Q: Already it’s happening — it snows and people don’t pick up after their dogs. This is why I don’t care for dogs. Doesn’t that stuff carry disease? — P.P., St. Paul, MN
A: Yes, ‘that stuff’ (dog feces) does potentially carry disease, according to veterinary parisitologist Dr. Dwight Bowman at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, N.Y. The potential diseases transmitted to people include roundworm, salmonella and Campylobacteriosis. Giardia, roundworm and whipworm can be passed form dog to dog. Bowman is president elect of the Companion Animal Parasite Council (learn more at www.petsandparasites.org).
According a survey by the Center for Watershed Protection, dating back to 1999, 41 percent of respondents rarely or never clean up after their dogs. I’ll bet the number is even higher (as you point out) when snow is on the ground. I think people really may think the poop disappears as the snow melts.
Having said that, I don’t have a clue why you’re so angry at the dogs. The problem is irresponsible people who don’t pick up after their pets. It’s the law to pick up after your dog, but it’s also neighborly (my shoes pay a price, too!) and public health concerns exist for people and other animals. Everybody, please scoop the poop!
Q: I love the look of pure white snow – which our large mixed-breed dog, Tyler, loves to play in. Is there anything I can do to prevent the snow from turning yellow after Tyler pees? — S.G., Rochester, NY
A: The short answer is no. However, the more your dog has to drink, the less concentrated his urine will be – and the more clear its color.
Q: My Pomeranian/Pinscher/American Eskimo cross was born when I lived in the country. Now I live in a high rise in the big city, and we have a dog park for our gated community. Unfortunately, Tucker is having problems dealing with people and other dogs. I’ve taken him to reactive Rover classes and a class for fearful dogs. What’s the next step? — J.W., Des Moines, IA
A: My guess is, Tucker wasn’t exposed to many types of people and dogs at a young age, and this fearful behavior is due to lack of socialization.
Chicago veterinary behaviorist Dr. John Ciribassi says, “”Don’t force the situation. It’s great your complex has it’s own dog park, but for now, this is not a good place to take your dog. The more your dog learns, ‘If I growl, the other person or dog will back off,’ the more entrenched the behavior will become.””
If you haven’t already, consider a Gentle Leader head halter. This will give you more control, and may help calm your dog.
Teach Tucker to focus on you with a command such as, “”watch me.”” Practice first indoors without distractions, then outdoors at times when there are unlikely to be many dogs or people nearby. Finally, practice with people and animals around, but still stay a good distance from them. If Tucker eats at 5 p.m., push back dinnertime an hour and take your dog’s kibble outside. Pop Tucker some food each time he pays attention to you. Timing is key. Be sure not to reward your rover for reacting to another person or another dog.
You might benefit from the services of a veterinary behaviorist (www.dacvb.org) or a member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (www.avsabonline.org) for more specific advice and, potentially, anti-anxiety medication.
Q: My 6-month-old kitten will chew on just about anything. I’m careful to make sure she doesn’t harm herself. Is there something cats can chew that’s safe, similar to rawhide for dogs? — H.H., Seminole, FL
A: If you have a chewer, consider purchasing a wire protector at a home improvement store. If your kitty begins to nibble through a live wire, the consequences could be deadly. Also, remove as many plants as you can, since the foliage may cause an upset tummy or far worse.
“”First, make your home as kitten-safe as possible,”” says feline veterinarian Dr. Ilona Rodan of Madison, WI. “”Second, offer her choices appropriate for her chewing. A small percent of cats will chew on rawhide.”” Moisten the rawhide just a bit, then warm it slightly in the microwave.
Rodan likes the idea of purchasing C.E.T. chews, specially made for cats to chew on for dental benefits, or using Hill’s prescription TD (some cats may actually prefer the canine TD; more to chomp on). You might even go as far as stuffing the chews into a Kong toy made for dogs or into a sterilized dog bone for your kitty to spend time and effort to remove.
Rodan is co-chair for the first-ever Feline Life Stage Guidelines, created by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and American Animal Hospital Association. The guidelines will be available to veterinary professionals in early 2010, initiated by the non-profit CATalyst Council. “”Our hope is veterinarians will communicate consistent messages, based on what data we have, to clients concerning cat care throughout their (pet’s) lifetime,”” Rodan says.
Underlying Rodan’s message is that cats simply aren’t focused on at many veterinary offices in the same way as dogs; it’s almost accepted that cats won’t see a vet as often. CATalyst is determined to shift that paradigm. A similar set of Life Stage Guidelines written for the general public will be released later in 2010, and you’ll read about that here first.
Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can’t answer all of them individually, he’ll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207 or send an e-mail. Include your name, city and state. Steve’s website is www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated “”Steve Dale’s Pet World”” and “”The Pet Minute.”” He’s also a contributing editor to USA Weekend