Cat's fascination with running water could be dangerous
A cat walks on a fence as sun downs in Sieversdorf, eastern Germany, on June 6, 2014. (PATRICK PLEUL / AFP/Getty Images / June 6, 2014)
A: Your cat is apparently smitten with running water. New York City-based certified cat behavior consultant Beth Adelman suggests, "The running water stimulates the cat to jump, then she immediately realizes she's made a terrible mistake. Unfortunately, your cat isn't learning from previous experience, but her intent isn't to kill herself, I'm certain."
By the way, it's important to know how your cat feels about water and the tub. Never leave her in the bathroom without supervision when water is running in the tub. Indeed, once in the water, she may not be able to get out.
Q: I just adopted a rescued Labrador retriever mix. The shelter said the dog would be a good fit for me, but she's crazy. I love that fact that she like to play, but she never quits! Is there an off switch for this dog? -- B.H., Hartford, CT
A: "Lots of things can contribute to a dog's level of energy," says Fairplay, MD-based dog trainer Pat Miller. "Much depends on the breed itself, as well as the individual dog." And Labradors bred from field Labs (which are still working, hunting dogs) are surprisingly high-energy dogs.
Miller, author of "How to Foster Dogs: From Homeless to Homeward Bound," (Dogwise Publishing, Wenatchee, WA, 2013; $14.95), says off-leash hikes and an opportunity to swim and fetch toys or balls can work wonders. Organized events (offered by local dog trainers), called "nose work" or "nose games," can teach your dog how to sniff out specific objects or items. Aside from being fun for you and your dog, the mental and physical exercise is tiring.
Ask your veterinarian about an appropriate diet for this energetic pup. One possibility is the Royal Canin Labrador diet, specifically designed for the breed's high energy needs, and kibble-shaped to slow down inhaling food (a common trait among Labs).
Also, instead of feeding your dog from a dish, buy two or three food puzzles which deliver kibble when the dog maneuvers the toy by rolling it or moving around puzzle pieces (which food is found under) Various Nina Ottosson toys are available at many online sites and http://www.nina-ottosson.com/.
Part of the problem may be that your dog has trouble calming down.
"You can teach your dog to settle," says Miller. "When your dog is excited, just wait it out. When your pup finally calms, say 'freeze.' You can also use treats to help lure the dog into a 'sit,' and then say, 'freeze.'"
For some dogs, when they do calm down, another reward might be a light massage. Knowing that attention is coming, some dogs will learn to calm faster.
Q: I purchased an all-natural flea product at the store, but it didn't help. My neighbor says that because I live in Florida, I have to learn to live with fleas. Is she right? -- E.B., Ocala, FL
A: No one has to live with fleas, according to veterinary parasitologist Dr. Michael Dryden, professor of veterinary parasitology at Kansas State University-Manhattan.
Buying products at a store can be dicey, however. Not all flea products are created equal. Your veterinarian is the best source of information.
I'm not sure which product failed you, but Dryden says he and his colleagues have studied many of the so-called alternative approaches to battling fleas, and found the failure rate to be substantial. Therefore, your concerns aren't particularly surprising.
He notes that even products that work with 70 percent or 80 percent effectiveness aren't good enough. Fleas reproduce so fast and efficiently that the kill rate needs to be somewhere over 90 percent for complete effectiveness. The best products have both immediate and longer-term speed of kill.
Q: My 6-month-old kitten will chew on just about anything. I'm careful to make sure she doesn't harm herself. Is there something cats can chew that's safe, similar to rawhide for dogs? -- H.S., Baltimore, MD
A: If your kitty begins to nibble through a live wire, the consequences could be deadly. For starters, consider buying electrical cord protectors, available at home improvement and many "big box" stores, or online. Remove as many plants in your home as possible, as gnawing foliage may cause an upset tummy or worse.
Ask your veterinarian about C.E.T. chews, specifically made for cats to chew on for dental benefits. Some cats like the large canine meatball-size dental chews from Royal Canin or Hill's Pet Nutrition. You might even go as far as stuffing the chews into a small dog Kong toy.
A small percentage of cats will chew on rawhide for dogs. Moisten the rawhide just a bit, then warm it slightly in the microwave.
(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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