fireworks

Comfort Scared Pets with Good Management Startled by earsplitting blasts, many otherwise stable pets will endure almost continual panic this weekend. Scared dogs may hide, tremble, drool, cry or howl, and even urine soil, vomit or pass diarrhea. Many get clingy but some escape the home and risk getting hit on the road. A freaked-out…

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aggressive corgi

Teach, Don’t Punish Question: My 2 year old female Corgi will fight any dogs or people that get too close. While she’ll let me pet her, she will not get on my lap. She will get on my husband’s lap, nuzzle his hand, and sleep (with one eye open) but if he tries to hand…

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video dogs who bite

It’s so upsetting getting bitten by a dog you love. Should you punish? What happens when the trust is lost? Maybe another home would be better – or not? Don’t make a final decision until you understand the facts. I’ll share some strategies.  

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dog eating

Regular High Quality Pet Food is Best Question: Dr. Nichol, what are your thoughts on grain-free diets for dogs? Dr. Nichol: Well, I thought you’d never ask. Considered a fad diet by many, grain-free has been dogged by controversy from the get-go. There are a small number of dogs suspected of gluten intolerance who’ve improved…

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cat fight

Mutual Disdain Likely to Fester & Explode Question: Apparently this cat found us. She is part of Community Cat Program here in El Paso. She is not feral; she is more of a stray and very social with humans. She’s around 5. We are trying to acclimate her to an indoor environment. Our older cat…

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canine anxiety

Panting, pacing, licking, pesky – you’re not alone. Our dogs do the same things when they get wiggy. Anxiety is more than miserable; left uncontrolled it causes internal physical disease. A great dog who panics can become defensive. You can help both of you feel better.

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cat with eye discharge

This Senior Cat could Feel Better Question: The eye discharge in my 15 year old male cat has slightly diminished with Neopolydex ophthalmic suspension. A senior profile exam at Animal Humane revealed a benign thyroid lump said to be common in older cats. He does not stroke his eye with his paw. Can pain be…

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scared dog

Women yes; men no Question: I just watched your YouTube video on dog PTSD. I realize that my dog’s trigger is men. We’ve had her three days and she is absolutely terrified of my husband. We don’t know her history and she is just over one year old. I’m wondering if my husband is causing…

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More than miserable, blistering summer days can bring dangerous hot spots and a failure of normal panting to release body heat. Keeping our dogs safe and comfortable is about more than ventilation and air conditioning. It’s not hard if you understand the problems.

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Chihuahuas

Yeast & Bacteria + Skin Oils Question: We have two small dogs – a Chihuahua and a terrier mix – that have a “body odor” problem. We can give them a bath today and within two days the odor is back. I have owned a number of dogs in my lifetime (I’m 81 years old)…

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canine aggression video

A great friendship can go bad. Aggression between family dogs is common. And the person in-charge doing their best to break it up and make it work can make it worse and get hurt. We can help most of these angry dogs but not with reprimands and punishment.

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calico cat

Social Distancing is Best Question: My mother-in-law is living in nursing home/hospice. We are seeing her Miss Pearl twice a day for feeding and social time. We would love to move Pearl across the dirt road to our home. She loves our pair of Goldies, but loathes our calico with ululating passion. We are considering…

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COVID19 doesn’t scare our cats but they might get wiggy when we return to work. They thought we were home for good. Finding themselves without us all day could trigger some rather stressful and messy separation behaviors.

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Cat drinking from bathroom faucet

Wet your Cat Question: I have two kittens about nine months old. They have access to water and dry food all day and I give them wet food in the morning and evening. Is that too much? Should I change their feeding habits? I’ve noticed that when one of them visits the water bowl it…

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When dog people return to work some pets will wig-out. Anxious before stay-at-home orders they’ve now become accustomed to our secure presence. Your returning to work may cause a dog with separation distress to destabilize and lose control. You can get ahead of this now. It isn’t hard to do.  

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cockapoo

Modern Treatments – Better Healing Question: I have a 3 year old cockapoo and she was trying to jump and did something to her leg. She cried for about 30 seconds, it was horrifying. She was born with loose kneecaps. My veterinarian told me about stem cells. I’m skeptical with any new procedures. Are there…

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Hi colleagues- I hope everyone is safe and healthy and ready to get back to “nonessential” practice – whatever that means. I have presented a Zoom webinar intended to help veterinarians manage the coming spike in canine separation behaviors following the return to work outside of home. Here is the link to the recording. I…

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Treat the Cause Dogs who whine, pace, bark at the windows, and jump on their owners during car rides cause significant distress and potential safety issues. Our clients want that behavior to end. It’s our job to determine the cause first so we can advise them on the right treatment. Tranquilizers like acepromazine won’t cut…

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two cats

Cats can be cranky, pesky, and a bit snarky with other pets. Scolding and water spraying doesn’t teach them better behavior. Instead of reacting badly, kitties can have fun with their people by working for clicks and food.

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two Puppies playing

Work with COVID19 Restrictions Question: With stay home in place, what do we do if we get an 8 week puppy who needs classes and socialization? Dr. Nichol: You are right to make this a priority. The sensitive period for puppy socialization is ages 3-12 weeks. This means healthy, happy play and handling with lots…

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leash aggression

Out-of-control lunging, barking, and growling! OMG! You’re doing your best to control the mayhem but nothing changes. And besides, punishment is no fun for anybody. Dogs need to do something else instead – like working for their leader. They can change. And we can make it fun.

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two cats sharing a bed

Most Cats are Not Party Animals Question: I adopted two female cats a couple of years ago. The younger one has always been energetic and playful. The older cat recently died. I’m now wondering if my remaining cat “needs” a friend. I’d prefer to not adopt an additional cat due to the risk of unknowingly…

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aggression on leash video

A dog who obeys fast and reliably can overcome the urge to lunge and bark and lose its mind on leash walks. What if your dog automatically looked to you – instead of reacting aggressively to people and other dogs? Let’s get you both educated.

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siamese cat

Treatment Matters Question: My cat Harry is very special at age 14, a little flame point Siamese. He suffers from an eye condition that became much worse several months ago. What freaks me out is the brown discoloration in one eye. I’m crippled and stranded, so it’s scary. Despite it all Harry works hard to…

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dog on leash

The leash walk – you’re only way of getting the heck out of the house – can be maddening and maybe even unsafe. Just seeing another creature causes your dog to growl and lurch, risking a human face plant. Jerk the leash and yell? There’s no future in it. You’re miserable, your dog is stressed,…

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pomeranian

Don’t Panic-Be Careful Staying home is a real drag but if you have pets you’ll never be alone. We don’t need social distancing from them, do we? Here’s the update which, of course, is subject to change. Idexx Laboratories tested thousands of canine and feline specimens and found no positives for the coronavirus strain that…

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standard poodles

Why must a Dog Act-Out? Question: I walk my 2 year old standard poodle on a trail. He’s a great dog. When he’s on a leash he often rears up and barks at dogs we meet who are on- leash too. I need to keep the leash on (he gets free runs at the dog…

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woman gazing at dog

 She’d Feel Better if She Could Cry Question: One of my dogs has a crusty discharge from her eyes. It doesn’t wipe away, and when I pull it off, the skin underneath is red and sore. After reading your column on rabbits recently, I wondered if it could be mites, but if there’s such a…

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anxious dog

We love our pets like little people in furry suits – that’s the way I feel about mine. But if we’re going to get the calm behavior we want we need to speak their language. That includes predictability. If your dog has an anxiety problem – like so many people do right now, that pupster…

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leopards hissing and fighting

Amusements, Separation before Reconciliation Question: I have two cats that aren’t getting along. One is my husband’s and the other one is mine. We moved in together 7 months ago and they still can’t be together. We keep them separated and have been only successful a couple of times in the same room for a…

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cat in a box

Good cats can go bad when petted. Yell at him? Hose him? Just give up on sharing affection with a kitty you love? Much better – find out why a sweet cat would do such a thing and manage the cause. It may not be behavioral – or it might.

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cat drinking from faucet

Water Matters Question: My cats don’t like to drink cold water and since giving them lukewarm water I haven’t had any problems with urinary infections. I used to have a cat with a urinary problem at least once a year. You might want to suggest it to your patients who have a cat with a…

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beagle

A Bleeding Malignancy: Painful and Life-Ending Question: My 17 year-old beagle was diagnosed with a splenic tumor last week. She has arthritis in her hips and knees. She is too old for surgery. What is her life-expectancy? I’m assuming the tumor is malignant and aggressive since it wasn’t palpable a few months ago and her…

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black cat in a bed

Manage – Don’t Suffer or Punish Question: I have a little cat of horrors. He is a 4 year old black American Short hair and when he is hungry he will attack my feet and hands. I am a diabetic and he leaves long lasting wounds that take forever to heal. None of my other…

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two rabbits

Not always Pretty Question: We have had a truly organic constantly changing “rabbit garden” within our backyard. Bunny Town USA has had many happy years and happy healthy rabbit broods. Three years ago we had wild mice and a feral cat. Sometime after, the rabbits began their battle with mites. Even in the cold the…

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two kittens

Young Cats with Enriched Lives more likely to Succeed Question: I have always had a cat. Several months ago we lost our last cat and we were heart broken. I would like to find two cats/kittens from the same litter. Would it be a problem finding two different kittens that would live together? We want…

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small dog barking

What’s Better than Yelling? Question: I have a Chihuahua who wants to attack everyone. In the car she goes crazy; she barks at everyone on the street. She doesn’t stop until we get home. At home, if we have guests and if they move or walk, she runs to them to scare them. She doesn’t…

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dog on terrace

Find out How Question: I have an 11 year old Yorkie, Luca. He has heart murmurs and takes 2 diuretics. He’s been stable for a couple of years. The diuretics mean he pees a LOT. He had always gone outside but he had a bladder stone removed and now has issues holding it in. We…

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cat meowing

Big Appetite? Weight Loss? Question: What can I do with my cat’s incessant meowing? Myrtle is 18 years old. She’s able to hop up on the furniture. First thing in the morning, she starts around 6 a.m. and will keep it up. I’ve tried ignoring it, and other times shushing her to no avail. She…

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child with dogs

Kids and pets – What a great way of bringing out the best in children with emotional or behavioral challenges! But there may be stresses to the dog and risks to the child. You can get it right for everybody but you’ll need to recognize the clues.

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Sphinx cat

Mites or Other Infections are the Primary Cause Question: We took our cat to the veterinarian due to noticing his ear was down and swollen. The doctor reassured us his ear will go back down in time. He did tell us Maurice has ear mites. Once that problem is gone will that help the process…

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puppy with leash

Allow the Little Ones to Drag the Leash at Home Question: I have a 4 month old cavachon puppy, adorable, playful, and lovable. Her name is Joy. On leash walks she emits the cry of a banshee, bucking wild bronco, putting on the brakes, and rolling. No amount of patient standing or treat offered helped,…

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photo of dog riding in car

Treat the Cause Question: Our two-year-old Golden retriever is totally unhappy traveling in any vehicle, including our motorhome; which is a shame because we travel a lot. We tried giving him a tranquilizer, but then he was just as anxious because he felt so horrible from the medication and still hated the movement of the…

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You’ve found the perfect pet for someone really special. In your mind you can already see them together! Watching the wriggling box get unwrapped and that look of astonishment and glee – well, it doesn’t get much better than that. Pets can change lives – but not every surprise goes well. Everybody’s needs matter. Let’s…

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cat sitting on sofa

Reduce Temptation; Cat Chewing Done Right Question: My cat Bella Lynne is 3years old and she chews on oxygen hoses. I need help. Dr. Nichol: Cats are predators who need to stimulate the specialized nerve receptors in their faces. The chewy texture of your oxygen hoses is irresistible to Bella Lynne. Set her up to…

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image of cat playing with mouse

Or Purchase the Right Cat Food The raging debate on healthy cat diets continues. Dry vs. canned, high protein or grain free? You could go to the mountaintop and consult Google, that wizened guru. But instead I’ll share current research which, like all good science, continues to shift. Obesity is epidemic for our short eared,…

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large breed dog by the water

A twisted stomach, filling with gas is a painful medical and surgical emergency. If you have a large breed, deep chested dog you need the facts on bloat, also called gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV).

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Risky Chew Toys Question: Our large and lovable but frisky black Lab gets mischievous once in a while. Taking him for walks does wonders; the first half of the trip is letting him ‘mark’ things, sniff and do a little browsing. To keep him further occupied, we got a large Nylabone. We find that he’ll…

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Our pets bring us so much joy when they’re active and playful. When these characters are at peace, I am too. But if they have pain or if they struggle with anxiety when home alone something needs to be done to help them feel better. We now have what it takes – and we can…

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photo of cats fighting

Can New Cat Succeed? Question: I have 2 other cats and since I’ve brought the new guy home it is a divided household. My 2 established cats are terrified of this guy or just don’t like him. They hide and don’t come out. They hiss and growl. I have to lock up the new cat…

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Keep it Safe I can’t wait for Thanksgiving: Family, turkey, pie, and political football. Well, maybe for you and me. Keep a close eye on your pets. Tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with ears flattened, the head low, and the tail tucked are important clues. Scared dogs may…

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Cat urine on the rug (yuck), on the sofa (eewww), on your bed (OMG!!!) How about a kitty who howls and yowls when she can’t find you? Beyond the urine messes your cat may be seriously wigged-out when you’re gone. Separation anxiety is a beastly problem for cats.

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Chronic Pain can Dog your Cat Do you know anyone “of a certain age” with chronic pain? Most people don’t keep it a secret. Dogs don’t suffer silently either. You’ll notice them limping, slow to jump, or crying when they get up. But cats don’t say a word. If you think they get a pass…

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Pugs, Boston terriers, bulldogs and their short-faced brethren have strong bonds with their people. That’s a good thing for everybody in part because these dogs can face physical challenges. Give them the right care and they can breathe well and enjoy healthy skin. And they’ll still be mighty cute.

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Separation Anxiety is Not Solved by Confinement Question: My dog is so anxious in his crate. Dr. Nichol: Crates have become popular for keeping dogs out of trouble but confinement may lead to problems. Members of any species whose natural choices are restricted can become frantic. If your dog isn’t coping we’ll he’ll need an…

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Rx Diet + Lots of Water Question: My Shih Tzu could not urinate because he had stones in his bladder. His veterinarian removed those stones but they are calcium oxalate – the kind that will return without proper diet so they recommended Hill’s c/d Multicare. Can I still give him dog treats? I am sticking…

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Anxious, reactive pets need serious help. Research-based behavior modifications are essential in nearly every case but a prefrontal cortex that’s overwhelmed by excitatory neurotransmitters just can’t learn healthy behaviors. It’s our job to make that possible. Pharmaceuticals are generally necessary for severe disorders but neutraceuticals, herbs, or supplements can be effective in some cases. Clients…

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kitten playing

Toilet Paper Alternatives Question: My name is Courtney and I have a question regarding my cat Remus. My grandmother and I got him a few years ago. He has been causing major problems by tearing up our toilet paper. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can break him of this bad habit?…

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Anxiety can be crippling. If one of us doesn’t have a major problem with intense worry we know someone who does. It’s the most common behavior disorder of humans – and pets too. Anxiety is overwhelming; it can drive a pet and its people crazy. But there is safe help. Nobody should have to live…

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Fear-Free Kidney Care The Nichol family really loves its kitties, Tony and Gaston. They tap into the same part of our hearts as children but there are differences. They haven’t said a word about college. And they don’t speak a human language, which is usually OK. They’ll never blab our personal business but it can…

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Special Care is needed for Emotional Abuse Question: We have a Lab mix 2 years old. She’s had issues with trust but has done well, always sleeping inside. While my friend was pet sitting her daughter hid behind the door and when our dog came in she shut the door, scaring the dog. Now she…

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Neurologic & Heart Disorders Need Special Care Question: My little girl terrier has been having seizures; that’s what I’m calling them. It’s starts as if she’s losing her balance and then she’ll flop down on her side and start to scream as if someone is standing on her foot. I would immediately pick her up…

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Allergies & Smoldering Infection Question: My 10 year old cat has had eye drainage for quite a while. My veterinarian referred us to an ophthalmologist who thought it might be an allergy. Prescription food z/d did not help. He also has recurring sores above both eyes that he scratches open. Dr. Nichol: Your poor kitty…

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“Why, that’s Ridiculous!” Question: We recently adopted a terrier that’s about 18 months old. We just love him, however, he constantly follows us around at every move. When my husband and I are sitting watching TV or reading and one of us gets up, he follows us-this is a constant routine. Is something wrong with…

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Serious Infections I’ve cared for multiple species during my career, including a few pigs. To my knowledge, no person has fed dog ears to their pigs but, sadly, the opposite is commonplace. The pigs may now be getting their revenge. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has discovered an outbreak of Salmonella infections in dogs…

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image of a cat in a box

Most Do Best Alone in the Jungle Question: I adopted two female cats from the shelter 3 years ago. One was a year old; the other was three. The younger one has always been energetic and playful, while the other’s favorite activities were sleeping, observing, and hiding. The older cat recently died. I’m now wondering…

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Does your cat hate kids? Can you turn that around – safely? You can teach your kids how to stay safe and how to set a cat up for success. Should they approach quietly or wait for the kitty to come to them? I’ll share the do’s and don’ts.

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photo of yawning cat

Observant Pet Parents & Preventive Care Save Lives In the pet popularity contest cats are a close second to dogs, yet they get much less preventive medical care. That’s because of a widespread misperception that they’re lower maintenance pets. That just isn’t so. Oh sure, they can stay indoors, munch from a brimming bowl of…

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She can Work to Earn Question: I adopted my lab mix at age 3 months. She has been dominant, aggressive, independent, and a bully from the beginning. She is now 3 years old and has had two obedience classes, but with no success. She attacked and bullied the other dogs in the class. She pulls…

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Rapid Growth & the Wrong Food Well-intentioned pet parents dabbled in dog and cat nutrition long before the surge in popularity of raw and grain-free diets. This is no job for amateurs. I’ve read the research and I’ve treated the orthopedic consequences and the raging internal disorders. Inappropriate feeding is particularly dangerous for big breed…

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Protection for Diminishing Birds Question: I was disappointed in your reply to the owner of the “trophy hunting cat” in the July 19 Albuquerque Journal. While you made good points about diseases transmitted to pets and potentially to humans, you missed the opportunity to address another serious issue: birds, small mammals and reptiles killed by…

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image of cat hunting a mouse

Tularemia, Plague, Rabies, & Hanta Virus Question: Our formerly feral five-year-old cat is now a tamed cuddler, purrer, and a chatterer. Her favorite activity is catching baby rabbits, baby squirrels, lizards, mice and birds. She is proud to bring these finds in, which get tossed out immediately. Could she contract Hantavirus or other diseases from…

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Adoption Isn’t for Everybody. Some dogs with feral backgrounds are so terrified that defensive aggression is easily triggered. Others try to hide or escape. There are undomesticated dogs who can learn that good things come from people they trust.

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image illustrating cardiomyopathy

  Heart Disease Related to some Diets The growing popularity of grain-free diets for dogs has worried many veterinarians for quite a while. The FDA, along with independent researchers, has recently discovered a possible link between grain-free, “legume-rich” foods and a potentially life-threatening heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Deficiency of the amino acid taurine…

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Question: I need help controlling my Sunny in a car. I have had big dogs all my life but never had this problem and it’s getting scary to travel and worry about the distraction. In all other situations he responds to speech commands and treats. In this he is oblivious to my existence! Dr. Nichol:…

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Image of cats about to fight

Fighting Among Household Cats Relationships among multiple indoor cats could devolve into a slugfest. The head banana may lurk in the shadows, pounce, and scare the snot out of an unsuspecting subordinate. Wounds and abscesses can be lanced and irrigated but the fear can last a lifetime. Be observant. Watch for one cat blocking access…

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image of multiple cats eating

A Crowd of Cats Question: One of our foster families has a cat with bladder disease.  She had a UTI, which has now cleared up after medication.  She is now on gabapentin, but is still not always using the litter box.  Her family is using Feliway and is isolating her from the other cats, but things…

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Dangerous to Each Other & People Question: My 2 dogs have been together for 2.5 years. The female has always be passive before the male, however in the last month she has become extremely aggressive, taking his food, even growling when he attempts to get close to us. The male is now showing up with…

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dogs eating trash

Beware of Sugar Substitutes in Prepared Foods Did you know that dogs and cats are not little people in furry suits? They’re like us in a lot of ways. They snuggle, play, and talk to us, sometimes more than other people. Maybe that’s why we keep them as pets rather than, say, cockroaches or earthworms.…

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image of cats fighting

Kitties often Speak Non-Verbally Question: Having watched your Facebook Live on cats who fight, I wonder about how do two cats living in a house communicate with each other? Dr. Nichol: Cohabitating cats communicate almost continually. Sometimes referred to as socially asocial many could as easily survive alone as live in a feline colony. Genetically…

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cat eating grass

Be Wary: Serious Trouble may Lurk Question: What is your view of “cat grass?” Dr. Nichol: I have never used cat grass. I don’t eat it, smoke it, grow it or mow it. On the other hand, the two Nichol family cats, Tony and Gaston, are rather fiendish about it, almost like catnip. But they’re…

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Normal Aging? Dementia? Barking, pacing, clingy, soiling? Older dogs and cats who cry, act lost, and stare at walls are not normal. We can help but our best improvements are in early cases. Learn to notice the first signs in dogs and cats over age 10. Advanced senility can improve.

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Senior dog

To Help: Find Out Why Question: About 6 months ago, our 15 year old Shih Tzu developed a new fear. We think he may have sun downer syndrome. Late afternoon he starts stretching his head way out and sniffing the air like crazy. Shortly after the sniffing starts, he begins to tremble violently. This usually…

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More commonly seen in young, often female dogs, they roll onto their sides, may raise one rear leg, and dribble. You, the pet parent, are the Grand Poobah for your dog. Excitement/submissive urine soiling occurs only when you make your grand entrance.

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photo of dog sharing food with human

Fussy or Sick? Question: We have a dog that we have difficulty feeding. He is a very finicky eater. Most of the time he’ll eat frankfurters but nothing else. We began giving him those because we were afraid he would get sick not eating. What should we do to help him? Dr. Nichol: You may…

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Two kittens

Adopt Kittens in Pairs Question: I have always had a cat throughout my 60 years. Several months ago we lost our last cat and we were broken hearted. I would like to find two cats/kittens from the same litter. Would it be a problem finding two different kittens that would live together? We want a…

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cat sleeping

Not a Road Map to Feline Health Tony is a 12 year old kitty who started fussing for food frequently. But when his family was petting him they realized that he wasn’t just being pesky. Despite packing away the groceries this feline senior was losing weight. On physical exam Tony’s heart rate was faster than…

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golden retriever

PTSD is Treatable Question: We have a golden retriever that was given to us when he was 1 1/2 years old. In his previous life, he was taken to two different classes where he was subjected to fear and pain through a shock collar. Ever since we have had him (15 months), he has terrible…

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dog with tie

Neutering is Best Question: Recently a neighbor got a dog from a shelter and “Rowdy” was a what ‘appeared’ to be an intact male. But the new owner said that was how males can be neutered now, just ‘clipped’ but not the testicles removed. I thought the idea of neutering was to not only prevent…

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calico cat

Question: Hermione, our 11 year old long haired calico, was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis. She received a month of treatment per our veterinarian. We then made a tough decision to stop all treatment. Two weeks later Minie has increased energy, is eating somewhat better, and is again engaging in household life. But all of the…

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Snuggle Bunnies? Predators? If they’re close to losing impulse control they might actually communicate. Hissing, growling, spitting, ears back, pupils dilated – Cats in this mindset need space. Keep all interactions slow and gentle.

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rattlesnake

Teach Avoidance without Electric Shock Question: Do you have information on humane rattlesnake “proofing” techniques for dogs? It seems to me that keeping your dog on leash would be a better solution, so I don’t need it for myself. In Santa Fe they are using shock collars for this purpose, and I would like to…

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aggressive cat

Are We Having Fun Yet? Question: I have indoor cats. One of the black cats (Toby) has gotten aggressive with the others and he started to spray about 6 months ago. I have never had this happen before so I am not sure what to do or where to go. I have used Nature’s Miracle…

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dog on leash

Dogs need Good Manners Some dogs follow their person’s lead and happily go along with just about anything. Others struggle to do the right thing, needing a bit more hands-on management. A lot of them are anxious or afraid but many are just not clear on the concept. They don’t get it. A reliable structure,…

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sphinx cat

Regurgitation is Dangerous Question: Blue Boy is a Sphynx cat, 13 years old. Ever since he was a kitten he has scooped food into his mouth like a bull dozer and chewed it while growling. After he stuffed himself he would regurgitate it and run away. I fed him tiny amounts at a time and…

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 Something for Everybody Question: My nephew and I both have large male dogs. I told him that when I take our 100# black Labrador for a walk, he sniffs, browses and ‘marks’ his territory. My nephew indicated that letting males do so ‘shortens’ their lifespan since they are under duress while doing it. I would…

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Vitamin D recall

Check with FDA Mistakes happen. Multiple dog food brands have been found to contain excessive levels of the essential nutrient vitamin D. Some have 70 times the correct amount. Don’t panic. So far only a handful of dogs have gotten seriously ill. No cat foods have been suspected. The FDA web page, where the recalled…

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dog listening to commands

They’re good listeners too Why do dogs follow commands like sit and stay if they don’t understand English? When we speak are they processing the words we’re saying or the tone we’re using? The answer to these questions from a middle schooler with a science project is that pet dogs can learn to recognize our…

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cat up late at night

Cat Daddy as Midnight Toy Question: Stinky, at the age of 5 months, adopted us by walking in the back door. The weird thing is his habit of waking me at 3 AM. He will come back every five minutes to stare at me and give his little pathetic meow. It does no good to…

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They’re good listeners too Why do dogs follow commands like sit and stay if they don’t understand English? When we speak are dogs processing the words we are saying, or the tone we are using? Our dogs don’t miss anything, even though they don’t understand everything.

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Not Man’s, Woman’s, or Cat’s Best Friend Question: I have two 15 year old cats who are both well toilet trained. Recently I moved from the city to the country. Since then I have been getting nightly visits from a possum, she is lovely and I hand feed her my excess veggies (avocados are her…

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Prevent It; Don’t Punish It Question: I have a 3 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He has been getting aggressive towards my other two dogs, Malteses, about his food. He won’t let the 2 year old near it and attacks him, causing a fight. We have punished him. I don’t know how to stop…

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pomeranian

It’s a Dog Thing Question: I have a 5 year old female Pomeranian, who was expressed yesterday. She is still whipping her head around to get to her bum. She can’t reach there because she is soo tiny. Is she supposed to still be irritated there? And is there something I can do to help…

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aggressive dog

The doorbell rings and your dog attacks the door. Then it’s WWE action as you struggle to get the door open without a takedown of your unsuspecting visitor. Or maybe you have a dog who watches from a distance, with her ears back and her tail low, as you invite your guest inside. All seems…

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caged cat

Born to be Wild, or to At Least Believe They Are Question: I’m trying to help half a dozen cats who are kept in pens.  I would like to see them hunt, climb, chase, choose which cats they associate with, and have more than just one spot to sleep in.  To me, keeping cats in…

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Your cat has a great life with you. So what’s with the scratching and biting? You can teach your cat to earn the privilege of your affection. Ask me anything or just listen in during my Facebook Live event, called “Hissy, Scratchy, Cranky Kitties” on Thursday, January 10 at 6 PM Mountain Time. Invite your…

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puppy

Fufu’s sharp teeth and nails had scratched and scraped his people enough times that they were reluctant to handle the little guy. It was painful for them. They needed the step-by-step of getting their wild child under control but first we had to set him up for success. Treatment of behavior disorders can be a…

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green eyed cat

Don’t Let Your Cat Fool You Do you examine your cat’s mouth? That would mean putting him on a table under a bright light with an assistant gently holding his shoulders as you slowly open his mouth big enough to see all of his teeth. Actually, about the only time that really happens is during…

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dog afraid of fireworks

Pets ready for Fireworks? In the next few days many of us will be treated to (or cursed by) fireworks and even a few skyward gunshots, all to improve our outlook for the New Year. Oh sure, these immature and potentially dangerous antics fall into the category of irresponsible human behavior (explosions must boost the…

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You’ve done your best but somebody in your house ate a poinsettia or a chocolate Santa. You can ask me anything or just listen in during my Facebook Live event, called “Holiday Disasters & Near Misses” at 6 PM Mountain Time on Thursday, December 27. Invite your friends. Together we’ll survive until the New Year.

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holiday dog

The holidays are great fun, aren’t they? Singin’, dancin’, and carryin’ on. For you and me, sure, but maybe not for everybody. Badly unsettled pets can engage in some unhealthy behaviors because they’re nervous or scared. You’ll need to be observant. Tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with ears…

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puppy

Fufu, the assertive and overconfident baby dog, arrived woefully unprepared for life in his new home. He was just 7 weeks old when he confused his new pet parents, Melissa and Jeremy, with 4 legged fuzzy playmates. He started nipping and rough-housing and treating them like his buds on day one. Showing a lack of…

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hissing cat

Indoor Cats Freaked-Out by Visitor Question: I have 2 cats, 10 months old. We have recently let them go outside. A few days ago another cat showed up in our garden. I took my cats inside as I was afraid they were going to fight. They kept hissing at each other through the window. When…

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puppy

Facebook Live Do your pets crack under holiday pressure? You can ask me anything or just listen in during my Facebook Live event, called “Pet Angst: Naughty or Nice?” at 6 PM on Wednesday, December 19. Go to Facebook.com/drjeffnichol. Invite your friends. Together we’ll reach peace on earth. Taking a puppy into your life is…

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pit bull eating

Avoid Innate Competition Question: I have a 55# pit mix, Molly, with food guarding. I have pet gates set up for feeding to avoid conflict but recently the gate got left open. Molly walked over to my 10 pound dog to eat her food, the little dog growled and Molly attacked. I was able to…

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You’re invited to my Facebook Live event called Holiday Worries for Jangled Pets. I’ll share valuable methods for keeping pets peaceful and avoiding hazards on Wednesday, December 19 at 6 PM MDT. You’ll have lots of time to ask me questions. Go to facebook.com/drjeffnichol   JP would scratch and bite his person anytime she tried…

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cat in a hat

Not your Typical Two Step Question: I have a male ginger cat, 9 years old, named Will. For the last 2-3 years he has had to have his anal glands expressed due to constant boot scooting and licking of the area. In the last year I have had his anal glands infused with antibiotics twice.…

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Jack was a 2 year old female dog, a Heinz 57. This kid was as sweet as they come, adapting pretty well to her second family except for one really annoying problem. When her folks walked in the door she displayed her feelings by rolling onto her side, raising one rear leg, and draining her…

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bulldog

Secondary Infection can cause Misery & Wreak Havoc Question: My bulldog is 9 years old and losing hair. Her skin is dry and it smells bad. Her ears have gooey junk in them and they stink too. Is this just because she is old? Dr. Nichol: Dry skin problems and hair loss are not signs…

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Good Housekeeping Promotes Etiquette Question: My female cat pees like a lady when outside, but inside she stands and sprays the wall. I have had to buy an enclosed litter box to protect the walls. I tried new litter but it did not help. Dr. Nichol: You tried new litter? I thought this was about…

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scared puppy

Do you have a great dog who is everything you’ve ever wanted in man’s or woman’s best friend – except for one really annoying problem? Some dogs wag when greeting their people, others may jump around and bark but your dog flops on her side and dribbles, and I don’t mean with a basketball. It…

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senior dog

Dementia is Best Treated Early & Thoroughly Question: My sweet dog and best friend, Isaac, was diagnosed with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. I watched your video on CDS, and it meant so much!! Isaac is a 15 year old Kooikerhodje. I am absolutely heartbroken. His symptoms are constant barking, confusion, losing control of bowel movements and…

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Prior to JP’s stretch in animal control, where his new person Esther found him, this feline waif had already been through two homes. This good lady wanted to learn how she could give her new kitty the love he needed. He just wouldn’t let her touch him. Esther knew that being touched appropriately as a…

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Petting cat head

Do you know anybody whose adult life could have been easier and a whole lot happier if they’d been treated better as a child? Not only do I know people like that, I’m one of them. In my work I’m fortunate to meet pets and humans with broken and battered pasts. We are not alone.…

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Scared Dog

Halloween can be Scary and Dangerous The idea of Halloween is rather appealing. It’s fully legal and socially acceptable to assume a different identity. If you are underage you can arrive uninvited on the doorsteps of total strangers and feign poverty or threaten to trick them if they don’t cough-up unhealthy snacks. Many dogs, being…

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Dogs are man’s and woman’s best friends but there are differences. Unlike most of us they walk on all 4s and they’re somewhat hairier. But like us they’re genetically programmed to look after each other. My dog, Miss America is always on duty. When things go wrong in an animal’s brain it can be difficult…

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golden retriever puppy

Hey – wasn’t that settled a long time ago? The oversupply of pets hasn’t gone away. The behavioral benefits of spaying and neutering are clear. Roaming, urine marking/spraying, and aggression between intact (unneutered) males are greatly diminished. Early-age sterilization prior to adoption has been quite effective in reducing the glut of unwanted pets. During the…

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Fear can be Learned just Once Question: New Mexico Animal Friends has a spayed female foster cat, Twyla, a young tortoiseshell shorthair, who has become difficult at adoption clinics. We think she may have had a bad experience. She snarls and swats at people and acts as if she is “guarding” her cage. At the…

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As Lily headed toward the bedroom she glanced at her cat as a way of getting a read on his mood. She loved Omar but he could be impetuous. At times he was a sweetheart but he could bite – hard. His history included violent reactions when his person brushed him.

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hot air balloon

Balloons Fiesta is a great spectacle for us, but it’s not much of a wingding for pets who freak-out from those cosmic monsters leering and looming over them. Even the far-off hiss of a propane burner or a multi-colored speck in the distance can trigger overwhelming terror for dogs who’ve logged a few frightful fiestas.…

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I was just 8 years old when I made my first trip to the animal hospital with my new puppy. I felt inspired by the doctor who examined him. He was kind to me and my new dog. I was fascinated with his work and I was taken with his professionalism. I was hooked. Practicing…

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blind cat

Quality of Life is Central Question: My cat Kayla just turned 23 years old and suddenly went blind. When do I know that it’s too much for her to handle and make the choice to put her down? My heart is breaking. Dr. Nichol: You must have given Kayla wonderful care for her to have…

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Breed-Specific Work is Necessary Question: How can you stop heelers from eating their feces (and that of turkeys, geese, plus dirt, plants, etc.)? My friend’s 7 month old heeler is a planet eater! She’s also super hyper and uncontrollable to the point of not being an enjoyable dog. Dr. Nichol: Coprophagia (stool eating) is certainly…

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As Lily headed toward the bedroom she glanced at her cat as a way of getting a read on his mood. She loved Omar but he could be impetuous. At times he was a sweetheart but he could bite – hard. His history included violent reactions when his person brushed him.

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fat cat

Moving is Painful & Stressful Question: My fiancé and I are having a house built. I have an enormous 20# tabby male cat named Tortellini. Should I kennel him for a couple of days? He hates going into his carrier; I have never kenneled him. Tortellini has peed on me in my bed and on…

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cat bites when petted

Lily had just finished putting away her groceries when she walked past Omar, her 2 year old Ragdoll cat. This good lady relied on her fuzzy house mate for more than she might readily admit. They lived alone together in a normal house on a normal street. She seldom went out; Omar never did. As…

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barking dog

Improve Life to End Complaining Question: Do you do debarking or bark softening? I have about a 20# Sheltie. Dr. Nichol: I’ve considered debarking a few people (politicians, mostly) but for noisy dogs, there are better ways. Barking is actually a normal canine communication. Punishments, like verbal reprimands and electric or citronella collars seem simple…

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NMVMA listserve Veterinary Behavior Tip #35 Jeff Nichol, DVM 9.4.18 Doing it Right at the Right Time I’ve always relished opportunities to advise new puppy owners or even better, those who seek counsel prior to adopting a canine youngster. By sharing research-based information on effective early socialization we are doing an even greater service than…

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Question: I recently moved to Albuquerque from Colorado. I have two yellow Labs. They have always shed hair, but it seems to have gotten worse since the move. I brush them daily. Do the supplements advertised in pet supply catalogs actually work to minimize shedding? Dr. Nichol: Naw. A supplement would help if you fed…

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During Luna’s first weeks she missed out on gentle social exposures, causing her to be afraid when approached by anyone. Well-meaning human attempts to make friends triggered defensive lunging and snapping. You can side-step fearful encounters for your puppy by providing the kid with choices. Let your puppy choose to interact when he is ready.…

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Itchy cat

Food & Airborne Allergens take their Toll Question: Pippi, my 4 year old Maine Coon cat first suffered with indolent ulcers at six months of age that has been controlled with z/d diet. Since January Pippi has formed stools for weeks and then reverts to “little cow pies”. Lately, she startles with itching and then…

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puppy planning

During Luna’s earliest weeks of life, long before being left at the shelter, she missed out on gentle social exposures, causing her to be afraid when approached by anyone. Well-meaning human attempts to make friends triggered defensive lunging and snapping. She got lucky with her second family; they were committed to teaching her a better…

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puppy panic

Reactive Adult Dogs can still Learn Luna’s life with Hope and Brian began with great promise. But it wasn’t long before her freak-out moments began to consume their lives. When well-meaning dog lovers approached or reached for her she trembled, growled, and dribbled urine. Setting Luna up for success would be the most important priority…

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aggressive dog

Luna’s life with Hope and Brian began with great promise. They weren’t ready to start a human family but they loved pets. They’re socially conscious people who wanted to make a difference so off they went to the local shelter in search of a canine companion. That’s where a 6 month old Papillion-looking waif stole…

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puppy panic

Reactive Adult Dogs can still Learn Luna’s life with Hope and Brian began with great promise. This busy couple wasn’t ready to start a human family but they loved pets. Apartment living made a small dog a good choice. They’re socially conscious people who wanted to make a difference so off they went to the…

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blind cat

Basic Obedience Skills will make a Difference Question: How do you improve the quality of life for a blind cat? Dr. Nichol: Caring for this special needs cat can be rewarding. Instead of adopting a Seeing Eye dog for her you can motivate her with food and guide her with your voice. Start with the…

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limping chihuahua

Age is Not a Factor for Improved Quality of Life        Question: My Chihuahua is 13 years old. Last week he ran and started limping on his rear leg. We took him to the veterinarian and she said that his knee is popping in and out. She said he is actually too old for surgery. Is…

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Cats fighting

Cats are a unique species. They’re not 10# people in furry suits and they’re certainly not dogs with short ears. Despite those differences, or maybe because of them, their presence is essential to my wellbeing and maybe to yours too. In fact, I love cats so much I’d adopt more of them but I know…

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Dog scared of fireworks

Restrictions on fireworks won’t stop the earsplitting blasts that turn otherwise stable pets into trembling, panting emotional disasters. Some will get so overwhelmed that they‘ll drool, cry or howl, urine soil, vomit, or pass diarrhea. Most get clingy but a few may escape the yard and risk getting hit on the road. A freaked-out dog…

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Some dogs can be pushy, pesky, and demanding of attention. It’s an annoying problem, often related to anxiety. What begins as attention-seeking can end up as play-related aggression. This causes anxiety for some dogs; others may believe their person is just playing. If the dog has a lot of pent-up energy like this one she…

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Cat sleeping in litter box

Better Alternatives will mean Better Choices   Question: My cat has a thing about sleeping in her litter tray even when it has been used. How can I get her to stop without her not wanting to use it for what it’s for?   Dr. Nichol: Cats find boxes irresistible but your girl, sleeping in the…

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There are lots of remedies for this phobia. Beyond recommending drowning out the noise with fans and music, pheromones (Adaptil), and food toys to promote foraging, I urge you to dispense Sileo gel (dexmedetomidine). I have a whole lot of happy pet parents who have reduced their dogs’ fear of loud noises with this quick…

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Avoid the Mess: Set your Cats Up for Success – The scent of urine in all the wrong places is a drag on everybody’s wellbeing – your cats’ and yours too. They need easy access to clean litter pans because they really hate stepping around in a stinky soggy mess, holding their little noses to…

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Question: Our small rescue dog is 14 years old. During a recent senior checkup we discovered a bladder stone (from an ultrasound during a draw for urinalysis). She has no symptoms. She is increasingly distressed when we go to the veterinarian (panting, shaking, defecating). What is the worst case scenario if we do nothing? I…

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I welcome opportunities to answer behavior questions from my colleagues. Here is a recent one that you may find helpful in your practice.   Question: I have a 12-year old neutered golden retriever cross.  He lost his [canine] house mate a few months back and had become more anxious.  Then, the owners moved.  Things got…

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Happy cat

There are a lot of different reasons for nefarious urinating. Cats don’t stink up our homes because they secretly hate our guts. They’re not spiting their people as retribution for some off-color joke made at their expense. Most cats who are guilty of this crime suffer serious stress. Getting your arms around the feline bathroom…

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dogs

A peaceful existence is difficult for a lot of us in today’s world. Strife and acrimony should be rare. For a canine senior called Grace, getting up and around is becoming increasingly difficult; she has a bad back and structurally incorrect knees. But she runs and sniffs and eats and plays with the other free-ranging…

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Living Gracefully                            Last week I introduced a handicapped Chihuahua mix named Grace and her canine compadres of the Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary. The healthy interactions of this free-ranging group are a great example of how well dogs can get along when they are unencumbered by contrivances like houses and fences. Pet dogs, with limited…

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dogs

A peaceful existence is difficult for a lot of us in today’s world. I know a place where strife and acrimony are rare. For Grace, getting up and around is becoming increasingly difficult because she has a bad back and structurally incorrect knees. But she acts as though no one has told her she’s handicapped.…

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dog

Together in a Crowd Grace is a 13 year old Chihuahua with a bad back, permanently dislocated knee caps, and a staggering rear gait. You could say she has pluck and courage but she doesn’t consciously throw her shoulders back and “power through”. She doesn’t need to. She just runs and sniffs and eats and…

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4.23.18 NMVMA listserve Behavior Tip #32   Hi colleagues- Lots of pet owners bring their dogs for nail trims because it has become such an odious chore at home. Their dogs struggle and may try to bite. Restraint for this in the veterinary hospital can get the job done but for a price. Having learned…

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A peaceful existence is difficult for a lot of us in today’s world. There is so much conflict, office politics, lack of acceptance, isolation. It’s almost everywhere you look. Aren’t we considered a “developed” nation? Maybe not. It’s a good thing we have pets. I know a place where strife and acrimony are rare. I’ve…

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dog

Be Kind – Pet Proof your Home         The growing popularity of marijuana edibles, along with the increasing likelihood of this drug’s full legalization, has created significant animal welfare concerns. Dogs believe that every filched snack may be their last shot at survival, making them natural born thieves. The chocolate in “magic” brownies is a serious…

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kitten playing with cat food toy

Predatory Aggression can be Redirected Question: Like the cat you wrote about last week my 7 year old neutered-male craves affection but will viciously and without warning bite me. I was sitting on the couch, typing on my iPad and he was snuggled on my arm. I wasn’t petting him and everything seemed peaceful. Suddenly…

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Kitten stuck in tree

Lifelines come when they are needed the most Surprises happen on the Rio Grande irrigation system. Gaston had already been watching us when he called out for help. He had to take a chance. Frank and I might be his only shot at survival, especially in his current state: wet, cold, thirsty, hungry, and a…

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kitten

Lifelines come when they are needed the most Gaston had already been watching us when he called out for help. Rather than panicking and running toward us with abandon he held back a bit, knowing it was a gamble. Still, he had to take a chance. Frank and I and our relaxed but active dog…

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trembling dog

Find the Cause; Avoid the Misery         Question: I have a miniature dachshund, 1 1/2 years old.  About a week ago she started shaking/trembling when it was bed time and every night since then she starts to tremble at night and hides behind my couch.  Could something be wrong with her or is she just scared…

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puppy house training video

Housetraining can feel like such a challenge that many people just give up and mop up. You can get so completely flummoxed and frustrated that you lose their patience. You can teach your spiffy new puppy – in just one day – where to find the dog bathroom. He’ll learn that all good things come…

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cat meowing

Soldering Infection may be at Fault    Question: I have a 10 year old male orange tabby. He has always been a vocal cat and enjoys “talking” back and forth with you. A week ago he lost his voice. He seems healthy otherwise, but is a bit sad and perplexed about not being able to speak.…

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prong collar

Download a .pdf version of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) position statement on The Use of Punishment. Giving dogs and other creatures a clear reason not to engage in bad behavior would seem like a quick and simple way of solving a problem. But when a dog or cat gets a painful…

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raw diets

Reliable Commercial Food is Healthy & Complete The popularity of feeding raw meat to dogs continues. Your pupster can harken to his barbaric roots by ravaging the “genuine article”. Why not? What group of free-living wild dogs has ever barbecued their kill to safeguard against potentially dangerous microbes? It just wouldn’t be natural. Well, I’ve…

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choosing the right kitten

Science reduces the Guesswork You’ve decided to adopt a kitten and you’ve been a careful, detached observer of a litter. You’re chafing at the bit, just itching to snuggle and cuddle those fuzzy little cuties. OK, it’s time to get physical but remain objective just a little longer. You really want the right cat for…

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1.3.18 NMVMA listserve Behavior Tip #30   Hi colleagues- Here is the story of a cat who was sweet at home but scared to the point of serious reactive aggression in the veterinary clinic. I hope you find it helpful. All the best, Jeff   This is the story of Sherman, a cat who learned…

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Puppy on a leash

Puppies are great fun. They run and play and live in the moment, completely uninhibited – including when they get the urge to eliminate. Housetraining can feel like such a challenge that many people just give up and mop up. Others, so completely flummoxed and frustrated that they lose their patience, have resorted to yelling…

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NMVMA listserve Behavior Tip #31 Hi colleagues- The veterinary behavior community has been hearing a lot public buzz about CBD oil as a treatment for anxiety, particularly in dogs. Reliable research into its purported benefits, proper dosing, or its possible risks appears to be nonexistent. Cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from hemp and contains only miniscule…

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fearful dog

Kindness will Light the Way Question: All my life I’ve had a dog through every turmoil and problem. I recently began a relationship with a woman who has a wonderful canine partner (let’s call her Nickel to protect identities) who is completely avoidant! We’ve tried the calm, soft voice approach. We’ve attempted the food lure.…

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choose the best kitten

Is this possible? Can you choose the great feline friend who will be the faithful excellent companion you have always wanted? I think you can but there are many “ifs” involved. This is an issue that is both simple and rather complicated all at once. I’d like to start by asking you whether you are…

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cat injection

My excellent and, sadly, late colleague Dr. Sophia Yin presents a wonderful method for giving injections to cats. The pet parent with this diabetic kitty can learn to make it a good experience rather than a source of fear. Complications like Urinary Infections Derail Good Control Question: I have a 14-year-old cat who was diagnosed…

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So what can you do if the dog who’s stolen your heart damages your house while you’re away-often? If you have a dog like this you can feel desperate. Dogs with separation anxiety can actually look forward to their alone time because that will be their chance to engage their innate survival instincts. I hope…

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dog veterinary exam

Ask Questions & Make Informed Choices Question: I am writing to you to vent my frustration toward the excessive fees charged by veterinarians. We took our pet for a routine annual physical and were charged $206.01. (For my last physical, I paid $135.75.) Today, we took her to have her teeth cleaned and paid $276.08…

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dog damages property

What can you do if the dog who has stolen your heart damages your house while you’re away-often? More than frustrating, separation anxiety can damage the bond that makes these special pets our best friends. This disorder is nobody’s fault. And it’s common. Many affected dogs, beside themselves with angst house soil, dig, scratch, chew,…

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separation anxiety dogs

Why it Happens; What to Do Dogs are our best friends for some really strong reasons. They’re always delighted to see us, they’ll follow us anywhere, and they’ll never run off with somebody else. Those traits are hard to find in another human. Most everybody I know does their best but, in some ways, dogs…

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Cats scratching furniture

It would seem logical to correct or punish a destructive cat but these apparently nefarious acts are actually part of the normal feline behavioral repertoire. Feliscratch is a synthetic analogue of the scratching pheromone that cats feel compelled to spread around their territories. Applying liquid Feliscratch, where you want your cat to scratch, will communicate…

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dog eats poop

Disgusting but most likely Harmless Question: Our large back yard is shared by our Russian tortoise and our 5 pound (11 month old puppy) poodle. Last spring, when “Tortie” came out of hibernation, our puppy started spending a lot of time outside. I then discovered why: the puppy was finding and eating Tortie’s poop!! Gross.…

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Declawing is so ‘90s (actually ‘60s) There is a definite calming influence that comes with having a cat sharing my home. They are delightful creatures but even the best-behaved kitty isn’t perfect, though, is she? When I list the reasons for this love affair, like companionship, affection, entertainment, and a great example of living in…

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Cat Scratching Furniture

Declawing is so ‘90s (actually ‘60s) Question: I am 72 and have had cats since I can remember. We recently lost our last cat and I feel lost without another companion but my wife insists that any new cat be declawed. I just can’t agree to that. What is your advice?   Dr. Nichol: I…

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Research Supports other Alternative Therapies Question: A friend started using CBD oil for her dog that has severe epilepsy and it seems to be minimizing the number of seizures.  I wanted to see if it might be a possibility for my dog. He freaks out when he sees strangers and he gets startled sometimes at…

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Teach her that good things come from the man in her life Some dogs are genetically programmed with low-status personalities. They can lose the heebie jeebies if a man ignores them as he drops a few small bits of tasty food. After he repeats this dozens of times he can reach down with a tender…

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Our American tradition of conspicuous Christmas consumption isn’t just for humans. Your pet can be a pig even without being a pet pig. Edibles: Alcoholic beverages, chocolate, coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans), spoiled and fatty foods, onions, onion powder, salt, yeast dough and marijuana are all dangerous and potentially deadly for pets. Plants:…

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Fearful cat

I recently shared the story of Sherman, a well-loved cat with long-standing defensive-aggression in veterinary clinics. It was so bad that his people quit taking him for routine wellness exams. As a result his kidney failure wasn’t diagnosed until its advanced stage. Cats have become the most popular pets in America because busy people assume…

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Aggressive cat in veterinary clinic

This is the story of Sherman, a well-loved cat with long-standing defensive-aggression in veterinary clinics. It was so bad that his people quit taking him for routine wellness exams. As a result his kidney failure wasn’t diagnosed until its advanced stage. It wasn’t that Sherman’s people didn’t feel that medical care was important; he just…

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Angry cat

When I met Sherman he was a sporty little black and white feline youth of about 8 weeks. During my first exam room encounter with him he stood up for himself. I respected his strength of character. I vaccinated and neutered Sherman, events that left our professional relationship unscathed. His family consisted of Bonnie and…

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Parrot

Set Pets Up for Success; then Teach them What to Do Right John received a parrot as a gift, one with a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every utterance was rude, obnoxious, and laced with profanity. John did his best to improve the bird’s demeanor by saying only polite words, playing soft music,…

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dogs and cats who dread Thanksgiving

It’s Easy to Give them a Break & Keep them Safe Thanksgiving is great fun, isn’t it? Family, football, turkey, pie, and beer. Well, maybe for you and me. Keep a close eye on your pets. Tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with ears flattened, the head low, and…

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Thanksgiving hazards for pets

Thanksgiving is great fun, isn’t it? Family, football, turkey, pie, beer. Hey – let the good times roll. Well, for you and me, sure, but maybe not for everybody. Badly unsettled dogs and cats may carry out some unhealthy behaviors. Watch for tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with…

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Dogs Lightening Phobia

Dogs who freak-out during storms, fireworks, and airborne events like the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta have true phobias. There’s nothing logical about these fears. Just like humans with unfounded anxieties, these pets need special consideration. Hiding, trembling, and nervous panting indicate serious misery. Kindness is called for in big doses. These poor dogs are in survival…

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Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs Halloween is great, isn’t it? You can go incognito and so can your dog. And the snacks, oooh, they’re to die for, aren’t they? But if it’s a dog who indulges – even a little- chocolate can be fatal. Of the vast array of goodies consumed in mass quantities during…

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Make it Simple & Easy for Everybody Dormosedan: Owner-administered oral transmucosal (OTM) sedation There are a few dogs who will bite anybody, including their owners. But the great majority of those who direct their aggression toward the veterinary clinic staff are frightened and defensive/reactive. They would readily bite us but they are fine with their…

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Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs Halloween is great, isn’t it? You can go incognito and so can your dog. And the snacks, oooh, they’re to die for, aren’t they? But if it’s a dog who indulges – even a little- chocolate can be fatal. Of the vast array of goodies consumed in mass quantities during…

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A ScareCrow will Prevent Intrusions by Neighbor Cats        Question: I have a spayed female cat who mostly stays indoors and but likes to go out in the evenings. There are a couple of male cats who wander into her territory. The angry, fighting, howling cat words are loud and scare me. My first tendency would…

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Sharing your life with a great dog is a lot like any important relationship. Social skills matter.  Behavioral research understands this. Puppies do better in life if they stay with their mothers and litter mates until the age of 5-7 weeks. Picking the right breed is important too but remember that everybody is a unique…

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The Mind-Body Connection is Big Lulu is a really sweet female Australian cattle dog and she’s mighty cute too. She’s 2 years old and she’s a big girl, weighing in at 50 pounds. Lulu lives with a very committed pet parent who will do whatever it takes for her dog’s well-being. That’s a good thing…

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Careful Evaluation & Dosing are Critical to Success Question: I have a 14-year-old diabetic cat. She was healthy and stable; her insulin (glargine) dose was 1.5 units. About a month ago she became lethargic and indifferent to food. Her fructosamine was 400 and there was sugar in her urine. Her insulin was increased to 2…

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Kindness – on everybody’s part – is a key ingredient. In my work I see life lessons on the power of kindness every day. A few months ago a little girl and her big scared dog were students and they were teachers. The story of Buster the boxer, and the little girl who loves him,…

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anxious dog

Panic is No Fun for Anybody Buddy, a really cute 2 year old girl dog, lost her composure and released a bladder full of urine with almost any hint of excitement. When I met her she was scanning the room, on the lookout for any possible threat to her well-being. She held herself somewhat low,…

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Panic is No Fun for Anybody Buddy was a really cute 2 year old dog when we met. Her problem was that she lost her composure and released a bladder full of urine with almost any hint of excitement. She didn’t show up alone, though, but with her Mom in tow. Buddy may be an…

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Our dogs are special to us. None of us wants there to be any problem. They need to stay well and enjoy a great long life with us. If you learn to examine your own dog at home and you’ll be able to uncover concerns early so they can be checked out by your veterinarian.…

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Itchy Cat

Atopic and Zylkene can Help Question: Our cat is a bit of scaredy cat but is also aggressive towards me and my husband. He was poorly socialized as a kitten. I love him to death but am so saddened by him. He can be so mean when all we want to do is love and…

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This is the story of a cat I named Faith. She was important not just because we loved her but because she taught some important lessons. A box was pushed into the arms of Martha, our front office manager. Inside was a shorthaired brown tabby cat with a mangled and bleeding lower jaw. When Martha…

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Pets who eat nonfood items can pay a big price for their curiosity. Swallowed linear foreign material, like yarn, ribbon, or dental floss, can saw holes in the intestinal wall leading to septic peritonitis. We can protect these little guys by cat–proofing the house. Keep an eye out for innocent but potentially harmful household items.…

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Pets who age gracefully bring comfort to their doting pet parents. But not all of them do well in their golden years. Some get dementia that their families mistake for normal aging. Alzheimer’s disease is pretty common in older people. The symptoms of dementia and the unhealthy brain changes seen in some older dogs are…

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Rarely Fatal, Pet Rats can be Tested There is a subset of animal lovers with pet rats. I like these gentle creatures. I’ve have had their genetic cousins, gerbils, myself. What’s new with rats is that the CDC has made us aware of Seoul virus. Originally discovered in South Korea, this infectious organism is found…

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There are important reasons to keep a close eye on our cats. They tend to hide their illnesses and injuries. It’s just who they are. Their genetically programmed reality puts the responsibility for their well-being on their people. Cats are wonderful pets but in many respects they are very different than we are. Unlike people…

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Question: We have a 16 year old Chihuahua with worsening cognitive dysfunction over the past 8 weeks. Early signs started 4 months ago. She has been on SAMe and her house soiling has improved. She walks in circles and gets herself trapped and bumps into things. I have read about resveratrol and ginkgo biloba. Not…

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Jumping up can be an annoying behavior. It can also be dangerous if a big dog jumps up on children or elderly people. You can punish, reprimand, or correct a dog who does this but you can damage the relationship. And some dogs think that people are playing with them when they are pushed off.…

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High Protein, Low Carb Question: Sometime back you suggested feeding cats over 12 pounds canned kitten food. Our cat weighs about 18 pounds. He eats canned food and dry. You recommended kitten food because of the protein. What brand or brands and how much? I am confused because the amount of calories is what causes…

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Question: Several people (not veterinarians!) have suggested that it isn’t safe to walk my 11-year-old Boston Terriers in Albuquerque this summer – or even keep them in New Mexico at all – because these brachycephalic dogs are so susceptible to breathing difficulties caused by ash and other particles in the air from the wildfires. They…

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Comfort Scared Pets with Good Management Startled by earsplitting blasts, many otherwise stable pets will endure almost continual panic this weekend. Scared dogs may hide, tremble, drool, cry or howl, and even urine soil, vomit or pass diarrhea. Many get clingy but some escape the home and risk getting hit in the road. A freaked-out…

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#28 Fireworks Fear – Comfort Scared Pets with Good Management Jeff Nichol, DVM Veterinary Behavior Medicine Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Centers Albuquerque and Santa Fe I invite you to peruse and use any of the information from this and past nmvetlist missives. You will find the entire archive on the For Veterinarians page of my…

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Chronic Nausea is Most Common Cause Question: My dog recently had a lick granulomas removed by laser. He was placed in an Elizabeth (cone) collar. When I take off the collar for him to eat he stops eating to lick the wounds. I have tried to take off the collar and dress the wounds with…

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#27 Gabapentin-The Underappreciated Anxiolytic I invite you to peruse and use any of the information from this and past nmvetlist missives. You will find the entire archive on the For Veterinarians page of my website, drjeffnichol.com/ Historically, gabapentin has been valuable for neuropathic pain and as an adjunct in many other analgesia protocols. It can…

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An Ovarian Remnant May Be Lurking Question: Pepper, aka Ms. Incorrigible, was a newly spayed rescue. After 6 weeks, she went into heat behavior. A second spaying procedure found 25% of an ovary which was removed. 9 months later she displayed the same behavior-insisting on getting out at night, vocalizing, climbing screens, etc. Of course…

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Prevention & Recall is Best Question: Our dachshund, Scooter, is 16 months old.  We have 2 older dogs, as well. Problem is, Scooter likes to eat their poop.  We’ve tried giving the older dogs supplements, spraying the poop with distasteful things and we keep it picked up.   Dr. Nichol: This is a truly revolting…

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Rule out Birth Defects before relying on Diet to Add Weight Question: I have an eleven month old Malinois and a year old Pomeranian, both neutered males. I know that breeds are different, but my pom seems to be a healthy body size and weight, and my Malinois is very, very skinny.  I can see…

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Dementia can be Treated Question: We are having a big problem with our Pekapoo. He is 15 1/2 and seems to be hyperactive at night due to Sundowning Syndrome where he very restless. He is going out 3-4 times per night. We have him in a calming vest, have given him Rescue Remedy and a…

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Frequent Brushing Benefits Skin & Emotional Well-Being Question: I have two cats, Snowball and Alfie who were rescued as newborns from a box in a feed store 8 years ago. Although they are brushed each day they both leave lots of cat hair everywhere. Their coats are healthy and shiny and they seem to be…

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Intermittent Lameness does Not Signal an immediate Crisis Question: We have a Pomeranian who weighs 10 pounds and just turned 1year. We have been told he has luxating patella dislocating in both kneecaps. He is very active and only shows favor to his knee maybe once a month. Is it possible the bones will form…

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5-3-17 NMVMA listserve Veterinary Behavior Tip #26 Canine Separation Anxiety I invite you to peruse and use any of the information from this and past nmvetlist missives. You will find the entire archive on the For Veterinarians page of my website, drjeffnichol.com/ Jeff, I have a patient, Noah, who is an 8yr neutered toy poodle.…

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Dirty Restroom Facilities Create Trouble Question: Sadie is a large, four year old, spayed calico cat with a big rump. Consequently, she goes outside her box because she backs into a corner to do her business and hangs over the side. I would like to get a box with a cover but I have heard…

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Anxiety Quickly Leads to Fear Question: My 2 year old female Corgi is devoted to me–so much so that she will fight any dogs or people that get too close. While she’ll let me pet her, she will not get on my lap. She will get on my husband’s lap, nuzzle his hand, and sleep…

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The Road to Fatty Liver Disease Question: Hermione, our 11 year old long haired calico, was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis. She received a month of treatment per our veterinarian. We then made a tough decision to stop all treatment. Two weeks later Minie has increased energy, is eating somewhat better, and is again engaging in…

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Don’t Wait for Symptoms-Have your Dog Examined & Tested FDA consumer alert: “Federal officials are warning consumers and veterinarians to be on alert for potentially deadly hyperthyroidism in dogs that have eaten Blue Buffalo Co. and WellPet food. The three separate alerts, posted Monday (March 27) by the Food and Drug Administration, include test results…

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Jeff, or anyone, I’m looking for suggestions. It’s the perfect combination: Clients who divide their time between New Mexico & Alaska, and a Border Collie who thinks too much. Zylkene for a week before the flight and 2mg alprazolam (~45 lb. dog) on the morning of, hasn’t had much effect. He’s miserable & destroys the…

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