Dear Dr. Fox:
We would like to get a second dog. We have a delightful 4-year-old golden doodle (a golden retriever and standard poodle mix). We are completely smitten with this wonderful animal. It’s something of an understatement to say she gets along well with other dogs in the neighborhood. When she sees other dogs outside, especially ones she recognizes, she is so eager to go out and greet them that she goes crazy. When friends have gone on vacation and left their dog with us, she enjoyed the company as long as we didn’t give too much attention to the extra dog.
Would it harm her to bring another dog into the house? Would she get used to it? Or would she always be jealous? We would like to bring in a puppy because we enjoy bonding from the beginning, and I would like to train the dog. Should it be female, male or a puppy? Does the breed matter? S.A., Silver Spring
DF: I appreciate your concerns. Your dog has been well socialized into accepting your friends’ dog staying with you while they are on vacation, so I see no problems.
Adopt a pup from an animal shelter, provided that he or she has a clean bill of health, has been wormed and treated for fleas and given core vaccinations.
The sex of the pup is not too important because neutering is to come, but a male who will grow to about the same size as your present dog might be your best choice.
Have the two dogs meet outside on neutral territory, such as a quiet side street or park, and walk them home after they have had time to sniff and check each other out. This will enrich all of your lives.
Dear Dr. Fox:
Three years ago, three feral kittens showed up at our campsite, begging and crying. The only thing I had to feed them was bread. For two days, I fed them bread and milk.
The next time we went to the camp, I fed them hot dogs and bread. Winter was coming, and they were terribly thin. Only the orange tabby showed up on our last trip. I took him home and bought a sack of dry cat food. He has been doing very well on that. He was treated for worms, checked for feline leukemia and given his shots.
The problem is that he will almost exclusively eat only dry food, with the exception of mashed cantaloupe. He does get a tablespoon of canned cat food, but eats only a small amount if it is mashed with water. I would like to switch him over to a diet you recommend, but he eats none of those things.
A.K., New Brighton, Minn.
DF: Feeding kittens born in the wild that are often dumped by irresponsible cat owners is a feel-good response, but unless they are caught, neutered, wormed, given good nutrition and found good homes, that response simply prolongs their lives and suffering. Those cats and their offspring that do survive will breed and multiply, which means more suffering and in many areas a significant loss of wildlife when the adult cats hunt and kill birds and small mammals to survive.
Good for you for eventually rescuing at least one of these feral survivors. Ideally, you should have caught all three when they were young and taken them home with you or to an animal shelter. The longer kittens stay out in the wild, the more difficult it is for them to lose their fear of people and adapt to living indoors.
Breaking cats of their addiction to dry cat food can be challenging. There are a few good dry cat foods, such as Evo, Wellness and Organix, but most are junk food high in cereal and byproducts. Try to switch your cat to a quality cat food. Be sure he drinks plenty of water or try moistening the dry food. Encourage him to eat canned cat food such as Wellness chicken and herring. If he likes it mashed with water, that’s fine. Go to www.feline-nutrition.org for more information.
Dear Dr. Fox:
Our 11-year-old springer spaniel, like most old dogs, suffers from arthritis. We give him one tablespoon of cod liver oil a day, as well as vitamin D3 from fish oil (400 IU). We also give him prebiotics and probiotics with yogurt. At night, we give him Wobenzym on an empty stomach for inflammation. This has seemed to work for a long time, but lately he is becoming stiff, and it is more difficult for him to get up after lying down.
We started to give him one Ascriptin tablet (325 mg). This seems to help greatly. We don’t give him the aspirin every day because we are concerned with stomach bleeding. His blood work has been normal, and there is no evidence of problems so far.
Is the Ascriptin is a safe treatment, and how often can it be given? Our vet recommends Rimadyl. B. and J.K., Jupiter, Fla.
DF: Rimadyl is in the same class of drugs that has been recalled for use in humans suffering from arthritis. Liver damage is of particular concern for dogs.
Occasional buffered aspirin is okay, if you give no more than 81 mg per 20 pounds of body weight after food in the morning. Try a quality concoction of glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM human supplement, and give half the recommended daily dose.
Explore the benefits of veterinary acupuncture and adding powdered ginger and turmeric in your dog’s food (500 mg a day). Give the supplements just after eating if you are giving them in capsule form. Some veterinarians are finding significant benefits using low-intensity laser therapy. For details, go to www.qlaser
Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.