- I have a 4 year Terrier mix, great dog...but recently her eyesight has been failing. She can't catch her toys anymore and now bumps into things. Otherwise healthy. Is this a common and what are solutions to this condition. It came on sudden and seems to be getting worse. Thank-You - Terry Randall from Gardena, Ca.
I would be very concerned with these symptoms in a four year old dog. Sudden blindness or evidence of failing eyesight is something to take seriously and have evaluated b [more]
I would be very concerned with these symptoms in a four year old dog. Sudden blindness or evidence of failing eyesight is something to take seriously and have evaluated by your veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist (a specialist in examining eyes in pets) immediately. Often times, visual problems in pets are not noticed by owners until they are very advanced because the dogs are able to compensate with their able noses and their memory of where everything in the house is located. There are some eye conditions in dogs that are very time sensitive, such as glaucoma which is due to an elevated pressure inside the eye. The high pressure over time causes damage to the back of the eye where the retina and optic nerve are located resulting in a potentially permanent loss of sight. However, if caught and treated early, sometimes the vision can be saved which is a huge quality of life issue for pets and owners. There are several other possibilities that could cause these symptoms and the treatment is vastly different for each, some do not have any treatment and can result in permanent, irreversible blindness. [less]
- We have a 3-year old purebred Maltese dog.
Our problem with this really cute Maltese is her growling and baring her teeth and becoming quite vicious, at times, when one of us, even her beloved caregiver wants to either pet her or wants to pick her up when she is settled on her perch.
We recognize that she probably does not want to be disturbed, but this behavior goes on all day, some days.
Please help us, if you can. - Alice from Torrance, CA
Biting and aggressive behavior is never OK and should always
be addressed swiftly and early. More people, especially
children, get bitten by small dogs every year tha [more]
Biting and aggressive behavior is never OK and should always
be addressed swiftly and early. More people, especially
children, get bitten by small dogs every year than large
dogs. It appears as though your girl has decided that she is
the top dog in the house which is unacceptable. All of the
humans in the house should be higher on the totem pole than
any of the dogs in the house. There is a huge risk involved
with aggressive dogs because of the possibility that they may
bite another person which puts a large amount of
responsibility and liability on your shoulders. There is also
a huge risk involved with you trying to re-train her to be a
more submissive and agreeable dog and she may bite you in the
process if not done carefully and gradually. I would strongly
recommend that you seek out a behavior specialist to help you
address these problems in a one-on-one session that will
allow him or her to fully assess the situation and discuss
treatment and re-training techniques in detail specific to
your situation. [less]
- I have a Lab (4-yrs old) and weighs 68 lbs. How long should we be walking her each day ? i understand that it all depends on a dog's age and weight, but can you give me
some guidelines ?? Thank You. - Bev Bolin from CA
Exercise is so important for all of our pets just as it is for our own health. It helps maintain them at a healthy weight as well as providing benefits to their cardiovas [more]
Exercise is so important for all of our pets just as it is for our own health. It helps maintain them at a healthy weight as well as providing benefits to their cardiovascular system. Provided that your dog has healthy heart and lung function and no orthopedic problems, a brisk 30 minute walk 5 to 7 days a week is ideal. It is important to make it a brisk walk to get the heart really pumping and not the leisurely stroll of a dog on a bathroom break sniffing at every tree and blade of grass if you want them to get the benefits of the exercise. You can still do the leisurely walk at the beginning of their walk and at the end of the walk (think warm up and cool down), but during the exercise, keep things moving and do not allow her to “smell the roses”. There are lots of other great exercises that you can do as a substitute for the daily walk if you want to change up the routine.
Examples include – swimming, playing fetch, and agility training. [less]
- I have a 17 year old female cat. For the last 8 years every 1-2 months she goes from one spot in the house to another. She is an inside cat. Right now she's camped out in the bathroom. She only comes out to eat dinner. About 2 1/2 months ago she has started crying - loud. If I go in there and give her attention she stops. After a few minutes, she'll strat up again. I can't spend 24 hours a day in there. I am going crazy. By the way I have 2 other roommates and 3 other cats who don't do this. Thank you. - Priscilla Muguiara from Torrance, CA
Excessive vocalization is a relatively common problem in geriatric cats – to many owners chagrin. There are several explanations for why she is doing this. First, if she [more]
Excessive vocalization is a relatively common problem in geriatric cats – to many owners chagrin. There are several explanations for why she is doing this. First, if she is an intact female and has not been spayed, she may be in heat.
Other possible medical causes include pain (such as arthritis or a bad tooth), senility, high blood pressure, or hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is probably the most common of all of these and is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss despite an adequate or even voracious appetite. There are also behavioral reasons to explain the vocalizing including anxiety, stress or boredom.
You should have her examined by your regular veterinarian and have her thyroid levels and blood pressure checked as well as a thorough orthopedic and oral exam to look for sources of pain. If everything checks out and there are no medical reasons for her behavior, it is important that you do not reward her behavior with attention. Every time she gets your attention, it reinforces her behavior and encourages her to meow more. Going through this process will not be easy, especially with 2 other roommates who will be suffering along with you. You can also try pheromones such as Fel-i-way diffuser to help calm her down and provide her with toys and other stimulation. As a last resort, you can speak to your veterinarian about trying anti-anxiety behavioral medications to help calm her fears. [less]
- 10 year old fox terrier, holding up rear right leg, when I try to stretch it to see if it is hip or leg the knee pops some of the time. - Anonymous from Graham WA
This may be a luxating patella or “trick knee”. This is a congenital and inherited condition usually in small breed dogs which is caused by a couple of developmental abno [more]
This may be a luxating patella or “trick knee”. This is a congenital and inherited condition usually in small breed dogs which is caused by a couple of developmental abnormalities. First, because the dogs are bred to be small, sometimes the bones of the back legs are a little “bow- legged” causing the patella (or knee-cap) to be pulled to the side. In addition, the groove that the patella is supposed to ride in on the femur bone (the big thigh bone) is too shallow, also allowing the patella to be pulled to the side. Lastly, the tibia (shin bone) where the ligament of the patella attaches to is also pointed too far inward pulling the knee-cap to the side. The combination of these abnormalities makes the patella slip out of it’s groove and toward the inside of the leg. Once it is out of place, it makes it more difficult for the dog to straighten his leg and he will walk with the knee bent until he is able to maneuver the knee-cap back into place.
There are varying degrees of severity of this condition and surgical correction may be necessary if your dog has one of the more severe forms. A thorough physical exam as well as x- rays are needed to completely diagnose this condition as well as to rule out other possible causes as the popping in the knee-cap may not be what is causing the limping today. [less]
- I have a 10 year old spayed female cat that just recently starting urinating in her water bowl. She seems to be healthy with no issues that I can detect. She shares a litter box with 3 other cats. What causes a cat to just suddenly start this kind of behavior? - Janie Wilson from Torrance, CA 90504
Cats may start inappropriate urination for many reasons including both medical reasons (such as a bladder infection or kidney problems) and behavioral reasons (such as st [more]
Cats may start inappropriate urination for many reasons including both medical reasons (such as a bladder infection or kidney problems) and behavioral reasons (such as stress or anxiety over a change in the household). First, you should have her examined to make sure she does not have a medical problem. Once medical causes have been eliminated, you can address the behavioral aspect.
If you have 4 cats in the household, you definitely need to have more than 1 litterbox. The golden rule is one litterbox per 2 cats plus one additional box. So for four cats, you should have a minimum of 3 litterboxes. The reason for this is that cats can become territorial about the litterbox and block the access of another cat in the house. You may also want to try using different kinds of boxes and different kinds of kitty litter to see if she has a preference or dislike of the litter you are currently using.
Look for any source of stress or change in your cat’s life that may have coincided with this starting and see if that can be corrected. You can also try cat pheromone sprays or diffusers such as Fel-i-way to add a calming influence.
Finally, your veterinarian can prescribe anti-anxiety behavioral medications as a last resort if all other options have been exhausted. [less]
- I have lived in the Los Angeles area my whole life. I've had a window cleaning service for the last 25 years from Long Beach to the North Valley. Last week in San Pedro, I saw a praying mantis for the first time in my life. Are they indigenous to Southern California? Was it someones lost pet? Did it come from a boat in the harbor? An airplane from LAX? Seeing it really made my day. Enjoy your column! - Bob Flentye from Los Angeles, CA
There are approximately 6 species of praying mantis which are native to California as well as several species which have been introduced into California for pest control. [more]
There are approximately 6 species of praying mantis which are native to California as well as several species which have been introduced into California for pest control. They are very good at camouflaging themselves in the environment which is why you may not have seen one in the past. Of course, it is always possible it was an escaped pet as well as they are relatively popular in pet stores. [less]
I have 2 cats which are both males and both were adopted, 1 cat is about 4 years old and I have had him for about 3 1/2 yrs, the other cat is about 2 yrs old and I have had him for a little under 2 years. Both cats have been using the same cat box, recently I have noticed that the younger of the two cats, on occasion has been peeing outside the box, I would say this has been going on for the last few months. He still uses the cat box on occasion. I clean the cat box at least 3x's a day, why is the kitty doing this? when he was so good about going to the box for so long - Lynn Hagan from Redondo Beach, California
There are a lot of different reasons why cats may start urinating outside the litterbox. Some of the reasons are medical problems while others are behavioral. It is impor [more]
There are a lot of different reasons why cats may start urinating outside the litterbox. Some of the reasons are medical problems while others are behavioral. It is important to have him checked for a medical problem first before addressing the behavioral issues. Possible medical reasons for urinating outside the box include – a bladder infection, urinary crystals or stones, feline interstitial cystitis, or any disorder that can cause excessive amounts of urine to be produced such as kidney disease, thyroid disease or diabetes. If a medical cause for the inappropriate urination is found, the appropriate treatment can be started which should help to resolve the issue. It is important to do this first to avoid missing an important treatable medical condition while addressing this issue.
If it is determined that there is not a medical reason for the urination problem, then the behavioral reasons can be discussed and addressed. Behavioral reasons why the cat may be urinating outside the box may include anything causing stress or anxiety in the cat’s life. This may be because the two cats are not getting along or the older cat is bullying the younger cat and preventing him from entering the box when he needs to go. Or perhaps something stressful happened when he was using the box one day such as a loud noise.
Sometimes it is because the litterbox is placed in a high traffic or noisy area such as a laundry room or busy hallway where the cat does not feel he can go privately. Or maybe the box is in a place that is too confining and the cat is feeling cornered or trapped causing anxiety when using the box. There may also be something about the shape or size of the box or the type of kitty litter you are using that the cat does not like. Look around your cat’s environment and see if you can identify anything that may be causing him stress or anxiety and see if that thing can be corrected or changed to be less stressful to the cat.
Then you must clean the areas where he has urinated outside the box. There are several different kinds of cleaners out there, but you want to focus on finding an enzymatic cleaner that will help break down the cat urine rather than just mask the smell temporarily. Cat urine will fluoresce under a black light so you can wait until dark and go through the house with a black light finding all of the areas that have been urinated on to make sure you are cleaning everything as well as possible.
Next, try making changes to the litterbox itself. First make sure you have enough boxes. A good general guideline is to have one box per two cats plus one extra box. This means that even if you only have one cat, you should still have a minimum of two boxes. If you currently only have one litterbox, you should definitely get a second box. It sounds as though the box is getting cleaned well enough by what you described (3 times per day), but the minimum is once per day. Next, try changing the locations of the litterboxes, the type of litterbox (covered vs. open, etc), as well as the type of kitty litter. Try providing different types and combinations to see if your cat has a particular preference.
Finally, if all else fails and a medical cause for the urination is not found, you can turn to behavioral medications. There are some medications such as pheromones which are sprayed around the house or used in a diffuser to calm the cat. These are not harmful and are easy to get over the counter (e.g. Feliway). There are other medications that your veterinarian can prescribe which are stronger and may be more effective for more challenging cats. Keep in mind that these are only to be used as a last resort and in combination with other behavioral methods to get the best effects, always with the goal to try to get the cat off of all medications after the behavior has been corrected. [less]
- Can a dog with a heart murmur live an active, long life if nothing is done about the murmur? We have been told our 4 month old female Yorkie puppy has a heart murmur. Our vet would like us to get an xray and ultrasound of her heart, which we will do. We have two other dogs in the house, a 2 year old male Yorkie and a 1 year old Chocolate Lab. Both dogs have dog insurance, but I have not yet signed up the puppy for insurance and now I am afraid since she has a heart murmur, they may consider it a pre-existing condition and they may not insure her, in which case, we would not be able to afford surgery, if it came down to that. She is not lethargic and is a very active puppy. Our vet keeps asking if she seems to be coughing a lot, but she shows none of the symptoms that our vet keeps asking us. - LAS from Torrance, CA
A heart murmur is an abnormal whooshing sound heard between the heart beats. Many different things, ranging from very serious to no big deal, can cause this abnormal soun [more]
A heart murmur is an abnormal whooshing sound heard between the heart beats. Many different things, ranging from very serious to no big deal, can cause this abnormal sound. The only way to tell for certain whether your puppy’s heart murmur is something that needs to be addressed is to have the tests performed that your veterinarian is recommending.
If the tests determine this is a benign heart murmur, the puppy may live its whole life with no serious consequences and without the need of any medications or surgical treatments. The symptoms of a dog with a heart condition can also vary depending on how severe the disorder. You may notice lethargy, trouble breathing, coughing, lack of activity, or feinting. Absence of these symptoms does not guarantee that there is not a serious problem as the heart condition can be like a ticking time bomb just waiting until the right time to cause a potentially life threatening situation. Unfortunately, you are probably right about the pet health insurance in this case. They usually do not cover pre-existing conditions and they do not usually cover congenital diseases that the puppy was born with. [less]
- We will be moving to Orange County with our 18 year old Calico cat. What do you suggest to make the move less tramatic on the actual moving day, as well as adjusting to the new home, and the new locations for food and litter? - Anna from Rancho Palos Verdes
To prepare her for the actual trip, it is a good idea to start by getting your cat adjusted to the carrier, especially if it will be a long drive (i.e. more than 1 hour). [more]
To prepare her for the actual trip, it is a good idea to start by getting your cat adjusted to the carrier, especially if it will be a long drive (i.e. more than 1 hour). Start by leaving the carrier out all day with the door open and place tidbits of food or treats inside as well as a comfortable bed or towels so she associates it with a peaceful, happy place.
Once she seems to be comfortable going into and out of the carrier on her own, close the door while she is inside for a short time (maybe 5 – 10 minutes). Gradually increase the time inside the carrier and take her for short drives inside the car, always coming back home and giving her treats and affection when you are finished.
To help her adjust to your new home, start by giving her just a small room (like a bedroom or large bathroom) to reside in and restricting her access to the rest of the house initially. Place her familiar belongings such as the litterbox, food, bed and toys inside the room. This will allow her time to become comfortable with this space and to easily find all of the things that she needs. It will also give her a safe place to reside during the week or so that all of the heavy things are being moved in and around the house. The commotion of moving can be very stressful and it is easier on the cat if there is a quiet, safe room for her to stay in while the action is happening elsewhere. This will also prevent her from accidentally running out an open door into an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Once she is comfortable in her room and the moving mania has quieted, gradually increase her access to the rest of the house and look for permanent places for her food and litterbox (if they will not be permanently in her original room). Look for places that are not in high-traffic or noisy areas that may be stressful. Make sure to familiarize her with the new locations or keep the original location as a backup (especially in the case of the litterbox). Keep in mind that if you have a multi-level home, you should have a litterbox on every level of the house to which she has access. [less]