Chronic arthritis, surgery, bad teeth, back and neck pain – lots of cats and dogs suffer. There are safe, modern treatments that can make a big difference. Know what to look for and how to help. Tune in at 6 PM Mountain Time on Thursday, September 3 for my Facebook Live. I’ll share an update…

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Dogs like Tasty Paste Question: Just dropped off my 10 year old Schipperke for teeth cleaning. Sounds easy, but I worry about the anesthetic. I promise to keep her teeth clean from now on! So how often should I brush them? Dr. Nichol: Caring for your Schipperke’s health – every bit of it – will…

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competing dogs

Can’t you just share some love or a snack without all the pushing, shoving, or maybe even a growl or worse? You can but your canine leadership will need some refinement. Keep your dogs in line without hurting anyone’s feelings. Tune in at 6 PM Mountain Time for my Facebook Live. I’ll be ready for…

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shih tzus

Teach with Reliable Structure Question: My two Shih Tzus are sisters, 4 years old, adopted last year. They are usually potty trained but I did have to replace hallway carpet to tile. They don’t know how to ask to go out and I have trouble being intuitive all the time. They are shy and not…

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aging dogs video

By the time they’re reached their golden years most dogs have pretty good bathroom etiquette. If they start leaving urine and stool around the house, it’s a problem. Tune-in to my Facebook Live to find out what to do about these unplanned deposits.

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cockapoo in a shirt

Diagnose First, then Decide if Treatment is Necessary Question: I have a cock-a-poo with several warts. Our veterinarian said to use antibiotic cream but that didn’t help. He did not want to remove them because she is 14. What about using thuja or multi vitamins? Dr. Nichol: Everybody seems to get lumpy and bumpy with…

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Old cat lying in sun

Can Old Cats & Young Puppies Mix? Question: We have a 15 year old cat who is well, happy and calm. In September we will receive a Golden-Doodle puppy from a family member. How can we introduce a good sized, bouncy puppy to our lovable old girl? Dr. Nichol: This could be a tall order…

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dog looking through fence

Tunneling, climbing, running off – OMG! Raise the fence? Electric wire? Let’s figure out why this is happening and help your good dog stay home and succeed. Serious anxiety needs serious care.

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dogs competing for attention

Dogs Competing for Attention Question: How to help with competition between dogs for human attention? Rosebud acts like she owns me and Helmut (new dog) acts like he owns my husband. How to reduce this behavior? Dr. Nichol: Rosebud and Helmut believe that access to their leaders is limited. What? Why that’s ridiculous! Love and…

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puppies wrestling

Unsightly but Rarely Dangerous Question: Do you have an opinion on what to do about papillomas in our dog Ella’s mouth and how/whether to treat with azithromycin? The dog Ella plays with and Ella both have them. The other dog’s owner wants to treat with the antibiotic for them to be able to play together…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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A Head Halter is a Great Leadership tool Question: I read the post on your facebook page about the Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd and felt an instant kinship! Our 1 year old Aussie shepherd is driving us nuts. In addition to nuisance barking at everything that moves, tearing around the house and the yard like a crazy…

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Head Halters are Safe and Effective Question: How do you feel about choke collars for dogs? Dr. Nichol: You ask a complex question with behavioral as well as physical implications. Walking a dog is a lot more fun when everybody is under control but jerking on a pet’s neck can have unintended consequences. There are…

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Attitudes toward Animals Matter Question: I’m concerned about the dog Dodo mentioned in your 2/10/17 column. “Dodo” can mean a stupid person, not one who might warrant respect.  Or someone who acts stupidly, as the dog in your column who walks in a circle with his head tilted. I think these people should rename their…

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Inner Ear Infection vs. a Brain Disorder Question: My dog is 4 years old, weighs 4 kilograms, no fever, his name is Dodo. Yesterday, he could not go straight but circling with his head tilt towards one side, but he eats well (we’ve been hand feeding him). Today is the second day of this syndrome.…

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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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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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Diagnose First, then Decide if Treatment is Necessary Question: I have a cock-a-poo with several warts. Our veterinarian said to use antibiotic cream but that didn’t help. He did not want to remove them because she is 14. What about using thuja or multi vitamins? Dr. Nichol: It’s no surprise that your canine senior has…

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Fear is Easy to Manage with Oral Sileo Gel About this time next week many of us will be treated to (or cursed by) fireworks and even a few skyward gunshots, all to improve our outlook for a new year.  Oh sure, these immature and potentially dangerous antics fall into the category of irresponsible human…

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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. It’s part of our job as caring pet owners to help them feel better. You’ll need to be observant.…

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Early Extraction is Safest Question: I discovered that Rocky (5 month old Jack Russell) is growing his adult canine teeth however his baby teeth are not coming out. Will they come out on their own later? Dr. Nichol: Retained baby (deciduous) teeth is a common bump in the road of adolescence for small dogs. Have…

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Heal well with Careful Treatment Question: We have a Rhodesian ridgeback, chow, Sheppard mix. I made the error of shaving his coat. Now these red bloody abrasions keep appearing. Dr. Nichol: As with any medical problem, attempting to diagnose a skin disorder without a physical exam would be a serious gamble. But – I suspect…

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Special Care is needed for Scared Dogs 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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Knee Caps need Repair. Stem Cells can Help 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…

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Avoid the Fear Triggers; Reduce the Anxiety Balloon Fiesta is great fun for us, but it’s not much of a party for pets who freak out from those cosmic monsters leering and looming over them. The far-off hiss of a propane burner or a multi-colored speck in the distance can trigger overwhelming terror. There’s nothing…

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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 in June and her hematocrit has…

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Older Pets Outdoors are at Risk Are you eating your breakfast as you read this? If you don’t have a strong stomach you may want to enjoy a news story on murder and mayhem instead. Today’s Pet Care topic is maggots. They’re not cute and cuddly. No one has them as pets. Despite my love…

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Almost always a Failure; Uncover & Treat the Cause Instead Last week, on this very page, I advised the owner of a barking dog to conduct a trial of daily exercise. She had considered an electric shock collar because she was desperate. Canine verbal communication is actually normal. Dogs are a highly social species, after…

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Question: I have a Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd who is 1 year old. He barks constantly. If nothing is out there to bark at, he barks at birds and such. My husband is considering an electric bark collar. I know it is in his breed to bark, but are there any other suggestions before the collar? Dr.…

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Get Serious about Pet Proofing Do you know what xylitol is? If you’re a dog owner it’s time you did. Here is the story of a family that understood the risks of this sugar substitute, did their best to pet-proof their house, but their dog “Zoe” outfoxed them anyway. “We were gone for less than…

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Consider Physical or Behavioral Causes Question: Our Siberian husky eats towels, clothes, bedding – had surgery yesterday to remove a hand towel from his small intestine. 3 incisions later and almost losing him show we need help! Dr. Nichol: Eating nonfood items, called pica, is not a rare problem. Your husky is fortunate that his…

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Travel Anxiety makes it Hard to go to the Veterinarian Question: We have an older female German shepherd that for the past couple of months has ‘matter’ in both eyes off and on. I wipe off the material and rinse the eyes with “Eye Relief’ but in a few days it returns. She is terrified…

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Diagnosis may be Complex; Relief is Essential Question: I have a Great Pyrenees dog, 10 years old. For the past 6 months he acts like he has sleep apnea: he tries to get to sleep, but constantly awakes unable to catch his breathe. He’s big. He doesn’t seem to have it worse when he’s running…

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Diet can Help but Manual Expression is a Must Question: I have a 2 year old Apple head Chihuahua. Her name is Sunny and so is her disposition! She has had a problem in the past needing her anal glands expressed. Our veterinarian recommended a list of several different food choices. I have tried several…

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Gainful Canine-Specific Employment is Needed Question: We adopted a little basset hound about six weeks ago. He is a lover. And by that, we mean a real lover! He is humping the male cats and the other male basset. Frequently! Passionately! He was neutered in late March. Does he still have testosterone in his system?…

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Every Painful Ear needs Medical Attention Ear disease is the most common problem seen by veterinarians and there are still too many uncomfortable pets flying below radar. Redness, swelling, and nasty smelling discharges are frequent findings even when dogs and cats are brought to us for unrelated reasons. Many smolder quietly for weeks or longer.…

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Assertive Personality must Learn to Earn Everything Question: My five month old Australian Shepard mix is constantly biting and chewing. If he’s not trying to eat rocks on his walks, he’s snatching tissues out of our hands, trying to gnaw on our arms/hands/legs/shoes/furniture. We have an arsenal of chew toys, bones and rawhides but when…

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Car Trips can Improve Question: About 4 years ago we adopted a Lab/shepherd mix, Maggie. We’d love to take her places but anything other than a short trip to Grandma’s causes frothing at the mouth and eventual vomiting. Having the windows wide open seems to help. Is there any hope of being able to go…

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Your Dog is Not a Wolf; You Don’t need to be Alpha Question- I added a rescue Labradoodle to my pack about a year ago. She’s always looking for something to eat. She’s well fed but when she gets something in her mouth she’s not supposed to have she won’t drop it and will growl…

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Use the Right Treats or Risk more Surgery Question: My little Shih Tzu could not urinate because he had stones in his bladder. The veterinary hospital that cares for him removed those stones but they are the kind that will return without proper diet so they recommended Hill’s u/d non struvite dog food.  Can I…

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Hip Dysplasia more likely than Spinal Disease Question: Our German shepherd who is 5 years old suddenly jumped down from her (our!) easy chair and fell in a heap! Her legs seemed stiff and she was in pain. She was scared till she got up and wanted to go outdoors. Next day she was chasing…

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More Exercise, especially Herding, would be Perfect Question: I’ve a blue heeler/Lab mix, altered. He tries to herd people and drives me nuts barking when I’ve got to go out. I’ve considered finding someone more active than me because my health prevents me from activity I used to do with him but would miss him…

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Teaching Fun Tricks can Desensitize & Heal the Emotional Wounds Question: Our 8 year old hound-spaniel mix (rescued at age 1) is afraid of new shoes/boots. She runs away from us and hides. She shakes, emits a horrible smell, and now checks out what’s on our feet. She won’t accept treats when we are wearing…

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More than just Freaked-Out Fowl I want to discuss hen hysteria. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a pejorative term; I’m not a politician. Hen hysteria is a genuine behavior disorder, a significant challenge in commercial poultry operations. Stuffed into cages, row upon row, some laying hens suddenly wig-out with no apparent trigger.…

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Irritability can be Overcome with Targeted Medical & Behavioral Treatment Question: We have a 7-10 year old rescue Chihuahua. Whenever we attempt to put on her harness, leash or Velcro coat/dress she attempts to snarl and bite us and it is getting much worse. Our veterinarian sees her for a cardiac, liver and allergy ailment.…

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Consult your Veterinarian for Perspective Question: We have a Staffordshire bull terrier, 14, stiff and a little weak on his back legs, sleeps a lot, and now seems to be going deaf, barks a lot, and stares into space. He asks to go to toilet and eats and drinks normally. A year ago we lost…

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Harsh Punishment can Work but Humane Treatment is Reliable & Safe Question: I appreciate last Friday’s column about shock collars. However there is one particular use for which I found it invaluable. My 4 month old terrier mix was chasing cars even on a leash. A neighbor k9 officer loaned me a shock collar with…

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Rebuild Trust with Slow Desensitization Question: I brought our dog Oscar to a reputable trainer who recommended an electronic collar. I didn’t know how bad it would damage Oscar’s trust. Ever since the training, no one can get near him with a brush, especially around his neck. He goes nuts biting, growling to get me…

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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 veterinary clinic (panting, shaking, defecating). What is the worst case scenario if we do nothing?…

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Rapid Growth can lead to Bone & Joint Disease Big breed dogs are at higher risk of joint problems like hip and elbow dysplasia. Heredity is a factor but so are early nutrition and weight. Here is an update on healthy dietary management of puppies who will someday reach size large to gargantuan. The right…

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Read Labels of Prepared Foods & Snacks Have I ever mentioned that dogs and cats are not little people in furry suits? Oh, sure, they’re like us in lots of ways. They snuggle and play and talk to us, which may be why we keep them as pets rather than, say, cockroaches or earthworms. Be…

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Reduce the Triggers, Reinforce Calm Behavior, & Medication Question: We rescued a beautiful female 18 month old shepherd/whippet from the Taos shelter. She had been left in the backyard by herself. She is terrified when she goes to the veterinary clinic. She hides behind me and even tries to climb up my back to get…

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Establish Health Status before Providing Dog Food Only 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…

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Cover the Crate & apply Adaptil Wipes Question: Our Puggle is 4 years old. She is a fabulous dog . Just one problem. She goes crazy in a vehicle especially when she sees oncoming traffic.  We have done a great deal of travel with her, it never gets easier. We have tried Benadryl to calm…

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Vaccinated Puppies & Adult Dog make Safe Friends Question: I am getting an 8 week old Lab puppy. I already have an older Lab who is fully vaccinated. I am concerned about protecting the pup from parvo. I plan on avoiding dog parks, pet stores, and sidewalks. I will also avoid taking her to my…

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This Gut Wrenching Decision is an Essential Last Gift Question: My 16 1/2 year old cocker spaniel suffers from dementia, rear leg myelopathy, food sensitivity, abnormal kidney levels, a cataract, hearing impairment, and multiple benign lumps. Recently the dementia symptoms require ‘round the clock care. He’s lost all interest in food and I’ve had to…

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Impacted A/G may be Sore following Expression 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…

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Allergies are the #1 Cause Question: We have a Red Bone Coon Hound who is 18 months old. He chews his ears and toenails. He was a rescue dog about six months ago. What can we do to stop this behavior and why does he do it? Dr. Nichol: Dogs who lick, chew, or scratch…

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Everybody is at Risk; Dogs should Sleep on Floor Question: I have 2 male Chihuahuas, father and son. They have always slept with us. The older one growls when the younger one is near him and starts prancing around on the bed so the younger one prances behind him eventually growling back and then they…

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Effort Underway to Outlaw Trapping on Public Lands A few weeks ago in this column I posted a letter telling the story of a dog who spent 3 days caught in a coyote trap. “Bailey” ended up doing fine but the trapping issue continues to smolder.  The Journal published some letters on the Op-Ed page.…

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Prevent Arousal Triggers; Treat Anxiety, Nausea 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…

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Prevention is the Best Medicine The time honored American tradition of conspicuous Christmas consumption isn’t just for humans; pets too can be guilty of dietary indiscretion. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center provides the following list of holiday hazards. There are bound to be others. Edibles: alcoholic beverages, chocolate, coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso…

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Microchip and Caring People Saved this Life The following narrative is a difficult story with a good ending and an even better lesson. A friend and longtime reader wrote this and titled it: “A story of Good vs. Negligence!” “My neighbor visited his ranch twice on a recent weekend. It abuts the National Forest near…

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Dementia is Common in Canine Seniors Question: My 13 year Sheepdog has started barking since he came out of kennels in March. I have gotten complaints from my neighbour as I live in second floor flat. My dog is kept in the kitchen where he has an area to walk about since he started to…

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Crowding & Political Stress Question: Why does my 3 year old neutered male toy poodle Jack urine mark in the house? He is house trained and goes outside. I also have Barney a Beagle- Jack Russell and two females – Jill a Jack Russell and Frankie a toy poodle. Dr. Nichol: With that house full…

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Reevaluate Diagnosis & Treatment for Best Results Question: My 5 year old beagle has a grade 4 heart murmur. She is on 3 medications: furosemide, enalapril, and spironolactone. Do all these drugs really help, or just make her gain weight and add to her lethargy? I don’t take her on true walks anymore, as she…

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Check first for Bladder Disease Question: I read with great interest (and often amusement) your weekly column. I have two female Llaso Apsos. They are sisters and are ten years old. One is quite docile and the other one can have an attitude. In our bedroom, I have placed runners on three sides of the…

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Avoidance & Antianxiety Treatments Question: Help!  My dog is terribly afraid of hot air balloons, causing him to bark uncontrollably.  The occasional balloon I could deal with, but my home is directly under a regular balloon flight path. Dr. Nichol: You and your petrified pupster are not alone. There is nothing in the evolutionary adaptations…

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Good Treatments depend on Age & Severity Question: My husband and I are the owners of a beloved one year old Airedale terrier. Toby has been x-rayed and diagnosed by our local veterinarian and by Dr. Michael Wey as having hip dysplasia.  When Dr. Wey checked him out some months ago he said he didn’t…

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Act Early & Be Careful Question: I have 2 dogs that 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…

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Vaccination is Safe & Effective Have you ever questioned the significance of “emerging” disease threats? Some stay for years while others seem to fade with yesterday’s news cycle. Real epidemics can wax and wane because of changing weather patterns. Generous summertime rainfall is a beautiful thing but standing water can harbor leptospirosis, an almost forgotten…

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Vaccination is Critically Important Veterinarians in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas have seen a significant uptick in canine distemper cases. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona in Tucson had so many infected dogs they recently halted intakes for 2 weeks to get control of it. Native American reservations have been particularly hard hit. Back in…

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Food Toys can make a Difference Question: We have a 9 year old Shih Tzu that has started barking when we leave her alone. We leave the TV on, give her food & water, and walk her before we leave. We are summering in NM in a RV and neighbors tell us she barks when…

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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. As soon as “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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Heroic Family Cat Derailed a Tragedy Question: I keep seeing this video everywhere and hearing lots of theories about the dog’s behavior. The dog is completely unprovoked, but it also doesn’t seem like he/she sneaks up on the child as I would expect a wolf to sneak up on prey. Is the dog curious and…

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Teach Improved Behavior with Gentle Guidance Question: I just got a dog that was free. He is overly aggressive plus I think he was mistreated. He responds to me but is aggressive towards any males or anyone who comes to the door. He was also restricted to his kennel and he growls towards his food.…

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Leash in hand, we blissfully soak up the sun on a healthy walk while our dogs are busy cavorting and scavenging for scraps of, well, maybe we don’t want to know. There’s a lot going on inside their bodies, including questionable oral hygiene, that can gradually damage their kidneys. Even while nosing around the yard…

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Choose Carefully & Raise them Together Question: Am I crazy or is this possible? I want 2 cats and 2 large dogs to get along peacefully in our mountain home. Do you think if we could raise them together we would be able to train the dogs to be guardians of the cats? We love…

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Give Dog her own Bed; Avoid Punishment Question: Usually at night my 8-month young mini pinscher sleeps in my brother’s bed and if someone passes by the room she jumps off the bed and barks, if you enter the room, situation is getting worse and if you try to calm her she can even bite…

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Life is Short; Do Whatever it Takes Question: I have an 8 year old mixed breed (old yeller, lab looking beauty) with arthritis in her right ankle. It swells up with a knot on it and causes her a lot of pain. Our veterinarian recommended Rimadyl, but we want to treat with natural products if…

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Forget Punishment; Guests mean Good Things Happen Question: We have an 8 month old mix breed dog who is timid but aggressive. We have had her since she was 8 weeks old. There are 3 other dogs. When people enter the house her hackles go up and she barks, all the time backing up. She…

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Some Disorders may be More Prone to Occur To neuter or not to neuter: That is the question. Really? Wasn’t that settled a long time ago? As a veterinarian, obliged to reduce animal suffering, shouldn’t I, of all people, vigorously beat the spay/neuter drum? The oversupply of pets has not gone away. The behavioral benefits…

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A Good Plan can make Veterinary Expenses Affordable A dog or cat who is sick or injured needs competent medical care but the cost can be a serious problem. Research has given us more diagnostic accuracy and some astonishing cures but it doesn’t come cheap. Like most veterinarians I’ve struggled with providing state-of-the-art medicine while…

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Coyotes may be Responsible. Rule out Involvement of Dogs Question: We raised two LGD puppies with sheep — neither of them showed aggression toward anything — not chickens, cats, sheep, nor people. Early today, we found a cat torn to shreds. There are three cats still lying in the sun purring and weaving. It sounds…

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Idiopathic Facial Paralysis is a Lifelong Condition Question: One of my tenants has a heartbreaking situation with her precious 8 year old golden retriever mix. Half of the dog’s face has become paralyzed. His left eye will not close and neither does the left side of his mouth. He has been in this state for…

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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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GI Disease Underlies Most Question: My dog recently had a lick granulomas removed by laser. He was placed in an e-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 gauze and duct tape,…

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Heal well with Careful Treatment Question: We have a Rhodesian ridgeback, chow, Sheppard mix. I made the error of shaving his coat. Now these red bloody abrasions keep appearing. Dr. Nichol: As with any medical problem, attempting to diagnose a skin disorder without a physical exam would be a serious gamble. Having said that, I…

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Early Extraction is Safest Question: I discovered that Rocky (5 month old Jack Russell) is growing his adult canine teeth however his baby teeth are not coming out. Will they come out on their own later? Dr. Nichol: Retained baby (deciduous) teeth is a common bump in the road of adolescence for small breed dogs.…

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Question: Our German shepherd, Chrysanthemum (6 months old), has fear-aggression issues so we’ve been taking her to Bullhead Park to try socializing. There were 5-6 dogs there and she was doing her barking thing. Suddenly, some guy strode up and grabbed her by the neck, shaking her hard a couple of times before I shoved…

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Specific cause unknown The risks to canine health from eating jerky treats are on the front burner again. I shared information on this problem in my Pet Care column back in March, 2012. Now, for an update. Food safety issues are a growing problem in part because of the globalization of this industry for humans…

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Avoid the Fear Triggers; Reduce the Anxiety Balloon Fiesta is great fun for us, but it’s not much of a party for pets who freak out from falling cosmic monsters. Every exposure worsens their fears. The far-off hiss of a propane burner or a multi-colored speck in the distance can trigger overwhelming terror. Phobias are…

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There may be a new and ugly infection of dogs that could spell trouble – or maybe not. Confirmed so far in only a handful dogs in Ohio, the organism, called circovirus, has been implicated in cases of severe, sudden onset vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, and physical depression. Speculation is rampant. Here is what we…

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Thorough Vaccination will Diminish Risk Question: A friend with connections to a therapy dog group emailed me about two “new” dog illnesses. They seem serious. Dr. Nichol: Not only are dog owners worried, veterinarians have been sharing information about the recent uptick in canine parvo, a nasty virus that invades the lining of the small…

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Patient repetition of Rewards for Courage Question: My mom is a young widow. And very lonely. She mentioned she wanted a cocker. So I surprised her with one for Christmas. She loves him dearly, but he is a submissive urinator. He is 10 months old and despite obedience classes and behavior modification he isn’t getting…

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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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One Day Housetraining is Fast & Simple Question: My puppy is 10 weeks old and has been paper trained since 4 weeks. I want him to go outside so I started gradually moving the pads closer to the dog door. I have taken him out on the leash after eating and then he messes inside.…

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A Trip to the Doctor means Managing Travel Anxiety Question: We have an older female German shepherd that for the past couple of months has ‘matter’ in both eyes off and on. I wipe off the material and rinse the eyes with “Eye Relief’ but in a few days it returns. She is terrified to…

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Myasthenia Gravis may be the Cause Question: Why does my Jack Russell (5 months) get sick when he drinks? Every time the poor little guy gets a drink, especially first thing in morning, he throws it back up. Dr. Nichol: If little Jack (May I call him Jack?) is like others of his ilk, he…

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Natural Behavioral Outlets Essential to Well-Being Question: I am a new mom to two wonderful shelter dogs, including Moxie, a 15 month old pit bull/heeler.  She has never urinated or defecated in the crate at night, but has consistently urinated in the crate during the day.  I have tried making the crate smaller, coming home…

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Surgical Management is Best for Young Dogs Question: My dog Lola is a happy 3 year old Lhasa-poo. Recently, she eagerly ran down the stairs and hurt her leg. Her diagnosis was ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. I left the animal hospital crying. While researching online, I read non-surgical treatments are possible for dogs less than…

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Avoid Fear Triggers & Teach Scared Dog that Strangers are Safe Question: Our 6 year old, mostly red healer, was rescued from an Indian reservation, then rescued again with her companion dog after her owner died, then rescued by us because of dominance issues in her adopted home.  She came without her companion. She had…

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The Doctor Informs & Advises. The Owner Makes the Call Question: Last week you advised an owner of a Great Pyrenees to get expensive tests for her dog’s breathing problems. At 10 years old, that gentle giant is OLD. At what point do advise simple stuff and keeping the dog comfortable? Limiting exercise, losing weight…

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Diagnosis may be Complex; Relief is Essential Question: I have a Great Pyrenees dog, 10 years old. For the past 6 months he acts like he has sleep apnea: he tries to get to sleep, but constantly awakes unable to catch his breathe. He’s big. He doesn’t seem to have it worse when he’s running…

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A More Enriched Environment will Provide Healthy Alternatives Question: My dog brings feces into the house from outside almost as an “offering”. How can I stop that behavior? Dr. Nichol: Maybe she’s like Lassie and she’s trying to tell you something. These tokens could represent your dog’s depth of feeling for you or her payment…

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Weight Reduction is the Best Medicine Question: We have a 10 year old German shepherd/Malamute mix who is using the bathroom in the family room every night. She is house broken and knows she should not. She does have some difficulty getting up; however we cannot live with a dog using the bathroom in the…

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Adult & Senior Dogs can Make Great Pets Sometimes I volunteer to direct the behavioral rehabilitation of pets in shelters and foster homes. One of these was a German shepherd mix named Sarge, whose reactive aggression toward other dogs made him unattractive to potential adopters. Sarge’s plight caught the attention of Melinda, a committed volunteer…

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Similar to a Human’s Alzheimer’s Dogs can have Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome Question: I have an older Lab cross that has undergone extreme personality changes. He is withdrawn, does not want to be around us and refuses to come indoors at night. Is this condition treatable? Toby’s regular vet thinks he is in pain due to…

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A Steady Diet of Dry Food is Best Question: I’m a new dog Mom. Is it okay to give peanuts to my little dog?  She won’t eat peanut butter but loves those peanuts.  Is it okay to give can pumpkin when she has not gone #2 in a day or more?  I’ve given her some…

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Have a good Christmas? Great! The carousing and cavorting has only begun. With New Years Eve right around the corner everybody who’s anybody is certain to accessorize with glo-sticks and glow-in-the-dark jewelry. Lots of laughs for us but for an inquisitive pet the experience can quickly turn from exhilarating to excruciating. Biting through the chewy…

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Anxitane can Help with Social Anxiety Question: I have a 5-year old female border terrier who is almost the perfect pet. The problem is that I cannot bring her with me when I visit someone else’s home. Even if I let her empty out before we enter, the first thing she does (even on a…

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Head Halters are Safe and Effective Question: How do you feel about choke collars for dogs? Dr. Nichol: You ask a complex question with behavioral as well as physical implications. Walking a dog is a lot more fun when everybody is under control but jerking on a pet’s neck can have serious consequences. Not all…

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Ignore Bad Behavior & Teach Focus on Leader Question: I have a 3 year old female border collie. We have stopped going for walks because of her atrocious behavior, which ranges from screeching like a pterodactyl, to whirling like a dervish. This is with a Halti leader. We have tried BAT. Other dog owners give…

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Surgery plus Stem Cells can make a Huge Difference 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 vet was telling me about stem cells. I’m skeptical with…

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Causes include Medication Side Effects or Aging Brain Disease Question: I have a wonderful 12 year old German shepherd mix. She has arthritis in her back legs. She is now on prednisone and tramadol 3 morning, 3 night. She follows us around and won’t leave our side. She tries to sleep on the bed or…

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Mouth Pain or Uncomfortable Joints are likely to Blame Question: I have a 20 year old cat that is having “fur” issues. Her coat is matted in several places. I have tried to cut off the mats but the problem is getting worse. I know she’s uncomfortable. The vet said that shaving her might help,…

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Every Painful Ear needs Medical Attention Ear disease is the most common problem seen in veterinary clinics and we still aren’t treating enough of it. Redness, swelling, and nasty smelling discharges are frequent findings even when dogs and cats are brought to us for altogether different reasons. Many smolder quietly for weeks or longer. By…

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A Head Halter is a Great Leadership tool Question: I read the post on your facebook page about the Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd and felt an instant kinship! Our 1 year old Aussie shepherd is driving us nuts. In addition to nuisance barking at everything that moves, tearing around the house and the yard like a crazy…

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No Electric Shock Collar; Enrich this Dog’s Life Instead Question: I have a Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd who is 1 year old. He barks constantly. If nothing is out there to bark at, he barks at birds and such. My husband is considering an electric bark collar. I know it is in his breed to bark, but…

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An Important Summertime Threat Maggots are worse than disgusting; they are among the most dangerous summertime hazards to pets’ health. Confronting these flesh eaters and their unmistakable odor is a truly memorable experience. Maybe you don’t want to read this over breakfast. Similar in size to grains of rice maggots are the larvae of the…

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R/d is the Best Way to Shed the Pounds & Prevent Serious Disease Question: Is Science diet r/d formula equal to the prescription r/d? Can I buy this r/d food anywhere else besides my vet?   Dr. Nichol: The prescription diets (r/d and others) are made by Hills Science Diet. R/d is the best weight…

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Pets, without question, feel pain just as we do. Better pet hospitals treat & prevent pain.   Question: I have often wondered about cats and dogs and pain, especially when Skippy, our wonder cat with 3 legs, had most of his hind leg amputated to the hip.  He came home the evening of surgery and…

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A nasty parasite, they can also infect humans.   Question: What causes hookworms and what are the symptoms?  Can my kitten be reinfested with them? (She is strictly an indoor cat.)   Dr. Nichol: Hookworms are passed between cats and dogs by microscopic eggs and through the skin. They bite into the inside wall of…

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A grumpy, sleepy cat with fleas is also anemic & sick. Frontline should do the trick.   Question: My cat of eight months, recently has been sleeping a lot, and every time I pick him up, he gets mad, and bites me. My cat is normally very active, and doesn’t mind getting handled. My cat…

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Don’t Waste Time with Meat Diets & Supplements. Get a Diagnosis & Save Your Cats’ Lives Question: When my 5-year old sibling cats had a dental cleaning, the vet performed blood tests.  The results indicated less than 50% of normal red blood cell count for one and low normal for the other. He suggested feeding…

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Methimazole Helps Many. Consider the Cures Carefully Question: My 10 year old female cat was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism 2 years ago and placed on oral methimazole 10mg. The dose was too high (she wouldn’t eat or play and she was always cold) so she has been taking 5mg. for the past year.  Now our vet is…

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Symptoms are Red Flags; there is Help for Financial Constraints Question: Gritz is an 8 year old cat, weighs 14 lbs. His urine has an overwhelming odor. When he uses the litter box it sounds like a fire hose. It seems sticky. He has a good appetite and drinks plenty of water. He was very…

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Many Feline Diabetes can do Fine Without Expensive  Insulin Question: I have a 14 year old diabetic cat. We’ve always used Humulin U insulin. We now use PZI-Vet at a cost of $100 versus $30.00 for the Humulin that we can’t get anymore. Are there less expensive alternatives? I’m not putting a dollar amount on…

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Learn about this difficult disease & how best to control it.   Question: My 13-year-old cat has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. My doctor has me injecting him twice a day with insulin before his meals. I feed him 1/4 small can of W/D in the morning and 1/4 can at night with some crunchy…

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Cats who drink & urinate a lot may have diabetes. Some cases are complicated by an additional hormone disorder called Cushings. Both are treatable.   Question: My 9-year-old cat was diagnosed with diabetes in May. Now, additionally, she has Cushings Disease. What is it and what is the prognosis? I understand it is rare in…

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How Vaccines Work & the Risks of Too Much of a Good Thing Question: I read your column regularly and respect your advice. What do you think about this perspective? Summary of News Article: Are We Overvaccinating Our Pets? You may get notices from the veterinarian every year or two suggesting you revaccinate your pet…

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What do they really need & what’s unnecessary.   Question: My kids and my wife and I have decided that we want to have a pet but we can’t agree on a dog or a cat so we got both. We know they need shots but I’ve called a few vet clinics and I’m getting…

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Even with Less Frequent Vaccinations, Health Exams are Needed every 6-12 Months Question: We understand that the New Mexico legislature was considering a measure that lengthened the time between rabies vaccinations for cats and dogs beyond the current annual requirement. Does my indoor cat still need an annual rabies shot? Dr. Nichol: That’s a good…

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Our best methods at disease prevention have a down side risk. Here are the facts. 276c Question: When my cat gets her shot series, she seems sick the next couple days, and even has foam coming from her mouth. What causes this, and is it harmful?   Dr. Nichol: Your poor kitty is having an…

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If They’re a Big Enough Pain in the Rear-Get Rid of those Anal Glands Question: My four-year-old male cat has had anal gland problems since he was a year old. Our vet has expressed them several times. He now wants to remove them as he got blood out (for the second time in two months).…

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Anal gland disease & the itchy rear end.   Question: My indoor pet Siamese cat has recently began dragging her butt across the floor.  She has never been outdoors, and I really am clueless as to the cause of the problem. What could be causing this?   Dr. Nichol: Mmmmm. Sounds like me after a…

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How much should it cost? How sick is that kitty anyway?   Question: My cat has had all of his shots plus a recent tapeworm shot.  He has been lethargic and drool has been pouring from his mouth.  He has not lost his appetite and is currently drinking more water than usual.  Should I take…

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How to Manage the Feeding Frenzy Question: My 4 year old pug is obsessed with food. She turns into the Tasmanian devil. I tried just filling up the bowl and she gobbled down five bowls and was totally miserable. She would eat herself to death.  I have gone back to 1/2 cup morning and night. …

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It’s Complicated and Risky to try to Duplicate Mother Nature Question: I’ve heard good things about a raw food diet.  Are there any negatives to raw food for our cats?   Dr. Nichol: In principle it’s fine; cats are true carnivores. They don’t need to build little fires to cook their meat because they eat…

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A Disaster in the Making   Question: In your Journal article on July 30th, you comment about people food for dogs. I have a friend who has a “handicap assistance dog.”  It came with a very specific diet that includes raw chicken backs, vegetables and vegetable oil.  They were told it would extend the life…

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If the ingredients match & the analysis looks as good, why pay more? Because you won’t get what you don’t pay for.   Question: I read an article in last week’s paper that got me to thinking about how much money I spend feeding my animals. The article talked about “designer” pet foods and said…

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Large Breed Puppy Food Cuts the Risk of Bone & Joint Growth Disorders Question: I have a 7-month old Labrador retriever. How long should I feed puppy food, and at what age should I switch her from three meals per day to two?   Dr. Nichol: Important question. More than just managing your puppy’s weight,…

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Being overweight is unhealthy. Here’s how to get it right.   Question: How much should I feed my cat? I thought I was doing the right thing by following the recommendations on the bag but when I took “Shalako” for his shots, he weighed over 12 #. Now I feel guilty that he may not…

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Different Species Have Different Needs Question: I read in your column, three weeks ago, about the reverse opinion about feeding cats dry food. Would this advice, also, apply to dogs? Do pet owners just feed canned food? Would a really lean piece of meat without the spices and gravy suffice for a healthy diet? Dr.…

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Cats & dogs are different species with very different needs. Poor health can result from the wrong diet.   Question: Our 8 month old Pomeranian – dachshund sure enjoys eating the cat food! (Although the cat doesn’t appreciate it much). Is this a bad thing? Also, the cat kinda digs the dog food once in…

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There is no way to stop plant eating. Give the gift that keeps on giving: a Catnip Garden.   Question: We have an 8 year old purebred Manx who seems to really love to eat plants.  It was always a problem for the geraniums in his grandma’s house when he lived there (she’s happy to…

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Protect his Kidneys; Try Tough Love Question: My mother took in a throw away dog. He will eat only table scraps and cat food. When she first got him he would get constipation. She would feed him applesauce and he would get better. Now he seems to have gotten used to the cat food. My…

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Frequent dog food changes, gas, & dry flaky skin. This fellow needs a consistent diet.   Question: We adopted “Satchmo” a few months ago–he was the featured pup in the paper one day–and I’m having a heck of a time trying to get the little bugger to eat. I started him right off on Lamb…

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Lower priced diets boast comparisons to the better brands, but you won’t get what you don’t pay for.   Question: I read an article recently in Consumer Reports that said that some of the lower priced pet foods are a much better deal than food like Science Diet because the ingredients are just as good…

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A great way to keep a dog occupied & maintain healthy teeth & gums.   Question: I have a healthy 3 1/2 year old female Great Dane.  She really likes rolled cowhide chew toys.  I let her have one about 5 days a week.  Someone at my wife’s work told my wife that cowhide chew…

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Fine-as long as the pig & the dog aren’t related.   Question: I was wondering if pig ears are bad for dogs.   Dr. Nichol: I’ve always thought that this should be a matter of personal preference. If a dog has no ears at all, then pig ears are better than none. On the other…

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Feed no bones. Eat without your pets. Table food leads to trouble.   Question: Our one-year-old female Jack Russell Terrier might have swallowed some fish bones.  She seems fine, but I am worried about if they will hurt her in her stomach and cause problems. Should I be worried and take her to the vet…

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Are you crazy? Dogs & cats don’t eat corn in the wild. They need meat, right?   Question: Can animals, dogs and cats, digest corn? I know that in most cat/dog food the number one ingredient is ground corn meal, or something like that. If they can’t digest it, isn’t most of the dog food…

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Prescription diets r/d &  w/d make it easy to help your pet keep that slim figure.   Question: I have my dog on diet food & he is now @ his required weight. Should I change to regular food or give him more of the diet food, because he acts like he’s starving all the…

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Second hand or otherwise this stuff is poison.   Question: Hi. My dog, Bruce, is 5 years old. He likes to eat chocolate. I heard that chocolates are toxic to dogs. Is this true? There’s one other thing I’m really concerned about. I’ve been giving my dog candies since he was about 3 months old.…

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Low thyroid function is a factor for some obese dogs.   Question: We have a 4 year old male whippet (Echo) with a severe weight problem that we have been trying to get under control for some 8 months. We have tried many different diets. With some he was so hungry in about 2 hours…

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Feed an excellent diet & forget the rest.   Question: Can you tell me your thoughts regarding supplements for young pups? It seems there are differing opinions as to whether or not it is necessary. He is on Nutro’s Natural Choice for ‘dogs’ not ‘pups’ which the breeder (and many others) have suggested.   Dr.…

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How to tell the good nutrition from the junk. Question: I know someone who feeds her dog people food constantly.  I try to tell her that it is not good for the dog, but she disagrees with me and wants it in writing from a vet or she won’t believe me.  Am I wrong?  Is…

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Great for the humans but dogs need them predigested.   Question: My little terrier loves raw vegetables, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, okra, etc. and fruits-apples, oranges. Will eating these harm her? She eats this in addition to her dry food.   Dr. Nichol:   Fruits and vegetables for dogs: unnecessary if you are feeding a complete…

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You’ll be surprised by what human foods are dangerous to dogs.   Question: Please lists foods that may be or are toxic to dogs. I know about chocolate but my daughter tells me that onions and peanuts should not be feed to dogs even in very small amounts. My dog likes raw carrots,  celery and…

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Many Dogs Need Less Food. Coaxing a Dog To Overeat May be Bad for her Health. Question: I have a 3-year-old black German Shepherd that rarely eats. She usually only eats once a day, if that. She gets a whole lot of exercise everyday. The only way we usually get her to eat is to…

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Most hungry overweight cats are just bored. Question: My eight-year-old cat, Nelson, was placed on IVD special diet three years ago. I have noticed that giving him the same measured amounts of food have recently caused him to gain weight.  He always acts famished, so I am reluctant to reduce the amount. Being a housecat,…

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Rewarding this behavior with food will encourage more of it. Avoid the problem & the weight gain that goes with it by putting  your pets outside while you eat.   Question: Could you shed some light on giving table scraps like chicken, pork, & beef? I have a situation where some teenagers will give their…

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Attention Seeking Behavior is a Factor Question: My daughter-in-law feeds the dog from her plate using the same utensils she eats with. I am truly serious. She eats a spoonful of food then gives the dog a spoonful. The dog is at the table with his front paws on the chair and his head under…

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Dogs are the best trainers. Here’s how you can be the trainer. Teach your dog to eat dog food.   Question: I really enjoy the light and amusing style in your writing. My dog will not eat dog food, but prefers “people” food. I know this is not good for her but I don’t know…

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Elderly cats who fail to eat may have serious illness. But we can help many.   Question: We have a 20 year old female cat. She will not eat canned cat food from the pet stores. I have tried many brands but she will go many days before finally eating a little.  My wife wanted…

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Give Dogs a Structure for Eating Dog Food Question: I’ve tried to find a dog food that will satisfy both of my Chihuahuas but haven’t been successful.  As a last resort I started fixing them hamburger, boiled chicken or ground turkey with steamed rice, carrots and scrambled eggs which they love. Is this a healthy…

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What’s good, What’s junk, Why it matters   Question: For most of my cat’s 12 years she would only eat canned food. She got cat acne and our vet suggested it was due to the wet food. We have tried many varieties of semimoist and dry food and she seems to hate them all. She…

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Variety is the spice of life-but cats can get gas & diarrhea. Pick a good diet & stay the course.   Question: I live alone and my cat is my constant companion. I know I spoil her but I can’t help it. She’s 4 years old and I have noticed that she seems to grow…

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Preventable with Medications, a Diagnosis is still Essential Question: I have a 15 year old terrier cross. She is very healthy, however the last time I had her teeth cleaned, they said her heart beat too slowly from the anesthesia and they had to wake her up and that her teeth could no longer be…

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Surgery can be a Life Saver Question: Our Keeshond has laryngeal paralysis, acts like he is gagging all the time, and when he gets excited he lies down literally gasping for air and can’t breathe or get up. He is at least 13 years old, has always been in great health.   Dr. Nichol: Laryngeal…

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Heart Disease, the most Likely Cause, may Result in Sudden Death Question: Do dogs faint?  Yesterday I noticed my 6 year old female German Shepherd appear to faint twice.  We were playing fetch when she suddenly wobbled, then fell over on her side.  After 30 seconds she got up.  This morning she had another bout.…

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Congestive Heart Failure is Common & usually Responsive to Treatment Question: My dog is 16 years old and has not been to the vets in a long time. He has a very bad cough and I have been giving him an herbal product called cough-x. Is this safe? I don’t want him on drugs at…

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Canine Flu Vaccine Available By now we’re all aware of the H1N1 swine flu. Canine flu (H3N8), while not contagious to humans, is also on the upswing. Fortunately New Mexico’s dog population has so far been spared.   Dog flu has been around since 2004, a likely mutation of the equine influenza virus. What’s new…

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A Possible Serious Epidemic-Dogs have No Natural Immunity Dog lovers need to be aware of a new infectious disease called dog flu. So far there have been no cases identified in New Mexico but it’s been seen as far west as Texas. This virus can be transmitted through the air by coughing as well as…

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Latency causes Repeat Infections; Eye Infections are the Worst Part Question: We adopted a one year old male orange tabby in January, 2005.  He had been in the city’s shelter and then the humane association. He was very ill with what our vet called herpes virus-high fever and upper respiratory congestion.  It took him 5 weeks…

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Injectable Vaccine is Better Question: I don’t have a question just a heads up to all dog owners that take their dogs to dog parks.  Please get them vaccinated for Kennel Cough.  I did not and my Labrador Retriever came down with Kennel Cough.  She has been miserable for over a week and I hope…

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Usually contracted in boarding or grooming establishments, it can be tough to manage. We can help but it always runs its course.   Question: As an owner of three dogs, imagine my dismay when my vet told me my little one’s problem was kennel cough.  Their only exposure was at the groomer’s.  I of course…

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Gradual onset of paralysis of the voice box can be dangerous but it is treatable.   Question: My 11 year old female lab’s breathing is labored when walking & if any excitement at home. X-rays were normal. What are treatments? I competed for 6 years with Lucy in hunt tests & owe her so much.…

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Tooth Root Infections Can Be Diagnosed with Dental X-rays Question: I took my female mixed terrier for many check ups for, what I thought, was a respiratory problem. There was some thoughts of extracting some teeth. Antibiotics helped but did not totally clear it up. She still has a clogged up nose, which makes her…

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Dogs don’t get colds the way we do, but they can get some serious upper respiratory disease. See the doctor.   Question: I have a 7-year-old mixed breed (lab & husky).  Over the past couple of days she has been sneezing and coughing.  Do dogs catch colds? I’m not sure what to do?   Dr…

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“Reverse Sneezing” usually has allergic causes. Antihistamines should help.   Question: I have a 3 year old female pug named “Pug”. I know we should have come up with something else instead of “Pug” but….,anyway about once a month, she has what I call a seizure, but all  I’ve read doesn’t describe what she has.…

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Medications can have side effects. Know what to look for.   Question: My dog, Comet, is 11 years old with enlarged heart and liver. She is refusing to eat her dog food. After her bloodwork and x-rays she was put on vasotec and furosemide. She will eat rice with some chicken. I have checked several…

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How to recognize it, How to prevent it, How it’s treated.   Question: What are the symptoms of heartworms and is there a cure? If I give my dog a heartworm pill every month, do I have to give him wormer medicine too?   Dr. Nichol: Smart questions. Every dog owner hears recommendations of heartworm…

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Immune System Compromise Due to FeLV or FIV May be at Fault Question: About a year ago I started feeding a stray cat and lately he’s been coming in the house to eat. He seems to have a perpetual cold or allergy condition. He snuffles and sneezes all the time. Whatever it is isn’t contagious,…

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Collapsing Trachea is Common, especially in Overweight Small Breeds Question: My 9-month-old Pomeranian puppy suffers from a breathing problem. It seems to be an asthma attack. What can I do about it? Dr. Nichol: Pomeranians, and other small breeds, can be prone to a variety of respiratory diseases. You are smart to get this problem…

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Collapsing Trachea is a Lifelong Challenge Question: I have a young male chi-wiener dog who has a cough that sounds like human whooping cough.  He gets it maybe once a day and lasts for 10-30 seconds.  He is very healthy and active with a good appetite.   Dr. Nichol: Chronic coughing is never a good…

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Antibiotics are Necessary but so is a Clear Diagnosis Question: I have a cat that falls into the “feral cat living in a confined space” definition!  Rosebud lives in my house but is not tame.  She has sounded like a “wet head” for the past few years.  But now, she has real congestion with yellowish…

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Persian cats can have a simple surgery to correct their narrow nostrils.   Question: We have three Persian cats. Two are just fine but one of them (two years old) has trouble breathing. Her nostrils are very narrow. Can anything be done to help her breathe a little easier? I thought maybe tubes can be…

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Some abnormal heart sounds are dangerous but early, thorough diagnosis is key to good outcomes.   Question: I’m a proud owner of a beautiful Siberian Husky who is eight weeks old and is suspected to have a heart murmur.  If that is true what will happen to my puppy and will she be able to…

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Treat year ‘round with once monthly chewables.   Question: We moved 6 months ago and our vet there didn’t heartworm test our dog after he was 9 months old because the dog was on the heartworm preventive year ’round. Our new vet says that the dog needs to be blood tested every year. Why? It’s…

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Give OTC Meds Prior to Travel Question: Lu Lu, the 4 month old miniature poodle, has responded well to your house breaking tips and continues to be a happy, energetic, entertaining puppy but she doesn’t do well on road trips.  She frequently vomits and doesn’t appear to be enjoying herself at all.  Is there anything we could…

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No Need for Concern-No Toxic Risk Question: When our shelter rescue dog joined our family recently, we noticed shotgun pellets imbedded in several locations on his body.  He must have led a colorful life before coming into our family.  If these pellets are lead, is there any danger long-term of them leaching lead into his…

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Diet, Internal Illness are possible Causes Question: I have a 15 year old boxer beagle mix. He is in great health except he is getting gas worse and worse. It really smells bad and can clear the room. I have had to purchase a small fan to put at his rear end to blow the…

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