Dear Dr. Fox:
On the advice of our veterinarian, we have routinely gotten a battery of annual vaccinations for our generally healthy 13-year-old indoor/outdoor cat. We pay $175 for this service.
In a recent column, you advised against unnecessary and potentially harmful booster vaccinations for cats. Can you please elaborate further on what vaccinations are warranted and when they should be administered?
M.R., Chevy Chase
If local laws dictate your cat must be given an anti-rabies vaccination, don't dodge the bullet. Have the veterinarian give the canarypox virus-vectored type, since feline veterinarian experts find this to be preferable to other types of rabies vaccination.
If your cat were an indoor-only animal, no other vaccinations would be needed since he's had so many vaccinations already. But, being an indoor/outdoor feline, he is at risk from exposure to other cats who may be sick.
So you have two choices: Run the risk of adverse reactions (including possibly fatal cancer) from booster shots (which should not be injected in the cat's back or between the shoulder blades, but low down on the limbs). Or, have a blood-titer test done, which may well show that your cat has good immunity and needs no more vaccinations.
Dear Dr. Fox:
I recently married a great guy and moved into his house. He has two male dachshunds who are 6 years old, and they're horrible.
They consistently go to the bathroom either in the garage or in the house. Occasionally they go outdoors, but they pee indoors every day. When you walk in the house all you smell is urine. One of the dogs eats his poop in the garage.
I am totally disgusted, and it's destroying our marriage. My new husband just shrugs it off. I cannot go on with these dogs -- I even hate to look at them. Please advise.
D.S., Holly, Mich.
You need to call in a reputable dog trainer or animal-behavior consultant to save your marriage!
Dachshunds are notorious for being house-soilers. They may be urinating more in the house now to mark their territory because they see you as an intruder.
Both you and your husband need to set up a regular routine of taking the dogs out on leashes to walk and evacuate, and also to play in the back yard or other safe area.
Before your marriage falls apart completely and your husband chooses his dogs over you -- or, worse, gets rid of them for your sake, then hates you from then on -- be open with him about this issue. Work with him and the dogs to get them housetrained.
Dear Dr. Fox:
I would appreciate it very much if you could let me know the following:
* Based on your expertise, is it wise to domesticate a wolf puppy and trust it as a companion on long walks in the countryside?
* What kind of medical treatment do I need to provide?
* What kind of sleeping arrangement is required during winter and summer?
* What kind of food would be appropriate to feed a wolf?
Thank you very much for your advice.
I strongly advise against keeping and breeding wolf-dog hybrids for several reasons.
First, you never know which of them in a litter will have a stable temperament. Many are unstable, fearful and difficult to handle. Some are terrified of strangers, unreliable around children, aggressive toward dogs and destructive in the home. A higher percentage of dog in the hybrid means fewer problems. So why not get a stable, wolf-looking dog like a malamute or husky?
Having bred and studied wolf-dog and coyote-dog hybrids as a behavioral scientist many years ago, for me this is an ethical, humane issue. Why cross a wild species with a domesticated one when you know some of the offspring are likely to suffer because they do not adapt well to our lifestyles and environment, and may be euthanized or abandoned?
Michael Fox, author of many books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Write to him in care of United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
(c) 2005, United Feature Syndicate Inc.