DEAR DR. FOX: Our house was heavily damaged by a tornado on April 22. There was a lot of loud banging and glass breaking. Thank goodness we were all OK. Of our five doggies, two are senior citizens, two are youngsters and one is a puppy.
Since the tornado, we have noticed that two of our dogs are extremely sensitive to sudden loud noises. One is the puppy and the other is one of the youngsters. There is a lot of construction going on around us, and there are occasional loud noises. This produces the same kind of behavior as when we have thunderstorms. The youngster shivers, shakes and paces; the puppy runs and hides under the couch.
Is there anything we can do to help them when they are frightened or to make them less sensitive to the noise? This past July 4 was the first time we used tranquilizers, but it made them sleepy and groggy. I hated having to medicate them, but there were a lot of fireworks going off. -- G.G., Bridgeton, Mo.
DEAR G.G.: Dogs can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder that is triggered by sudden loud noises.
Put on music or turn up the TV and close the curtains to keep out the construction sounds. Discuss with your veterinarian a short course of treatment with Xanax. This should not cause significant drowsiness at a low dose, and it is excellent for sound phobias -- especially thunder and fireworks -- in dogs.
Surprisingly, wrapping the dog in a tight T-shirt secured with Velcro strips or purchasing an "anxiety wrap" can calm the canine psyche. Try it!
DEAR DR. FOX: Now that it looks like horse slaughter will soon return to the U.S., what is your take on it? I've heard that horsemeat will be sold in the U.S.
I find this appalling. Horse slaughter is always cruel, and it is not humane euthanasia. -- P.E., Saint Ann, Mo.
DEAR P.E.: I have followed the U.S. horse slaughter issue closely. Unfortunately, horse protection organizations' best intentions in banning horse slaughter in the U.S. led to the stressful transportation of horses to Mexico for slaughter and export -- primarily to France and other horse-eating cultures, including China.
As an ethical vegetarian who has documented the suffering of animals raised for their meat and the negative environmental impact of the livestock and poultry industries -- see my website, DrFoxVet.com, for details -- I see a global reduction in meat consumption as enlightened self-interest and a vital contribution to wildlife protection.
Horses in the U.S. primarily come from the horse racing and rodeo industries and from people who keep them as pets. It is incumbent upon all involved to enforce the highest humane standards in the care and handling of all horses destined for slaughter in the U.S., which, in the final analysis, is a better fate that being sent to Mexico.
Private horse owners can have their veterinarians humanely euthanize their horses with an injection, though the owner will have to pay for the disposal of the animal, which cannot be used for human consumption or incorporated into livestock feed and manufactured pet foods because of drug residues.
DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing in regards to the lady whose cat became "unhousebroken."
We have six cats, and our oldest, Zoey, started soiling the beds recently. We have seven litter boxes, and we keep them clean. The boxes are in our workshop downstairs.
Our vet put Zoey on amitriptyline, and that sort of helped -- but she still soiled the beds every so often. The vet then suggested putting kitty litter upstairs and keeping the cat on the amitriptyline. We put one litter box in a bedroom off our living room. The other cats also use this one, but they do their business mainly downstairs. Zoey, however, uses only this upstairs box, and she no longer soils the beds.
It has been six months. I set the litter box inside a big plastic container so the cats can't kick litter everywhere.
This has been a miracle for our household. We don't even have to give her amitriptyline now. We have to clean that litter box several times a day, but it is worth it. I hope T.B. from Gates, N.C., reads this. -- C.S.U., Columbia, Mo.
DEAR C.S.U.: Your experience dealing with a house-soiling cat will be helpful for other cat owners facing this all-too-common problem, especially when they have several cats and when all medical reasons like cystitis and urinary calculi are ruled out.
Exploring the feline psyche takes time, patience and objectivity. Many cats prefer a quiet location for their litter box, with minimal human and animal traffic. As you have discovered, cleaning the box several times a day can help, along with trials with different kinds of litter. Many cats avoid not only soiled boxes but also those that have dusty and/or scented litter. Boxes that are covered, creating an ammoniated internal atmosphere, can lead to litter box aversion as well.
SOLID GOLD DOG FOOD RECALL
Solid Gold Health Products for Pets issued a voluntary recall of one batch of WolfCub Large Breed Puppy Food and one batch of WolfKing Large Breed Adult Food. These dog foods were co-manufactured at the Diamond facility that is linked to salmonella contamination and Diamond's extensive recall of pet foods. For more information, including the batch numbers, visit solidgoldhealth.com/recalls.php or call 1-800-364-4863.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)