DEAR DR. FOX: My puppy really likes to chew on my hand when I pet him. I am afraid he might get more aggressive when he gets older. His sharp teeth hurt, and sometimes he runs at me and jumps up to paw me. I push him away, but he comes back to jump on me again.
What do you advise? -- R.L., Houston
DEAR R.L.: Take your puppy to a puppy playgroup or to the dog park and see how the dogs interact with one another. You need to learn about dog body language, which you can read about in my e-book "Understanding Your Dog," available on my website, DrFoxVet.com.
Your puppy wants to play with you, and you need to learn how to play like a puppy. Many pups are punished for wanting to play because too many people do not know anything about canine behavior and communication. This can ruin dogs for the rest of their lives, making some aggressive and others emotionally unstable, shy and unpredictable. The opposite is overindulgence and not setting any boundaries with an animal (or child), which can result in a delinquent, socially maladjusted narcissist.
Puppies learn quickly to bite gently and to respect when you do not want to play. But playtime is important for social bonding, and you must learn to enjoy this activity with your dog. Those who play together, stay together. Their sharp milk teeth can hurt, but by six months, the not-so-sharp permanent teeth will replace them. In the interim, provide safe chew toys to help with teething.
DEAR DR. FOX: Why does one of my cats lie down and pull like mad on each of his claws? He does this regularly, and I worry he has a nail infection or an allergy, maybe from his litter box material. -- G.W.S., Miami
DEAR G.W.S: One of my cats fastidiously grooms his claws at least once a day. He uses a scratch post regularly but likes to keep his claws clear of the quick, or soft tissue encircling the base of each claw.
Some cats do develop nail-bed infections, which need veterinary attention. Squeeze your cat's paws to extrude the claws and look at the base of each claw. If you see any excessive redness or discharge, set up a veterinary appointment. Otherwise, your cat is simply giving himself a manicure. It is a good idea to get cats used to having their paws massaged, which helps develop trust and makes examination when needed much easier.
BEWARE OF BAYER'S NEW CAT, DOG, HOME AND YARD INSECTICIDALS
Last year, I wrote about my concerns with Bayer's Seresto anti-flea and tick collars that contain a nicotine chemical (imidacloprid). This chemical can cause seizures, thyroid gland damage, mutations, abortions and birth defects and is in a class of agricultural chemicals implicated in the catastrophic demise of honeybees. The collars also contain a pyrethrin chemical (flumethrin) that can cause nausea, vomiting and seizures, among other harmful side effects. I also expressed concern for children and adults petting animals with these chemicals seeping into their skin, and of the animals grooming themselves and each other.
Now Bayer has gone wild with a plethora of new anti-bug products related to its Seresto. K9 Advantix II and Advantage II contain similar ingredients, and the company has released new products, including Advantage Treatment Spray for dogs and cats, Advantage Treatment Shampoo for dogs and cats, Advantage Household Spot & Crevice Spray, Advantage Carpet & Upholstery Spot Spray, Advantage Household Fogger to kill insect pests in the home, and Advantage Yard & Premise Spray that kills pests in the yard and around the house.
The drug company is banking on a combination of public ignorance, trust and fear of fleas and other noxious insects, safer controls for which are documented on my website. Visit my website for more details about the harmful consequences of these kinds of products to the environment and bees and other beneficial insects as well as to our health, agricultural and food security and economy.
(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.)