Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker



By Kim Campbell Thornton and Dr. Marty Becker

Are there straitjackets for dogs? That's what I've been wondering lately as we struggle to medicate the ears of Keeper, one of our cavalier King Charles spaniels. Cavaliers are supposed to be among the most biddable of breeds, but you wouldn't know it from him. It's like wrestling a bear to get him to hold still.

One night, I waited until he was settled on my lap, which worked somewhat better, but I still think I got more medication on the sofa than in his ears. The next morning, I used a little psychological tactic that has worked well in the past when there are multiple dogs in the home.

-- Gather some treats. Call the dog you don't want. Usually they will all come running anyway if they know you have treats. Pick up the dog who doesn't need treatment and put her on the treatment area (on top of the dryer in our house). Give her a treat, comb her or fondle her ears, give her lots of praise and then give more treats. Set her down. (Adjust this advice as needed for large dogs.) By this time, the dog who needs medication or grooming is eager to undergo treatment, too. Repeat, giving lots of treats and praise before, during and after medicating the ears, brushing the teeth or whatever it is your dog doesn't like you to do. Voila! Medicated ears with a minimum of fuss.

-- Easter is coming up, bringing the reminder that Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats. The leaves, flowers, pollen and even the water in the vase can all cause severe and possibly fatal kidney failure in your cat. Do not bring these flowers into your home. If you receive them as a gift, pass them on to a cat-free neighbor or friend. Your wallet will thank you for saving it from a very expensive veterinary bill.

-- More cool pet products. Dr. Becker attended Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., last month and chose 10 products as Becker's Best. We featured five last week, and the other five are here. Check out all 10, with photos, at

-- Does your dog wolf his food and then throw up because he ate so fast? Slo-Bowl helps dogs slow down and relax while they eat. $14.99 to $24.99 at

-- I always break a nail every time I try to attach tags to dog collars, so I think this was a genius pick. The Links-It Pet ID Tag Connector is an award-winning solution to easily, quickly and securely attaching tags to collars. Bonus: The diamond shape eliminates the noise of jingling tags. $7.99 at

-- Keep your dog busy with this tough 10-inch ball. You can increase the weight of the Tuggo Dog Toy by adding water, bringing it up to as much as 20 pounds. The attached rope allows your dog to play by himself, with another dog or with you. $29.99 at

-- If you live in a condo or high-rise or have a puppy or old dog who needs to potty frequently, but you're not always home, the Piddle Place Pet Relief System could relieve your woes. The unit has a drain for urine, carrying it out of sight until you can empty it, and a cleaning solution prevents odors. The grassy cover is even machine-washable. $99 to $119 at

-- We haven't forgotten cats. The Kong Glide 'n Seek Cat Toy uses magnetic levitation technology to encourage cats to bat at the enclosed feathers. It's a simple and fun way to provide them with indoor exercise. $24.99 at pet-supply stores.


Advances make anesthesia

techniques safer for pets

Q: My cat's teeth really need to be cleaned, but I'm afraid to have her go under anesthesia. Can you tell me anything that will ease my mind? -- via email

A: Good for you for having your cat's teeth cleaned! It's so important for her health and comfort.

Back in the bad old days, pets used to be put under anesthesia by placing a mask over the face or putting the pet in a box with anesthetic gas delivered to it. The most up-to-date method -- intravenous injection of induction drugs -- is more controlled and much safer than using a "cat box" or mask procedure. Our friend and colleague Robin Downing, DVM, an expert in pain medicine, says the anesthetic agents used now help cats go to sleep safely, effectively and smoothly. When that happens, they also wake up smoothly and peacefully.

Here are some questions to ask your veterinarian to ensure that your cat will have a safe anesthetic experience:

-- Will you do blood work to make sure my cat's kidneys, liver and bone marrow are all functioning well? This costs extra, but it's well worth it to make sure your cat doesn't have any underlying health problems that could be adversely affected by anesthesia.

-- Will my cat receive intravenous fluids while she's anesthetized? Dehydration and low blood pressure can occur under anesthesia, but IV fluids can help to prevent those problems.

-- Do you have a heated table or blankets to keep my cat warm during and after the procedure? Maintaining body temperature helps to keep your pet comfortable and allows the body to better metabolize the anesthesia drugs.

-- Will you be checking my cat's blood pressure? Blood pressure tells us a lot about how an anesthetized patient is doing, and it's easy and inexpensive to monitor. -- Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton

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New treatment may help

people allergic to cats

-- Cat lovers with allergies to their pets may soon find relief. British pharmaceutical company Circassia is conducting the final phase of clinical trials of a new allergy shot that reduces symptoms with as few as four injections over a 12-week period. Called Cat-SPIRE, the treatment targets a glycoprotein found in cat skin and saliva. The company reports that patients' symptoms remained improved two years after the start of the study. Allergies to cats affect 8 percent to 17 percent of populations in Europe and the United States.

-- The Washington Post reports that Maryland lawmakers are set to approve a measure that presumes all dog owners can be held liable for a bite even if a dog has not bitten anyone before, and that would apply regardless of the dog's breed. The legislation would allow pet owners to avoid liability if they can prove their dogs were docile before biting. The law would overturn a previous court decision that applied only to owners of pit bulls. Sponsors say the measure enhances protections for dog-bite victims because it preserves the presumption of liability and extends it to all breeds.

-- A study published in the March 2014 issue of Anti-Cancer Drugs found that a gold-based drug currently used in human and veterinary medicine to manage some immune diseases may also help to combat osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, which affects both dogs and people. University of Florida veterinary researchers say the drug, aurothiomalate, also known as gold salts, kept cancer cells from forming in the laboratory, slowed tumor growth and decreased metastasis. Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor found in dogs and accounts for approximately 80 percent of the cancerous tumors in the canine skeleton. -- Kim Campbell Thornton


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.