Category Archives: Pets

Puppy Thinks Shoes Are Chew Toys

By Sam Mazzotta

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: Help! Our new puppy, “Elwood,” is getting into everything, chewing up my kids’ shoes and tearing the stuffing out of stuffed animals. Any advice on getting him to stop? — Jessica G., via email

DEAR JESSICA: Getting a puppy to completely stop exploring and chewing is a job that requires time and patience. You also need to reconfigure your house to keep Elwood safe. If he ingests a shard of plastic or some other indigestible item, a poisonous plant or medicines from lower bathroom cabinets, he could be in serious danger.

First, pet proof the house. Invest in toddler safety gates (if you don’t already have some) to limit Elwood to parts of the house where he’s less likely to find shoes, toys and other objects. In that gated-off area, remove kids’ toys, clothing, stuffed animals and other chewable objects. Lift potted plants out of his reach (the leaves of many houseplants are poisonous to pets).

Make sure Elwood has access to his pet bed and to appropriate chew toys, and check on him frequently. Puppies should not be left alone for long periods of time, for many reasons.

Next, get that basic obedience training regime going. Grab a book or three on dog training, all of which will cover important basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come” and “heel.” Spend at least 30 minutes every day working with Elwood, in addition to twice-daily walks and generous amounts of playtime.

Chewing behavior is very common in puppies, but tends to diminish as they mature. If he continues to destroy everything in sight, talk to his veterinarian or try a group dog-training class. Anxiety or other issues can
be at the root of long-term chewing problems.

Send your questions or comments to, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Playing Fetch Is Fun Training


By Sam Mazzotta

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I’ve heard that playing fetch with your dog teaches him bad habits and isn’t effective training. What do you say? — T.J., via email

DEAR T.J.: I heard something like that several years ago, but not from a professional trainer — from an acquaintance who likely misheard a trainer or misread something. Fetch is both a fun game and a method of dog training.

Of course, one original use for the game of fetch was to teach dogs to retrieve small game. Certain breeds, like retrievers, were bred for this purpose. But most dogs have the instinct to run after a thrown object, though not all like to bring it back.

The greatest benefit of fetch is that it’s a game you and your dog can play together. It can be part of your daily walks or additional playtime.

Here are the basics of fetch: Show your dog the ball or stick. Bounce the ball or wave the stick to get him excited about it. Throw the ball or stick a few feet away — not too far at first. Let the dog run after it. When he picks it up, call him back, giving him copious praise when he brings back the ball or stick.

Keep in mind you’ll probably have to walk out and pick up the ball or stick for awhile until your dog “gets” it. Consider it extra exercise for you. Once your dog understands that he should pick up the ball and bring it back, extend your throwing distance. Keep the game light, and only play it for as long as your dog is interested.

Send your questions or comments to, or write to Paw’s Corner,  Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Hyperactive Dog

By Sam Mazzotta

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: As our adopted Australian shepherd, “Skip,” has grown, he has gotten more and more hyperactive. He tears around the house from room to room, and if I don’t catch him, he will chew up every shoe he can find. How can I stop this behavior? — Carol in Tucson

DEAR CAROL: You probably won’t be able to completely change Skip’s behavior, because Australian shepherds are so naturally energetic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t curb that tearing around the house and the chewing to a manageable level.

First and foremost, Skip needs more exercise. Lots more exercise. The shepherd breeds were developed to do exactly what he’s doing: run, run some more and run even more — all day long. As working dogs, they were invaluable in helping to herd sheep in pastures. So just taking Skip out for a walk a couple of times a day isn’t going to cut it.

Find a space where he can run off leash without disturbing other people or dogs, or if your yard is fenced, let him run there. Don’t just let him run alone. He needs to be supervised, and you should take the opportunity to work with him.

That’s the second part of the solution. Work with Skip on basic commands including sit, stay, (lie) down, etc. Add in playful games like fetch. Aussies are extremely intelligent, and you might be surprised at how quickly Skip learns to follow commands closely, especially once he’s worked off some of that excess energy.

Chewing up your shoes may happen less if Skip gets more run-around time. While dogs chew instinctively, anxiety can exacerbate the problem. A slightly more relaxed Skip might curb the chewing, although you should still keep your more expensive shoes out of reach.

Send your questions or comments to, or write to Paw’s
Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-
6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit

(c) 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Offensive Pet Breath is Never Normal

Let’s face it, our cats and dogs rarely have pleasant breath, but because we are so accustomed to our dogs and cats having some level of stinky breath, pet owners all too often write off offensive breath as just a normal part of canine and feline existence. Of course, the word offensive is a subjective term observed by the person taking in the scent of the breath, but let’s just say that once breath reaches the point of smelling like a decaying fish carcass or fecal matter, it has reached the point of offensive.

With February being Animal Dental Health Awareness Month, this article is going to focus on dentistry and the implications of dental and gum disease in dogs and cats, however, offensive breath is not always 100% attributable to dental disease alone. Offensive breath can signify any number of disease, including diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, endocrine disease (disease of the body’s hormonal systems), and even cancer. Therefore, if offensive breath has reared its ugly head in the mouth of your furry family member, you would do well to schedule a visit ASAP.

But since it is Animal Dental Health Awareness Month, however, let us focus on dental disease and its potential impact on the body. First of all, when there is dental tartar, that represents bacteria colonizing the teeth so densely that it has formed a rock like eform we call calculus. Once there is calculus, all the brushing and dental bones in the world are not going to get that off…it must be scaled off with dental instruments and ultrasonic scalar. The other important implications of calculus is that as it progresses, the bacteria then infects the gums – a condition known as gingivitis – the presence of bacteria in the mouth getting swallowed every moment and getting absorbed through the gums that are rich in blood supply, stresses the body’s immune system, leading to a break down in the overall health of the pet. What’s more, the bacteria may seed itself in other tissues, such as the heart and kidneys, or even become blood borne leading to full body infection, a condition known as sepsis…and when these complications occur, we are talking serious problems and suffering for the pet, as well as serious expense for the owner.

Directly in the mouth, dental disease and gingivitis cause pain and sensitivity. As the gums remain chronically infected or inflamed, they recess, exposing the roots of the teeth. Because by their nature, dogs and cats (especially cats) do everything in their power to suppress signs of pain (bear in mind that animals in the wild showing pain will be predated upon, have their food stolen, and be chased out of their territory – making it imperative that an animal not show pain or weakness), the pain that dental disease causes is often not noticed by pet owners…and so they suffer silently.

From a compassionate perspective, as cherished family members and living creatures, we do not want our pets to suffer in pain; from a medical perspective, pain causes stress, which leads to the deterioration of overall health of the animal.

Our job as veterinarians is to recognized disease by interpreting signs of disease and performing thorough physical examinations. If we advise dentistry because of dental and gum disease, please don’t take it lightly. If dental disease is caught early and a pet has a routine cleaning once every 1-2 years, not only do we save the pet from pain and poor health, it also enables us to intervene before there is too much damage to the tooth roots and surrounding jaw bone, hopefully preventing the necessity for teeth to be extracted. Not only are extractions unpleasant for the pet, they require oral surgery, and therefore can also become expensive for the owner.

So in honor of Animal Dental Health Awareness Month, we are running a dental special of 15% off all dentistry through the end of this month (February 28, 2013). It is not too late to schedule your pet’s appointment and give him/her the gift of good oral health while saving cost. Good oral health translates to good general health.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital and CEO/Chief Editor of the veterinary information and blog online community, Web-DVM.

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Spring Time Dangers for Your Pet

We all love spring time. The weather warms, daylight hours increase, new plant life and leaves on trees begin to grow, our lawns begin to thrive again, and all of our spirits  and the world around us teaming with life. Indeed, it is a time to celebrate and feel lucky to be alive, however, with regard to our dogs and cats, we need to be careful about dangers that spring time brings with it.

The first and most prevalent of all dangers is external parasites, namely, fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks do not only cause direct irritation of skin through their bites, irritation that can become severe and result in secondary hair loss and skin infections, but they also spread disease. In both dogs and cats, fleas can transmit the microscopic larvae of a species tapeworm that infects the gut causing GI disturbance and ill thrift from nutrient leaching.

In cats, fleas can transmit a dangerous bacteria known as Bartonella. Bartonella can manifest in many different forms of disease, including infections and ulcerations of the mouth, respiratory infection, and urinary tract infection to name a few. Feline carriers of certain strain of Bartonella may transmit Cat Scratch Fever to humans susceptible to it. Cat Scratch Fever is capable of causing a potentially severe
disease complex in certain people. Even if you have a a gentle kitty not prone to scratching out of fear or intolerance, cat scratches still occur all the time that are not necessarily intentional, such as when a kitty may be on one’s lap and gets startled and jumps off.

While dogs and cats will not contract disease, fleas are carriers of Yersinia Pestis, the bacteria responsible for the Black Plague, making flea infestations on our dogs and cats a danger to the human members of the family. A small but still troubling number of people contract plague each year, with young children and the elderly being the most susceptible.

Ticks can transmit a number of serious bacterial infections in dogs, including Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis. These diseases cause a number of severe disease manifestations including severe fever, muscle and joint pain, severe listlessness and death if left untreated. In cats ticks can transmit a blood parasite called Hemobartonella, which can lead to anemia, sometimes severe in nature.

With warming weather and increased spring rains comes a resurgence of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are not just pests due to the sting and subsequent irritation the stings leave on the skin, but they transmit mircofilaria, the infective larval stage of deadly heartworm disease in dogs and cats. While dogs are the definitive host where the larvae mature to adult heartworms that colonize the right side of the heart, heartworm infection can reach a semi-mature stage of larval development in cats that can lead to
chronic inflammatory airway disease and dangerous clot formations.

Warm weather and precipitation also awaken dormant forms of all manners of intestinal parasites that infect dogs and cats, from protozoal parasites like coccidia and giardia, to worm parasites, like hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. These parasites cause diarrhea, cramping, ill thrift from leaching of nutrients, and possible dangerous structural and vascular disease of the GI tract in dogs and cats. Roundworms can be transmitted to people as well, posing a danger to small children, the elderly, and immune suppressed people (congenital poor immune system, cancer patents, HIV patients, etc.). In these individuals, roundworms can reach a larval stage that can travel in skin tissue causing severe irritation and itchiness. They can also reach an ocular migration state in young children, where they migrate to eyes and cause blindness, a potential tragedy for children aged infant to up to 5 years of age.

Pet owners can easily see that, while spring time heralds in a more enjoyable time and quality of life for both pets and people, there are hidden dangers that call for vigilance and precaution. Luckily, veterinary medicine offers an array of preventive solutions to keep your pets and family safe this warm weather season.

For prevention of flea, ticks, heartworm disease, and intestinal parasites, the veterinary industry offers an array of topical and oral products that effectively prevent these pesky and potentially dangerous pests. Veterinary pharmaceutical companies like Elanco and Pfizer have pioneered “all in one” preventive products that cover against multiple external and internal parasites. However, be certain to ask your veterinarian before purchasing any parasite preventives, as not all are created equal with regard to safety and effectiveness. Pet store grade products can be especially ineffective and even dangerous for your pets.

Yearly to semi yearly heartworm blood screening and stool analysis for intestinal parasite screening are an essential component to keeping your pets and family safe. These simple and inexpensive diagnostics enable early screening of parasitic infestations that give us the opportunity to have them treated before pets become very ill or members of the human family are at serious risk. Most importantly, a comprehensive relationship with your family veterinarian will keep you and your family current on pet disease risk in your geographic area, as well as kept informed of the most current modalities to treat for and prevent them.

Dr. Roger Welton is the president of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL

(321) 723-5911

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