By STEVE DALE
Tribune Media Services
ORLANDO, FLA. -- These reader questions were answered by veterinarians attending the North American Veterinary Conference Jan. 19-23, in Orlando, FL.
Q: I rescued a cat who needs a bath. How do you bathe a cat? -- G.C., Las Vegas, NV.
A: "Carefully," begins Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. "How quickly your cat can deal with water depends on how fearful of water the cat is. "
First, run the water while holding your cat nearby, but far enough away from the water so the cat isn't terrified and wanting to get away. Offer your cat treats while the water is running to associate the water with something yummy. That's the goal, anyway, but realistically, while some cats take to water, but most don't
Next, take a moistened towel or clean rag and get your cat just a little bit wet. Simultaneously, offer treats. If the cat isn't panicked by now, you can really get your kitty wet. However, never dunk the cat's head.
Colleran, of Chico, CA, says she prefers to at least attempt the gradual method rather than force the cat, or to use waterless shampoo. Remember, though, that whatever you put on a cat, the pet will lick off, which concerns Colleran.
By the way, congratulations on rescuing this cat!
Q: Our 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel goes to the back door and scratches there and drools whenever we leave the house. This behavior began right after our cat died. We've hired a teenager to walk Abby during the day, but that hasn't helped. Our veterinarian mentioned drug therapy, but is there another strategy? -- M.L., Cyberspace
A: Your cat's behavior "is an unusual manifestation of separation anxiety," says veterinary behaviorist Dr. Gary Landsberg, of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada. "Typically, pets become anxious when separated from their human companions. But this instance might over the loss of the cat. Certainly, videotaping the dog's behavior in your absence would help your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist.
Landsberg suggests you consider a Royal Canin prescription diet called Calm (using diet to help dogs feel less anxious, including tryptophan and other ingredient to help calm pets); an Adaptil dog collar (infused with a replica of a calming/appeasing pheromone) and/or Anxitane (L-Theanine, a nutritional supplement which can help dogs become more relaxed).
By the way, used correctly, Clomicalm or Reconcile (drugs your veterinarian may have had in mind) may be very helpful, though Landsberg undersands your general apprehension.
The truth might be that your best prescription for Abby is to get another cat. Preferably, add a kitten or an adult cat that has lived with dogs before.
Q: Our grandpuppy is the cutest dog in Chicago. Once a week, we get Matilda for the day. She loves to run in our spacious yard, but she picks up sticks, twigs, even leaves, and may eat them. She ate some hostas this past summer and got really sick. I hate to keep her on a leash all the time, though. She gets plenty of food. Any advice? -- A.K., Chicago, IL
A: Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall suggests several possibilities. One is that your grandpuppy could be picking up some of these items, thinking it's a game. You may be able to alleviate some of this by playing another game with a favorite toy. If Matilda is chasing a toy, she may not think about picking up sticks. Overall says one toy might actually be a stick. After all, you know Matilda likes sticks. Just offer a large one, and don't give her time to chew on it; instead, play fetch (if she'll cooperate).
"I am concerned if the dog is actually eating the twigs and sticks because that can cause an obstruction, and the hostas already made her sick," says Overall, of Philadelphia. PA. Overall says that while she likes the idea of your dog being off-leash, you ultimately may need to opt for on-leash walks to better control Matilda's behavior.
Q: I find flea products confusing to use. Also, we travel a lot and missing a dose has meant that we had fleas. What should we use? -- V.D., Homestead, FL
A: Even veterinary professionals refer to veterinary parisitologist Dr. Michael Dryden, Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine as "Dr. Flea." He says, "Products aren't so challenging to use when you receive veterinary advice about the right product before you make the purchase. For example, a chewable, flavored tablet like Comfort is easy to use; all you need is to give it to your dog."
When you travel, if you take your dog with you, be sure to take the flea product of choice. If you leave your pet at home, be sure to inform your pet sitter about the protection you use, how to use and where you keep it.
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 Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. 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.
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