DEAR DR. FOX: I read the letter in your column from the older couple who wanted to adopt an older dog. There are some local organizations that specialize in adopting out older dogs.
For instance, the St. Louis Senior Dog Project is a nonprofit that places older dogs. Your readers could see if there’s a local organization in their area, perhaps by Googling “senior dogs for adoption.”
Senior dogs for seniors is a win-win! The senior dogs get a stable and usually more quiet home, and the senior citizens get companionship. Plus, they stay in better shape physically and mentally, due to walking the dog every day, often getting more social interaction in the process.
I agree with you that a good pet adoption agency should request an in-home follow-up visit after the adoption. -- T.S., St. Louis, Missouri
DEAR T.S.: Thanks for the information about a senior dog adoption project in your community. I hope that more communities will pick up on this initiative for many reasons, including the fact that dogs are living longer with better care these days. As their caregivers age and go into no-pet retirement centers and nursing homes, these animals need to find new homes if younger family members cannot take them.
Older dogs are generally quick to adapt to a new home environment, and form devoted bonds with family members without the time and effort having to house-train and educate a younger dog or puppy. They are probably the best choice for relatively active seniors who do not wish to have their animal companions outlive them. And many less active seniors have had their lives and hearts enriched by adopting easy-to-care-for senior cats.
DEAR DR. FOX: We found a young kitten and are now having trouble teaching it to go in the litter box. Wondering what we can do. -- B.H., St Louis, Missouri
DEAR B.H.: Good for you for rescuing the kitten. Do have him/her checked by a veterinarian, since many are born with intestinal worms that can give them a bad start in life.
A very young kitten may not yet be able to climb easily into a regular-sized litter box, so get a cardboard box and cut it down to have about a one-inch lip all around. Put some cat litter in this cardboard “tray,” set the kitten in it and gently massage his/her abdomen.
Very young kittens need to have their rear ends wiped with a moist tissue, like their mothers lick them, to stimulate urination and defecation. Transfer any excrement gathered in this way to the litter in the temporary cardboard container. This will give a scent signal to the kitten and attract it to the litter.
Making resolutions for 2018? Don’t forget to include your pets! Dr. Mike Topper, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), offers these suggestions (paraphrased from a recent AVMA news release).
-- Exercise more. Planning on hitting the gym more regularly? Follow suit with your pets, keeping them healthy with regular exercise and activity. Take your dogs for more frequent and longer walks, visit a dog park for more active play and socialization, or sign up for agility training. Get your cat moving with new toys and games that will encourage her to run and jump. Before starting, however, talk with your vet about healthy and appropriate activity levels for your individual animals.
-- Eat healthier. If you’re committing to eating healthier in 2018, consider whether your pets would benefit from a similar change. Watching what our pets eat can help them maintain a healthy weight and add years to their lives. There are a number of steps you can take: eliminate table scraps and fattening, high-calorie treats; keep food treats to a minimum; don’t give in to those sad, begging eyes. Talk with your vet about a nutrition plan.
-- Schedule a visit to the veterinarian. Visiting your doctor regularly for checkups is an important way to stay healthy and catch illnesses and injuries early before they become a bigger problem. Since our pets can’t schedule their own checkups, resolve to take your pets in for wellness exams.
DEAR DR. FOX: My beautiful 11-year-old mini schnauzer, Kokonut, has had lipomas for a quite some time. Aspiration has indicated they are benign and do not impede activity.
I have read that lipomas can be reduced in size and/or eliminated by removing all toxins. Kokonut is on Sentinel, and I would like to prevent heartworm via a more natural method. She wears an amber collar to deter fleas and ticks. We do not frequent dog parks and she is never boarded or in doggy day care.
What do you recommend to help get rid of the lipomas while providing protection from heartworm? -- J.P., Naples, Florida
DEAR J.P.: There is no conclusive evidence that anti-tick and -flea products play any role in dogs developing fatty tumors. Genetics and a diet high in starches seem to be the main triggers.
I would like to hear, from readers who have put their dogs on grain-free and raw-food diets, if they found any differences in lipoma development compared to prior dogs who did develop these growths and were fed conventional kibble.
Don’t believe what you may find on the internet concerning ways to reduce these growths with various supplements. In my experience, once they develop, one must simply wait, deal with any concurrent obesity and arthritis, and have the benign tumors surgically removed when they cause discomfort and interfere with physical activity.
There is no “natural” method to prevent heartworm infestations transmitted by infected mosquitoes. I would take the pesticide collar off your dog and check out my article on preventing fleas on my website, DrFoxVet.net.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 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.net.)