DEAR DR. FOX: I believe my 10-month-old puppy suffers from anxiety. He runs in circles and barks like crazy when he sees a tree, mailbox or person. Please help; I don't know what to do. -- C.A., Fargo, N.D.
DEAR C.A.: This sounds more like excitement than anxiety. If he gets out and about rarely and is not widely socialized, you could be creating a Kaspar Hauser -- a poor soul who feels "overloaded" outside and cannot take in too much stimulation. This often manifests as agoraphobia and xenophobia -- fear of open spaces outdoors and strangers. Dogs kept in kennels can develop these anomalies, though genetics and temperament make some more susceptible.
Your young dog, with the tail chasing and spinning, could be developing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which, in some cases, can lead to tail biting and self-mutilation. I advise lots of physical activity outdoors; an organic, additive-free diet; and no more vaccinations after his one-year booster shots -- except for mandated rabies shots.
You may also try the cradling therapy, which is described on my website and in the archives of my "Animal Doctor" newspaper column. Find those at DrFoxVet.com. In severe cases where behavior modification fails to prevent tail chasing, Prozac or a light dose of Valium can prove beneficial.
DEAR DR. FOX: We have had two cats, brother and sister, for six years. Recently, the male had to visit the vet for a urinary tract infection. We were gone for less than an hour, but when we returned, the female acted as if he were a stranger.
This behavior has gone on now for more than three weeks, and the male has stationed himself behind our sofa and only comes out to eat. We have a pheromone diffuser and squirt the female when she attacks him. No one, not even our vet, can tell us what to do.
Any suggestions? Will this behavior end at some point? -- W.D.L., Scranton, N.J.
DEAR W.D.L.: What you are witnessing is one of the irrational aspects of feline behavior: The strange scent your cat picked up at the veterinary hospital makes your other cat terrified and act as though she no longer recognizes her brother.
Olfaction plays a major role in feline gestalt perception and cognition. This is a fairly common occurrence and is seen notably when one cat comes in from roaming outdoors bearing the scent of another cat after a fight or other physical contact.
I advise rubbing a little bit of the same perfume or aftershave used by one of the caregivers on both cats for several days, around the cheeks and back of the neck. Offer them dried catnip. If these steps fail, visit my website, DrFoxVet.com, and look up my review of the procedures established to introduce a new cat into the home where there is already one cat. Good luck!
DOG TREAT RECALL: BOOTS & BARKLEY AMERICAN BEEF BULLY STICKS
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that Kasel Associated Industries of Denver is voluntarily recalling its Boots & Barkley American Beef Bully Sticks because the product may be contaminated with salmonella.
The recalled Bully Sticks were distributed nationwide through Target retail stores from April through September 2012.
Consumers who have purchased the six-count 5-inch packages of American Beef Bully Sticks are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information, contact Kasel Associated Industries at 800-218-4417.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)