Q: I was thinking about flying reindeer. Of course, I don't believe reindeer can fly, but do any other animals fly aside from birds? -- P.P., Little Rock, AK
A: Bats are the only mammals that actually fly. There are several species which glide, such as flying squirrels. As for your belief regarding reindeer, have you ever seen "Miracle on 34th Street"? Maybe Santa does exist. And if so, I bet flying reindeer do, too.
A: Remove that tinsel, please! At best, you may see your tree topple to the floor as the cat pulls on the tempting strands. At worst, your pet may eat some tinsel and develop an obstruction. Few veterinarians haven't performed emergency surgery over Christmas because a cat or puppy swallowed some tinsel.
Q: Should I allow my cat to sip on eggnog? I figure it has lots of protein and my cat likes milk anyway. -- S.H., Minneola, FL
A: I'm not sure where the tradition of feeding cats milk began, but believe it or not, some cats are lactose intolerant. Of course, many cats tolerate milk just fine, and I suppose occasionally lapping up just a little (2 percent or skim) bit once in a while isn't so bad. Eggnog is another matter. It's not always packed with protein, and most commercial brands are loaded with sugar. Instead, treat your pet to some catnip.
Q: I want to teach my Border Collie-mix some tricks to keep his brain occupied and give him more indoor exercise this winter. He's still a young dog at 7 months old. Any ideas? -- S.H., LaCrosse, WI
Q: Someone in a dog training class said I could teach my ADD (attention deficit disorder) Beagle to find my keys. That would be the handiest trick ever. Can a dog do that? -- B.T., Baltimore, MD
A: "Indoor tricks are hugely healthy, both physically and mentally, and a lot more fun to do when it's old outside," says dog trainer Babette Haggerty, author of "The Best Dog Tricks on the Planet: 106 Amazing Things Your Dogs Can Do On Command" (First Street Publishing, Salem, MA, 2013; $19.99).
All dogs can be taught to spin in circles or roll over. Finding the car keys is more advanced, but doable.
Haggerty, of Oakland, N.J., says to begin by praising your dog for carrying toys in his mouth, anything from balls to rope toys. Offer a cue like, "hold it," as you offer the pet a tennis ball or other object. Always praise your pet when he succeeds. At some point, offer the car keys, and ask your dog to "hold it." Reward him big time with a special treat.
Haggerty says the key to teaching complex tricks is to break them down into steps.
After the dog is accustomed to holding your keys, place them away from the pet. Then, to set up the dog for success, leave a trail of kibble leading directly to the keys. When your dog quickly retrieves the keys, say "hold it." Back up a few steps so it's easy for him to bring you the keys.
Once your dog has the game down, add distance and vary where you stash the keys. Over time, gradually reduce the number of treats leading to the keys. Increasingly, dogs begin to use their noses to sniff out the keys.
Q: My 8-year-old cat has been throwing up watery liquid with pink in it two or three days a week. She eats food with coloring, but I'm not sure the pink is from the food. This happens for a few consecutive weeks, then stops. Her brother doesn't do this, nor does our elderly cat (age 20). What's going on? -- A.S, Cyberspace
A: "Vomiting as often as you describe is never normal," says Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, of Chico, CA. "I'm just a little more concerned that the vomit is mostly liquid and with the pink color, which may be blood. Please, see your veterinarian."
Colleran, a past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the spokesperson for Cat Friendly Practices, says its great when clients proactively visit her. It's one thing to describe what's going on, as you have. Even more helpful would be a photo emailed to the veterinarian.
Keep a schedule of when your cat vomits like this. Is it, say within an hour of eating, or always in the evening? Does she do this only on an empty stomach? The range of possible explanations is wide ranging.
(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is http://www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.)
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