How Do I Give My Pet Medication?


Lost Pet Scam - Scammers find lost pet ads in the paper, contact the grieving pet owner and say that the pet was taken to Mexico.

Owners call a bogus long-distance phone number to the tune of hundreds in phone calls, which goes straight to the scammer. The pet, of course, is never found.

When It Comes to Missing Pets, a New Dynamic

Cyberworld has an APB out on Reiner. It’s the new way to enlist thousands in the search for a missing pet.

Reiner is a whippet, one of three cherished by Vicki and Steve Sandvig of Graham.

On Oct. 30, he busted through the barriers surrounding the Sandvigs’ 26-acre horse farm. Vicki Sandvig suspects he was chasing a rabbit.

She had thought the farm was secure. Chain-link fence surrounds the back acreage. In the front, more chain link backs up the horse fence. The neighbor at the back of the property has barbed wire and electric fencing.

Many of us think our homes and yards are just as secure. But Reiner got out, just as many other pets will this season. Guests open doors and cats dart out. Kids set off New Year’s Eve fireworks and dogs bolt. It’s bad for the owners and worse for the pets.

We seldom write stories about lost animals, but the search for Reiner introduces new avenues that distraught pet owners can use.

“At 2:30, I went to get one of the horses,” Sandvig said of the ordinary day on which she lost her extraordinary pet. “I was about 150 feet away from the dogs when it happened. Addie started screaming.”

Addie is Reiner’s sister, and the siblings had slithered through a hole a coyote had dug under the chain-link fence. Addie got caught in the barbed wire. Reiner, who can sprint at 35 mph, was out of sight.

Sandvig got Addie back to the house and called her friend Anne Albert, who served in Iraq and is an expert in emergency response and evaluating how well systems work.

Get Addie’s cuts treated, Albert advised Sandvig. Ask neighbors to use the remaining daylight to look for Reiner.

Albert and Sandvig came in from the search and spent the night making posters with a photo of Reiner and the offer of a $1,000 reward. They made a list of rescue agencies, veterinarians, businesses and people to call.

Over the next days they contacted delivery people, bus drivers and schools. They made a list of publications in which to buy ads. That’s about as thorough as a traditional search gets. Then they went cyber.

Albert went online to the Italian greyhound owners’ group of which she’s a member.

“They got right back to me,” Albert said. “They said, ‘This is what you do. This is the list.’”

It’s a roster of nonprofit and for-profit Web sites that help reunite pets with owners:,, and, as well as breed rescue groups.

Sandvig checks the Humane Society’s site twice a day. Her husband visits the shelter daily. They’ve sent Reiner’s story to dog rescue groups.

And they paid to build them a community of seekers.

First, Sandvig paid the company $125 to make 500 calls to people in the area. The feedback from neighbors encouraged them to broaden the search and pay $445 for 5,000 calls.

“You have to have other people look with you,” Albert said. “We have an army out there.”

Dozens of people have contacted them with leads. When Sandvig stopped in at the Ohop Mutual Light Co. to leave a flier, a man rushed in saying, “The dog’s out there! The dog’s out there!”

Turns out it was Addie, in Sandvig’s car, but it was proof people are looking for Reiner.

Yes, the call service was pricey, Sandvig said, but if it were a veterinary bill, she wouldn’t flinch at the cost.

Sandvig thinks a kind driver rescued Reiner. The dog is a mooch who likes to ride in cars, and who wasn’t wearing a collar and might have been bleeding from the barbed wire. She believes that person is unaware of the search. She hopes that person will accept $1,000 for Reiner’s return.

“If that does not happen, we want to share what we’ve learned, so others can benefit from that,” Albert said. “We want other people to remember this story and say, ‘I know what to do.’”

Kathleen Merryman: 253-597-8677

How Do I Give My Pet's Medication?
By Dr. Beth Davidow, DVM DACVECC - My Seattle Pets

Giving your pet medication doesn't have to be difficult. Photo courtesy of Animal Hospital of Antioch.One of the biggest problems with successfully treating our animal patients is making sure that owners can actually get the medications into them. Cats in particular can be very difficult to medicate. I hope to give you some hints and suggestions that may make this tough job go better.

Pill Pockets are an easy and inexpensive way to give your pets a pill. You can find them in most pet stores, and some veterinary offices.The majority of dogs will take most medications in food. If your pet does not have dietary restrictions, I find that peanut butter or cream cheese, because they are sticky, are often a good way to hide medications. Many veterinarians also sell what are called Pill Pockets, a treat that you can pull apart and hide a medication inside. If your pet has a food allergy, please discuss what foods are OK to try with your primary veterinarian.

If your pet will not take the medication with food, you will need to "pill" them. The following website has an excellent description of ways to do this:

Cats are trickier. Many will not eat pill pockets and they are often quite adept at licking food off around a pill and spitting the pill out. This link goes to a website that has a great video section on how to give medications to your cat:

If you haven't given your pet medication before, please ask the veterinarian or veterinary assistant to give the first dose for you and to demonstrate. This is often the most helpful way to learn.

It also really helpful to make a calendar or checklist that you can mark when you give the medication so that you have a visual reminder about whether the medication was given or not. This is especially helpful if multiple people in the household are medicating the pet or if you are giving more than one medication.

If you are having problems, always feel free to call your veterinarian for advice and assistance.

Carriers, Seat Belts Keep Pets Safe in the Car
by Sharon Dargay - Hometown Life

If you drive with your dog on your lap, next to you in the passenger seat or with its head leaning through an open window, you might just get a chance to meet Dr. Loretta Lee some day.

She's a veterinarian with MVS, the emergency center and animal hospital with locations in Southfield and Auburn Hills - and she has treated the results of unrestrained animals in cars that collide.

"We'll see dogs with injuries. The most common is spinal injury. They have spinal issues after hitting their heads or necks when they're thrown forward in an accident," Lee said.

She strongly recommends restraining pets in a crate or with seat belts. She says crates are easiest to use, especially if dogs and cats are used to being in them. Belts are safe restraints if the dog is trained to wear them.

"Some people, if they have a truck, tie them in the back. You can see issues if they are tied up improperly. They can jump out of the truck and get it hit or strangle themselves.

"Or if the window is open and the dog sees something, they'll jump out the window and get hit. Unfortunately, that does happen."


When an unrestrained pet jumps from a moving vehicle or is thrown during a collision, other passengers, other drivers and ultimately emergency workers at the scene may be injured, too.

"At 35 miles an hour, a 60-pound dog becomes a 2,700-pound projectile," explained Christina Selter, founder of the nationwide program Bark Buckle Up. "That pet will come flying through the vehicle, breaking someone's neck, back or slamming into the windshield. Most of these pets don't survive and that's why vets don't treat a lot of them."

Or if they survive, the injured pets may attack the emergency workers - police, firefighters and EMS professionals - working at the scene to save human lives.

"The pet either bites them or escapes the vehicle and gets hit by another car and causes another one or two accidents."


Bark Buckle Up, based in Southern California, was born from Selter's awareness of first responders' needs, along with an incident that happened to one of her own pets, Betty, her Boston terrier. She and her husband also have a miniature pinscher, Princess, and a cat named Steve.

"I've had pets my whole life," said Selter, the mother of an adult daughter. "I graduated from the Orange County Sheriff's Academy and I come from a long line of first responders. My upbringing has always been about 'safety first.'"

Selter chose motherhood over a police career, but turned her attention to promoting pet safety when her daughter left for college three years ago.

She had already developed a Web site - - that stressed pet health and well-being, a kind of "MySpace for pet people" where users can exchange ideas and offer advice.

Bark Buckle Up, developed after an incident on the road.

"We were driving back to San Diego and we hit the brakes. Betty fell off the back seat. She wasn't hurt but she was scared ... agitated."

She and her husband started talking about pet safety products. He created a Web site ( for her new mission. She interviewed professionals in the first responder field and then began reviewing products.

"We don't make or sell products. We communicate to the public about the products we've tested. And there are a lot of products we don't approve. It has to be easy to use because if it's not, people won't use it."

They've worked with auto manufacturers ("Some have become pet-friendly and added products to their dealerships"), keep tabs on relevant legislation and collect statistics on pet safety.

"A few states - like Maryland - have pending legislation to outlaw dogs in the back of a pickup truck. California had legislation that outlawed pets on the driver's lap. It didn't say the pet had to be restrained. But it's a baby step. Plus, that air bag is not going to be kind to a dog or cat," Selter said.

In addition to visiting the Web site, consumers can learn about safety products through the organization's spring and summer nationwide tour.

"We visit retail locations and people are allowed to bring their dogs and try the products. We show them how to get in and out of cars easily with their pets," Selter said.


Bark Buckle Up also tours auto-related events and will be on hand at the North American International Auto Show, Jan. 11-25, 2009, in Detroit.

Visitors will get a chance to take home the organization's revamped auto pet safety kit, which also is available through the Web site. It includes a decal for the driver's side door that tells first responders the driver owns a pet. Emergency workers will know that an injured pet may be in the car or at home alone. A quick check of the registration form will give them names and phone numbers of the pet's veterinarian and close relatives or friends of the driver.

"And if the pet isn't in the car, police can pull the box and let someone know they're taking you to the hospital and someone needs to feed (the pet) at home," she said. "That way you're more at ease, knowing the information is in your glove box for first responders."

Homeless Pets Still Need to Eat
posted by: Sarah Coffey - Reuters

With foreclosures of homes on the rise, so are stories of pet abandonment, but pet food maker Del Monte says sales of dog and cat food and treats hasn’t been affected.

The New Haven Register in Connecticut reported on Nov. 23 of a dramatic rise in pet abandonment at shelters across the city, as adjustable mortgage rate resets make mortgages on many homes unaffordable, and rising food costs make paying for pet food and upkeep unrealistic.

And on Nov. 16, The Boston Globe said a record number of cats are being dropped off at local animal shelters. A Humane Society official attributed the record numbers to the faltering economy and people losing their homes.

Higher animal abandonments have hit Canada as well, according to a Nov. 7 article in the Albuquerque Journal (subscription required).

Still, pet food company Del Monte, maker of Meow Mix cat food and dog treats like Meaty Bone and Pupperoni, says they haven’t seen a meaningful drop in pet food sales in recent months.

“We have not seen any hard data that would indicate household pet ownership to be declining, and so anecdotally we’ve heard about pets being left in foreclosed homes and that sort of thing, but we have not seen any data or seen any evidence with our customers that that really is a problem,” Del Monte Chief Executive Richard Wolford said on a call with analysts.”

Whether they’re in a family home or living in an animal shelter, dogs and cats still have to eat.

A Purr-fect Gift for Your Pet
By Carrie Napoleon - Post-Tribune correspondent

Consumers may be planning to cut back in some ways this holiday season, but it appears their pets will not be feeling scrooged.

Among those who plan to spend less on gifts this year, only 23 percent are doing so on their pets, according to a survey released recently by Consumer Reports. The vast majority, 84 percent, said they plan to cut back spending on themselves.

Holli Jackson, an associate with The Ark Pet Shop in Merrillville, said while they don't expect to see a huge increase in spending on holiday gifts for pets this year, they expect it to be at least as good as last year.

"We put our Christmas stuff up and they've already been selling just as well," Jackson said.

The shop offers a wide variety of gift items, such as holiday-themed rawhides and toys. There's even a wide selection of holiday clothes, collars and hats.

"People really like to dress them up," she said.

Jackson said she has seen the demand for holiday pet items grow consistently over the years as people make their pets more a part of the family.

Pet product manufacturers began introducing holiday-themed gifts in earnest about 10 years ago, said Sharon Henley, who has owned Valparaiso Pet and Hobby for 40 years. Since then the seasonal buying has continued to grow.

People always bought gifts for their pets, even before the themed items started popping up, Henley said. Vinyl toys and bones were common holiday purchases.

Now with the proliferation of holiday pet toys popping up everywhere from drug stores to pet stores, more and more money is being spent.

"The market's definitely been growing," Henley said.

While she does not know what to expect this holiday season with the economy in a slump and consumers cutting back, she is pretty sure people will still be buying their pets holiday gifts. She said pet gifts tend to be last minute purchases.

"After they're done shopping for their family, they think we need something for Rover," Henley said. "I think a pet is part of the family."

One likely reason pets won't be as affected by holiday budget cutbacks is that their gifts aren't as pricey.

"Most average folks aren't spending an arm and a leg on their pet," said Tod Marks, senior projects editor at Consumer Reports.


Advice for Pet Owners
Liz Palika - Pet Food Specialist and Dog Trainer - Washington Post

What to Feed Your Pet

Pet food specialist and dog trainer Liz Palika helps pet owners make the best decisions for their animals' diets. She is author of "The Ultimate Pet Food Guide -- Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Your Dog or Cat" and several other books on pet food, including "The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook" and "The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook." Palika is also a charter member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She has been a dog trainer for more than 25 years and is the founder of Love on a Leash, a nonprofit organization which provides pet therapy.

She was online Wednesday, Dec. 3, at noon ET to take questions on dog training and behavior.

Please join us again next Wednesday for another discussion on pet care with the Animal Doctor Michael W. Fox at 11 a.m. ET. And check out's pets section any time!


Liz Palika: Welcome! My name is Liz Palika. I'm a dog trainer and behavioral consultant with a huge interest in pet foods -- primarily dogs and cats. My interest began when I had a sick dog who needed special care then an allergic dog who had to avoid other foods. Then I realized foods can also affect behavior. What we feed our pets is vitally important to their health, longevity, and mental health as well as their ability to learn and retain what they've learned. So ask away and I'll answer as many questions as I can.


Mesa, Ariz.: I have a miniature Schnauzer who bites on his hands and foot. He cannot eat anything and every thing (14 years old). Thank for your help.

Liz Palika: Chewing on the paws is a fairly typical response to a food allergy. Talk to your veterinarian about testing your dog for allergies. Or choose a commercial food that has one unique protein (something he hasn't eaten before like bison or venison) and one unique carb (like sweet potato) and see if his allergies clear up in a few weeks.


Herndon, Va.: This may sound silly, but are some commercial dog foods considered junk foods?

Liz Palika: Not silly at all and yes, many commercial pet foods are considered junk foods. It all depends on what the ingredients are and the proportions in the foods. A food high in cereal grains, for example (which dogs and cats do not digest well at all) is going to be cheaper price-wise and less nourishing to your pet. Hence - junk food!


Bethesda, Md.: Would you possibly have an idea what else besides KD Science Diet, I can feed a 4 pound, 12-year old Yorkie, who has chronic colitis and is showing beginning kidney disease (creatine level is high on the normal side)? I took her off WD Science Diet because of her refusal to eat even though she loved it for 11 1/2 years. This is when I noticed that something was up. I took her to the vet and ran a blood test that revealed her beginning kidney problems. She drinks a lot, of course, and has leaked urine at night. I am giving her one daily dose of Amoxicillin which has helped quite a bit on controlling her leaking. At least for the time being. I would love to find a recipe for cooking something that possibly is more healthful than commercial food like KD Science Diet.

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Liz Palika: Contact The Honest Kitchen at and talk to their nutritionist on staff. She may have some ideas for you other than Science Diet. I don't want to offer alternatives here because chronic colitis is a tough disease to manage. Good luck.


Washington, D.C.: I feed EVO Red Meat Kibble to my active, 1-year-old Leavitt Bulldog

Should I suppliment this diet with another food or source of nutrients given its high protein content? I've heard of "cycling" in other foods to the regular diet, but do not understand the idea behind this concept.

I like the close to raw diet in kibble form and have had great results with this food seeing my dog's allergy problems all but disappear.

Liz Palika: Some pet food experts recommend cycling foods (changing foods on a routine basis) as a means of making sure the pet is getting everything they need from their diet. The theory is that we don't eat one specific thing all day every day. When I recommend home made foods or recipes, I also recommend cycling through several different recipes for this same reason. The EVO kibble is one of the better quality kibbles so I would say no to supplementation, however, you might want to alternate that kibble with a home made recipe or another EVO formula.


Washington, D.C.: Dear Ms. Palika, one of my Westies developed a minor skin issue. I feed her a high quality kibble. My mother came to visit for a week and cooked up a cauldron of what she calls "super puppy dinner" for her dog and shared with mine. My dog's skin seems cured. I have now ordered your book, "The Ultimate Pet Food Guide," for recipes. Do you think there was a direct correlation between the homemade food and the clearing of the skin issue? Thanks!

Liz Palika: Definitely!! Gotta love that home made chciken soup (or dog food)! Yes, keep in mind the high temperatures for producing dog and cat food kibbles can kill many of the important nutrients necessary for good health - including many amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and phyonutrients.


Washington, D.C.: We have a 6 month old Scottish Terrier. He came to us w/very itchy flaky skin. We recently started him on a daily dietary supplement of DermCare w/Omega 3 and changed his food to Ultra. He seems to be doing much better, but I am wondering if there is something we are missing or need to change? Thanks in advance!

Liz Palika: I haven't read the ingredients on Ultra so cannot comment on that particular food. Just watch and see how your dog does after a few weeks. Good luck.


A behavior question: Hi, Liz -- love your picture! I have an Aussie mix, and she loves the water. In the summer, we put out a baby pool for her, and she loves to lay in it after a couple of laps around the house. However, when we don't have the pool out and she gets warm (?), she'll "dig" in her water bowl and splash the water everywhere, then (sometimes) lay in the puddle.

Do you have any suggestions for correcting this behavior? We've tried loud "uh-uh"s and "no!", and she'll stop, but not for long. Thanks.

Liz Palika: Keep the water bowl outside and towel her off before bringing her in -- that will save your house. Then offer her ice cubes when she's warm. She can lick them, chew them, and cool off without getting soaked. When We're warm here in Southern California, I'll get my guys a ten pound block of ice. They love it.


New York, N.Y.: Hello,

Thanks so much for taking questions on such an important issue.

I feed my cats wet Wellness cat food, only the grain-free varieties. First, I wanted to know what you think of Wellness in general.

Also, I supplement the wet food with a little bit of dry food (Nutra Indoor Cat). I know that dry food is generally not great for cats, but I would like to continue to give them a little bit of the dry. Could you recommend a dry food that wouldn't be too bad for them? For example, is Evo dry food a reasonable dry food?

Thanks so much.

Liz Palika: In general, I like the Wellness foods. However, the vast majority of cats really don't need -- nutritionally -- dry foods. If you want to supplement the canned food, I would rather see you make up a home made recipe for them.


Upper Marlboro, Md.: There are a lot of companies springing up offering wholistic and natural pet foods, esp. afer the China scare, but when looking at some of the labels, they are no better than commercial brands and smell like them too. How do you choose?

Liz Palika: Ah, thank you for asking! I have written about pet foods so extensively the last few years because I want to create a more educated generation of pet owners. When choosing a food for your pet, it's all about reading the labels and understanding what the ingredients really are. And then keep reading. Don't allow advertising to mislead you; some of the best ads on TV or in magazines today are for some horrible foods!


Washington, D.C.: What is your recommendation for spacing food for cats? I have one 8-year-old former stray tabby. She is at a good weight 8 1/4 pounds. She has free access to dry food and I feed her one 3-ounce can of wet food daily. I space that into at least four portions (which include a long period without a feeding while I am at work). But wouldn't wild felines eat infrequent, large meals? Is spacing her food like this a good idea? If it matters, she eats all of her wet food as soon as it is provided. Thanks.

Liz Palika: As a previous reply stated, I'm not a fan of dry food for cats. For many reasons that I don't have room or time to go into here. But for your basic question about spacing the meals. A healthy adult cat should be comfortable with three meals a day. Morning, after work, and before bedtime should be good for her.


Sweet Potatoes Miracle Vitamin: We raised sweet potatoes to sell and the smallest and not marketable ones were boiled and added to the hunting dogs diet which consisted of a commercial dog food. In a couple of months you could see an amazing difference in their coats, shiny and glistening.

Liz Palika: Sweet potatoes are great foods with many natural beneficial ingredients. Many of the recipes in my book contain sweet potatoes.


Potomac, Md.: I have a 2-year-old, very active, 11-pound male cat who loves to eat. In particular he loves his wet food which I give him twice a day -- one small can in the morning and one at night. I also leave some dry food for him in case he gets hungry while I'm at work (he doesn't eat much of it). But it seems that he is still hungry after inhaling the wet food, and I'm wondering if I should give him another small can. The directions say one small can per three pounds of body weight, but my vet has said two is good for him. He's not overweight and I certainly don't want him to become overweight. And its certainly possible that he just loves to eat even when he's not really hungry. Any advice? Thank you!

Liz Palika: Your cat sounds like me; he wants more to eat than he needs. For my three cats and three dogs, I use the ribs and waistline check. The ribs should be covered with meat but just covered. If you can't feel the ribs, the pet is probably too heavy. The waist should indent at the sides nicely and tuck up under the tummy. The hip bones should not be showing. If the dog or cat is too skinny, increase the rations; if the pet is too heavy, cut back on the rations slightly and increase the exercise.


Washington, D.C.: Hello Liz,

I have a 3-month-old puppy (JRT mix) who is very skittish. I am trying to socialize and walk her but she runs back home or shakes terribly like she is frightened to death when she is around people. I have had her for three weeks. How can I get her to overcome this? Also she has never barked. Should I be concerned about that as well? Thanks.

Liz Palika: Don't worry about barking, she'll figure that out. Contact a trainer in your area who teaches kindergarten puppy classes. Explain your dog's fears and then get her into a puppy class. They are great for socialization. And don't wait; do this right away!


Alexandria, Va.: Liz -- I have two cats aged 2 and 4. The 2-year-old is perfect weight, the 4-year-old is a bit heavy, but has lost weight over the past year. I feed them Blue Brand Indoor cat food. I was also mixing in Nutro's pouches of wet food, but it got to the point that one of them (couldn't pin point which)was throwing up EVERY time I gave them the wet food, so i stopped giving it to them and took them to the vet, who said that he couldn't see anything wrong with them. I'd like to get them back on wet food -- do you have any suggestions?

Liz Palika: Have you tried a different type of canned food? Or how about some cooked chicken or turkey or tuna? Try to narrow down what is causing the cat to throw up. Then you can go from there.


Wild Kitty?: Hello: I feed my Somali kitten "Wild Kitty" brand, which is a kit you re-hydrate and add raw ground turkey. The dried material consists of bone meal, clams, greens, etc., and he likes it. His litter box doesn't smell as bad and his coat is shiny. Do you think this is a good food to be feeding him? I used to buy Fancy Feast and other commercial soft food for my other cats.

Liz Palika: I'm not familiar with that brand so can't comment on it. However I feed my cats The Honest Kitchen dehydrated cat food (with home made meals, too) and they are thriving on it. So I like the concept, yes.


Dry cat food: One of my cats apparently has tummy issues with certain foods and was vomiting and losing weight. I have her on prescription Hills ID from the vet (over a year now). Her sister is on it too because "good luck" making one cat eat one type and another, the other type...

I try to give them organic Merrick wet food (chicken or turkey) but they seem to mostly prefer the dry feline ID.

Is long term dry food, even prescription, OK for cats?

Liz Palika: I'm not a fan of dry foods for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores - which means they are meat eaters - and they do best when eating a food that is primarily meat. They should not be eating cereal grains (which is prevalent in most dry foods) and any carbs added to the food should be ones the cat is able to digest. The number of cats with diabetes and other nutritionally related diseases is increasing dramatically and many experts feel that dry foods may have a part in this. I prefer to feed a dehydrated raw food or a home cooked recipe.


Luv's Ginger: Hello Ms. Palika, and thanks for taking my question. We have a Rott-Lab, and we put her outside when we leave for work, (she has a dog house) My question is, should we put food out for her? I think the food would freeze up. My husband says that you have to have food, but when we get home, sometimes, she hasn't eaten it. Also is there some type of warmer that can go in her dog house? Thank you.

Liz Palika: I live in Southern California so cannot answer your question about a dog house warmer! smile... However, as far as your question about free feeding your dog -- leaving the food out all day - no, don't do that. Give her a meal in the morning before you leave and then remove her bowl. When you get home at night give her another meal. There are a number of problems associated with free feeding -- from behaviorial, to ants, and as you found, even freezing.


New York, N.Y.: Hello, I have an overweight cat (20 lbs. or so). I only feed him about 1/2 cup a day of high quality dry food, but he isn't losing any weight. Sometimes I give him half a can of wet food too. He wakes me up at 4 or 5 a.m. because he is so hungry. Any tips? He has been at a steady weight for the past four years. Thanks!

Liz Palika: Have you tried other foods? You might find a canned food with more fiber might make him feel more full. A home made recipe with meat and some fiber such as shredded carrots might also make him feel like he's not starving. But dig out the toys, too. Losing weight (as many of us know) is about what you eat but also increasing your activity. So get your cat walking, running, and playing.


Feline ID: Hi Liz, thanks for the reply. I should have mentioned -- the ID is staying down, she isn't vomiting, and she gained back the pound she lost (she is now 9 pounds, so she was thin anyway). So that is a good thing. If I at least can get them half and half on wet dry, is that better than nothing?

I had her sister checked for diabetes and so far so good - no probs.

Liz Palika: Wellll....better than nothing, yes. But still not necessarily good. When ever I talk to pet owners about pets with health problems of any kind, I tell them to check out the best alternatives they can find -- whether it's dehydrated raw, home cooked, the best canned, or the best dry -- depending upon the circumstances. After all, if the pet laready has a health problem, we need to supply the best nutrition we can.


NYC: A year ago we took in an 8+ year old female cat from the shelter. When we brought her home, she refused to eat any cat food including the Science Diet wet and dry foods she had been eating at the shelter. Days went by, then she got into the garbage and ate chicken. So she's been eating chicken (and getting vitamins and malt for hairballs) for the past year. We didn't want to try to starve her until she ate cat food 'cause she had some health issues (mites, an infection, conjunctivitis).

Is there any way to get her off chicken without harming her?

Liz Palika: Eating a home made diet can be great for her but obviously she needs more than just chicken. I have quite a few recipes in my book for cats, including some for very picky cats. You may want to check it out and try a few.


Heart Murmur in St. Louis: Hi, I have an 8+ y/o beagle/bassett mix that has been diagnosed with a heart murmur. Though he's fine now, I'd like to know commercial dog food I should be feeding him to keep him in good health. Right now he is eating a mixture of Freshpet and Purina One Lamb & Rice. I do not have the time or (to be completely honest) the inclination to cook homemade dog food.

Liz Palika: There are some commercial foods that are very good so you don't have to cook. Just read the labels before you buy the food. The first ingredient (and ideally first two) should be meats named by the species (such as chicken or bison) not by products. Then the carbs should be from fruits or veggies not cereal grains. Apples, bananas, sweet potatoes are all good foods. Avoid those cereal grains! If there is a whole list of chemical names I don't understand, I tend to avoid those foods! I want my pets to get their vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat and I avoid chemical or synthetic additives.


Boston: Hello, we got a lab puppy this year who is now almost a year old. A number of my co-workers who have dogs have been very helpful with advice. I would like to make them some home made dog biscuits for their dogs. Any recommendations on a good but easy recipe?

Also, our dog constantly wants to play with others dogs when they are around. To the point where she doesn't want to give them a break. Any thoughts on how we can get her to calm down a bit? Thanks.

Liz Palika: I don't have room to provide a recipe here but have books full of them. As far as your Lab puppy ganging up on older dogs, that's not unusual. Enroll in a puppy training class so she can learn some self control and you learn how to teach her.


Cat's 4:30 a.m. snack: Hi Liz -- we have a cat who, in the past couple of months, has started scratching doors, walls, even the bed to wake us up between 4 and 5 a.m. to get a scoop of wet food. Once we get her downstairs, we lock her in the basement so she doesn't keep us up. In the last week, she won't even come down for the scoop of wet food. Any advice on how to get her out of this behavior? We've tried the wet food in the evening too, but that hasn't worked.

Liz Palika: I would make sure Kitty gets a good long play time every evening so she's tired when you go to bed! Then take a tipe from the zoo experts. They use environmental enrichment techniques to keep their charges mentally challenged -- you could use this to get some sleep. Before you go to bed, after Kitty has had her exercise, hide some health kitty treats or bits of food, in different places so she has to find them. In the beginning, make a game out of it so she learns to go look for them. Once she understands the game, just do it before you go to bed.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hello - I adopted a five year old cat from a shelter six weeks ago. I've been feeding her the dry food (Science Diet) that she was fed at the shelter. My vet recommended that I also feed her wet food once a day to help keep her hydrated. I have tried a dozen different types of wet food but she hasn't liked any of them. She obviously recognizes the opening of a can because she comes running whenever I open one but when I set the food down, she sniffs it and walks away. I am fortunate that she shows no interest in human food although I did alsotry to feed her straight tuna (packed in water) and she rejected that as well. Any suggestions? She's not losing weight and has even gained a little (she was in teh shelter for three months before I adopted her so she probably is gettine more food now). I also haven't found any treats she likes either (about 10 kinds tried). I'd like to find a treat she likes to associate with clipping her claws but it's been a challenge. I'd appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thanks!

Liz Palika: A picky cat can be quite a challenge. All I can say is keep trying different things. Try salmon, trout, catfish, venison, or rabbit. Many picky cats like rabbit. Good luck.


Arlington, Va.: I have an 11-year-old cat. For the past six months or so, she has started waking up at 5:30 a.m. (like clockwork), jumping up on the dresser and knocking to the floor anything that was up there. At first I thought that she was hungry, but I'd get up and find that she had plenty of food/water (she eats dry food). It's driving me insane! I want a full night's sleep again! Any suggestions?

Liz Palika: I just explained environemental enrichment to another writer. See that answer. And then, too, like for that writer, kick up the exercise for kitty just before you go to bed. Good luck!


Alexandria, Va.: I have a kitty with an anger management problem. He's a great cat, super personality, likes people and other animals. I got him from the shelter when he was 9 months old. He was adopted as an only kitten in his previous home which included two toddlers who apparently tortured him. Thus, when angered and he has a hair-trigger temper, he bites and bites hard. I've had him for a couple years now. He hasn't gotten over the biting. I throw a blanket or towel over him to diffuse the anger or grab a pillow and put it between us. That seems to take most of the anger away. Is there any other way to deal with this or get him to stop?

Liz Palika: Diet may be a part of this; I would take him to a grain free diet. But this kitty needs more help than I can give you via e-mail. Talk to your veterinarian and find a behavioral consultant who works with cats. Good luck.


Los Angeles: I have a 14-year-old Shar Pei, and feed him Nutro Lamb and Rice (mostly all his life). He is very peppy still and loves to play with my 5-year-old son, but sleeps more as is to be expected. We have no skin problems or health probs other than his sight has seemed to go in the last year. Is there anything more I need to do for him nutrition wise given his age and breed?

Liz Palika: I'm not a fan of foods high in cereal grains such as rice but since your dog is thriving at the age of 14, I can't argue with that and changing things now might cause more harm than good. So congrats on having a healthy old dog! Old dogs are such a joy; cherish him.


Gaithersburg, Md.: My 16-year-old cat is tired of all the canned foods I try to feed him, and really only wants to eat the treats (dry and moist)I give him with his medications. Are too many treats bad for cats?

Liz Palika: It depends on the treats. If the treats are junk food with sugar, artifical additives, and lots of cereal grains, then yes. However, if you give him bits of chicken or meat as treats, then no. Read the label on the treats.


Mobile, Ala.: Hi Liz. Our dog (3.5 y/o spaniel/hound mix) is a whiner. Our old vet put her on Prozac to no avail. There is no pattern to her whining other than it is constant. She whines after walks, whines before walks, whines to go into her crate, whines to go out. Would switching her diet to a whole food one supplemented by minerals and vitamins improve her disposition? Thanks.

Liz Palika: I have no idea since I don't know what is causing the whining. I will say, though, to stop reacting to it. Don't yell at her, correct her, squirt her, or in any other way react to it. Many dogs will do something because it gets them attention -- even negative attention. In addition, whining is often caused by stress. If you haven't talked to a trainer in your area, I suggest you do. See if he or she can figure out your puzzle. Good luck.


Marietta, Ohio: Web site will not come up.

Liz Palika: Maybe they are working on the Web site -- wait a little while and then Google The Honest Kitchen.


New York, N.Y.: Hello. Thank you so much for answering my question about the Wellness wet food and feeding my cats dry food (I know it is not good for them, I "only" give them about a handful every evening). That said, you have piqued my interest in the Honest Kitchen. Was it hard for your cats to get used to the new food? My cats are pretty laid back about stuff, but it seems that the Honest Kitchen is SO different from the Wellness that both my cats and I will be in for somewhat of an adjustment period. Also, I saw your cat cookbook on your Web site, are there recipes in there that will make crunchy cat treats? Thank you again.

Liz Palika: Yes it took my cats a little while to get used to the new food. But I always taste test foods on my pets so they are also used to new things. And yes, my cookbook has lots of treat recipes.


Cheverly, Md.: Hi. I have an 8-year-old newfie-lab mix rescue dog. Her coat has been getting duller and duller, and has a few spots where the coat never grew back from being groomed this summer. She is eating a combination of Evo and Wellness wet and dry, duck, plus gets fish oil and kemp supplements, plus the Missing Link. We recently switched her from labm to duck. What else can I do to help her coat? Thanks!

Liz Palika: There can be lots of causes for this, even a hereditary condition. Get her checked by her veterinarian first and if he gives her a clean bill of health, then choose one of the foods Evo or wellness - the duck is good -- and then add meat to it rather than canned food. Keep on with the Missing Link. That should help.


White Plains, N.Y.: My 6-year-old border collie/retriever mix developed acute pancreatitis a few months back. He's okay now and we have him on a diet of dry Royal Canin Digestive Low Fat food. Is this a good diet for his condition or do you have any other recommendations you can offer?

Liz Palika: I began researching commercial foods after one of my dogs developed pancreatitis. First and foremeost, I won't argue with your vet -- I am not a veterinarian -- and if he recommended the food you are feeding, I'm sure he did that for a reason. On the other hand, the food that helped my dog is a dehydrated food called Embark made by the Honest Kitchen. You may want to print out the information on Embark from their Web site -- google The Honest Kitchen -- and then take that into your veterinarian and see if he okays it.


Washington, D.C.: Can you comment on the behavioral problems associated with free feeding? I notice that my golden prefers only to eat when I'm around. If, for some reason, he does not eat his "breakfast," I'll leave it out for him when I go to work just in case he gets hungry during the day. In these situations, breakfast is usually still sitting there when I get home, but I'd feel guilty leaving him without the option!

Liz Palika: There are way too many to list in a discussion such as this. However, if your dog doesn't eat while you're gone, he's telling you that he doesn't need it. Offer breakfast before you leave, take it way when he's done, and then feed him in the evening. If you still feel bad, get him one of the toys that dispense bits of food or treats as he plays with it. He'll have fun, get something to eat, and you'll feel better!


New York, N.Y.: We feed our 5 1/2 lb. 8-year-old Yorkie three heaping teaspoons of an equal parts mixture of chopped up sauted chicken breast, brown rice and spinach, topped by a little grated cheddar cheese. He seems to be thriving, with stable weight, but he does do an awesome amount of licking everything in sight (paws, people, the couch, etc.) and gets a dry skin irritation and rash near his back quarters and genitals on his belly. She we be concerned about what we're feeding him?

Liz Palika: Definitely, all that licking and so forth is a sign there is something wrong. Begin changing one ingredient -- such as replace the rice with sweet potato -- and do that for a couple of weeks. If there's no change, replace the chicken with turkey or another meat. By replacing one ingredient at a time and giving the dog time to react, you should be able to identify the problem ingredient.


Rockville, Md.: Can you recommend an inexpensive commercial dog food for a young adult (2.5 years) dog with no special issues? My previous dog had severe allergies and I am glad to not have to pay a lot for specialty foods, but really do not want to feed my current pup "junk" food either.

Liz Palika: Dog foods are one of those things that in general, you pay for what you get. Most of the inexpensive foods contain cheap ingredients. Read the labels on the foods, make sure good quality meats are the first ingredient, and avoid cereal grains.

Cathy M. Rosenthal: Don't Make Pet a Pawn in Divorce
San Antonio Pets

Cathy Rosenthal - The letter below reminded me that when it comes to custody battles, a real cat fight can ensue.

Today, when couples separate or divorce, there may also be a custody battle for the pets. Judges must often decide who will be the best pet caretaker, which is not easy: How can one tell whether a person is motivated by love or by revenge?

Sadly, I have seen spouses give up their pets after fighting for custody, just to spite their once significant other. Whether the battle is for pets or kids, one always hopes level heads prevail, but in the real world, that is not always the case. Let's hope the reader below and her partner can do what's best for their 14-year-old feline.

Dear Cathy: I read and enjoy your column and trust your opinion. Please help me make the right decision regarding my 14-year-old female cat. She's been my husband's cat since she was 6 weeks old, and I have been her “mommy” for 11 years.

I am moving from the home we now share and where she has lived all her life and been an indoor/outdoor cat. I will be moving to an apartment and want to take her with me. She would be an indoor-only cat in the apartment. Will the move be more traumatic for her than leaving her behind with her “daddy”? She's a mommy's baby, and I don't trust that my husband will care for her properly (feeding, litter box cleaning, protection from the weather, flea and tick prevention). Please advise.


Dear Patti: I am concerned that my answer may cause more conflict, as there usually is a difference of opinion in who is the best caretaker in a custody battle. Certainly, staying in her current home is the least stressful, but not if she is not receiving appropriate care. The good news is, she also is very capable of moving and staying indoors in her new place if that turns out to be the decision that is made between the two of you. She will have a small adjustment period, but I have moved 17 times with felines and can assure you they can handle change as long as the environment feels happy and secure.

I would hope that “mommy” and “daddy” can put your differences aside to come up with the best solution for the cat, as I think she will be happy either way as long as she continues to be loved and well cared for. I hope she doesn't become a pawn in a custody battle.

Dear Cathy: I am looking for free training to qualify a dog as a therapy/hospital pet. Any ideas?


Dear Dave: I don't know of any “free” dog training, but free usually just means “do it yourself.” See if the library has some dog training DVDs or videos that you can borrow or visit for tips on how to train your dog.

To qualify as visiting dogs at a hospital, canines must know the basics: sit, stay, come and down, as well as learn not to react to loud noises, large groups, wheelchairs, tennis balls on walkers and other animals. This can be accomplished with a combination of basic dog training, socialization opportunities with people and animals, and exposure to various environments.

Once your dog has mastered these skills, contact the Delta Society to take the pet-partners test. They would be a great resource even now for you.

Send your pet stories to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or e-mail them to Cathy's advice column runs Sundays.

Teaching A Mynah Bird To Talk
by James Glover - PetPeoplesPlace

Q: I want to teach my mynah bird to talk. Any suggestions or tips? (Katherine Inzhagi - Minnesota)

A: Mynah birds are natural mimics and have no equal in the bird kingdom when it comes to talking - that is if they are taught young. By all accounts, they stop learning anything new after 2 years. The best time to teach your mynah to talk is between the ages of 3 and 9 months, when they are at their most impressionable.

It may take only a few weeks, but may take several months of perseverance. Learning is a gradual process - so start with a short word or phrase which you can repeat every time you see the bird. When it has grasped this word, start with something else. In some cases mynah birds can have a vocabulary of over 100 words.

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