Sunday, March 20, 2011

Advice for Dogs who are Itchy

Question:  I am a dog and my paws are itchy like they are on fire. I spend most of my time biting my paws, they are so sore all the time and sort of tingle. I cannot stop myself from itching by biting my toes, even though my owner has put yucky tasting stuff on my paws. What is wrong with my paws.
Signed, Sad Feet

Dear Sad Feet
Very likely, unless you hurt them from walking on something bad such as lawn chemicals, the problem with your feet is actually a sign of a food allergy. Many dog owners only treat the symptoms of food allergies, which are often called “Hot Spots ”, or try to stop the dog from itching. A better idea would be to stop the problem itself.

Your owner could take you to a veterinarian for a proper allergy test but that can be expensive so they are better off to look for common allergy causing ingredients in your dog food, and dog treats. The most common allergy causing ingredients in dog food are beef, pork, soy, wheat, and corn. As well owners need to know that mystery ingredients, such as “meat meal” and “animal fat” could be anything and also should be avoided in dogs who are showing signs of food allergies.


Question:  I am a pit bull terrier dog, and I am itchy all over, I have no idea why, I did not roll in anything, I don't think I have fleas, but my skin kinda does not look as good as it should.
Signed, Scratchy

Dear Scratchy
Thanks for mentioning the type of dog you are, because some dogs are more prone to skin problems that are less common in other breeds and pit bull dogs are one of those who often have skin problems. Your owner should check for fleas even if you think you do not have them, as well mites are another concern and would cause hair loss as you mentioned. They should check the food ingredients, as mentioned for the dog in the question above, as these can make some dogs itchy all over, or break out in hives. Soy in particular seems to be an ingredient that Pit Bull Terriers are extra sensitive to.

You might have dry skin, or problems with seasonal allergies, even bug bites, such as from mosquitoes, seem to be more of a problem for dogs of your type.

Your owner can try bathing you in an oatmeal shampoo that is made for dogs with itchy skin. They should also look at the ingredients in your food as Pit Bull type dogs tend to be more prone to problems related to certain ingredients (soy, wheat, corn, beef, or pork), and make sure your bedding is washed without the use of strong detergents.

Your owner should have a veterinarian examine you to determine exactly what is causing you the problems.

Question:  Hello there, I am a Shih Tzu dog and my ears are driving me crazy. I scratch my ears and shake them, but nothing seems to help. What can I do to stop my ears from itching?
Signed, Itchy Ears

Dear Itchy Ears
There are many reasons why a dog's ears can be itching. Ear mites do occur in dogs, but not as often as in cats, and these could cause your ears to be itchy and irritated. Bacteria or yeast infections are common ear problems in dogs, particularly in dogs with floppy ears, and often your ears might smell bad if you have one of these problems. Sometimes these problems start when water gets in your ears and they are not dried properly. As with both other dogs, itchy ears, and infectins can be a problem related to dog food ingredients too.

Your owner should consider what could be causing the problem and take you to a veterinarian for a proper check up to see what the matter is. Your owner should be very careful about cleaning your ears themselves because they could make things worse if they push anything too deep into your ear.

Further Reading for Dog Owners

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Help for Pets in Animal Shelters

Question:  Help, I am an adult cat and have been at the animal shelter for two months hoping to get adopted.  I came here with kittens, they all have found homes, which of course makes me happy.  I have heard that people do not often adopt adult cats, like myself, what can I do to get a good home?
Signed, Is one-year-old too old?

Dear One
Sadly many adopters think that year old cats are too old to adopt.  Personally I would rather adopt an adult cat, and actually have done so.  Adult cats do not use their claws as much, and are better behaved, plus adult cats are often better with young children than are silly kittens.  I am very hopeful that you will find a loving person to adopt you and take you into their heart, and home. 


QuestionI am a dog in a shelter wanting to get adopted, I try my best to make sure people notice me, I jump up at the cage door and bark, but they just keep walking past and I do not get adopted.  What else can I do?
Signed, Am I Invisible

Dear Invisible
You are anything but invisible, in fact your problem is most likely the fact that you are doing too much to get noticed and it scares the potential adopters away.  Barking is normal for dogs in shelters, they are bored and surrounded by other dogs.  I suggest you try sitting nice at the door, and not barking, this is what people want.  As a dog, it is tough for you to understand that, which is why some shelters employ dog trainers, or have volunteers spend time with the dogs, teaching them good manners.  Hopefully somebody can focus your energy correctly, and a potential owner will realize that with a little time they can keep you so happy you no longer bark or jump up!


Question:  What the heck is going on here.  One day I was at home, not a care in the world, the next day my owner stuffed me in the car - drove me to an animal shelter, and left me behind.  I gather I am "up for adoption" but have no clue what that means, can you help?
Signed, Confused

Dear Confused
All I can tell you is that for some reason your owner decided they no longer wanted you, or had a reason they could not keep you.  They did the right thing by taking you to an animal shelter - some owners just let their pet run loose which is cruel, and often illegal. 

Being "up for adotion" means that you are ready for a new home.  People can look at you and hopefully one will decide that you are the right pet for them.  They will fill out an adoption questionnaire and if the shelter determines they are a good owner, and are allowed pets, then you will go home with them. 

looking smug in his home
Further Reading

Life and Death of a Mother Cat in an Animal Shelter

Advantages of Adopting an Adult Cat

Why Dogs Bark

Why Animal Shelters have More Cats than Dogs

Reasons Why People Abandon Pets and Animal Shelters - a Resource for People in Canada, USA, and Mexico to find pets - and livestock - for adoption

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Advice for Deer who are Worried

Question:  Help, I am a mother deer, I leave my fawn everyday while I go to eat, she is only a week old, and today I returned to feed her but she was gone. There is no blood, and I know my little fawn would not have left, what is the matter?
Signed, Doe the Deer

Dear Doe the Deer
You have every right to be worried, your young fawn has probably been taken by a person who thought she was abandoned. Hopefully the person will realize their mistake and return her where they found her. Mother deer, like yourself, often continue to look for their lost fawns for days. Sadly many people do not realize that mother deer regularly leave their fawns like this and the fawns are best left alone.


Question:  Hi, I am a young fawn, and I am a little worried about being different than the other deer. My mother looks nothing like me, I have white spots, and she does not. Am I sick?
Signed, Little Spotty

Dear Little Spotty
No need to worry little fawn, the spots are for your protection. They make it harder for fawns like you to be seen in the woods. The word for this is camouflage, and to a predator you look like spots of sunlight shining through the trees, rather than a deer. Eventually your spots will grow into a solid pattern like your mother has, by then you will be stronger and faster to run away.


Question:  Hello, I am a young buck, I have these things growing on my head, I guess they are called antlers. Anyhow I have been itching my antlers lately and one of them fell right off. It scared me, what is happening?
Signed, Buck

Dear Buck
No need to worry, this is normal for male deer. Antlers are different than horns, horns do not fall off, but antlers fall off every fall, or winter. This means you do wont have to carry around a huge set of antlers throughout the winter, but will have them for the rut - which is when mature male deer (bucks like yourself) compete to get does (female deer). In the spring you will quickly start to regrow another set of antlers which will be bigger than the set you had this year. That set of antlers will also fall off, and the cycle will continue.

Further Reading on Wild Deer

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Advice for Dogs who have House Training Problems

Question:  Woof, I am a cute 4 month old Shih Tzu pup who cannot be housebroken. My owner lets me out several times a day, and always gives me treats when they bring me in, why am I not house trained yet? Please help me I do not want to be a bad dog.
Signed, Frustrated Pup

Dear Frustrated Pup
Your owner is to blame, they are not house training you correctly, and some puppies, such as Shih Tzus need extra training. Your owner needs to go out with you every time they put you outside to pee and poo. Your owner needs to reward you immediately after you do your thing outside. By waiting until you come in they have only trained you to come inside, not to do your business outside.  Crate training might be a good idea for your owner to consider.

Question:  Hello, I am a Yorkshire Terrier dog and I am so confused at what I am suppose to be doing. My owner has pads in the house for me to pee and poop on, and sometimes take me outside to use the yard, but sometimes they get mad at me for peeing and pooping inside on other things, why is this?
Signed, Confused

Dear Confused
Your owner's house training method is sending mixed messages. The pee pads are generally a bad idea since they tell dogs that it's okay to pee and poop on carpets, towels, and other things, but the owners expect you to only use the pads, or go outside.  Some dogs simply play with the pads and tear them to shreds!  The pads are okay to use if you are in an apartment up high, and cannot get out to a yard. 


Question:  Hi there, I am a very attentive Border Collie puppy, I am very smart, and really want to please my owner, but feel hurt by my owner who hits me every time I mess in the house, what can I do to stop this?
Signed Hurt

Dear Hurt
Border Collies are smart for sure, and quick to learn. Your owner may not realize it but they are rewarding you for messing in the house. Dogs love attention, especially smart dogs. Hitting, yelling, and so forth are, in an odd way, a reward to the dog, plus when it happens after the fact the dog may not even associate it with messing in the house. This is another house training owner error because you should always be watched when indoors - dogs who are supervised, and taken out immediately when they start giving signs (sniffing, circling) do not mess in the house!


Question:  Hello, I am a handsome one year old Pit Bull terrier mix, and for some reason I pee on everything. My owner is not at all happy about this, I was fully house trained until recently, but not I cannot seem to stop the need to urinate on everything, inside, and out.
Signed, Messy

Dear Messy
If you are a male dog, and are not neutered, this is probably because of your hormones. This is common as male dogs mature and can start feeling the urge to leave their scent everywhere they go. Another concern might be a health issue. This would be if you are female, or are a neutered male dog, or even an intact male dog. If you have a bladder infection, or other urinary tract problem, you would feel the need to urinate quite often.  Your owner should take a urine sample to the veterinarian to check for urinary tract infections or problems.

©Brenda Nelson

Further Reading for Dog Owners

Advice for Horses who are Cranky

Question:  Howdy, I am a roan Quarter Horse, 10 years old. My owner (she is my forth owner so far) mostly rides me for barrel racing, I have done that for many years, and am quite good. In the past few months I am starting to hate it. We run the barrel pattern, speed out the gate, and slam to a halt, I no longer am happy when we enter the arena and often put up a fuss. Surely there is more to life than this?
Signed, Whata Life

Dear Whata
I am afraid your problem is fairly common among barrel race horses. Some owners become so focused on competition they forget to show their horses the fun side of life. Your owner needs to do other things with you, go for a trail ride, or just take you for a a walk. The main thing is your owner needs to diversify their riding and take you out of the arena more, because you are clearly becoming bored and sour, and this is unfair, and admittedly, not a good life.

Question:  I am a beautiful gray Arabian Mare, some times things are great, I am a happy horse and I throw my tail over my back like there is not a care in the world, but other times I just get cranky, moody, and cannot be bothered to do anything. What the heck is going on with me, why I am so moody?
Signed, Bint Moody

Dear Bint Moody
You are a mare and this is moody behavior is very common in mares of all breeds. Your hormones go up and down, particularly in the summer, but some mares are moody all year long. Your owner can invest in feed supplements for mares to help regulate your moods. Some people find that adding a small amount of calf colostrum on a weekly basis will help add bacteria to your stomach and this might help too, because your hormones affect digestion, and poor digestion will make any horse cranky. A vet should be called out to give you an overall check up (including your teeth). I sure hope that helps, but if not your owner might consider getting you spayed if they don't want to use you for breeding later.  Mares who are moody, tend to  have moody foals too.

There are quite a few herbal supplements to help issues of moody behavior in horses, your owner can find many supplements at either or

Question:  Hello, I am a big chestnut Warmblood, I compete as a hunter. I am stabled most of the time and have my own turn out pen. I have found a fun habit I want to tell you about, I bite the fence with my teeth arch my neck, and suck in air. It makes a cool sound. The people at the barn are mad at me for doing this, should I continue with my habit or is it bad?
Signed, FunTimes

Dear FunTimes
Your habit is a problem known as cribbing, or windsucking, and it can be bad. Cribbing can cause digestion problems, even colic, and can wear down your teeth. Plus what if you get a splinter in your mouth? You need more mental stimulation in your life, perhaps a bigger pasture with other horses, a rubber horse ball, or inner tube. Even a kids plastic pool filled with water. Until you stop your new habit you need to wear a cribbing strap to prevent you from doing that. Your owner needs to bring more diversity into your life, this is a symptom of boredom for many horses.  Toys for horses can be found at many tack stores and online.

Advice for Pet Rabbits with Concerns

Question:  Help, I am a cute little bunny, but I have a bad habit and my owners are making fun of me. It seems I sometimes eat my own poop straight from my bottom.  My owners think this is disgusting, what can I do to stop this habit?
Signed, Cute but Worried

Dear Cute by Worried
Do not worry little bunny, your habit of eating your poops is not gross, or offensive, in fact rabbits eating their own feces (another word for poop) is normal. Rabbit's bodies makes special feces called cecotropes, and you are suppose to eat them. Cecotropes are smaller and softer than your regular poops, and most bunnies eat them right away. You will usually have them at night or in the morning. These droppings contain bacteria and other nutritional things that are helpful to you!

Question:   I am a male bunny with bad teeth, and I think I need a dentist. My teeth are so long it is almost impossible to eat, in fact I have lost weight! I thought my teeth were suppose to wear down on their own, but they don't, what is wrong?
Signed, Toothy

Dear Toothy
Yes it does sound like you need a dentist, but a veterinarian will do, in fact even a patient owner can trim your teeth. While most bunnies will wear their teeth down, a rare few have dental problems called Malocclusion. Your owner can help by giving you more carrots, hay, even chew toys, such as apple tree branches, but chances are you will need your teeth trimmed on a regular basis. Some people even do this with human nail trimmers but must be careful not to cut your tongue. For your first time it is very important that you are seen by a vet because this problem can get worse if the teeth are not trimmed correctly.  Tooth problems like this are just as common in male bunnies, as in females.


Question:  Hello, I am so upset, I am having an identity crisis. I know I am a rabbit, I thought I was a rodent, but my cat friend, she says I am not a rodent at all. Should I even trust the cat; if I am not a rodent, what am I?
Signed, Confused

Dear Confused
The cat can be trusted, she is right, rabbits are not rodents. Rabbits are Lagomorphs. There are a few differences between rodents and lagomorphs. You are a true herbivore (rodents will eat meat), and you have 4 incisors on your upper jaw (rodents have two). 

Other Reading for Rabbit Owners

Should I Breed my Bunnies?

Fly Strike - is my Pet at Risk?

How to Care for Pet Rabbits

Advice for Cats with Litter Box Problems

Question:  Help, I am a four year old cat, it hurts every time I urinate and as a result I tend to have lost faith in my litter box and am peeing in other places, on my owners bed, in the laundry, and so on, but this is making them mad. They say that if I don't start using the litter box they will be getting rid of me, but sometimes I feel like I need to pee without normal warning. What do I do, it hurts too much to pee!
Signed, Sore

Dear Sore
Poor cat, your owner should not punish you, your fear of using the litter box is not your fault, you may have a urinary tract infection or crystals, and your owner needs to take you to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. These kinds of litter box problems are very common in cats, in the meantime you should try to drink more water.

Question:  Hello, I am a young, super cute, kitten, only seven weeks old, I just got adopted a week ago, and have a huge home! My problem is that I sometimes go to the bathroom behind the sofa, and other places, because I can not seem to find the litter box. I know we have one, I just do not know where it is, help!
Signed, Lost Kitten

Dear Lost Kitten
Your owner needs to provide you with a litter box in a convenient place, and may even want to keep you shut in a room, with your food, water, and litter box, for a few weeks until you get a bit older and more able to find your way around the house and can control your bowels better. Exercise and play stimulates your bowels, and as you are just a young kitten, you will not get enough warning to run to the litter box, so your owner would be smarter to keep you in a room for a little while longer. You can be taken out to play, but should spend nights, and when you cannot be watched, in the room, perhaps for a week or two more.

Question:  Hello, I am a 2 year old male cat, my cat friend Sam keeps making fun of me because I tend to spray urine all over the place and he never does. I should point out that Sam claims to be a male cat, but I really am not sure. My spraying behavior seems so normal, is Sam just messing with me?
Signed, Tom

Dear Tom
Chances are that both you and Sam are male cats, it is just that Sam is a neutered male cat, and you are not. This means Sam had his testicles removed, and now lacks the male hormones that encourage male cats to spray their urine. Spraying urine is natural for a mature male cat that has not been neutered, but neutering will have many positive effects, including removing all risk of you getting testicular cancer, and should reduce your desire to spray. Hopefully your owner will see this as a positive solution to prevent you from spraying.

Further Reading for Cat Owners