounds like a delightful bundle of excitement and mischief, a lot like my family’s amped-up young herding dog. Mick (Jagger) Nichol requires full time employment. Dogs are highly social…Read More
Question: Russ, neutered, age 2 years, was rescued with his mum and siblings. I adopted him at 14 weeks. He was crazier than any kitten I’ve ever known. His aggression started at age 10 months. He stalks me when we’re playing and lunges and attacks several times a day, grabbing and biting my legs and sometimes my head. He has a large cat tree, food puzzles and access to the outdoors during the day; he’s inside at night. I play with him daily. Dr. Nichol: You’ve done an excellent job of enriching Russ’s life but, sadly, he has directed his…Read More
Question: My 2 year old cat has separation anxiety. When he sees me getting dressed he starts crying and follows me, holding my leg, and when I get to the door his legs shake. Dr. Nichol: I’m sad just reading about your kitty’s angst. It could be worse. Most cats with separation anxiety give themselves away by urine soiling when home alone. Others cry or over-groom, resulting in bald patches. Quit your job? There’s a better way. Cats are hard-wired to stalk and hunt helpless rodents. Yours isn’t bored; he needs to engage his brain and athletic body rather than…Read More
Last in a series
Ignore bad behavior? Am I crazy? Sally and Raymond, like a lot of us, loved their dog like a little person in a furry suit. In many ways, that’s healthy for pets and for us but different species have different behavioral genetics.
Fourth in a series
By calling Brandi and rewarding her with a treat Sally was able to preempt this big hound’s fear-driven assaults on Raymond. Her good man could now walk around the house without igniting a barrage of canine invective and hostility. Our patient had become somewhat more manageable but her people were getting tired of constant constable duty.
Third in a series – I felt bad for Raymond, assaulted through no fault of his own, but it was Brandi the big hound who spent nearly every waking moment on the edge of hysteria. She watched Raymond with one eye, anticipating that this kindly Dr. Jekyll’s might transform into the murderous Mr. Hyde at any moment. But there was more going on in that confused canine cabeza.Read More
Second in a series If a saber toothed tiger is charging at you, an adrenalin surge is well justified. But Brandi, the 3 year old hound recently adopted by Sally and Raymond, had no logical cause for fear. Raymond treated her well since the moment she’d arrived in her new home. Studies show that most women carry themselves more gracefully, speaking with quieter, more evenly modulated voices than men – who crash around like bulls in a china shop. (Who’s ever heard of a cow in a china shop?) A well-adjusted pet can accept these differences but Brandi struggled to…Read More
First in a series Multiple choice: Dogs adopted as adults, who are aggressive toward the man in the home: (a) Were previously mistreated by a male (b) Are jealous, wanting the woman all to themselves (c) Are frightened by the macho, but gentle dude who guzzles battery acid instead of coffee in the morning (d) Are trying to be dominant (e) Have an Oedipus complex. In my veterinary behavior practice I see a wide variety of disorders; the most common are manifested by aggression. Some dogs declare war on strangers, family members, cats, other dogs, hot air balloons, even TV…Read More