Pet Advice and Pet News

Miracle Class Pet Escapes School Fire
Written by Tim Sakahara -

An early morning fire destroyed three classrooms, an office and storage room at the Central Union Church Preschool. The school will now have to find space for 44 students.

As bad as the fire was there is positive news to come out of it. It may actually speed up plans to build a new school but more importantly to the young kids late this afternoon their school pet was found safe.

Just as school employees were at their lowest point there was a sign of good news. Fire inspectors found Ehu, the school's pet guinea pig.

"His cage is right by where all the fire happened. He has a guinea pig guardian angel," said Education Coordinator Charla McGuire, who bought the little guinea pig for the school two years ago.

Ehu was inside the inferno yet somehow he escaped his cage and found a spot away from the smoke and flames.

"How do you explain that?," asked KGMB9's Tim Sakahara.

"I can't. I can't explain miracles," answered McGuire. "Ehu is still here, he's going to be around for a while he's meant to be here."

Unfortunately, Ehu and the school will have to find a new home. The fire destroyed a building that was built in 1904.

The loss was especially difficult for Jan Furuta because four generations of her family have gone to the school.

"It's heartbreaking. When we heard it on the news, it was very sad, our first immediate thing was at least we knew the kids weren't in school and how scary would that have been if the kids were in school so we feel blessed that no one was hurt,” said Furuta. Her son currently attends the preschool.

"We decided to come down to let the children take a look and see so he would understand why they cannot go to school and to get a visual sense of how bad everything is," said Nadine Tenn Salle, as she held her son and looked at the damage.

The preschool had already been planning to build a new school. They even have renderings of the new buildings. The fire will now speed those plans along.

"The positive thing also is that we may be able to build a brand new preschool here and maybe a better facility from here on in," said Miguel Asuncion, Central Union Church Administrator.

In the meantime, they will likely use portable buildings for temporary classrooms. They're positive they can make it work, after all they have a new symbol of hope in Ehu that anything is possible.

"That is a miracle. I mean the kids did ask this morning where the guinea pigs were and so obviously they were worried about that. I'd say God took care of him," said Furuta.

Unfortunately, the other pet guinea pig named Hapa is still missing, but the faculty is holding out hope for another miracle.

As for the school, its board will meet Thursday. It hopes to have a temporary solution in place so kids can return to school by next Wednesday.

Pet Bounces Back to Health
Associated Press

A mother whose dog swallowed her children's rubber ball said the pet was "bouncing" back to health.

Tracy Cruickshank was concerned when Koda, an 11-month-old Collie crossbreed, suddenly started vomiting, and took him to an animal hospital.

When a vet raised suspicions that Koda had swallowed something, Ms Cruickshank realised where her children's missing "power ball", a highly bouncy toy had gone.


Advice for Pet Owners
Marty Becker - Veterinarian, lecturer and syndicated columnist

Veterinarian Marty Becker explains how pet owners and their animals can get fit together in his co-authored book "Fitness Unleashed!: A Dog and Owner's Guide to Losing Weight and Gaining Health Together." Becker is the veterinary contributor to ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" and hosted the PBS special "The Pet Doctor with Marty Becker." He is also the co-producer of the syndicated column Pet Connection and has co-authored several books including "The Ultimate Dog Lover," "The Ultimate Cat Lover" and "Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul". He will be online Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m. ET to answer questions.

Please join us again Wednesday, Oct. 29, for another discussion on pet care with the Animal Doctor Michael W. Fox. And check out's Pets section anytime!


Washington, D.C.: Any advice on how to get a 3-year-old housecat to lose weight? She's been on prescription Purina Overweight Management cat food for two years. I feel like even though she's not eating a large quantity of food (1/3 cup at morning and at night), she is not losing weight (around 17 pounds). Her sister (from the same litter, fed the same amount of food) is at a healthy weight and just more active in general.

Dr. Marty Becker: For any pet that's overweight (and that's 50% of America's pets) you first must rule out medical conditions (like low thyroid). Once you've done that, it's basically like I saw on Rosie 10 years ago: Move More and Eat Less. This means special diets like you're feeding, strict control of treats, and getting cats to move more by splitting up portions of food and putting them in dishes in different spots in the house so that the cat goes on a pretend hunt. Spritzing cat toys with aerosol catnip to energize the cat's play drive, etc. One thing you should note. Cats AREN'T sedentary animals. We let them get fat, they don't want to exercise, and get fatter. They get arthritis because they're fat, and can't exercise. If you just get 20% of the weight off of the cat, you'll see a dramatic difference in activity levels, often starting to return to that fluid movement cats are known for. One last thing; when dogs get arthritis they limp; when cats get arthritis (or are in pain) they become sedentary, stop eating, become reclusive or have weird behaviors such as attacking the dog, other cats or human family members.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hi, Dr. Becker -- We have a wonderful 2-year-old lab mix that we took home from a rescue last year. Last winter she would jog with us on her leash. Now she seems to not be interested. She stops and sniffs a lot. And sometimes just sits when we try and jog with her. She's very active off her leash. Running in the backyard and on our nearby dog trail. I've tried using a shorter leash for a morning jog, but it's not working well. Is there hope for our sweet dog to be a jogger with us?

Dr. Marty Becker: Humans are always in a hurry, while dogs want to luxuriate in a 3-D experience. Stop at the tree, log on, and check their pee-mail. When they sniff the tree, it's like Facebook, Google, IM and email. From a sniff they can tell gender of visitor, intact or sterialized, in heat, recently exercised, stressed, etc. Also, #2 is just a delight to see, smell and too often, consume! When I walk dogs I use a product called the Gentle Leader Easy Walk harness (not a head collar)which is like installing power steering on a dog. Check it out at Sometimes I go for power walks where I want to REALLY move and I take a slingshot and shoot pieces of their dog food waaaay ahead so that they're pulling like sled dogs delivering vaccine on the outskirts of Nome, Alaska. Other times I go at the dogs pace, stopping to let them sniff, listening when their ears perk to see what they might be hearing, etc. You have to know when to "go" and when to "slow."


Pasadena, Calif.: My question is about my 2-year-old cat who has multiple symptoms which I don't know if they're connected or not. I don't know her background as she was a stray I found at work (guess is she was about 7 mos. old). She has rippling skin and runs around the house mostly at night, she also bites her rear toes quite hard and pulls on them. Sometimes both of them together. This last weekend I noticed a small bald spot on her back leg. She's on a high quality food and has been checked by a vet multiple times and the only thing they've found is extremely mild hip displasia.

I appreciate any help you can give as I'm at my wits end with this.

Dr. Marty Becker: You need to get a referral to a) a veterinary dermatologist, or b) a veterinary behaviorist. I think this is either an allegy (can be to food, surface cats sleeps on, molds, etc.) or a behavioral issue like anxiety. There are several new drugs out there that I've used at North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, ID where I practice that can work wonders on cases like this. These drugs are for dogs, used off label for cats, and include Atopica for atopic dermatitis and Reconcile (prozac) for cats.


Capitol Hill: My 18-month-old Silky Terrier gets 4 walks a day, ranging from short (15 mins.) to long (hour), but spends most of the day crated while my husband and I are at work. What's the ideal amount of physical activity we should shoot for?

Dr. Marty Becker: I LOVE Silky Terriers BTW! Our goal is 2 city blocks (about 200 yards) per 10 pounds of body weight twice a day (can combine in one trip)for starters. Then you increase 10 percent per week. A common mistake is start out with too strenuous a walk and the dog will come back with sore joints or raw foot pads. We don't wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon, and while our dogs will follow us to the ends of the earth, like toddlers we have to look out for their well-being.


London, UK: Hi. My Welsh Corgi is 8 and FAT (36 lbs). She also has hip dysplasia so it's really uncomfortable for her to have the extra weight. How should I go about walking it off her? She will go until she drops so it's hard for me to gauge when she has had enough and then she's limping the next day. She eats dry food, a senior formula. I feed her about 1 1/2 cups total a day. She gets no snacks and is not stealing food.

Dr. Marty Becker: I wrote a book called "Fitness Unleashed" a dog and owner's guide to losing weight and gaining health together (Three Rivers Press) with Dr. Robert Kushner a human obesity expert and the book is in it's 6th printing. I deal with issues like what you describe daily. First of all 50% of obesity is genetic. You see fat Labs, Corgis, Bassets, Beagles, etc. but you don't see fat Whippets and Boxers. For your Corgi (which I LOVE BTW) you need to feed a joint friendly prescription diet like Hill's Prescription Diet j/d, or ones from Purina or Royal Canin. Secondly, put the dog on a drug for arthritis such as Rymadyl, Previcox, Metacam, etc. Thirdly, use a neutroceutical such as a condroitin/glucosamine tablet. Soon, she'll be eager for those walks and the not only the pounds but behavior problems will start to melt away.


Alexandria, Va: Our stairs are 15 steep steps up to a loft. We throw our dog's toys up to the landing and he chases after and brings them back to us.

Would you consider this a supplemental workout for the pup if we do it several times and he is running all over?

Dr. Marty Becker: Great job! One of the things we talk about in "Fitness Unleashed" are alternatives for people who can't walk their pets (elderly, injured, dead of winter) and you can do things such as have your pet walk the stairs, swim, toss a tennis ball using one of the world's greatest inventions called a Chuck-It (can throw ball 3X as far, don't have to bend over or handle slobber-slick ball), etc.


Evanston, Ill.: My 11-year-old lab, at 95 pounds, is about 10 lbs. overweight according to his vet. I do walk him, but he shuffles along and sniffs and pees -- not much exercise. He will swim for hours, but it's cold now. How can I help him get the exercise he needs? The vet has suggested injections for arthritis in his hips; I haven't decided whether to do this yet. He is on medication for low thyroid, and he and I both take glucosamine (not out of the same bottle, though). Otherwise he is healthy -- just slow.

Dr. Marty Becker: Every profession has their inside humor and we jokingly called Labs, "Black Flabador Retrievers." Labs are VERY prone to obesity. I would recommend a joint friendly diet such, a Cox 2 inhibitor for arthritis such as Rymadyl, and joint supplements. Also, whenever he is moving at the pace you like, give him a tiny treat (such as a poker chip slice of turkey hot dog) and praise him with verbal treats such as "Good make momma proud" and soon he'll be repeating the behavior you want repeated.


Arlington, Va.: Hi there. I'm getting concerned about my 3-year-old adopted dog's tendency to lick. If we're not looking, he'll lick until there's a sopping wet spot on whatever blanket or carpet he's lying on, even on his own bed. He would do the same to us if we did not notice it and discipline him against it - he especially tries to lick us if we just put on lotion or even medicinal cream! Is this a big problem, and can you recommend a course of action to combat it? Thanks!

Dr. Marty Becker: This is a classic obsessive/compulsive behavior but one that can and should be treated. Ask you vet for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist, and/or ask them about drugs such as Clomicalm or Reconcile. I have a dog on Reconcile for separation anxiety and it's worked a miracle on our lil' dog Quora.


Omaha, Neb.: Our female Lab will sometimes limp after games of fetch. There is no particular source of pain I can detect: I can feel both front paws, legs and shoulders without any resistance or whimpering from her. Usually the limp lasts only 20 minutes or so, but once it lasted almost 12 hours. I am concerned because she is only 3, and that seems young for a dog to be "achy." Also, because the symptoms are so sporadic, I haven't yet taken her to vet for them because I don't have anything to "show" him. Any suggestions as to what could be causing this or what I should ask our vet to look for? I'd greatly appreciate any insight you could offer. Thank you.

Dr. Marty Becker: This is definitely early signs of arthritis. Many folks see me on "Good Morning America," "Martha Stewart" or PBS, read my partner Gina Spafori or my syndicated column in their local newspaper or PARADE magazine, but I'm still a practicing veterinarian (North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho). I saw a 2-year-old Labradoodle with severe arthritis on Monday. Talk with your vet about special diets, drugs (like Rymadyl) and joint supplements.


Arlington, Va.: My 1.5-year-old Pomeranian has recently become afraid of the basement stairs in the evening. She sits at the bottom and cries instead of coming up. In the mornings she is fine. She's in the basement with outdoor access during the day with a dog walker at noon. What can I do to get her over this? I've tried treats on the stairs but that wasn't sucessful. My other pom just looks at her like she's crazy and trots on up.

Dr. Marty Becker: She probably fell or is associating something negative with the stairs. I live on a horse ranch, Almost Heaven Ranch, in North Idaho and our lil' 16-pound Chihuahua mix (Canine Cocktail) hit the electric fence in the horse pasture 2 weeks ago and now refuses to go near the barn. We're using a synthetic pheromone product called Comfort Zone D.A.P. (available from pet stores, vets, Walmart) that is a synthetic version of what the bitch secretes in her nipples that gives puppies that contented, dreamy look. It comes in a collar, in a spray and in a diffuser like those you find at Bath & Body works. This product really works for thunderstorm phobias, noise phobias (firworks, gunshots) and for weird behaviors like your describe. It's safe, simple, effective and inexpensive.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Dr. Becker, we have a 9-year-old Scottie, 20 lbs, who is a social butterfly (loves kids, people, and believe-it-or-not, other dogs -- early socialization works!).

She likes her walks, and starts out great guns, but then gets tired early on (tongue hanging out, sitting down on the sidewalk). Would your suggestion for her also be the gentle leader so that I can pace her? Thank you.

Dr. Marty Becker: Praise early socialization. In our new books "The Ultimate Dog Lover," "The Ultimate Cat Lover" and "The Ultimate Horse Lover" (which have only been out two weeks today and are already in their third printing! Praise God!) we talk about the critical early socialization period for dogs. Between 8 weeks and 13 weeks, the dog needs to meet 100 people (every make and model) that are not family. Give strangers treats and ask them to interact with and reward your dog. Back to the walking question. Luckily, you're recognizing that your dog is tired and needs to rest. Signs of exhaustion include excessive panting, seeking shade, laying down especially frog-legged, lagging behind. One of the problems you run into is when the human is active (woman traing for Iron Woman triatholon) and you have a stubby legged dog trying to keep up. That's why many people get a dog that's made to be a partner (like a retriever for someone who's very active) or a small tea-cup poodle or tiny shelter rescue for an elderly person who wants to ease around the block just one. If you dog gets too tired, take them for a walk first, bring them back to the house and deposit them, and continue your walk without them.


McLean, Va.: Hello Dr Becker,

Just wanted to say "hello" and let you know I like your work the most (of all the vets who have a national presence). Your book was given to us as vet students back in the late 1990s, and I've always kept it. Thank you! -- VMRCVM '98 alumna

Dr. Marty Becker: Thank you! There's a favorite saying of mine "There's only one greatest vet in the world... and every family has it!" Nothing, NOTHING is as great as being a vet. Getting to smell toxicly sweet puppy breath, watching a kinetic tangle of kittens, being their for the first hello (a delivery late at night) or the last goodbye. While I may be a well-known national vet, I encourage people to trust their own vet who knows the pets medical history, current health status, emerging risks in the community, etc.


Arlington with Obsessive Compulsive Behavior Again: Really, drugs? I'm all for a behaviorist's take, but if drugs are their go-to tool, I have some trepidation...

Dr. Marty Becker: I should have been more clear. Veterinarians in general and veterinary behaviorists specifically, will almost always use behavior modification and only use drugs if necessary. For example, with one of our rescue dogs that's on Reconcile for separation anxiety (the unwanted extreme home makeover variety) we use B.O.N.D. modification that the drugs manufacturer LILLY recommends which is Be Positive, Only reward good behavior, No more drama when coming and going, Develop independence. Quora would go crazy when we'd leave so we started putting on out coat and shoes then wouldn't leave. Or we'd get out the car keys, go out and start the car, then shut it off and come back in. This type of modification along with Reconcile has worked wonders.


The Trails: I am currently training to walk a marathon, and my two young (two years old) golden retrievers are training with me. They're in great shape, they are really loving our walks, and it's been a great bonding experience for us. Do you have any recommendations about increasing their food as we increase miles? We have been gradually building our distance, and we usually walk between 4 and 10 miles per day. Thank you!

Dr. Marty Becker: Be careful about increasing food. We have a beloved Golden Retriever, Shakira aka Shi-Crazy and we keep her thin. NOT "call the human society thin" but you can feel her ribs, she has a tucked abdomen (like a wasp) and when viewed from above has indentations at her waist (like an hour glass). Pets that are kept their ideal body weight (about what they weighed at one year of age) will live 15% longer or an average of 2 years! Another reason to keep Goldens thin, they (along with Flat Coat Retrivers, Boxers and Bernese Mountain dogs) are at extreme risk for cancer. By keeping them thin, exercising them regularly, asking your vet for a food that is high in Omega fatty acids like DHA, and by giving Omega 3 & 6 supplements you can dramatically lower their risk of cancer.


Re: Pee-mail: funniest thing i've read in a while. that will have me laughing all day.

my wife wonders why our dog urinates on the trash bags everyone has placed on the curb. my response to her is that it is a new object that has not been tagged/marked yet, he is either marking it first for territorial purposes or because it is a clean canvas. Your thoughts?

Dr. Marty Becker: Trash bags are partiall made of recycled animal fat and/or gelatin. Dogs and cats are drawn to their smell. In the new books "The Ultimate Dog Lover" and "The Ultimate Cat Lover" they're one third heartwarming stories, one third amazing photographs (stories words alone can't tell) and one third what we call Must Know Info (which are new solutions or answers to common pet problems). We tell people who to stop the cat from scratching where it should and scratch where it should, get the cats to use the litterbox, Feline introductions 101 for introducing a new cat to other cats or dogs, how to get a dog to stop excessive barking and only alert you that someone's at the door, how to DRAMATICALLY reduce sheddding in both dogs and cats.


Anonymous: Hi,

I have what may be a silly question. I am 4'10, not overweight, middle-aged, and would like to adopt a dog that would enjoy walking. I am not strong, so an exuberant labrador or German shepherd would probably not be the dog for me. (My husband is 6' so he doesn't mind so much about the size).

I'd like to take the dog out for 30-45 minute stroll, twice a day. Are there any particular breeds that might be a good size and personality fit for me? I have had dogs before, but don't currently. Thank you for any ideas.

Dr. Marty Becker: First of all, the #1 pet owner complaint is shedding. Know what the best dog is for people who don't want shedding (from The Ultimate Dog Lover book or ours BTW)? A long haire dog. What? How could that be? Let me explain, long haired dog's hair is genetically triggered to fall out less often. So you go to the shelter and get a small long haired dog (small dogs just have less hair than larger dogs because of surface area)and keep it clipped short (especially during the shedding seasons). I would get a canine cocktail that weighed about 15-20 lbs. BTW - For you cat lover's if you want a cat that triggers the fewest allergies in humans (from our new book The Ultimate Cat Lover) get a light haired female cat as male black cats are the worst offenders.


Richmond, Va.: We have a 5.5 month old German Shepherd puppy who (unsurprisingly) has a lot of energy. We take him on 3 walks a day and will occasionally run him around the neighborhood park (on the grass) for about a quarter mile. Our vet said this was ok, but because he is a young large-breed dog and we are trying to be gentle on his still growing hips, we are afraid to take him much farther. At this point though, a quarter mile does very little to tire him out. When can we start increasing his distance, and what else would you recommend as good exercise for a young city dog?

Dr. Marty Becker: I LOVE German Shepherds but they have a real tendency to have hip problems. To prevent problems: keep him thin his entire life, ask you vet for special diets so he doesn't grow too fast his first year, use joint supplements from day one, and encourage a lifetime of moderate exercise. My goal for exericse is to always start out with 200 yards per 10 lbs of body weight twice a day and increase 10 per week. Once he gets older and in better shape, there's nothing like having them retrieve a ball to amp up the workout.


Nashville, Tenn.: Desperate cat owner needs help! Maine is 9 years old and has just recently quit using her litter box. Her vet checked her thoroughly and said this activity was behavioral. She could not tell me how to prevent it. Can you help? I am ready to try most any suggestion. Many thanks.

Dr. Marty Becker: I can help. Again drawing for the "new solutions to commone pet behavior problems" in our new book The Ultimate Cat Lover, you're going to do two things. First, go to your local pet store and buy three litter boxes (I like the Petmate brand that has Microban impregnated plastic that discourages bacterial growth)and buy three types of cat litter (clumping, natural like pine or corn, and crystal). Come home and fill all three cat boxes with different litter and see which one your cat prefers. See, normally it's humans that chose what litter that cat wants based on brand name, scent, packaging, what's on sale, etc. but now you're going ot let the cat choose. After it's made it's decision over a few days, donate the rest of litter to a local shelter and now fill the cat boxes up with three different depths (1/4 inch, 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch) and let the cat choose the depth they prefer. If this doesn't stop the problem (and it probably will) try a synthetic cheek phermomen (when cat rub their cheek on you or the edge of the cough, they're marking you as cat approved, safe, a known passage, etc) called Comfort Zone Feliway (available from pet stores, vets and places like Walmart)as it's proven to reduce inappropriate elimination and scratching by 97 percent.


DC: I have a 13-year-old cat who has been the only pet in my home for 10 years. I'm seriously considering adopting or fostering an 11 year old (very gentle) dog, but I'm concerned about how my cat will react. What's the best way to go about this?

Dr. Marty Becker: I won't have to answer this fully but we have a wonderful "Feline Introductions 101" section in our new book The Ultimate Cat Lover. Quickly, you put the dog and cat in separate rooms and let them get to know each other by smell under the door. You feed them on either side of the door and then switch bowls half way through the meal (making sure the other pet is eating something so delicious that they associate great things happending with the new pet), you wipe all the pets in the house with a common towel to mix scents, etc.

_______________________ Later today: John Grogan, author of the bestselling memoir Marley and Me-- about life with his yellow Lab -- will be online at 3 p.m. ET to chat about that book, as well as his new memoir, The Longest Trip Home.


Columbus, Ohio: I have a 4-year-old male German Shepherd. He weighs around 108 lbs -- not fat but not skinny either. We feed him 2.5 cups of dry food in the am and another 2.5 cups in the pm. Are we feeding him too much> I worry about his hips as he gets older.

Dr. Marty Becker: Your dog shouldn't weigh that much. I'd like to see him at about 95 lbs. One of the things you might consider is feeding a single piece meal called WholeMeals. It takes the pet 4X as long to eat, and there's an 80% reduction in plaque and tarter thus dramatically decreasing the time between when pets need professional cleanings. Developed over 10 years by ethologists and veterinary behaviorists, you realize that it was humans who decided dogs and cats should eat kibble out of a bowl. I feed my dog WholeMeals in the morning and kibble in food puzzles (Busy Buddy or Canine Genius) at night.


DC: Mr. Becker, Perhaps you should not be mentioning your books in every second reply that you post? We got it, you're promoting the books and I may even purchase one...But please do not overdo, it gets annoying.

Dr. Marty Becker: Sorry, it's like showing off new babies, I'm just excited and proud of them.


Seattle: For about 4 solid months my 2-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier LOVED to play fetch, she could go for hours. But for the last couple of months she hasn't wanted to play at all. Is is it normal for dogs to burn out on an activity, and is there any way I can get her to play again?

Dr. Marty Becker: I'd first get the dog checked out for a medical problem. I had a dog in the practice a month ago that quit fetching it's beloved tennis ball and it has an abscessed tooth. If nothing is wrong, soak the ball overnight in beef broth and when the dog fetches it go crazy with praise and give a super yummy treat like a piece of a Gerber Graduate Meat Stick.


Boulder, Colo.: Whenever we're home, our 3-year-old English Bulldog barks fiercely at anybody who comes to our house, and doesn't calm down for several minutes after they've entered. When we're not home however (deliveries, cleaning service, etc.), she stays completely out of sight, and doesn't bother the "intruders" at all. We realize she's trying to protect us, but is there any way to reassure her that everything's ok, and that there's no need to get so worked up over every visitor to our home?

Dr. Marty Becker: Is there anything in the world cuter than a English Bulldog puppy? Always use positive consistent reinforcement (NOT what you see on TV) to get the behavior you want repeated. When someone comes to your house, get your dog's attention with a tasty food reward, tell it to be quiet, and ask it to sit to get the goody; it's hard for a dog to bark or be agitated when they're looking at you. When it complies, give it the treat. Let the dog know that it's okay, maybe even desirable, to bark a couple of times to let you know someones at the door, but when you say "QUIET" they're job is over.


Arlington, Va.: When is a good time to start a lab on preventatitve arthritis medicine? Our lab is 5/6 years.

Dr. Marty Becker: Keep your Lab thin and have moderate exercise. Use joint protectives recommended by your vet from puppyhoood and if you know your dog's mom or dad had arthritis, you may even want to put on a special joint friendly diet (Hills, Purina and Royal Canine all have great ones).


St. Louis, Mo.: Hi, I have a 4 y/o Boxer/Vizsla mix. When I got her 2 y/o ago she was 41 lbs, she looked very thin with her ribs protruding. The following year on her trip to the vet still 41 lbs, but this year she was 53lbs, but to look at her, she is still very thin, though her ribs do not protude as much. The vet wants her to lose weight. She's very active and I've cut her food and snack intake, but she's always hungry. In fact if the other dog doesn't eat his food, she'll eat it, a problem I've never had. What are your thoughts?

Dr. Marty Becker: Dogs are scavengers and never knew when or where they're next meal was coming from. As such, they'll gladly dig their own grave with their food bowl if we let them. My daughter Mikkel and her husband Pat have two Pugs, a black Pug Willy and a fawn on Bruce. Bruce has food on the brain; he's ALWAYS hungry, and will eat anything (dog food, cat food, dirty diaper, garbage contents) so Mikkel must just be super vigilant to limite his food intake and keep him active (he loves to walk and play). BTW- Because they take a proactive approach, Willy weight 14 lbs and Bruce is 19. They're at their ideal body weight.


New Baby + Dogs+ Cats?: We're expecting our first child in Feb and currently have 3 daucshunds (2 female, 1 male) and 2 cats (both male). What is the best way to get them used to the baby (and vice versa) so that their behaviors don't regress, they don't feel neglected, etc? Last time we babysat a puppy for a week, the dogs all ended up regressing and having accidents for weeks in the house (something they hadn't done for years!)... I want this to be smooth for everyone and beyond just surprising them with a little human, I'd like to somehow prep them. Thanks!

Dr. Marty Becker: Get CD/DVD available at Amazon that has baby sounds to aclimate pets to the noise before baby comes home. When baby is first born, take a blanket from the hospital and bring it home for pets to sniff and sleep with. Make extra efforts once baby is home to give pets lots of attention and some REALLY tasty treat like my favorite, Halo's Liv-A-Littles which are freeze dried chicken, salmon, beef, lamb, etc.


Kansas City, Mo.: I have the opposite problem of most folks here, I have a 3-year-old lab that can't seem to GAIN weight. We've been to the vet repeatedly, they can't find anything wrong with her, we feed her 2 cups of Natural Balance twice a day (more than recommended), and still she doesn't gain. She IS very active, can you recommend anything other than MORE food? Thanks for all your insights!

Dr. Marty Becker: Three possibilities here. One is that the dog has pancreatic insufficiency (does stool contain fat and smell?). Secondly, the dog could be hyperthyroid (panting, excessive thirst, weight loss). Lastly, you might need to repopulate the gut with normal intestinal flora. Just like people use activate yogurts like Active, there is a product by Purina available from your your vet called Fortiflora that I give to my patients when they've had intestinal problems or just periodicaly for good digestive health.

_______________________ From Dr. Becker: Gotta run to catch a plane. See you next time!

Save Up To 50% Everyday!

Animal Control Director Seeks Increase in Fines
by Carol Crump - Casper Journal

More than 100 phone calls a day come into Metro Animal Control.

Some callers just ask for advice on pet care, but from one-third to one-half of each day's calls are complaints about animal problems.

From barking dogs and nuisance cats to the occasional mountain lion, skunk or bear in a backyard, the joint municipal and county agency responds.

Shelter Director Rick Sulzen has a recommendation for making the response better.

He'll be asking the Natrona County Commissioners to raise the fines for animal-related problems like being unlicensed, unvaccinated or running at large.

Natrona County and its city and towns all have the same basic violations under the Uniform Animal Control Act. Metro's six animal control officers can issue citations anywhere in the county's 5,200 square miles.

The difference among the jurisdictions is in the fine schedules. Each has a list of its own for fines, with judicial discretion as to whether a fine should be assessed.

A dog at-large citation that may result in a $105 fine in Casper Municipal Court may merit only a $60 fine or be dismissed in the Circuit or District courts.

Sulzen would prefer a countywide uniform fine schedule, but he's willing to settle for bringing the county's fines closer to Casper's.

He hopes increasing the fines will serve as an education tool for both county residents and the courts.

"City judges have to deal with it more," he said. "There are fewer animal misdemeanors in the county, so Circuit and District Court judges are not really aware."

Part of the problem Sulzen that sees is the increase in the number of people who have moved into rural Natrona County.

There's been an increase in calls about wild animals like skunks and raccoons near residences.

Last year Sulzen had a call about a wolverine, a species that is not native to Wyoming. The wolverine in the backyard turned out to be a 45-pound bear cub.

"People need to understand animals live there," and Metro will lend (live) traps with a $50 returnable deposit for the smaller creatures, he said.

The largest increase in county calls coming into Metro are related to dogs running loose, harassing kids waiting for the school bus, chasing cars or getting into a neighbor's chicken coop.

"The people who choose to live in the county may think their dogs should be able to be where they want to be," Sulzen said. "That's fine as long as they stay on your property. I get called when they go off the property."

Cruelty to animal calls also are increasing in the county. Sulzen said a lot of the cruelty calls are for neglect of horses, especially lack of adequate water for an animal that can drink 10 gallons of water a day.

"People think a horse is like a pet, so it needs minimal care," he said.

Both cruelty to animals and vicious dog citations mean a mandatory court appearance, a requirement Sulzen said he doesn't want to change. He would increase the fines.

Metro's first focus is education. The initial response to a complaint is a visit. If the problem continues, a written warning will be given to the pet owner.

A citation could follow, and three citations in a year can lead to declaring the animal a public nuisance. Public nuisance animals must be relocated out of the district or destroyed.

"If it costs you more money, and the courts hold you to that, we'll get the attention of the individuals who aren't responsible pet owners," Sulzen said.

The Metro director will present a proposal for higher county animal control fines at a County Commission work session on Oct. 23 at 4 p.m.

Shop Christmas Trees Galore Today!
Shop This Holiday Season!

Being a Happy Pet Owner Means Doing Your Homework
by Michelle Fisher, Los Angeles Family Examiner

Gary the guinea pig likes to eat carrots and greens.Almost as soon as they learn to talk, most kids ask for a pet. Even very young children exhibit a natural affinity for, and curiosity about, animals. Some kids jump right in and pet the wriggling puppy, while others hang back or gingerly reach out one finger. Still others prefer to watch the antics of a tree frog or a tropical fish and keep their hands to themselves. No matter the age or personality of the child, she needs guidance from her parents in selecting the right pet for her and her family.

My preschooler wanted bunnies, so we did our homework and then adopted two. Teddy and Sally lived in a large pen on the side of our house and frequently came inside for cuddle time with us. I swear Teddy would purr like a contented kitty when I stroked him for long stretches. Unfortunately, the inevitable occurred a few years later, and we were once again pet-less.

Our daughter was pretty sad, so we waited a few months before adopting Chip and Cupcake. Unlike our former pets, these rabbits had spent years in a shelter and weren’t used to daily human contact. After one too many scratches and kicks, I asked the shelter owner if we could make an exchange. The answer was no, and she requested that we promptly return her bunnies. No argument there!

For the next six months, our family debated getting a dog. By now, Emma was almost 7 and she wanted an ultra-fuzzy lap dog. We had one big problem, though: Dad does not care for dogs (hard to believe, I know), so his “no” vote was firm. We did extract a promise from him that we would revisit this issue once Emma became old enough to care for the dog herself—not halfway but 100 percent. (My pet-rescue, vet-technician friend suggests age 11.)

So, we were back at square one: Which pet would be the best fit for our family? Emma liked the chinchillas next door because of their softness, but they were as skittish as the rabbits we’d just refunded. We considered a kitten, but I’m just not a cat person. Emma had pretty much lost interest in her beta fish. So, I asked my pet-rescue pal to seek advice from her two vets, giving them Emma’s age and a summation of our pet experiences.

“Guinea pig,” was their immediate reply. They said this would be the ideal rodent for a 7-year-old who’s seeking a furry friend. Also, guinea pigs are a pretty low-maintenance pet. We found Gary at the local pet store and liked him right away. We liked his cow-lick, his coloring and, most of all, the way he squeaks and whimpers for more food or more attention. Sometimes he sounds just like a puppy! So we did find the perfect fit for us.

No matter what kind of pet your child wants, parents need to do their homework now more than ever. According to a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (, exotic pets can pose a health risk to children younger than age 6. That’s right, hamsters, hedgehogs, chickens and any kind of lizard can transmit salmonella and other germs to young children, whose immune systems have not fully matured.

“Many parents clearly don’t understand the risks from various infections,” Dr. Larry Pickering of the Centers for Disease Control told the Associated Press (see The Week, October 24, 2008; He noted that many children become very sick, with some hospitalized for weeks, after kissing their pet iguana or handling a chick and then sucking on their fingers. Nearly 11% of salmonella cases are caused by contact with pets.

Wow, that statistic stopped me in my tracks: 11% of salmonella cases. That’s worth passing along to prospective pet owners. Because of this data, researchers recommend adopting a traditional pet, like a dog or cat, for children under age 6. It turns out Tabby and Fido present less danger of infection than the nontraditional pets named above.

For more information about how to select the right pet for your family, ask your local vet or a pet-owning friend; also, consult a book on the subject or visit a web site such as the Humane Society of America ( or Petfinder (

A Great Conversation Tool for Kids
Ask your child some of the questions posed there:
• Why do I want a pet?
• Do I want a pet who gives love back?
• How willing am I to help out?

Franklin Pet Memorials
“Remember them with a custom solid bronze memorial.”

Contact: Cynthia Linnon
191 Howard Street Franklin, PA 16323
814-346-7205 ph 814-346-7047 fax

HOA Question: Can They Really Ban Fish Tanks?
Arizona Pets

QUESTION: My homeowners association passed a rule that prohibits us from having pets, including common household pets like indoor cats, fish and birds. Do I really have to get rid of my fish tank?

ANSWER: Should an HOA be able to stop me from buying my 3-year-old daughter a goldfish for Christmas? Should it be able to demand that your grandmother part with beloved Fluffy?

The answer may surprise you.
Courts may get rid of pet bans because they are unjust, violate public policy, are extremely one-sided in favor of the association or exceed the association's power. However, this is not a guarantee. A court may uphold a pet ban if the ban helps to protect the common area.

Moreover, Arizona statutes govern the validity and enforceability of a homeowners association's declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions. Accordingly, proposed amendments to condominium CC&Rs banning housebound pets would require unanimous consent of all of owners (including those with pets). Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of Arizona associations steer clear of restricting what one can and cannot do within the walls and privacy of their own home. Of those associations that try to play the dictator role, I oftentimes find that the rule was created to satisfy a board member's personal dislike of animals.

Personal biases alone do not create the justification needed for a court to uphold a pet ban. In fact, rules adopted by the board on these grounds are likely a breach of the board's duty to act reasonably in their rule-making powers and to treat the membership fairly.

Clint Goodman is a lawyer with Jackson White, practicing in the areas of real estate and association law. Questions Goodman answers in this column are general in nature and his responses should not be construed as legal advice from either him or the Republic. Send those questions to Goodman is also an attorney for Homeowners Institute, an educational organization providing information to member homeowners about their rights and liabilities in associations.

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores!

No comments: